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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Being A Black Man: A Terrifying Threat

There are significant differences between the way that Blacks interact and the way that Whites interact, but none is more significant than the difference in our buffers. For many Whites an idea is nothing more than an idea - something to be contemplated, studied, and understood - but for Blacks ideas quickly lead to actions. If you see a couple White girls yelling at each other then it is a good idea to let them get it out of their system so they can go back to normal relations. However, if you see a couple sisters yelling at each other it would be a good idea to break it up while you still can, because stuff's probably about to jump off. If White men have a problem with pornography then Black men have a problem with adultery. We have very little buffer between our thoughts and our actions - if the thought comes to mind then we'll immediately jump to it. This is why Whites are often petrified of the idea of conflict with Blacks - they presume that it will inevitibly become violent.

Being a Black man means living life as a terrifying threat to the people in power.

Naturally, this is a broad generalization in both directions - there are plenty of Whites with no fear of conflict, least of all with Blacks, and there are Blacks with buffer for days (pensive, introspective types like myself) - but as far as generalizations go there's a lot of truth in it. Some of this is due to the caricature that has been promoted as the Black Man and some of it is indeed based on fact. Some of it, however, is nothing more than in our own head.

My Doolie (freshman) year at the Air Force Academy I was assigned to the boxing team for my squadron. I wasn't exactly enthralled by the idea but I wasn't exactly given a choice either. My first bout was against this pasty White kid from someplace where cow-tipping was the official past time. I looked at him and thought to myself, "You know, this might not be so bad after all - I get to come down to the gym and beat the hell out of White guys. I'm a young brother from Detroit - they don't know nothing about this. Yeah, let's do this!" What they neglected to tell me was that farm boy was the reigning Academy Wing Open champion from the previous year in the weight class. That was the longest 3 minutes of my life - farm boy beat me from Duluth to Boise. Wasn't he supposed to be afraid of a young brother from Detroit?

Apparently not.

So while it is true that a lot of Whites are afraid of Black Men on GP, don't get it twisted - that doesn't apply to all Whites. Trust me.

But what does apply to all Black men is the fact that we have to deal with the overcompensation of the majority. Everyone needs a source of pride, something wherein they can say that they are better than other people, and if they cannot find it within themselves then they will try to put others down in order to lift themselves up. Martin Luther King Jr. summed it up perfectly:
The other day I was saying, I always try to do a little converting when I'm in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. So I would get to preaching, and we would get to talking—calmly, because they wanted to talk about it. And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, "Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. You're just as poor as Negroes." And I said, "You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you're so poor you can't send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march."

Now that's a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can't hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out.
The same thing applies today, even if less overtly than in the year that I was born, the year that King was killed. Through blindness and classical conditioning Whites have been programmed/encouraged/influenced to think of Blacks as inferior, uncivilized and threatening, and all too often Black men have to overcome those preconceived notions. What's worst is when they realize that we are not a threat to their person and they can see us for who we are then we become a true threat to them - we're just as smart and we know the game. That's when a Black Man becomes a nigger, because that's when the Black man becomes a truly terrifying threat - a competent competitor for all that the White Man has. This is how the Agile Acrobat becomes a Tangible Target and then has to fight for his very existence.

Been there.

Done that.

Got the pink slip to show for it.

Sometimes I fell like Darkwing Duck - "I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the scourge that pecks at your nightmares. I am the itch that you cannot reach. I am the fingernail that scrapes the blackboard of your soul." Sometimes I feel like nothing more than a guy with an overwrought sense of persecution. Somteimes I feel like nobody is reading this anyway since nobody seems to care to comment so I could say just about anything and it wouldn't matter. Sometimes I feel like no matter how much I try to understand it all, no matter how much I try to fix it all, no matter how much I try to wrap my mind around all that it means to be a Black Man, we're still screwed.

What? Me? Bipolar?

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!

Nah.

Just frustrated that it has to be like this, that America is so jacked up, that everywhere else is even more jacked up. Living in America as a Black Man means living as a terrifying threat, most of all to ourselves.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM

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