The Dangers of Storytelling: How the Industrial Complexes Target Black People with False Propaganda


 

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By Shermeeka Mason

 

 

 

 

 

On June 9, 2016, the day of the Shut This Shit Down: Black Lives Matter Rally organized by Building Leadership and Community Knowledge or B.L.A.C.K. went into effect.

The event was a response to the brutal murder of Alton Sterling, a Black man who was gunned down by a Baton Rouge police officer because he was suspected of pointing a gun at someone (Sterling was armed, but Louisiana is an Open Carry state, so his death was completely unwarranted).  The Shut This Shit Down event here in Rochester was one of the plethora of Black Lives Matter demonstrations taking place throughout the country and internationally.

I arrived at the rally a little after 4:00 p.m., joining the massive crowd of protesters at the Liberty Pole.  I instantly felt the positive vibe of those around me, straining to hear the slam poets and activists speaking into a weak microphone.

When the pep rally came to a close, we headed towards the street, our spirits high while chanting “Black Lives Matter” and some others to maintain the momentum.  As we turned the corner, however, I and a few others beside me immediately spotted a swarm of police cars settled near the curb, occupied by officers in full riot gear. We made comments about how unnecessary the riot gear was, considering that we were peacefully protesting, and moved on. We continued to march down our designated route, crowding the street during rush hour, hyping up the drivers that believed in the cause.  We then headed towards Monroe Avenue, the synergy increasing and evident…

Until we were met with a line of riot cops near the Strong Museum of Play.

They were silently waiting for us, batons in hand.  We approached them, determined yet peaceful while chanting for them to hold themselves accountable for working for a corrupt industrial complex founded to target the disenfranchised.  It wasn’t long before members of the SWAT Team began charging at us in a militarized formation.

I grabbed the arm of one of my friends and frantically informed him that we needed to leave the scene effective immediately.  Neither of us can afford to be arrested, as I have mental health issues and he is a trans man who had just had knee surgery not too long ago.  Plus, his son was graduating and he was not going to miss the opportunity to see his baby walk across the stage.  There were folks who stayed to continue to protest the heavy presence of law enforcement, but I didn’t know what happened to them until I eventually returned home, where I watched footage that was uploaded on Facebook by protesters.  Those who confronted the cops at the Strong Museum were shoved by the latter, even though the former did nothing physically to provoke violence.

There were also videos of protesters on East Avenue area doing a peaceful sit-in being physically assaulted by riot police.  I watched angrily as one cop lunged at one of the demonstrators (a friend of mine) and punched him in the face before one of his partners pulled him away.  Remember that the Black Lives Matter rally was nonviolent from beginning to end, yet the heavy cop presence resulted in seventy-four protesters being detained and taken into custody—many of them being friends of mine.

So when Mayor Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief Mike Cimerelli expressed support for the cops and declaring that protesters weren’t physically harmed (even though two people were hospitalized while some others suffered injuries), when East End business owners complemented law enforcements’ conduct towards those who did nothing, when both local and national media portrayed the Black Lives Matter rallies as violent and disruptive (while broadcasting heavily edited footage of protesters shouting at law enforcement), I was infuriated, frustrated, and completely through.

I knew what occurred because I was there.  I witnessed with my own eyes the police’s aggressive behavior toward us.  I watched the unofficial footage protesters posted on social media, which further discredited what was being reported.  So I shouted at the live news report reeling on my computer screen, updated Facebook statuses with my thoughts on the aftermath of the rally, and corresponded with friends and follow activists who knew what the fuck was up.  But what bothered (and triggered) me the most were the lies that compounded the issue at hand.

Of course, this is nothing new—we Black people have been battling for our liberation for over 600 years and counting, often dying unjustly due to the various industrial complexes propagating falsehood.  But in the 21st century, modern technology made it easier for the local, national, and even independent press to report misleading information about Black people (educated ones in particular) as 1) we become the majority in the United States and internationally and 2) we challenge White supremacy and how it affects everyone (White folks included) through our right to peacefully assemble. These facts and many others are the reasons why we are frequently targeted by oppressive industrial complexes (law enforcement being one) to the point to losing our lives.

