Donald Trump brought old school back. Explicit bigotry and racial violence are now back on the table, thanks to the Donald. Solange is demanding a seat at that same table, however. Her new album, “A Seat at the Table,” matches the open hostility of Trump’s movement with an equally unapologetic affirmation of blackness and self-determination. Solange is trying to tell us something. She gave us the freedom to feel pain and articulate that but more importantly, lessons to overcome it from an unlikely role model: Master P. This is the light we will follow in the age of “President Donald Trump.”
If I sold guns, my livelihood would depend on whether a candidate preferred war or peace. I can see why defense contractors are so invested in elections. Only about 53% of Americans voted in the 2012 presidential election; clearly half of the country didn’t feel that their livelihood depended on that election. Coincidentally, roughly half of the country earns less than $50,000 annually, according to American Community Survey data. Ask any of those under $50,000 earners how their most pressing day-to-day issue is being directly confronted in this election and they couldn’t tell you. But they aren’t stupid. Research by Dr. Thomas Hayes shows the voting record of Senators–of both parties–consistently align with the opinions of their wealthy constituents while the opinions of lower-class constituents never appear to influence their voting behavior.
My ancestors died for voting rights. My vote was purchased in blood and thus it is valuable. But it won’t really count next Tuesday. My vote only matters if I have identified the issues important to my community, pressed candidates to take a stance on those issues and feel confident that someone on the ballot will fight for them. None of those conditions will exist next Tuesday. No, the prospect of a third Clinton term is not at all equal to the lunacy of a Donald Trump presidency but let’s not be delusional and think that the concerns of black communities will be front and center. Sadly, we as black people must shoulder some of that blame.
This conversation isn’t for white America–I’m speaking directly to my brothers. Most of my life I wondered how so many white folks could be apathetic to racism and black suffering. I get it now. Although we as black men are intimately familiar with suffering and oppression, a great number of us manage to be wholly apathetic to (at best) our oppression of black women. Nate Parker’s case highlighted many of the misogynistic tendencies we have learned to normalize but “Surviving Compton” took it to a completely different level. Sure, many whites show little urgency in confronting black oppression but just maybe their apathy parallels that of black men who aren’t all that pressed to fight the mistreatment and abuse of the women right in our line of sight.
I saw “The Birth of a Nation” over the weekend. The movie had everything to do with race but in the months before its release the discussion around it was anything but. Blacks and whites in my circle united in their insistence that I boycott the film because Nate Parker was accused of rape 17 years ago. While my reaction to these individuals differed depending on their race, one thing is certain: all were asking me to boycott in an attempt to police the issue of violence against women because our criminal justice system does not police the issue well. For systemic change to occur, however, the energy and protests toward Nate Parker (and other individuals accused) must also be turned against a criminal justice system that does not value women.
Hillary Clinton visited a Black church in Charlotte Sunday, a city still wrestling with the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of police. In her address Clinton said, “I am a grandmother and like every grandmother, I worry about the safety and security of my grandchildren. But my worries are not the same as black grandmothers, who have different and deeper fears about the world that their grandchildren face.” Hillary Clinton only had to say that Blacks are more likely to be shot in the streets by the police–whom our tax dollars fund–in order to differentiate herself from the other guy.
“Food, Inc” is an amazing documentary that will scare the hell out of you. It examines our food system and how unhealthy our food truly is. After watching it I only ate grass and tree-bark the next three days. But since that time I have frequented many drive-thru windows. Why? Simply because I did not continue watching “Food, Inc” each day afterward. How fearful would we be of fast food if we watched that film daily? Fear is an animal which can only live if fed. Fear of black men lives on because the nation watches the equivalent of “Food, Inc” daily, only the subject is not food but black males–call it “Black Man, Inc.” We have been conditioned each and every day by the media to fear our darker brother and that “we” includes the police who always “fear for their lives” when shooting black men, even if unarmed.
Dear white people: this article is not for you. Continue to dig deep within your souls to find racism and perhaps we’ll connect later. Yes, racism exists. It has and continues to shape outcomes from housing and employment to police shootings rooted in white fear of “the darker brother.” Still, we should pretend Weezy is a genius and adopt his fantasy. Screaming about racism and posting articles on Facebook about the subject has never made you one dollar. Further, the most brilliant scholarship on the topic has seemingly not changed one thought in the collective conscience of white America. Toni Morrison said it best: racism is just one big distraction that “keeps you from doing your work.” The work is to ensure that our children no longer have to beg white people to be nicer to them.
Denver’s Brandon Marshall kicked off the NFL season Thursday by kneeling before the Anthem in protest. Marshall said that he “prayed long and hard about it” and he “felt it was the right thing to do.” His prayers did not stop him from losing an endorsement deal with Air Academy Federal Credit Union (AAFCU). Marshall knelt to protest injustice and police brutality in particular but AAFCU made it clear they didn’t give a damn about that. This is what happens when you protest but don’t own anything–your fate is always in the hands of someone else. We can stay angry about it or actually correct the issue at the root.
“Is this the nigger right here?” My grandfather was in his 20’s but if that white woman said “yes” his life was over. “No, he’s too tall,” she answered the policeman. Having grown up in Mississippi grandpa knew that encounter could have been fatal. Indeed, he knew a long history of black men who were lynched based on the mere (false) allegation of a white woman–no criminal trial needed. U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe chose to take a knee Sunday during the National Anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick; now the 49ers quarterback is learning what my grandfather did years ago in Mississippi. White women have long possessed a unique value in mitigating black suffering and legitimizing black pain to a white world.