My How Far We’ve Gone (Back)

This time eight years ago, I was filled with so much hope and joy. I was expecting the birth of my first baby girl. We had just elected our first black president. Although the economy was tanked due to eight years of failed Republican policies, things were looking up. The stock market had begun to rebound almost immediately at the news of President-Elect Obama, and most people were looking forward to an era of hope and change.

Fast-forward to now. The hope is gone. The change is abhorrent. I feel more fear and dread than I’ve ever felt in my entire life walking around in my brown skin in Texas of all places. The campaign and now election of Donald Trump (AKA “The Rapey Cheeto”) has brought forth so much hate, so much racism, so much xenophobia, homophobia, islamophobic, and every abhorrent phobia related to humanity you can imagine. Almost as immediately as the election results came out, reports started flooding in about the harassment and even assault of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. Muslim women have had hajibs ripped from their bodies. Black people have been called niggers and told they can’t wait for us to get sent back to Africa or “put in [our] place.”Latinos who were born here and have been here for more generations than most white people are being told to “go back to where [they] came from.” Asian Americans are being harassed more than any time in post-WWII history.

Graffiti found the day after the election.

And white America still has the nerve to say, “I voted for him, but I’m not a racist.” No, you absolutely are. It doesn’t matter if you voted for him because you foolishly believed his claims to be pro-life. It doesn’t matter if you voted for him because of your idiotic belief that someone who has filed bankruptcy four times is a good businessman [as a former bankruptcy attorney, I can assure you that no good business person files bankruptcy four times]. It doesn’t matter that you voted for him because the other option was pretty bad [at least she wasn’t endorsed by the Alt-Right and the KKK]. There wa nothing hidden or ambiguous about Trump’s hatred of the other. It’s well-documented. If you didn’t see it, it is either because you share his beliefs and therefore see nothing wrong with them or because you chose to be willfully ignorant. Neither position is commendable. By being complicit in racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and the like, you are by association endorsing hatred. By voting for someone who campaigned on these beliefs, you are by action endorsing hatred. This is on you. You did this.

For people who like to brag that they are pro “family values,” Trump voters cast their ballots with no families in mind except their own. For people who call themselves “pro-life,” their actions in this election show a blatant disrespect for the value of others’ lives. This election wasn’t just about politics; it was about what we as a nation find acceptable in terms of behavior. The message that 50% of you sent on Tuesday is that you will accept bullying and intolerance and that you have no empathy.

If you are disgusted by the harassment being directed at your fellow man right now and you voted for Trump, understand that you are to blame. If you are disgusted by the harassment and didn’t vote for Trump, but stood by silently while people endorsed his ideas of “taking this country back” or “building a wall” or “putting them in their place with law and order” or “grabbing em by the pussy,” you are also to blame. You don’t get to absolve yourself from this because you turned a blind eye to hate speech that wasn’t directed at you.

Spare me the calls to come together or respect the president-elect. Where were your pleas of respect when President Obama was subjected to racial slurs and caricatures and threats of violence? Where were your calls of unity when during the Rapey Cheeto’s acceptance speech someone yelled, “Kill him!” at the mention of President Obama. Where, for that matter, was Trump?

I wish I had time to weep for this nation and what we’ve become (again). Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying to figure out how to protect my three children, my extended family members, my friends and their children, and myself from this onslaught of violence and hatred that has started.

Kudos, “Patriots”! You took your country back… all the way to the 1940s.

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk (AKA How I Spent My Winter Vacation)

I know it’s been a slow year on this blog, so for those of you who have stuck around, let me first thank you. Whether you’re old or new here, welcome (welcome back) and Happy New Year to all!