Since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement, more the 1,134 Black men were murdered by cops in 2015 alone.  Over 500 Black men lost their lives in 2016 and the year is only halfway over.  And these numbers don’t even include the trans men and women who were killed while either in police custody or harassed by them.  I myself had had run ins with the police—one of those incidents involving my former housemate, Kelliegh.  She called 911 because she thought I attempted to physically assault her when I did not.  Her erroneous accusation literally placed me at risk of being killed by the two officers that responded to her call. And since law enforcement aren’t properly trained to handle those who’ve been previously mental health arrested, the risk of death would’ve increased had I not been medicated.

This is why I am extremely antagonistic towards both the so-called Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter campaigns.  Besides their utter ridiculousness, they are used by the press and uninformed people to spread more lies about Black people and Black Lives Matter in general.  Y’all, I can’t even tell you how many White and non-Black people of color I’ve dragged for filth because of them defending these campaigns.  For one, those entering law enforcement chose to participate in that industrial complex and wear the required uniform.  My skin, however, is not a uniform I can unbutton, step out of, and hang in my closet with the rest of my coats.  I am Black all day, every day and there is no reprieve from the negative stereotypes associated with being so.

In regards to All Lives Matter, it doesn’t ring true because it isn’t.  Let’s be honest here:  if all lives mattered, why aren’t these folks organizing or working alongside people of color?  Why aren’t they fighting for the liberation of prisoners, the safety of sex workers (most of them being transwomen of color), victims of sex abuse or untreated mental illness and so forth? They will swiftly accuse Black Lives Matter activists of “reverse racism,” homophobia, and divisiveness, not even acknowledging the members of the LGBTIQA+ community involved in BLM (regardless of ethnicity).  I also want to point that when a 16-year-old White boy was killed by a cop, it was Black Lives Matter who not only protested on this young man’s behalf, but launched a fundraiser for his family.  Meanwhile, the All Lives Matter people were completely silent as they ALWAYS are when injustice occurs.  And when they are speaking out, it’s always in the form of perpetuating dangerous misinformation rooted in the very racist ideologies designed to dehumanize and annihilate Black people.

So, long story short, the Rochester Black Lives Matter rally and the events following forced me to fully recognize the extent that oppressive industrial complexes will go to fabricate stories about the disenfranchised—even when the truth is documented on film.  It further demonstrated how many White and non-Black people of color blindly give credence to the false information the media broadcasts about a movement they choose not to research. But more importantly, I refuse to ignore the high level of trauma these industrial complexes inflict on Black people by not only internalizing the misinformation associated with us, but becoming increasing desensitized to our suffering by utilizing their resources (and our tax dollars) to commit acts of abuse that usually results in a senseless death.

 

Author Bio:  Shermeeka M.L. Mason is a self-published author, blogger, and volunteer radio show host.  She recently published the political science-fiction novel, The One Taken from the Sea of Stars under the pen name Octavia Davis.  She is also the creator of and contributor for two blogs, The Possible World and The Chuck Taylor Buddhist (both available on WordPress.com).  In addition to being an active author, Mason is currently one of the co-hosts of The Bonfire Talks on WAYO 104.3 FM.  In her spare time, she reads, performs with the Rochester Womens’ Community Chorus, binges on Facebook, and spends time with beloved cat-son, Tobias.

 

 

 

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Courage with a Pen: Fighting Rape Culture with Writing


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By Shermeeka Mason

 

As I write this, my eyes burn with fatigue.

My body is tired, but my spirit and mind are alert, yet bothered by both past and recent events.

It all started earlier this week when I hung out with a friend of mine.  While we were talking, I found out that a local radical we both dated moderated a discussion about misogyny in the Rochester radical community.

Needless to say, I was floored and somewhat sickened by this piece of information.  The guy in question not only uses a well-known community space and political events to cruise for find potential sex partners, but uses poly and labels such as Pansexual and Demisexual as an excuse to sleep with them. In fact, he is one of the reasons why I don’t attend that space.

I knew this because he and I dated for three weeks.  He approached me after an organization meeting and I thought he was genuinely interested in me. I found out over the course of time, however, that he was more comfortable being a “friend with benefits” than my long-term partner.  This was AFTER I shared with him my history with sexual trauma.

