Monday, September 7, 2015

Black Lives Matter: When the Cameras Aren't On and There Aren't Faces, Names, and Spaces Getting Exposure, Does America Really Care?


"The sheep's entire life & dialogue is consumed with the wolf & its intentions. For if the sheep relaxes one iota, it very well may get gobbled up---literally”-Navar Ero

So, Sandra Bland was suffering from depression & posted a video about it on Facebook. Hmmm. Who isn't? I'm sure between the party, family, & food pics many of you are too but don't know it. Does that mean a $500 bail & an ass kicking from the cops will make you hang yourself with no sheet nor blanket in sight? ‪ 
Class, Occupational Status, Education, and Socioeconomics are all defining factors when analyzing culture & the similarities of one's culture & individual background, but once Race, particularly American Blackness, is thrown into the mix, not only is it an entirely different ballgame, but the parameters & rules & regulations of the proverbial ballgame cannot even be defined, let alone found, in the aforementioned rule book(s).  

Eric Garner was selling loose cigarettes in New York City, you know, that diverse melting pot where anyone who is no one can actualize the American Dream, was accosted by the police for his illegal endeavors and ended up dying en route to the hospital via ambulance after being subjected to a Southern-style lynching vis a vis a police choke hold.  Tamir Rice, only twelve-years-old, was haphazardly pointing a be-be gun at people, though it looked like a real firearm, in a Cincinnati park, was killed without warning by white policemen.  Numerous other humans of a darker hue than the prototypical Eurocentric shade have been beaten, unjustly accosted, and/or killed at the hands of both Black and white police officers solely, in my opinion, because of the criminalized and deviant stereotype that is so often connoted with people with “African” or “Black” heritage in the United States of America. 

Why is this?  Sure, whites are killed by cops, but men lie, women lie, and numbers don’t like the greatest rapper who ever lived Jay-Z/Shawn Carter once stated.  Black people are roughly 12.2% of the American population.  Latinos/Hispanics another 16.4%, Asians around 4%,  and the rest of the nation is or considers themselves to be “white” (63%).  

So, I, in my most humbly-hued opinion believe the comparison of Black bodies being snuffed -out by government-sanctioned law enforcement officials is disproportionately, and negatively, swinging in the favor of the Negro. So, what do we, as a nation? (particularly a 70.6% Christian nation, per the census and various nationals polls) Approach the injustice and violent encounters in which many Black/African Americans endure during police encounters—whether those encounters end up in incarceration, or, even worse--brutality, humiliation, and death?  Or do we become “the ones we have been waiting for” like June Jordan once wrote and said, whether publicly or in her mind’s psyche when she was constructing her rhetorical art?  

Do we, both Black and White Americans, mirror the Christian ideology in which our nation so dotes and touts itself among the international community, and practice what our Protestant nation preaches throughout the world?  The main tenant of Christianity—Love, has been proselytized and historicized throughout modern History as the tool good over evil and democracy over tyranny, which encapsulates a World History that has mythologicalized  Anglo-Christianity as the embodiment, ideologically speaking, of justice and equality, and the international media portrays it as mankind's saving grace, a ideological Christ-of-sorts, which must be witnessed or experienced by the every human, every community, every nation, and hamlet in the world.  So, if this message of democracy and Christianity is exhibited and defined by "acts" of kindness and love, then, there can be no American or Christian/Protestant dominance without Equality and Justice, right? (to be continued.  I apologize.  This text has been a two month stream of consciousness.

                                                                                               -Gee Joyner 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Black Lives Matter: The Movement Speaks (Memphis Grassroots Organizations' Coalition Statement)