Honestly, it’s been hard to write more than rants on Facebook walls or quick blurbs on Twitter. My heart has been really heavy. There have been times where I have just been at my breaking point. I’m fearful of the world we are leaving our children. I truly am. And though I’ve kept on a brave face for my girls and even still found time to find some levity in the world [moment of silence for Joe Manganiello’s singlehood] and have kept myself busy with craft project after craft project, whenever there was silence I couldn’t fill, one thought always came back: we are fucked.
So I could just keep being afraid of the silence, or I could do something.
Pop Culture Dad is from St. Louis. [Yeah, I know]. Between the events in Ferguson and some other things, the likelihood of us making it to our annual Christmas trip this year was low like a girl in a Flo Rida song. But… it’s family, you know? And we only get to see them twice a year. But PCD and I decided that if we were going to go into the belly of the best, some good was going to have to come of it.
I had been following the action on Twitter and Facebook since the very beginning, but realized as Christmas was approaching that I didn’t actually know where to find information on how to get involved. I asked around and got several references for groups looking for lawyers to help out. I got in touch with those groups, and they all said they would get back to me… Then we got to St. Louis and… I just waited. No calls. I called again. I was told they would get back to me. My plan to be part of a solution was being thwarted. And, quite honestly, I felt a little depressed about it. In my head, our entire week in St. Louis was going to be filled with one rally or jail visit after another with us shouting to the family, “Come along or we’ll just have to catch you later!” In reality, it was basically like any other trip to the city: family, food, movie, Magic House. Then finally the morning before we went home to Texas, my phone rang with a text alert:

TODAY (SATURDAY), 2PM: STL’s United We Stand Silent March. Meet at Union Station downtown (18th and Market).

Finally! I informed Pop Culture Dad that, despite all the things we needed to do that day and all the promises we made to family, we were going. He was totally game, but we were also unprepared. On the way there, we ran into Michaels and grabbed posters and markers. The Pop Culture Girls decided they wanted to do their own posters. They did not, however, know how to spell “Black Lives Matter” on their own. So I wrote it out for them and told them they could follow it. Little Diva (being six and all) did a pretty great job. Super Girl got all of the letters, buuuuut, well, they weren’t exactly in any particular order. So she allowed me to make her a new sign, and she decorated it.

Super Girl and Pop Culture Dad
Little Diva made her own sign (“MY LIFE MATTERS”). Mommy probably should have told her yellow on pink doesn’t really show from far away.