Around the same time, pictures, news articles, and think pieces about Brock Turner continuously showed up in my newsfeed. Turner is the former Stanford University swimmer who was arrested and sentenced to six months in county jail for raping an unconscious young woman last year. I went through a plethora of emotions as his blank expression and blood shot eyes stared back at me time and again, burning into a mind already fogged by medication-induced insomnia.  His father’s letter and the judge’s leniency on the Turner further perplexed and angered me due to the gross lack of accountability.

In addition to all of this, a friend of mine spoke up against their rapist, a prominent Black radical in their community.  Though this young man violated them, it was my friend who was banned from Facebook for forty-eight hours for just posting a picture of their perpetrator!  What bothered me was that they were one of many who were sexually assaulted by an activist and/or pillar of the community.

So between this fact, the constant coverage of the Stanford rape case, learning of the hypocritical behavior of the so-called radical I dated last month, and the lack of adequate sleep, I broke down crying.  This recent chain of events pushed me back to Saturday, February 7, 2015 when I traveled to Peekskill, New York to visit Alec and Sharon, a poly couple I met online a year prior.  What was was supposed to be our last romantic weekend together turned out to be one of the most traumatizing.  This couple not only joked about me being dead, but crossed boundaries that involved Alec hitting my body with a crop and threatening to hit me in the face with it.  To this day, I can’t talk about that night without having panic attacks and flashbacks.

Without feeling ashamed.

The shame was one of the reasons why I remained silent about the assault in Peekskill for the most part. In fact, this was the reason why I kept quiet about how I was treated by the local activist I dated.  And I thought that just keeping quiet and going about my life, would let forget what happened.  Forget about all of them.

But I can’t.  My own PTSD won’t allow me to.  The flashbacks, panic attacks, and wave of emotions won’t let them get away with it—won’t grant me the desire to distance myself from the fact that I allowed myself to succumb to my self-blame and their gaslighting.

So as exhausted as I am, I write this passage because I’m mentally and emotionally done with seeing victims of sexual assault not believed by the media and judicial system.  Done with hearing stories about perpetrators in radical clothing lingering around within the community to somehow seek sexual gratification and then have the nerve to occupy spaces not created for them.  Done with domineering sexual perpetrators using the polyamorous lifestyle to traumatize others.

In other words, I am done with rape culture.

And I’m done shielding myself from it.  That’s why I have my pen, my laptop, and my books at my disposal—so these tools can be utilized to at least talk about what rape culture is doing to people and to our society.  I cannot and will not allow my perpetrators and ex-partners to frighten me or continue to get away with how they treated me and possibly others.  Writing is my way of holding them accountable for what they have done.  And if someone reads this and relates to it somehow, then my experiences served a purpose.

 

What Separates Me from Normal: Surviving PTSD


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By Delaney McLemore

 

A four letter label is what separates me from normal: PTSD—Post-traumatic stress Disorder.

But it’s a misnomer if it’s anything – let’s break it down. Post – the past, something that has already happened. Traumatic – something that has caused trauma, significant damage, pain (be it mental or physical or both). Stress – that force in our lives that constantly makes us feel like what we have and are is not enough, not befitting of our believed possible life. Disorder – the state of being that is outside what is normal, what is accepted, what is right.

So I’m past something that hurt me that shouldn’t have happened and rearranged my life.

But that pesky past…

This week, every possible media outlet is sharing the aftermath of a rape case in southern California. The survivor’s letter that was read to the attacker has been an incessant feature of the news cycle. I have shared it. My friends are sharing it. We’re reading her story with a lump in our throats and our own attacker’s breath on our ears.

The first day I read the letter was the one-year anniversary of when I was last raped by a professor at Oregon State University. On June 4th, 2015, at four o’clock in the morning, I was forced awake by someone I trusted, whose couch I was trying to sleep on, by his hands taking mine in his own and placing them on his body. That part. In my mind, it is foggy, amorphous, blacked out by some force of my defense mechanisms. I wasn’t drunk or high, like the times it had happened before, but my mind isn’t able to clearly see him.

I see me.