Over the past few weeks, several citizens, civic organizations, ministers and other interested parties have rallied, protested, organized and strategized in order to resist forces of oppression that plague the black community from both outside and within.  In lieu of this, we want to affirm the work being done across the city and nation.  We also want to solicit every willing worker of goodwill to join in dismantling the various forms of oppression and injustice amongst us through every adequate and effective form and method of resistance.  This is indeed a peculiar moment in the life of our country as well as our beloved city.  It is a time by which we need all hands on deck to achieve the objectives of freedom and liberation to which we must forever remain devoted.  
One of the aims of our correspondence today is to stand as a grassroots coalition and collective in affirmation of each and every effort to bring truth, justice, peace and love to our city.  We need to produce a concerted effort in response to the State of Emergency whereby we find ourselves.  The catastrophic loss and continual devaluing of black lives has birthed the breath of fresh air and stoked the sacred fire of the #BlackLivesMatter movement nationwide.  This movement, nationally and locally, is a banner and philosophy under which many grassroots groups and sacred communities stand in solidarity.  It is in this vein of unity and hope for better tomorrows that we petition our people, our institutions, and our organizations of goodwill to continue to work towards the freedom and liberty of our people.  Furthermore, those who are familiar with the BLM movement know that the movement never seeks to merely switch the source of oppression from one group to the next.  The Spirit of the movement itself seeks to dismantle, disrupt and destroy every form of oppression and centers on the experiences of the most underprivileged.  To that end, we aim to denounce the shooting and death of Officer Sean Bolton.  We stand in full support of the MPD and other parties that seek to obtain justice for the slain officer and his family.  In that same vein, we cannot allow the tragedy that took place on August 1st to be the cause of us to ignore the tragedy that took place on July 17th. We must remain diligent in and sensitive to the work necessary to bring justice and peace, healing and wholeness to ALL those who are suffering.  
Therefore, we also seek to update the general public with respect to the developments and demands relative to the shooting of Brother Darrius Stewart by Officer Conner Schilling.  Within the past two weeks, with the support of the family, friends, social activist groups and ministerial leaders who have held several vigils, rallies, worship services and other events to raise the social consciousness of the city with respect to this particular incident as well as the issues of police brutality and violence in general. We all remain committed to resisting every form of oppression, exploitation and manipulation that continues to heighten the tensions between civilians, law enforcement and civic and political leadership.  This is not the time to politicize tragedies.  It is the time to respond to them with compassion and commitment to truth, love and justice.  
Therefore, in the name of trust, transparency and progress, we request that the TBI, MPD, and/or DA Amy Weirich provide the general public with relevant, uncompromising, and up to date information with respect to both the shooting of Officer Bolton and the shooting of Darrius Stewart, at least once per week via written statements and/or press conferences until an indictment is handed down or the investigation reaches its legal conclusion.  We have already begun to witness the intensity by which MPD and others are pursuing justice in the shooting of Officer Bolton.  Equal force should be applied in pursuing justice in the shooting of Darrius Stewart.  
To be clear, our aim is not personal but corporate.  Our focus in not merely on an instance or two, but, moreover, towards the broader and longstanding epidemics of police brutality, the culture of violence in our country and the wanton use of guns as weapons of mass destruction.  Therefore, with respect to law enforcement, we also request that the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board be reestablished immediately and authorized by our city administration to review each use of lethal force since its disbanding (including the Darrius Stewart shooting).  We expect nothing less that equitable measure to be taken in the name of justice for all parties involved.  
We are not anti-police. We are anti-injustice. Again, let us reiterate that it is the collective work of all of our social, civic and ministerial organizations that obtain and sustain freedom, justice, and equal protections under the law. Therefore, we applaud the work of resistance that leads to liberation being carried out by all those who are fighting for freedom and ask them to continue to do so they work to which they are called and compelled.  In the words of Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (in honor of Dr. Ella Baker), “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”  We have been and will continue to do the work of social justice in this city until freedom comes.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two Sides of a Copper Coin: The Coloring of Rachel Dolezal and Sandra Bland in a Post-Racial America


     I have always found the term post-racial to not only be peculiar and oxymoronic, but flat out asinine. (didn’t want to say stupid)  How on God’s green Earth, and, more specifically God’s chosen land via the notion of the European settlers’ ideology of manifest destiny, which was an inkling of their impetus to settle in the New World, now known as the United States of America, a nation built and defined on the aesthetics of color and Race, possibly be beyond color and Race which the the word post connotes?  The idea of post delineates that there was an America that existed before race, and, now, in 2015, Race is an afterthought or an afterword in the narrative of U.S. History.  Basically, the nation is post-racial because color and Race no longer carry any rewards nor consequences in American culture (i.e. social, political, and economic).  Yet, let us look with a keen third eye at what Race and Blackness brought upon one Rachel Dolezal and Ms. Sandra Bland.

