I Am Not Amused


I am not amused.

I actually felt something come over me yesterday when I saw Wolf Blitzer breathing anxiously into his microphone as he wondered why the eight missionaries being held under suspicion of child trafficking violations who were released from the custody of the Haitian government yesterday were quickly spirited away from the island in a U.S. government plane.

It was as if all the inequities, all the preferential treatment, all the institutionalized racism I have been researching for a mini-series on race and perspective had come to a boil just behind my eyes. It was a sudden throbbing pressure just behind my sinus cavity that seemed to ratchet itself up a notch with every connection that popped into my head between what I was seeing on the screen about the privilege of whiteness, what I have been reading about the privilege of whiteness, and what we all already know but willfully choose to ignore that makes racial inequality at once so insidious and so apparent that rooting it out requires no less than a reworking of the very foundation of our entire social structure.

I feel as if I am listening to mad men when I hear reporters casually talk about the prior life of the murdering professor in Huntsville as if the shooting incident this same murdering professor had been involved in, a prior  incident that resulting in her having a dead brother was the kind of thing that was merely "eyebrow raising". It was a heinous incident in which the police report alone recounted so much circumstantial evidence that a first year law student at the bottom of his class could have gotten an indictment. It was a situation where the ruling of a local police chief WHO HAD DONE NO INVESTIGATION allowed the murdering professor in her prior life to simply walk out of the police station WITHOUT A CHARGE -- a textbook example of the privilege whiteness brings in America, and one my news media and the rest of the country have chosen to ignore, as if this literal "get out of jail free" card is one we all carry.

It is as if we brown skinned people have been trapped in a classroom with mad professors, a group of men and women whose sage faces house wild eyes, wild eyes that blink incessantly as these professors tap their chalk against the board, insisting that in these cases there really is no inequity, that we are seeing things, that we must not question their assertions that “2 + 2 = 5”, that “8 ÷ 2 = 3”, or that “3 × 2 =7”, even though we can see by simply counting with our fingers that these things are not true.

It is as if these professors are telling us “your fingers are lying to you”, even as we see them arrive at the same conclusion we do before they remember to add or subtract a finger to support what they’ve written on the board.

Even now, I can imagine that there are people all over America who have been harboring resentment at the way those “poor missionaries” have been treated. That there are people all over America who have already deduced from their armchairs in Whiteland that the murdering professor “needed help”, was “off her medication”, “didn’t really know what she was doing”, “probably was abused as a child” or whatever comes next on the laundry list of excuses that seem to arrive like clockwork whenever white Americans who don’t look like they came out of a trailer park commit heinous acts.

That throbbing in my head was compounded by the virtual lynch mob that has lit out after Governor David Patterson’s aide, a six foot seven inch tall black man named David Johnson who has been accused on more than one occasion of domestic violence, and was arrested over twenty years ago for selling crack cocaine to an undercover agent as a teenager. In case you don’t know what that really means, I’ll fill you in – the police didn’t arrest a future Scarface, they arrested a misdirected kid who was trying to peddle twenty or thirty dollars worth of crack rocks, the kind of drug possession charge suburban criminal lawyers where I live get thrown out every day of the week when they are levied against their prep school clients.

This is the point in the narrative, though, where those same people who are so sympathetic to the child stealers and the brother killer fall back on that shop worn racial stand in for the original "its them niggers" these days -- the label "he's just a thug" -- and start wondering why the police don’t “throw away the key” when they lock up people like this and just keep them in jail for life.

The throbbing intensified as I realized that this horror show would be on tomorrow and the next night, that it was the only show going, a perpetual stage production titled "Angels and Demons", in which I and my brownskinned brethren were destined to play the Demons, no matter how much good we might accomplish, no matter how much trouble we might avoid, while our white skinned counterparts were perennial Angels, no matter how much blood drenched their hands, no matter how many died because of their willful acts, no matter what law they broke or ignored.

The throbbing has eased a little now that I’ve written this, but I will imagine that it will return whenever I click on the next internet link or turn on the TV to hear the mad professors insist yet again that ”2 + 2 = 5”, even as we watch the blood stains dry on the hands of another Angel gone bad.





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