This is the adorable sweatshirt hiding under those huge coats. It was far too cold to show them off.
Despite our rushing, we made it to the meeting place in time and ready to go. It was cold (particularly for us Southern folk), and it was rainy. However, this group of a little over 100 people was not deterred. We walked arm-in-arm, silently (except for the children…), with our mouths covered with the names of a victim or victims of police and para-police violence, down Market Street toward the St. Louis Arch. As you can see in my pictures, this isn’t just a group of black people. This is truly St. Louis UNITED. There were people of various races and ethnicities. The ages ranged from 0 to somewhere in the septuagenarian range. There were people of various physicalities and physical disabilities.
You notice how that microphone says “5” (as in “News 5”)? The same reporter during those interviews later stated during the 5 p.m. Channel 5 newscast that he could not confirm that there were protesters in the area. Apparently the fact that he was with us from beginning to end was not enough to confirm our presence. See, people? This is why you need to have a healthy skepticism and distrust of mainstream media.
Now here’s where trolls on Twitter and people within the Arch who have unrecognized and unresolved race bias issues differ from what people outside the Arch will tell you. Trolls on Twitter who were never there have been arguing that the group was violent, raging, and vandalized the Arch (seriously). Anyone with half a brain knows that isn’t true. In fact, you can witness it for yourself. I videoed various parts of the protest, and if you look on Twitter for #STLunited, you will see several people who live-blogged or later videostreamed parts of the protest. In addition to what you can see for yourself, here’s what I can tell you: three of the protesters actually went inside the Arch to use the restroom. Once inside, security had noticed there were protesters, and those women were locked inside. When you hear us chanting “Open the gates!” it started because people were asking for security to let those women out. By the way, the Arch is a free, federal landmark open to the public. Can they restrict entry and exit for security concerns? Of course. Is prohibiting a group from exercising their First Amendment rights in a nonviolent manner in a way that doesn’t otherwise violate laws something that can be done at a federal landmark? Honestly, I don’t know [I haven’t done the research on that yet]. It’s a non-issue anyway. Because I think there is reasonable disagreement as to whether there would have been a security risk (probably something as little as a fire hazard) from allowing a marching, chanting group of 100+ people inside. I’m not saying I agree that there was a risk; I just agree that I see both arguments, and so we don’t even really get to the First Amendment issue. 
What I can tell you, however, is that this protest was most certainly non-violent. As I mentioned, this was a varied group, which included a lot of families. We had a woman in a wheelchair, a man on crutches, etc. This group marched in total silence [again, minus the children, who don’t really get that whole “silent” part of the silent protest] for nearly two hours before we reached the Arch. Yes, there were guys in Anonymous masks. And, honestly, the most annoying thing they did the entire time was smoke in close proximity to children and senior citizens. There was only one person in this entire group who raised my antennae, and I was side-eyeing and closely watching that guy the entire time. And, yes, this guy was the one who, after chants I wasn’t too uncomfortable having my children hear, decided to lead a much smaller group in a round of “Fuck the Police.” That’s one guy, out of over 100. There’s always one. And that one person is not the group. He was not representative of the group at all. In fact, he didn’t even march in close proximity to the rest of us (and I have the picture to prove that too).
The police, who kept a safe distance from the group (because no crimes were broken, HELLO) stay close to the guy I was side-eyeing.
The Arch was not vandalized. We created a “memorial” using the pieces of colored tape that had previously been on our mouths. Easily removable. Does not destroy property. It is no different from when people leave signs, flowers, and other memorabilia on public property. Anyone who calls that vandalism is a moron (and probably also an overreaching racist, but I digress…). As I mentioned on the Pop Culture Mom Facebook page, I’m a government attorney. Do you really think I would participate in or encourage any sort of activity that would violate federal law? Of course not. Any suggestion otherwise is preposterous.
tape bearing the names of victims of police violence
Correction of some of the falsities I’ve heard aside, this was a beautiful moment. I actually cannot find adequate words to express how moved I was by the entire experience. Seeing all of these different people come together was amazing. People who didn’t even know each other and hadn’t even learned each other’s names, were linking their arms and hands to stand united. People were helping each other (picking up the wheelchair together, offering food, holding things to allow someone to tend to children, checking on the children and talking to them, etc.). This total group of mostly strangers came together for one common reason—wanting to make sure that law enforcement and the general citizenry realize that black lives matter too—and it was amazing
Super Girl has the best seat in the house
Arms linked marching toward the Arch

 

Strangers united for a common good

Even more than the experience itself, I was so glad to have shared it with the Pop Culture Girls. Due to all of the craziness going on and the unavoidable conversations in our house that Little Diva is entirely too smart (and too nosey) to miss. I had to have “the talk” with her earlier than anticipated. We had the talk over Thanksgiving. More on that later. But suffice to say, even at six, she understands the gross unfairness in treating people differently because of their skin color, and she can’t believe that there are adults who think it is perfectly fine to support a broken system that systematically treats “the other” unfairly. So, despite the fact that she was not exactly down for all that walking (and none of us were down for the cold and the hail), Little Diva was glad she did the protest. One of the gentlemen who had been gathering everyone together when we initially arrived asked Little Diva at the end what she thought of everything, and she answered “Pretty good. Pretty good for my first protest.”
“Pretty good for my first protest.”
I’m proud of my kids for sticking with the elements and trudging along. I’m proud of my oldest daughter for understanding these issues that are so much bigger than anyone should have to understand at six years old [and, sadly, it turns out she “gets it” a lot better than many adults I’ve seen online]. I’m proud of my husband (and his entire family, amazingly) for recognizing and trying to fight against his white privilege to make a better world for, not just our children, but every child in this country. I’m proud of everyone who was there. 
Every time I get overwhelmed with despair, I look at the pictures from this march and I realize that there are people out there fighting to make a difference. I’m not sure if their work will change everything, but they’re bound to change some minds. Every little bit counts!