      Within the past month, the nation has seen two educated women castigated in the national media for their respective behaviors.  Both women were educated.  Both women spoke out with loud tongues concerning the atrocities and inequalities and injustices heaped upon African Americans in the United States.  Both women, whether through culture or biology, identified themselves as Black.  One was a professor of Africana Studies.  One was beginning a new career as a Student Ambassador at Texas A & M Prairie View, her alma mater and one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU).  Dolezal lectured on the culture of Black America, both the triumphs and tragedies, while Bland publicly spoke and protested against unjust police brutality amongst Black Americans (particularly social media videos entitled “Sandra Speaks").  The dichotomy that exists between these two women is a parallel of Race that can be pontificated, analysed, and researched for years to come. 

      Rachel Dolezal’s decision to “pass” for Black in America was scrutinized and even demonized, mainly, by the Black community, particularly the Black Intelligentsia.  Whereas there were some that chanted the forgiving-mantra of Black America “Let that woman be”, most Black Americans that I came into contact with in the real world and via social media felt betrayed because while Rachel benefitted from her public identifying of Black (NAACP chapter president, adjunct professorship of Africana Studies) she, up until last month, lived a life null and void of the constant harassment and blatant and subtle discrimination and subordination that lurks around the corners of life for most of Black America.  Now though, Dolezal is out of work and complaining that her career and career opportunities have been ruined because of her clandestine racial fraud.  Some would say she has reaped what she has sown.  But, what about the literal demise of Sandra Bland? 

      Bland was accosted, man-handled, degraded, and, in my opinion, unlawfully arrested in Texas because of a failure to signal when changing lanes.  Three days after that arrest she was found dead in her cell from an alleged suicide.  See what Blackness can get you?  The difference is the costume that Rachel Dolezal paraded around in could’ve been removed at any time and only landed her in the unemployment line.  On the other hand, the Negroidian uniform of Blackness that Sandra Bland has donned from birth landed her in a dank cell and eventually a grave.  Rachel’s perceived Black womanhood and defiance in the form of celebrating Black culture landed her on CNN, low-key lobbying for a book deal.  Yet, she was alive—explaining to the media why she felt the need to “pass”.  Sandra’s skin tone and hue caused her to end up on CNN and the national media dead—only alive in a mugshot and a video of her arrest.  Her voice can be heard questioning the police officer about his egregious behavior and arrest on the aforementioned video.  That is all that is left of Sandra Bland and her blackness.  Rachel, for the most part, will probably cease visiting the tanning salon, take the weave and braids out of her head, lay off the collard greens and mac n’ cheese and reemerge somewhere as a white woman—alive and well.  Bet you she’s glad she wasn’t “Black” in that car down in Prairie View, Texas now.  She’s probably cuttin’ a jig because she was outed just in time.  I will bet a dollar to a dime that she’s not in a rush to claim her blackness these days.  Rachel, if you’re reading this, which I seriously doubt, see what Black gets you?

                                                                                                   -Gee Joyner

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Right Reverend President and the Concern of Cheap Grace