And when I read about women like the woman in California, or like Terry Mitchell in Utah, or Larkin Grimm in New York (and on and on; there are hundreds of incredible, vocal survivors), I see myself. Again. Crouched in pain against his entry. Standing in his bathroom as his sperm slipped to the floor. Staring at the gun closet as he told me, “You have to, it’s never been this big.” I see my nurse between my legs, near tears as she measures the bruises on my back, thighs, pubic bone.

I can’t stop seeing this day.

Sometimes, I make it worse for myself, clicking on the articles about attackers willy-nilly, this one in Texas, this one Oklahoma, this one Oregon. The detective in my case suggests books about surviving and I focus on the parts where people tell their stories. They sound so much like mine.

I have an illness that keeps my mind in a place it hates to be, in the past where I cannot avoid the hurt that has been inflicted upon me over and over and over again. I cannot say how many men have raped me. That is a hideous truth. But every time I see something, anything, about sexual violence or rape culture or surviving, I am put back in that space, every time it happened to me. I remember my friend’s brother, pulling out his gun from his waistband. I see the ex-boyfriends who thought they were owed my form. I hear the closest people to me saying, “It’s not your fault.”

And it wasn’t. Just like the woman in the Stanford case. There is no part of this that falls on us. As much as the deluge of stories, think pieces, reports about her experience hurts me, puts me in the worst part of my illness, I know how powerful it is. I’m willing to be triggered for her, to help her. I’m willing to compromise the safety of my habits in order to share what has happened.

I’m mentally ill. It’s completely terrifying a huge part of the time. When I lose control to the dark of my memory, I feel like I am no longer myself, that something has fallen away. I fight the people I love, scream about justice, scream at God for what he failed to provide. And I don’t have the power to say when these moments will come and go, as I can’t control the world around me. I’ve tried. It’s not possible.

I will probably be fighting that dark for several years. There are small acts of self-preservation that I’ve learned how to do – leaving parties, drinking less, taking care of my apartment. I use the tapping method in order to calm panic attacks. I learn something about this illness every day.

What I learned through processing the Stanford case is that there are no limits to the depths of my rage. Anger is a power that I didn’t realize I had. I’ve spent so long ignoring how I felt or wallowing in the sadness that anger never had room to grow, only coming out in lashes towards those who still loved me. I couldn’t see how anger could help me survive.

The woman in Stanford has given me that anger back. And it’s not just to the men who raped me or Brock Turner, the man who raped her. I am furious with the way we have let this become our society. I am furious with the capitulations we have made to toxic masculinity. I am furious with the way that men are still able to rule our lives, to be more powerful and worth more than we are.

Brock Turner is made to be. My rapist was made to be. So was the first that attacked me.

This cannot be the way we go forward.

I think back to the definition of my illness, a point past a bad thing where life cannot be ever what it was. It’s simplified, of course, but it demonstrates so well the way that life after violence is lived. I can’t go back to who I was before these men hurt me.

But I can go forward.

And I will fight.

The Most Vulnerable Group:  What The Trump Effect is Doing to Our Children


“We have an obligation to protect children from violence”

–author unknown

 

The 2016 primary election is byfar the strangest and the disturbing.  Between Hillary Clinton doing the Nae Nae on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to appeal to millennials and the Bernie “Hey Girl” memes, I seriously don’t know whether to laugh or be skeptical.

But what seems to be clogging up my social media newsfeed is the antics of Donald Trump. Trump is a businessman and candidate for the Republican nomination for the President of the United States in 2016. Unlike the other Republican candidates, Trump seems to be getting all the media coverage one way or the other.  Now, there isn’t a day that I don’t see a plethora of think pieces, memes, videos and skits focusing on this man alone.  Of all the Republican candidates, Trump is the most popular while leading in the polls at forty-four percent and has recently been endorsed by former candidates Sarah Palin, Dr. Ben Carson, singer Aaron Carter, and other celebrity Republicans.