Originally posted on Blogger (http:/www.popculturemom.com) http://ift.tt/1vHdPR9

Don Lemon and the False-Causation Problem

As you may have already heard, CNN newsman Don Lemon caused quite an uproar in the black community this week when he went on the air to say that he not only agreed with Bill O’Reilly’s racist, repugnant views on what’s wrong, he thinks Papa Bear O’Reilly didn’t go far enough. Saywhatnow?

There are so many things wrong with Lemon’s position. Sooo many things. First, let me make it clear from the outset that I’m not saying that any criticism of the black community is 100% unwarranted or unfounded. What I AM saying is that this criticism is wrong. Lemon’s basic problem boils down to the fact that he doesn’t seem to fully grasp the issues of cause and effect.
So what did Don Lemon actually say?:
[playing clip]
BILL O’REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African- American family. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He’s got a point. In fact, he’s got more than a point. Bill?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O’REILLY: Raised without much structure, young black men often reject education and gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, gangs. Nobody forces them to do that, again, it is a personal decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He is right about that, too. But in my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough. Because black people, if you really want to fix the problem, here’s just five things that you should think about doing. Here’s number five, and if this doesn’t apply to you, if you’re not doing this, then it doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you.

Here’s number five. Pull up your pants. Some people, a lot of them black, gave me flak for saying that recently on “The Wendy Williams Show.”

If you’re sagging, I mean — I think it’s your self-esteem that is sagging and who you are as a person it’s sagging. Young people need to be taught respect and there are rules.

LEMON: Sagging pants, whether Justin Bieber or No-name Derek around the way, walking around with your ass and your underwear showing is not OK. In fact, it comes from prison when they take away belts from the prisoners so that they can’t make a weapon. And then it evolved into which role a prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex. The one with the really low pants is the submissive one. You get my point?

Number four now is the n-word. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z, RAPPER: For our generation what we did was we took the word and we took the power out of that word.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: We took this word, and we made it into poetry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I understand poetic license, but consider this: I hosted a special on the n-word, suggesting that black people stop using it and that entertainers stop deluding yourselves or themselves and others that you’re somehow taking the word back.

By promoting the use of that word when it’s not germane to the conversation, have you ever considered that you may be just perpetuating the stereotype the master intended acting like a nigger?

A lot of African-Americans took offense to that, too. I wonder if I gave the right advice, I really did. But confirmation came the very next day on my way home when I exited the subway in 125th Street in Harlem. This little kid in a school uniform no older than seven years old, he was crying his eyes out as he walked down the sidewalk with his mother.

I’m going to be honest here, she turned to me, and she said “I’m sick of you. You act like an old ass man, stop all that crying, nigger.” Is that taking the word back? Think about that.

Now number three. Respect where you live. Start small by not dropping trash, littering in your own communities. I’ve lived in several predominantly white neighborhoods in my life, I rarely, if ever, witnessed people littering. I live in Harlem now, it’s an historically black neighborhood, every single day I see adults and children dropping their trash on the ground when a garbage can is just feet away. Just being honest here.

Number two, finish school. You want to break the cycle of poverty? Stop telling kids they’re acting white because they go to school or they speak proper English. A high school dropout makes on average $19,000 a year, a high school graduate makes $28,000 a year, a college graduate makes $51,000 a year. Over the course of a career, a college grad will make nearly $1 million more than a high school graduate. That’s a lot of money.

And number one, and probably the most important, just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues. So, please, black folks, as I said if this doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you. Pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior. Pay close attention to the hip-hop and rap culture that many of you embrace. A culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned, thug and reprehensible behavior, a culture that is making a lot of people rich, just not you. And it’s not going to. That said, though, the political right is not off the hook.

So some of that doesn’t sound so bad, right? I mean, who thinks neighborhoods full of litter or fatherless kids or dropping out of high school is a good thing? However, here’s my problem with what Don Lemon said: blame and causation. Welcome to my four-part analysis of what’s wrong with Don Lemon’s thinking. Grab a drink and get comfortable. This is going to be long.
 