I love my President. I listened intently to his most recent and thoughtful eulogy. After listening, I texted several of my close ministry colleagues and contemplated my thoughts, weighed my emotions and considered how to respond (if at all). Through my (cyber) dialogue with them (which will continue in the days to come), I have come to applaud and appreciate how POTUS drew upon the best and most redemptive ideas,  tropes and themes of the African American Religious experience. The Black Churches attributes of faith, hope, love and justice came shining through.  President Obama was careful and thoughtful to highlight what the Black Church has persevered through and has come to mean to the faithful and to our communities writ large. Mr. President became “Mr. Preacher” (as we call those in the Black Church who become associated with the ability to inform and inspire from the pulpit platform).  Bishop Barack stood squarely in the African American preaching tradition as he called the names of the nine victims who were murder at “Mother Emanuel,” honored the family, and lifted up the life, love, and legacy of the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
I also understand the ubiquitous platform whereby the President stood. He is, after all, the leader of the American empire. To that end, there were also a few things that drew my concern and attention. POTUS did not speak directly about how the cultural production of white supremacy has created an environment whereby even those raised in a “post-racial society” can carry out racial terrorism. Furthermore, the President explicitly stated, "[THE KILLER] DIDN'T KNOW HE WAS BEING USED BY GOD." I cringed. 
As a public speaker who veers from my printed manuscript, I understand extemporaneous impulses and the dangers (and benefits) thereof. I'm not sure if POTUS prepared this statement or merely just, "went with it." Nevertheless, this statement coupled with a few others bordered on theological shortsightedness and misrepresentation.  The “Reverend President” and Theologian-In-Chief ought to have, like all of us who attempt to articulate divine insight through human instruments, room to err.  I grant him that.  POTUS also can, like all of us, be subject to loving critiques (like the one I’m attempting to offer here). 
The evoking of “grace” as a theme was present throughout the eulogy and rang true to the tenets of the Black Church historically. The grace we have extended and encountered is nothing short of “Amazing” (as was the movement led by POTUS to invite the congregation to celebrate in song as he led “in tune”).  We love it and live it.  And yes, the President called out very relevant topics of mass incarceration, poverty (a word many of his critics tried to condemn him for not saying), America’s “original sin” (racism), and the inadequacies of our current social structure.  Yet, the type of grace POTUS asked us to extend (which is indeed part of the Gospel mandate) has the potential to border on cheap. Bill Maher asked, “Should we forgive them so quickly?”  Maher went on to suggest that right wingers like Fox News may use the Charleston Massacre as a means of condemning any (black) victims who don’t forgive “like the good people of Charleston did.”  Is there space in the Presidential rhetoric of tragedy to affirm black rage?  Can black folks both sincerely forgive and be sincerely angry?  It is not a far reach to surmise that POTUS requested that Black victims employ grace to a violent white supremacist in ways POTUS himself is reluctant or unwilling to extend to Islamic Jihadists like ISIS.  Again, he is the leader of the American Empire.  I get it! 

I also get our conflicting and complex relationship with civil religion.  For instance, many of those who bought POTUS’s eulogy wholesale as the sermonic second coming, spent the same morning condemning the SCOTUS ruling on Marriage Equality that POTUS has been championing for a few years now.  I can understand (and to some degree appreciate) the support and critique from both sides of the congregational aisle.  What I hope we can all glean from this is the need for us to pay close attention to the ways in which rhetorical theology – the association with and appropriation of religious rhetoric as a means of theological, political and/or social affirmation and persuasion – and our political leader’s religious sensibilities can do us harm or good.  It is ultimately up to us to study and show ourselves approved.  

                                                                                                             -Rev. Earle J. Fisher

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Social Death By Misadventure: Rachel Dolezal and the Manipulation of Blackness (Part 1)


            C.Thomas Howell once portrayed a college student, Mark Watson, who used tanning pills to  appear Black in an effort to get admitted to Harvard Law School on a scholarship available to African Ameicans and vis a vis a minority quota.  In this comedy, which I consider dark and lacking humor, Howell’s character oft times finds himself in a conundrum because he doesn’t maintain the sterotypes of a Black male (i.e. physically endowned, great athlete—basketball player), and must wriggle his way out of these situations by positing that he is an “exception” to the aforementioned stereotypes, which is supposed to be funny.  Twenty-nine years later, Rachel Dolezal seems to be the living embodiment of the 1986 cinematic exploitation movie “Soul Man.”    
The thing about minstrelsy, or Blackface, is that it is a brand of antiquated humor, only funny to those of the lighter hue, that exaggerates the socially constructed stereotypes of the African-American that satirize human inferiorities, both intellectual and physical, that are definitely not solely attributed to those of African descent or the darker hue.  It has even been lampooned and inverted in popular culture, particularly entertainment, by positing the Black exception as odd or unnatural in that he or she who is of African descent to be the polar opposite of the infantile, ignorant, shiftless, and overtly foolish imbecile that has been the standard for African American stereotypes since we set foot on the land that is now the United States of America. 
The problem I have with Rachel Dolezal is her manipulative use of the agency of "passing" when it is profitable, convenient, and comfortable.  Identifying and experiencing American Blackness are fruits from a different bowl.  Her faux complaints of racial harrassment and discrimination aside, I would like for her to be Black when it's condemned not when it's cool. Yes, she attended Washington D.C.’s  Howard University (a prominent black college) and married and divorced a Black man, and had Black adopted siblings, and has served as the Alaska-Oregon chapter President of the NAACP, serves as an adjunct instructor in Africana Studies at one of Washington state’s colleges, and wore braids and curls and got an orange tan, yet all of the aforementioned things do not make her Black. 
 The Black American experience is much more nuanced than the music, soul food, civic organizations you have membership in, college courses you teach, or romantic relationships you choose. Braids or 'fros don't cut the mustard, folks.  The conundrum lies in the alleged allegations that she has been a victim of racial discrimination and harrassment because of her race or ethnicity which is a lie in and of itself.  She is a white woman who has chosen to become aesthetically, and for all intents and purposes, Black.  The media alleges that the threats she says she has endured and the letters she has received and the noose planted in her yard are all a hoax.  And this is what’s troubling.  The Black American experience isn’t a game.  The Black lives that have been lost solely due to the stereotypes perpetuated that suggest the Black American is a menace to society and a harbinger of skullduggery and criminality are no joking matter and definitely not something that should be taken with a grain of salt.  There is a huge difference between wearing a costume & wearing a hue or attire that cannot come off or be discarded in a closet or found at a beautyshop or tanning salon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Let’s Go Krogering: Memphis: In Black & White