This is completely different from four years ago when he could barely get press due to his ridiculous accusation that President Barack Obama is a non-U.S. citizen, demanding that the current Commander in Chief show his birth certificate.  But this time around, President Obama is not the focus of the Trump campaign but certain demographics of color.  At every rally, the Republican candidate is not only telling his predominately White supporters that Mexicans are raping and stealing here every time they cross the border.  He is also telling them that Muslims need to be deported or wear “special ID badges” and the Middle East should be blown up.  When anti-Trump demonstrators show up at his gatherings to protest, Trump encourages his supporters to “beat them up,” watching while angry White men shove protesters out the auditorium.

But what disturbs me about Republican candidate is how his violent inducing rhetoric affects the most vulnerable populations:  our children.

Called the Trump Effect, this use of oppressive rhetoric is more likely to cause trauma among young kids–especially immigrant children.  Mostly Hispanic and Middle Eastern children are now being targeted by their peers, causing the former to fear their environments.  Case in point: there is one story about a young Muslim girl named Sofia who hears Trump’s speech about deporting all Muslims.  She soon goes into her room and begins packing her bags and checking the locks on her door, thinking that she and her family are going to be targeted by soldiers.

Another example involves Trump supporters taunting Latinos at Dallas Center-Grimes High School during a basketball game. The former not only chants “Trump” as the students play, but “U-S-A” after the game is finished.  This act of racism stems from the runner-up’s promise to build a wall at the Mexican border to prevent migrant workers from entering the United States.

When NPR’s Cokie Roberts asks Trump during an interview if he is proud of his actions, Trump responds “Well I think your question’s a very nasty question.”

But the question is far from nasty.  I have to say that it’s completely valid and fair.  For one, let’s talk about the fact that not only are children of color are being targeted due racism and xenophobia, but are victims of fear mongering that leave them extremely confused.  They are watching Black Lives Matter protesters being attacked by White strangers at Trump rallies and wondering why this is even happening.

So imagine my anger at the cognitive dissonance of those who defend Trump’s supporters and the actions of Trump himself, arguing for their “First Amendment rights.”  Look.  Everyone has the right to speak and express their ideologies, so that’s not the issue here.  The problem is that there’s a difference between freedom of speech and using speech to incite the physical, emotional, and psychological harm to entire demographics of people.  When Trump is encouraging his supporters to attack protesters and people of color, his words and actions are no longer protected by the First Amendment.  It’s officially hate speech and adults aren’t the only ones affected.

So what am I getting at, Dear Readers? That our children are paying attention to the election.  They are watching the anti-Trump protest rallies unfold on their streets and their peers reacting to those who attack them.  They listen to Trump’s speeches about building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country, how the BLM members are trouble.  They hear the lies about how Muslims are nothing but terrorists. Our children see it on the news, YouTube and catch the conversations on the city bus.  They are aware and are becoming afraid.  Don’t believe me?  Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmylREVCULo

So whether you “Feel the Bern,” consider yourself a conservative or radical, please do all you can to protect the children who are negatively affected by Trump’s foolishness and that of his supporters.

P.S.–Do not come at me with the “Bernie is better” nonsense.  Not only does that misses the ENTIRE point of my post, but his being in the White House will neither erase historical trauma caused by White supremacy or the trauma caused by Trump’s ignorance and the disturbing acts his supporters.

The Politics Behind #Icanbeboth


 

“Pride…If you haven’t got it, you can’t show it.  If you got, you can’t hide it.”

–Zora Neale Hurston, Author

 

Recently, I’ve been noticing the hashtag #icanbeboth popping up in my newfeed.

For those who don’t know, #icanbeboth refers to the fact that women of color can be sexual, sexy and fun loving one day and professional in every way, shape and form the next.  Those who participate in the online campaign post comparison photos: one of themselves in the club, at a party or wearing a cocktail dress with heels and the other of them in casual or professional attire while on the job.

Hence “I can be both.”

I’m going to tell y’all right now that I love every minute of this campaign, Dear Readers.  For one, women are coming together to celebrate everything about their individual personalities and interests without throwing shade.  This can’t make me any prouder because we know how much the media loves featuring Black women slapping the shit out of each other or feuding on Instagram.  Major networks and social media sites stay making us look outrageous in the negative fashion, so I stan for anything that show us celebrating our magic.