Problem Number 1: Lemon/O’Reilly Appear to Believe That These Factors Are the Root Cause of Discrimination
 
Bill O’Reilly’s point was discussing why white people fear black men and why Trayvon Martin was shot (and, prsumably, why he served to die). Don Lemon’s point was, similarly, related to thoughts that had been plaguing him since the Zimmerman trial. Both men are essentially saying, “If black people weren’t like this, white people wouldn’t treat you differently or poorly.” BEEEEEEEP! Wrong!
 
Even assuming that all blacks were daddyless gangbanger high school dropouts with horrible grammar and poor sartorial choices, discrimination and oppression of blacks is not a modern American construct. Heck, it didn’t even begin just with slavery. If you don’t believe me, pick up your Bible or even just read Othello. Fear of dark-skinned men goes back a long way. This has nothing to do with clothes, family structure, language, or status, and everything to do with skin color. Jim Crow laws did not come into existence because of hip-hop culture (a creation of the 1980s).
 
Fine, let’s say you concede that discrimination against blacks has a long pervasive history around the globe, but you still posit for whatever reason that modern American racism against blacks has absolutely nothing to do with any holdovers from historical racism, and is purely a construct of the presentation of some modern blacks, that still leads to…
 
Problem Number 2: Lemon/O’Reilly Would Have You Believe That Discrimination Against Blacks Only Applies or Is Felt by Those Blacks Who Fit This “Profile” They Describe
 
I am an Ivy League-educated lawyer with a (tested) genius IQ. I wear suits or business-appropriate clothes during the work week and otherwise am appropriately dressed for the occasion (sorry, I wear yoga pants to The Little Gym and the grocery store; I didn’t realize my skin required me to be dressed to the Nines at all hours and in all situations). I don’t use the N-word, except in an academic sense, or maybe on the rare occasion when I say something like, “I’m tired of this House Nigger mentality perpetrated by people like Don Lemon.” [though, I suppose, that’s in an academic context as well]. My parents were married when I was born, and I’ve only ever been pregnant (and thus had children) while married. Heck, my husband is white. I speak English better than many people I know, regardless of color, and I have several grammar books on my bookshelves at home and work. I’m that chick who takes a red pen to Facebook. Most of my friends of any color are quite similar to me in these respects. In fact, most of my black friends in particular fit this mold. Yet, despite the fact that none of us fit any of this Lemon/O’Reilly profile, another thing we all have in common is that we’ve experienced discrimination and racism in our lifetimes–usually quite often.
 
Our “preferred” statuses has not prevented us from experiencing discrimination in the workplace, being followed or racially profiled while shopping, denied service, having women clutch their purses when we walk by [can’t tell you how much that especially pisses me off when the woman clutching her purse in my presence is carrying a purse much cheaper than mine], treated as hostile when speaking in a calm voice, handled aggressively by law enforcement etc. Having a “preferred” status doesn’t prevent racial gerrymandering and won’t prevent us from feeling the effects of the now-gutted Voting Rights Act. Most racial profiling and discrimination applies equally to “hoodrats” and Rhodes Scholars.
 
Even if you were to somehow argue that those of us who don’t fit, support, or even like this Lemon/O’Reilly profile must somehow answer for the crimes of our brethren, that gets us to…
 
Problem Number 3: Why Must Blacks Be Held to a Standard That No One Would Dare to Apply to Any Other Race or Group?
 
Just like any other social or racial group, there are many types of black people with varying backgrounds, beliefs, and opinions. Why are blacks the only group held to this crazy standard where every single apple from Macintosh to Fuji in this gigantic barrel must bear the rot of a few of the rotting Granny Smiths on the bottom?
 