            There is no doubt that my hometown has a problem with violent crime.  But on the night of Saturday, September 6, 2014, I was appalled at what was captured on the cellular phone camera by a witness.  To see a herd of Memphis teens, all of which appear to be African American (even though some eyewitness accounts claim that some members of the mob were white) caused a tempest to churn inside of me.
 I watched as teens ran wildly across the parking lot of the Kroger grocery store on Poplar and Highland.  I cringed at the sight of one Black male kicking and stomping a Kroger employee, who happened to be white.  I shed a tear or two when, to add insult to an unconsciously injured human being, the aforementioned youngster, and others, forcefully threw large, seasonal pumpkins at the head of the incapacitated victim.  Lastly, I became enraged.  I became enraged because I knew, even though it was a crime against humanity, my city, Memphis, Tennessee, would conjure the ghosts of division and racism that have resided here since the days of Ida B. Wells’ anti-lynching campaign and the race riots of 1866.  I hoped we wouldn’t, but, as I have followed the aftermath of the incident and read comments on social network sites and listened to conversations on talk-radio and throughout the city, my “hope” was in vain.
There are litanies of nuances that can be intricately analyzed and critiqued as it pertains to the riot-like atmosphere that resulted in the physical harming of three individuals, but the most pressing and paramount concern, for me, is the visual that has produced such frenzy, not only locally, but nationally as well.  Even veteran Hollywood actor James Woods has expressed his concern and desire for Attorney General Eric Holder to visit Memphis as he did Ferguson, Missouri to address racial violence, tension, and hate crimes.

When analyzing a visual text, one must observe what is seen and not seen.  In this tragedy, all most people in the audience see is a white teen being physically assaulted by one particular Black teen while other Black teens are running wildly around—some could be participants and some could be onlookers and voyeurs getting thrills from watching another human being hurt.  What the visual recording displays is what looks to be a racially motivated attack, but who can really know if race was the prime motivator?  With African Americans viewing non-Black on Black crime as an incident of “hate”, it is only logical that whites would view a Black on white crime through the same sociological lenses.
But, there is more to it.  Sure the teens that were involved in their idea of a “fun” game entitled “pick ‘em out, knock ‘em out” (a game where individuals randomly select unsuspecting individuals to punch/knock out) should be punished.  Sure, the parents of the aforementioned teens should be chastised and held accountable for the rearing and actions of their offspring.  Yet, should we, as a viewing audience, publicly lynch the character of these Black teens and relegate them to a state of perpetual thuggery and criminality?  Some may think so, but we have all been young and youth is often filled with idiocy and bad choices.  And being a resident of the Southern Bible Belt of Christianity, I do believe in second, third, and fourth chances.
We all must stand for justice regardless whether or not one whom “looks” like us is a victim.  Black and white Americans should march, protest, and become advocates against violence even when we do not identify with the victim.  What causes divisiveness is when we only rally around the home team.  As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and like millions of others, I concur. It shouldn’t matter the color of our uniform, we all play for the same team.