But I also immediately recognize the politics behind the hashtag and how it can encourage us to have a much needed conversation about why #Icanbeboth exists to begin with.  There’s so much I can touch on so much here, but I’m going to focus on three main issues that:  White supremacy, respectability politics, and Black male privilege.

White supremacy is the idea that people of European descent are superior to people of color—Black people especially.  It’s the reason why all the negative “isms” exist: racism, sexism, ableism, lookism, ageism and so forth. It is also created the male privilege and systematic oppression that Black women endure in the labor force, the education system, the religious community and other environments that shape the individualism of Black women.  Furthermore, White supremacy perpetuates their ideologies pertaining to European standards of beauty and social etiquette.  So while White women are deemed beautiful and pure (even to this day), Black women are seen as ugly, classless, uneducated and promiscuous.

Now keep that in mind as we move on to respectability politics. There’s this notion that Black people are to present themselves a certain way in order to be accepted by mainstream society.  In many cases, it is the Black woman who is spoon fed this message by both the media and her community.  Unlike our White female counterparts, Black women are not given the liberty to disclose their entire self without the risk of criticism or losing a necessary resource such as employment.

But the main focus is often the sexuality and sexual expression of the Black woman. Even in 2016, women are placed in the position to explain themselves when they promote and profit from their sexuality or sex positivity in general.  Celebrities like Amber Rose is a prime example.  Though she’s known for her Instagram presence and relationship with rapper Kanye West, Amber Rose is known for her sex politics (In 2015, she has organized Slut Walk LA and campaigns for sexual consent).  But she begins to pique my attention when bluntly explains consent to entertainers Rev Run and Tyrese Gibson on their show It’s Not You, It’s Men.  Yes, ladies and gentlecats.  Amber Rose has to explain to these two grown ass men that not only is it ok for us to be sexually provocative, but that we have the right to say “No.”  This is the same woman who is criticized by both the media and members of the Black community for being comfortable in her own body.   And like many Black women, I notice that our biggest detractors are Black men.  Case in point: Louis Farrakhan.

Which brings me to my last point about the politics of #icanbeboth:  the hashtag and the women who take part are pushing back against Black male patriarchy—and rightfully so.  Most Black men tend to erroneously assume that Black women should somehow fit into some vision of what we should be—whatever that may be.  And when we don’t meet their standard of whatever the hell, then they claim that that’s the MAIN reason why they started dating White women (no shade towards interracial relationships, but there are so many Black men who have only date outside their race because they’ve internalized the negative Black woman stereotypes). But what these men don’t realize is that this type of nonsense feeds into the very negativity that #icanbeboth is rallying against.

Why am I writing about this, Readers?  Because as a Black Pansexual woman, I am growing very tired of women of color having their intelligence, integrity and very existence questioned and their whole entire selves compartmentalized just so someone else can be comfortable. It’s this type of pigeon holing that contributes to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.  It can furthermore play into the Impostor Syndrome, the belief that they don’t belong in an academic and/or professional setting.

But most of all, it’s a full-on attack on the human spirit.  When society and members of the very community that supposedly promotes unity and safety criticizes the Black woman’s individuality, it is she who feels every word piercing through her.  And when we can’t find refuge within our own environment or negatively affected by the people in it, it can lead to issues such PTSD or Complex PTSD as well as this sense of disappointment.  And due to the current political climate, feeling displaced due to simply celebrating every part of ourselves is the last issue we need.

So, yes!  I’m extremely stoked about the very existence of #icandbeboth because 1) it brings together a tribe of women who embrace (or wish to embrace) their individuality and 2) it challenges and claps back at respectability politics and patriarchy by showing that women of all ethnicities and ages can be both ratchet and classy.  At the same time, I do hope that the hashtag generates a discussion about White supremacy and how it’s being used against women of color in the forms of respectability politics and Black male privilege and how we can all work together to cut the monster off at the head.

 

 

Not A Game of UNO: Zimmerman and the “Race Card”


Ladies and gentlecats,

I’ve been reading comments about the Trayvon Martin case and I am appalled.

I am not just talking about the fact that people (mostly White folks) who are defending George Zimmerman and his actions.  Nor am I just talking about the sick new trend called “Trayvoning,” which involves teens posing as Martin after his death, Skittles and a bottle of tea clutched in their “lifeless” hands.