I will give Don Lemon his statistic (verified by Poitifact as the ONLY fact he stated in his long monologue) that 72% of black children are born out of wedlock. However, this does not mean [and Politifact called Lemon’s conclusion a stretch] that this also correlates to 72% of black children having no male influence in their lives and/or no morals. But what about the 68% of Native American children born under the same circumstances? Minus some extreme racists, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone, Native American or otherwise, argue that Native American children deserve any discrimination they receive because most of their moms weren’t married to their dads when they were born. Heck, when’s the last time you’ve even heard of anyone racially profiling our tribal brothers and sisters?
 
Don Lemon also makes a huge stink about blacks glorifying hip-hop gangsta culture through dress and use of the N-word. But who is it that really glorifies gangsta culture? Suburban white kids. A May 2005 statistic from the Wall Street Journal stated that 60% of all hip-hop music was purchased by whites. A 2009 Times article regarding the decline in sales of hip-hop music interviewed industry insiders who opined that a huge part of the decline was attributable to the fact that the suburban whites who made up the majority of hip-hop consumers were “no longer fooled” by artists claiming street cred while flashing obvious signs of wealth.
 
Truly, for many white teens, black gangsta culture is the fantasy. However, for many (not all, and not even certainly most) black teens, the gangsta elements of hip-hop [which, by the way, one would have to be completely ignorant to argue is the entirety of hip-hop] are a reality.
 
Blaming Trayvon Martin’s clothes or taste in music for his death is absolutely ridiculous. My sister-in-law and I have had many conversations about this since the verdict. The sad reality, which we both realize, is that had Trayvon instead been my white nephew, dressed in the same outfit, displaying the same behaviors, he would still be alive. He never would have been profiled. He never would have been shot. And if, by chance, he had been shot (ha!), his taste in music or any behavioral issues never would have been on trial. My nephew, the victim, would not have been tested for the presence in marijuana in his system, nor would that or become the main focus of the MURDER trial of the man who killed him [while, ironically, the aggressive behaviors and legal problems–all related to aggression–of his accuser were ruled inadmissible]. Meanwhile, my hypothetical son–despite his biracial heritage and accomplished parents–would be exactly in the same position as Trayvon Martin. THIS is what President Obama meant when he said that he could have been Trayvon. And anyone who acts as though that statement isn’t true is living in a fantasy world. My family members and friends experience this every day, regardless of how they are dressed. Well, my black family members do anyway. My white family members have never been called “thugs” when wearing hoodies in the rain.
 
But I digress… where are the white leaders calling for their suburban youth to stop glorifying hip-hop gangsta culture? Minus when the NRA tries to point fingers in other directions, where are the white leaders blaming music and clothing for the Aurora shooter? Oh wait… I forgot… whites don’t need “leaders” to speak for a community. They ARE the community. Something else that Lemon/O’Reilly seem to forget.
 
Statistically, most meth users are white men between the ages of 18 and 25, and in terms of percentage, the group holding the biggest percentage of meth users are Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. A November 7, 2011 Times article details research and statistics proving that, despite the higher incarceration rates for blacks, whites are more likely to abuse drugs. In fact, blacks were less likely than any group to develop substance abuse disorders. Yet, despite these statistics, Lemon/O’Reilly would have you believe that blacks and blacks alone are treated differently because of drugs [yes, I realize O’Reilly made this point, not Lemon; but since Lemon endorsed everything O’Reilly said and even argued he should have gone further, he has, by inference, also adopted this position].
 
Okay, well what about the drop-out rates for blacks? Well, a January 2013 study published by the Department of Education, focusing on the 2010-11 school year  showed that while whites and Asians graduated at a higher rate than blacks, Hispanics, and Natives, in most states (and overall nationally), the disparity in graduation (on time) rates was approximately 20%. The actual dropout rate is closer. Whites have a dropout rate of 2.3%, blacks 5.5%, Hispanics 5.0%, Asians 0.9%, and Natives 6.7%. Native American/American Eskimos have a higher dropout rate than blacks, and the Hispanic dropout rate is fairly close to that of blacks, yet I hear no one (who isn’t completely racist) making an argument in favor of sanctioned discrimination against those groups.
 