*Gee Joyner is an English Professor, lecturer, and author of Kim; The Story of John and He Talk White:  The Scholarly and Artistic Works of a Writer

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Still A Nigger: A Day in the Life of a Black American Professor

It is always a strange and unfamiliar territory when one is transitioning from one thing to another—be it a relationship, home, city, or job.  And, in my case, the transition from a small HBCU (Historically Black College or University) to a large state university (PWI-predominately white institution) is no different.  It’s strange because I once walked this campus in the pursuit of two degrees and a Literature certification.  I walked this campus racking up numerous graduate hours in Education.  I once walked this campus stockpiling Doctoral hours in English, yet upon my return, it all seemed alien to me.
            Having taught for over half a decade, six years to be exact, at a predominately Black college, and when I say “predominately”, I mean during my tenure there I saw maybe eight or nine white students and never taught any of them, I had resided in a Black vacuum of Negro culture.  Sure, aggressive commentary, behavior, and bodily gestures were oft times prevalent, but what I experienced today on this white campus was different.  It reeked of pale privilege (insert white privilege).  It took me back to my elementary, middle, and high school days.  It transported me at warp speed to the subtle prejudice and racism I endured growing up in a Southern white suburb on the outskirts of the chocolate city of Memphis.
            First of all, I must inform you of my sojourn to campus the day before my paranoia set in.  Yesterday, I came to campus to meet with the Director of Writing just to bounce around some ideas pertaining to the courses I would be teaching.  When I arrived on campus, I parked in the lot reserved for a white fraternity.  The lot was literally their frat house’s lot.  I knew it was forbidden, yet I parked there anyway because on a campus of more than twenty thousand students, parking is always hard to find.  I met with the director for fifteen to twenty minutes, went back to the lot, cranked up my vehicle, and made my exodus.  But, on today, I decided to park in the frat house’s lot again because I knew I’d only be there for ten or fifteen minutes top.  I came to sign some paperwork, submit a voided check to payroll, and pick up my textbooks for instruction. 
Today was different.  I pulled into their lot and parked.  I exited my vehicle, pressed my alarm, and walked across the street.  In mid gait, I heard a voice holler, “Hey! Hey!” I turned around to see a beer-bellied frat boy with his hat turned backwards.  We both displayed orbital recognition, then, he yelled, “You can’t park here!” I immediately turned around and headed back to the lot to move my car and find another place to park.  I watched him as he walked back into the fraternity house and thought no more of it.  Then, a bigger frat member comes out of the frat house.  And by “bigger”, I mean 6’4” and about 240 pounds of the lard that Southern cooking and beer puts on a man—you know, Mike Brown of Ferguson, Missouri big.  He walked toward the parking area and says, “Hey, boss.  You can’t…” and before he could say “park here”, I frowned and said, “I’m not your boss, man.”  I unlocked my car and saw him turn and walk back into the house and hear him murmur, “Boss, you can’t park here.”  I replied in a louder tone, “Don’t do that, dude.  Don’t come at me with that ‘boss’ shit.”  He continued into the house and I turned on my automobile and left—upset.

I left because I felt that Black and white Americans are on edge.  Is it because of the Mike Brown murder/Ferguson uprising?  Is it because of the racial tension that has been boiling and stewing over since 1619?  You make the call.  But, I felt some type of way about my small incident (if it was even an “incident” at all).  I didn’t feel it was necessary to be told twice that I couldn’t park there.  I felt some type of way about the tone in which both of these frat boys spoke to me.  I wasn’t a student.  I wasn’t a passerby.  I may even be their professor come next week.  But, how would they know that?  I wasn’t dressed like a professor. (however a professor dresses.)  I didn’t have a huge medallion hanging from my neck saying “I’M A PROFESSOR”.  But what I did have on was a costume of Blackness that I’ve adorned since March of 1978 when I escaped from my mother’s womb.  What I did have on was a costume of Blackness that seems to garner disrespect, subjugation, subordination, castigation, and condescension in the good ole U.S. of A.  What I did have on was a uniform of Blackness that seems to create fear, trepidation, and wariness from non-Black Americans.  What I did have on was a cloak of Blackness that says “Nigger” (with the –er).  To them, and even to me, I was a nigger.  A nigger who was parking in a place that I wasn’t supposed to park.  To me, and to them, I imagine, I was still a nigger.