No, Readers.  I’m talking about the “Race Card” accusations hurled at Black and Brown people.  According to many Caucasians (and even some African-American people), those angry about the verdict and expressing outrage are now playing the “Race Card,” that Black and Brown people are now utilizing race as an excuse to “be angry at White people.”  According to a FORMER Facebook friend, Zimmerman is not even White and he said so.  Therefore, why are Black people so angry about this case?

I have a few answers.

1) The “Race Card” itself.

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Let me back up by explaining the concept of “race.”  Race is a social construct utilized to categorize groups of people based on physical attributes, religion, nationality and language. However, the concept of “race” was also used as a mechanism of oppression (i.e. biologists arguing that the brain of an African was smaller than that of a Caucasian) and continues to be so.   Many people of color (POCs) recognized the latter and have spoken out against injustice, how it is actually a detriment to ALL people.  In turn, many non-POCs and other POCs  accused those speaking out of playing the “Race Card.”  What the “Race Card” refers to is a person using the category in which society has placed him/her/them as an excuse to avoid…well…just about everything.  In other words, we POCs somehow “play victim” just because we are Black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. But this can’t be any further from the truth.  We are not fighting because we’re placed in a certain category, but because we endure adversity associated with those categories on a constant basis.  If anything, the “Race Card” doesn’t make any logical sense; it doesn’t even benefit me. It’s not like I’m playing a game of Uno and I just pulled a “Draw 4” from the deck. No.  This so-called card is only used by those who choose not to examine their own privilege and many POCs are tired of it.

2) Yes.  George Zimmerman is an Hispanic male. What people do not realize, though, is that he is light enough to pass as Caucasian (colorism is also a problem affecting POCs, but that’s a whole nother blog post). If he didn’t announce his ethnicity or make it known to the media, he would have been mistaken for White.  Unlike his victim (who was dark-skinned), Zimmerman’s skin color alone makes him seem non-threatening.  So, had his skin been a couple of shades darker (and if Trayvon was lighter or Caucasian), Zimmerman would not be receiving so much support and would’ve been placed under the prison.

3) The outrage and rage POCs are expressing isn’t anything new.  In fact, this rage have been brewing way before slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.  It began when rich European nations utilized imperialism, colonization, and globalization to cripple Africa and other nations to gain resources.  It began when aboriginal families were ripped apart and their children sent to English speaking boarding schools in order to strip them of their heritage.  It started when people of European descent categorized Black and Brown people as savage, unintelligent, violent, hypersexual and used these stereotypes to either oppress or scapegoat.  So when Zimmerman’s supporters accuse us of playing the “Race Card” and of being hypocrites because we’re not addressing “Black on Black” crime, then yes, there is going to be a problem.

4)  POCs are not angry at Caucasian people (or people who pass as White), but the very system that protects them.  Many Caucasian people do not recognize their own privilege and how it actually keeps them safe, secure and uninformed.  The government and the other systems set in place is/are not even conducive to the lives of impoverished POCs.  In fact, many of the social programs and public schools that lose funding affect communities of color.  There are other injustices as well:  the prison population is predominately African-American due to petty crimes (i.e. drug possession); racial profiling; young teenage boys being murdered because of their skin color; African-American women being coerced into being sterilized in a California prison.  The list goes on.

I’m writing all this because, as an African-American female, I feel like many people don’t see (or choose not to see) what is going on.  I’ve had too many Caucasian guys roll their eyes when I mention the lack of diversity or the injustice POCs face. I’ve been called the “N” word over a parking spot.  I’ve been stereotyped and accused of playing victim simply because of my skin color and my gender.  And the government believes I’m trying to deliberately “play the system” by “driving the Welfare Cadillac.”  People who are privileged–who say that I play the “Race Card”–are afraid of me and my revolutionary friends.

However, I also have hope that people are waking up.  This trial has brought racism and injustice to the surface and people are starting to ask questions.  Granted, racism has its supporters, but there are those–regardless of ethnicity–who are fighting and willing to fight the negativity.

In other words, a better world is possible.  But we all have to work towards it.