Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Cracker like me?

Zack Linly doesn't know the half of it!


Zack Linly is an African-American activist.

He also is a poet.

And a performer.

And a freelance writer.

And a community organizer.

So it's no great surprise that when a man spread that thin reconsiders the usefulness of engaging with whitey, he doesn't take the time to consider that he's just decided that George Wallace was right after all.

Gee, when you're 12 percent of the population, decide to quit engaging with anyone else, lump all white people into the same racist boat, then basically tell the whole lot to f*** off . . . I wonder where that strategy possibly might go wrong in this Age of Trump?

But if some hothead is going to be stupid, and then he decides to write down his stupidity, it would almost be wrong if some American newspaper somewhere didn't publish it for the sheer entertainment value, if nothing else. In Linly's case, it was The Washington Post's turn. To wit:

Could it be, and I’m just spit-balling here, but could it be that white folks are … completely full of it? 
This is why I submit that black people should simply disengage with white America in discussions about race altogether. Let them have their little Klan-esque chats in the Yahoo and USA Today comment sections. We need to stop arguing with them because, in the end, they aren’t invested like we are. They aren’t paying attention to these stories out of fear for their lives and the lives of their children and spouses; they are only tuned in out of black and brown contempt. This is trivial to them, a contest to see who can be the most smug, condescending and dismissive. When black people debate these issues, we do so passionately — not always articulately, and often without a whole lot of depth to our arguments — but we always come from a place of genuine frustration, outrage and fear. 
When most white people debate the very same issues from an opposing stance, they do so from a place of perpetual obtuseness and indifference. Their arguments always seem to boil down to “If it isn’t my experience, it couldn’t possibly be yours.” Even “well meaning” white folks tend to center themselves in the discussion (#NotAllWhitePeople #IDontSeeColor). Yes, there are plenty of white people who aren’t racist, who think shouting “Blue Lives Matter” is wrong, who truly do wish things would change. But the fact is, they figuratively and literally have no skin in the game. 
I understand that white people are mad. They’ve gone their whole lives being the default for social and cultural normalcy and never really had to think critically about race at all. 
Now a black first lady addresses the nation, and she talks about slavery. Now social media identifies and challenges their micro-aggressions. They’re getting the tint snatched off of their rose-colored glasses; that “Shining City on the Hill” they know as America is starting to lose some of its gloss. And they ain’t here for that — but we are. 
So we need to let them cry. Let them gripe about how white is the new black and they are now the true victims of racism because their black co-workers don’t invite them to lunch or some black guy on the train called them a cracker or because black people on the interwebs hurt feelings. (How nice it must be to have the option of simply logging off of your oppression.) We need to let them cry. And we need to learn how to just sit our intellectual selves back and enjoy it.
NO, I DON'T think black folks would enjoy it. Not at all.
The fact is, we can fight systemic racism without white validation. We can continue shutting down bridges and highways every time there’s a new Alton Sterling, Philando Castile or Korryn Gaines in the news and let white folks complain about the intrusion on their lives. We can continue moving our black dollars into black banks and keeping our money in our businesses and communities. We don’t need them to “get it” for us to keep fighting.
And likewise, white people who truly want to be allies can find their path to ally-ship without black validation and without us having to take time out of our days to educate them. They can find their own curriculum and figure out for themselves how they can do their part in fighting the good fight. And they can do it without the promise of black praise. And, I’m not about to keep checking to see if they’re doing that much. Because it’s not my job – and it’s not yours, either. 
Black people, it is long past time for us to start practicing self-care. And if that means completely disengaging with white America altogether, then so be it.
WELL, you certainly can try to fight systemic racism without white validation, but I don't know how far you're going to get. Keep telling white people to screw themselves while you scarcely treat white allies better than you do sworn enemies like David Duke, and I think -- and I'm just spit-balling here -- you're going to create even more enemies.

You're going to take people of good will and ultimately convince them that they are being targeted by blacks, and then that whole self-preservation thing kicks in.

Remember Bosnia? The United States already is well on the way to getting there in Trump's good time, and Mr. F*** Whitey proclaims that throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire looks like a solution to him.

Ensure that all the hated, innately racist white people come to see you not as fellow Americans -- or even brothers and sisters in Christ or merely part of the brotherhood of man -- and see what wonderful and immediate results come from "shutting down bridges and highways every time there’s a new Alton Sterling, Philando Castile or Korryn Gaines in the news and let white folks complain about the intrusion on their lives."

Let's take a brief moment for a brief history lesson from just my middle-aged lifetime.

IN 1963, it was the abject horror of the American public at TV pictures of fire hoses and police dogs turned on peaceful black protesters in Birmingham -- the horror of the predominantly white American public -- that made it politically possible for President Lyndon Johnson (white President Lyndon Johnson) to ram the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress (the overwhelmingly white Congress) over the strenuous objections of powerful (and segregationist) Southern members.

A year after the Civil Rights Act's passage, it was the abject horror of the American public at TV pictures of segregationist vigilantes and Alabama state troopers attacking peaceful black protesters in Selma -- the horror of the still predominantly white American public -- that made it possible for President Lyndon Johnson (the still-white President Lyndon Johnson) to ram the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through Congress (the still overwhelmingly white Congress) over the once again strenuous objections of still powerful (and still segregationist) Southern members.

Muhammad 
So, if Zack Linly would like to know how successful he and his might be after disengagement with -- and his near-blanket villification of -- honkies like lil' ol' south Louisiana-born me, that not-so-ancient history might be a reliable guide. He'd well know that if his study of African-American history had extended beyond "We were slaves" and "White people bad."

Here's my educated guess on how African-Americans might fare under the Linly Plan, which is nothing more than a less-articulate version of the Elijah Muhammad Plan.


Connor
Bull Connor would be just a warm-up; that's how well it would go. Yes, some white people are ugly nowadays. I am old enough to well remember a time when a lot more were a lot uglier. I would advise against daring white people to be that way once again.

Especially, as I said, when African-Americans are about 12 percent of the population, and white people are better armed.

Micro-agression that.

WHEN THE center does not hold, bad things happen. Given that Americans oftentimes aren't all that bright (or particularly well-versed in history), it's looking like were going to have to find that out the hard way.

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