And why, Lemon/O’Reilly, must the 94.5% of blacks who do not drop out of school suffer discrimination because some white people (are entitled to?) assume that we are all in that 5.5%? And if this is somehow okay in your world, then why can we not similarly hold the 97.7% of whites accountable for the 2.3% who dropout?
 
Even if you don’t like the education statistic, let’s look at another circumstance where one might draw statistical (bigoted) assumptions about whites. White men are overwhelmingly (almost, but not quite, exclusively) more likely than any other group to be serial killers. Am I then allowed to treat every white man I meet as though he’s a potential serial killer [sorry, Pop Culture Dad! I’m sleeping with one eye open tonight!]? Oh, I’m not? Then why is it okay to treat every black man as a potential criminal, just because black men are more likely to be incarcerated?
 
Which leads us back to…
 
Problem Number 4: Causation, Causation, Causation
 
I’m not saying there aren’t problems within the black community that need to be addressed. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage the best of our youth. What I am saying is that even if every point raised by Lemon/O’Reilly somehow magically *poof* disappeared tomorrow, discrimination against and racial profiling of blacks would not go away. Mainly, because these symptoms of a larger societal problem are by no means the cause. Neither Lemon nor O’Reilly has actually addressed the real changes we need.
 
Instead of focusing on the high school dropout rate or the lesser percentage of black students who graduate on time, why not focus on the disparity in the quality of public school education? Is anyone really surprised that less students graduate in an environment where there are more students per teacher, the books are old and outdated, and there are fewer computers to be found? Are we really blaming the victims for not operating well within a broken system? Oh… apparently we are.
 
Instead of focusing on teaching our sons and brothers that is is not okay for him to dress down EVER, even though it’s perfectly fine for all of his white friends, why don’t we instead focus on teaching white people not to judge young black boys by a different standard? Why view one boy as a physical threat when the only thing different about him is the color of his skin/coarseness of his hair?
 
Instead of deciding for our entire community whether and when it is appropriate to use the N-word [which, by the way, most of us do not], why not just make it clear from the outset that it is NOT up to anyone outside of the group to determine what labels people within a group choose to call each other in a non-hostile way? As a friend pointed out the other day, there are some friends she can call “bitch” like its their first name, and others who, maybe if you did that even once a month in the most loving way, would want to cut you. If you aren’t close enough to someone that you know where and when to draw certain lines with them, then perhaps you should maybe…. um… I don’t know… don’t call them anything without their permission? Don’t worry about what some black people decide to call themselves or each other. Just know that you can’t say it–just like I know there are some “reclaimed” words of groups of which I am not a member, which I would NEVER say without permission, and even then only to and around the person who gave me permission. Why do you need that word anyway? Do you not realize what is seriously wrong with a person who claims some sort of hurt at not being able use a derogatory name for a group to which s/he does not belong??
 
Similarly, why the hell is Don Lemon giving Bill O’Reilly to say anything about the black community? As Sherri Shepherd said today:
I don’t want to give Bill O’Reilly a license to say anything, because he’s never been a young black man growing up in the situations that a lot of them grow up in.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of whites (Bill O’Reilly especially) who refuse to have an honest look at their own behaviors, fears, and prejudices and deal with them in a meaningful way that does not involve blaming the victims. And there are far too many blacks like Don Lemon and Charles Barkley who are all too happy to give them that pass.
 
Here’s the problem, though: We can’t make any systematic changes without the majority/ruling class. Women’s rights didn’t happen simply because women wanted it. It happened because there were men who supported us. Slavery wasn’t abolished simply because blacks wanted to be free; it happened because there were whites who were also willing to fight for our right to freedom. We are in a new Civil Rights Era. People like Bill O’Reilly and Don Lemon can continue to be on the wrong side of history, or they can get off their asses and take a look at the REAL causes of discrimination and what needs to be done to fix it.
Black people can clean our own house, sure. But first, we need white people to clean theirs. We can’t be in this together, if the blame for centuries of prejudice falls on us alone.