Thursday, December 22, 2016

#WhitenessSoFragile: On Tone Policing the Brown Toned

Some inanely racist stuff happened in Rochester, NY that is a phenomenon commonly called “Tuesday”. My super-ego saved a man from being beaten within an inch of his life, and I wrote a very long Facebook post about it:
Dear Rochester white people,

I need y’all to get Your Boy™.

Last night, as I walked into a bar, Your Boy™ told me he had a cigarette for me, to which I said that I’m good since I don’t smoke. He then said, “Oops, wrong black guy. You all look alike!” which garnered a middle finger from me as I crossed the threshold into the bar…there were no other black people in the bar, by the way.

Later, Your Boy™ was on the phone talking loudly and dropped “nigger” a few times. I’m not sure if that was his regular vernacular or if he was trying to provoke me.

Next, Your Boy™ put his arm around me as I sat at the bar as if we were cool, to which I told him to step off. But then I was the asshole for not wanting to deal with him.

Finally, as I left the bar, one of Your Boy’s™ friends asked if I was their cabbie, to which I asked what the fuck his problem is and walked away. I’m not sure what they said as I walked away, but I doubt it was anything polite.

White Rochester, you need to get Your Boy™. He thought he could just be chummy with me without apologizing for everything else he did because he didn’t think his behavior was an aberration. This is an Upstate NY thing. I lived in Fayetteville, NC, in Hampton, VA, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, and the amount of tacit accepted racism in Upstate NY surpasses all of them combined. That some dude thinks he can insult me and then act like he did nothing wrong shows how oblivious of its own otherism. Don’t ask me how I “put myself in these situations”. My skin didn’t cause the “situation”. Your Boy™ did. Don’t tell me to just go to a different venue or open my own. I have the same goddamn right to go to whatever bar I want. It’s not like I went to a lodge run by the Aryan Nation. Don’t dismiss me pointing out these things that happen as “whining”, and when I call you out on your attempts to shut me down, miss me with your claims of “reverse racism”.

Deal with Your Boy™. Check his ass when he is out of line. Don’t just do it in front of me. I don’t need a white knight. Don’t regale me of stories about how you called some Italian dude a “nigger” because he said something racist. Shut down Your Boy™ when he says/does/acts out whatever tacit racist, sexist, homophobic thing in front of you, regardless of who is around you.

I’ve been dealing with Your Boy™ nearly once a month since I’ve been in Rochester. That's 8 years. That means natives of Rochester have been dealing with him for even longer. It’s time you start checking Your Boy™, because he obviously won’t listen to just us.
Unexpectedly, some white people publicly and privately took umbrage with what I said, pointing out that they are not the white people of whom I speak who sit on the side and do nothing, and they are DEFINITELY not Your Boy™, and they know no one like that, so why should they be held responsible for people like this?

Because the objections, though from a place of shock and the feel of being unjustly lumped in with the bad, are an example of how #WhitenessSoFragile.

If you are not one of the white people who go about your day and simply ignore Your Boy™ or sit on the sideline while YB™ is doing his YB™ stuff, then my request is not about you. That should be obvious, and addressing my rant “Dear white people, but only white people who do this thing that I am about to talk about” is not efficient. You should know to whom I mean, and if you are not included in that behavioral demographic, then you should have no issue. And no, it would STILL not be okay to write something that starts with “Dear black people”, because as a white person, no matter what your socioeconomic status, you are coming from a place of power. When you come from a place of power and say, X people need to do Y to attain Z”, it just sounds subjective and condescending, because of the hundreds to thousands of years of subjugation, depending on who X is in the sentence.

When women started the hashtag #YesAllWomen, to discuss how toxic their interactions with men can be, it was almost immediately met with #NotAllMen, a hashtag that illustrates how #MasculinitySoFragile. Women implored that men start to look at themselves and their actions to end a culture that makes half of the population of the world feel less secure about their autonomy, and if a man is not guilty of any of the called –out mannerisms, then check the next men when he IS guilty of it. Fragile dudes couldn’t handle it, and started #NotAllMen. Other men realized that when women addressed “men”, they knew exactly about whom this was about and didn’t get offended. Beside the fact that I was addressing people of a certain hue instead of women, how was my post different?

Similarly, when black women started the #BlackLivesMatter movement to discuss the unfair treatment of black men and women in the justice system, it was met with #BlueLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, and a lot of drivel about “black on black” crime. No one hated the police, no one claimed that all lives didn’t matter, and “black on black” crime is just CRIME, which is proportionally equal to “white on white” crime. Reasonable law officers and DAs understood that #BlackLivesMatter was not against them, but a system that perpetuated a tilted dispensing of justice. Others immediately tried to frame the movement as nearly a terrorist group. All they succeeded in doing was to show that #WhitenessSoFragile.

If you are in a place of power, and you do NOT do the degenerative things that make society hostile to those with less power, then if you care, it is your responsibility to call out those who abuse that power. Slaves didn’t free themselves with the 13th Amendment. The 19th Amendment wasn’t ratified by women. The NAACP’s first president was a white guy. DOMA wasn’t deemed unconstitutional by 9 LGBT Supreme Court justices.  It is ridiculous to think that those out of power have to do all of the work to make our world better. And the clap back when those out of power talks about the actions of some or most IN power is proof of how fragile and precious that power is.

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