Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hey, Nigger. You look like a Nigger.


Recently, I’ve been challenged via Facebook because of many of my racially ‘charged’ postings. So often, my non-Black, Facebook friends tend to think that I enhance the race problem in the U.S. rather than “move past” or “get over it” as many of my posters, actually both Black and white, suggest that I do. But, what I endured last night may offer a parable (yes, it’s oxymoronic to call last night’s situation a parable because it actually happened—non Fiction, not make-believe) that will help my non-African American ‘friends’ understand why I persist in offering socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and hierarchical observations and commentary on the issue of race and the conflicts that exist because of race in My Country ‘Tis of Thee.

The aforementioned scenario unfolded like this: Around 8:45 p.m., I was sitting on the steps outside of my condo indulging in one of my vices, cigarettes, when a neighbor and I, who was also outside talking about the Lakers dismal showing against the revitalized Los Angeles Clippers, observed two, young white men in khakis, button-downs, and ties walking through the complex. I shouted out, “Ya’ll lost?” to which they replied, “No, man. We’re missionaries.” I snickered, glanced at my neighbor with an inquisitive look and replied to the ‘missionaries’, “Be careful.” I didn’t think much about it, but I did find it intriguing and perplexing that two white males would be prosthelytizing in an all Black complex at that time of night, yet didn’t try and offer my neighbor and myself any of the missionary material or indoctrinating spiel that I’m sure they are charged to do when they go out on these ‘missions.’ We both watched as the two young men disappeared around the corner into the black cloak of night and continued dissecting the Lakers’ loss and analyzing their lackluster offseason acquisitions and failed trade attempt.

Within moments, our conversation was interrupted by the screeching of tires in front of our building. Quickly a Ford Expedition and two Dodge Chargers were in front of us and ten Narcotics officers, adorned in bullet-proof vests and Jodeci-like combat boots exited the vehicles and asked who lived in the building. I replied, “Me.” The leader, a white male who looked to be in his early 30s with a red, Brawny man beard said, “What’s your name?” I gave him my last name and he responded by reciting my first name from a sheet of paper in his hand. I asked him what was the problem and he told me that there had been complaints of me selling drugs through the fence behind my building to residents of the adjacent apartment complex.

In awe, I began to explain to him that I am a professional, a professor to be exact, and that I do not indulge in that type of criminality and that I had my fiancé and son upstairs preparing for bed. My neighbor, young, Black, and aware, did not scamper into his home leaving me to the boys in blue, but rather remained outside positing himself as a witness-of-sorts in case the lawmen had intents of skullduggery. After asking for my license, to which I did not have on me, I gave the Brawny man my social and he typed it into his hand-held, computerized pad. He informed me that there was a tip from someone that I was a drug dealer and that they had to respond to this complaint which, by the way, had been issued in September.
I asked him who I could talk to in order to clear up the complaint and whether I could retrieve a report concerning this matter. He told me it was an internal Narcotics matter, and, since I was compliant, he would return to the office and cancel the complaint. I found this odd, yet I never put my cigarette down nor moved from my position. The men,draped in guns, bullet-proof vests and all, reentered their vehicles and vanished just as quickly as they had appeared.

Now, I know many readers may wonder what this has to do with race, but it has everything to do with race and the relations and stereotypes thereof in the U.S. of A. I mean, would they have come ten deep to my home if I was a white man who lived in a predominately white neighborhood? Would they have even responded to an unfounded complaint if I lived in a complex that wasn’t occupied by Blacks and a few Hispanics? I doubt it. The mere characterization in this nation of young, Black males as being drug-dealing thugs is so permeated in the minds of the public, that they felt this complaint was warranted and needed to be checked out, even if it was four months old. And, as I compose this piece, I think about how only one of the Narcotics officers was Black and he was the only one with his hand on his gun-in-holster as if he was a heel from an episode of Bonanza. Maybe it was the way I speak that made them figure I was innocent of this allegation. Maybe they just bring almost a dozen officers to your home to question you and not search your home and pat you down. I thoroughly doubt this. I watch enough television and know enough about the streets that no police department in this country, maybe even the world, bring that much manpower and leave without doing anything or confiscating anything, let alone not even search one’s person.

I want to know what this was all about. I’m almost positive every Black male in America has had something like this happen to them, whether it be me or Harvard's own Dr. Henry Louis Gates, and wonders to themselves, "Would this have happened to me if I was white?' It’s not the spewing of hate speech or the declarations of white supremacy that bother people like me. No, it is the de facto racism that cannot be measured or properly analyzed to the non-Negroidian in this country that so infuriates and stupefies those of us who have been unjustly profiled. In essence, you don’t have to be called ‘nigger’ to be treated like one.

                                                                                                              Gee Joyner