Today’s post is written by Samara Doyon. Samara has been a Black girl living in Maine for the past 30+ years (read: her entire life). She is a writer, educator, wife, and mother. Despite the roots of her family tree, half of which reach generations ...

 

Black Girl in Maine - 5 new articles



I am not your Sisyphus

Today’s post is written by Samara Doyon. Samara has been a Black girl living in Maine for the past 30+ years (read: her entire life). She is a writer, educator, wife, and mother. Despite the roots of her family tree, half of which reach generations deep inside the cool soil of the Pine Tree State, she recognizes that she will most likely remain an outsider for life, as the definition of “Mainer” upheld by the governor and half the state does not include people who look like her.

One of my greatest personal frustrations is the expectation placed on people of color and other marginalized groups to engage in relationship-based social justice work (i.e., having personal, face-to-face conversations with people we know about white supremacy, bigotry, and various forms of oppression) whenever and wherever ignorance or privilege presents itself. I often hear white people say, “I really just want to be told when I’m saying something offensive so that I can know and not make those mistakes anymore,” and this sounds like a reasonable request. But I know from experience that telling someone they have said something hurtful, triggering, or racist is nine times out of 10 more trauma than it’s worth.

The very same people who say, “I just want to know,” are likely to call us hateful and racist when we point out something problematic with their language. Confronting a co-worker, relative, or friend of a friend when we are too overwhelmed with shame and anger to hold our silence any longer, finding ourselves shaking and numb from adrenaline, fists clenched to quell our fight or flight instinct, breathing through the impulse to scream at the top of our lungs, straining to somehow string together a coherent and non-threatening explanation of why we’re upset that they just called BLM protestors “thugs” and said we should be shot, (a statement which should be excruciatingly obvious in its derogatory nature in the first place) only to be cut off with a response like, “Oh, you’re calling me racist, now?! You’re just ignorant and full of hate! You’re the problem!” Or even, “That wasn’t racist! I don’t think you understand what racism is,” which is an experience maddeningly absurd enough to make anyone want to punch the wall.

But to appreciate the full impact of these exchanges, it is crucial to first understand that disclosing the pain being inflicted on you, personally, and giving voice to that anguish is an act of radical vulnerability. It requires presenting your softest spot to the person who is already cutting it wide open, giving them the power to inflict more damage at will. A marginalized person only needs to live through this unbearable masochism a handful of times to realize the price we pay for speaking up–the pain of being emotionally violated in our weakest places by those too caught up in their own self-righteousness to notice or care about how deeply they are devastating us, the isolation/alienation from coworkers or fellow church members who feel more threatened by our pain than concerned for it, being held in distrust by those with social power who are often willing to tolerate bigotry and ignorance but not the acknowledgement of it, a general reputation for being an angry black woman or being just plain crazy–is just too high.

The expectation that we must try so desperately hard, over and over again, carefully, cautiously, patiently, bending over backwards in order to make the privileged understand how their lack of concern for those who don’t share their privilege is hurting us, only to be punished for our effort, has left me feeling damned in the fashion of Sisyphus, a character from Greek mythology who was doomed to repeatedly strain with every fiber against a massive boulder, inching it slowly to the crest of a steep hill, where it would always turn, falling all the to the bottom, steamrolling over every ounce of pain and struggle, so that Sisyphus must start from the beginning on his insanely demanding and irrelevant task.

And I am not here for that. I have said it before: A few trips up that hill of torture is enough. In recent years, I have become less careful, less patient, less concerned with my approach. I don’t try so hard to quell the fight or flight instinct. I don’t always take deep breaths to try to keep my voice even. I don’t worry so much about my approach remaining unthreatening. Sometimes I let all the fight out, leaving people wide-eyed and confused. Sometimes I chose flight, and put as much space (physically and figuratively) between myself and the injuring party as possible. I cut people off. I cut people out. I move on.

Others don’t always understand or support these decisions, but they haven’t understood when I tried so kindly and patiently to be vulnerable with them either, and if the end result is the same, why strain so hard on that boulder? Why strain at all? If an ally or acquaintance wants to create and maintain a meaningful connection, if they mean it when they say, “Just tell me,” it will show. They will make mistakes, we will mutually struggle through misunderstandings, hurt feelings, learning, and growth, but they won’t condemn me for my honesty when I say, “You’re hurting me,” and they won’t try to blame me for the pain. If they don’t mean it, that will show, too. And that’s where I bounce. That’s where I let them know, “I am not your Sisyphus.”
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My Black life matters, or Ramblings of middle age

The past several months have left me feeling sluggish and out of sorts. It’s been a period of rapid change professionally and personally, and to say that I wasn’t ready would be an understatement. It’s also been a time when being middle-aged has become quite real to me. Bodily changes are coming at me fast and furious…and why am I always hot? Seriously, I am always hot or at least that’s what it feels like. I swear, I am running 20 degrees warmer than most people these days as evidenced by the fact that when other people are wearing sleeves and coats, I am quite content sans to bare my arms and shoulders. Frankly, I find myself wondering: Must I wear clothes at all?

So, I am on fire all the time just when my body has also decided that sleep is optional and that my memory is something it doesn’t need to spend much time maintaining anymore. Nothing brings this perimenopause thing home like being in a meeting and forgetting your words in mid-speech. All you can do is laugh at yourself…wait? What is that word again?  Then, to add insult to injury, caffeine no longer loves me. Last year when my healthcare provider told me that some of the bodily shifts could be mitigated by giving up caffeine, I balked and agreed to lessen my consumption. Apparently that wasn’t enough, my body is flat out rejecting caffeine and when I do have a day where I don my inner toddler and declare that “I am the boss of me!” My body pretty much lets me know that caffeine is not my friend. Sob.

No matter what this “40 is the new 27” world tries to sell me and my peers, my body is saying “Not so fast” and I suspect a lot of my “I’m still young” fellow middle-agers are getting the same or at least similar bodily reminders. Aging is real and there is a physical and mental component and, despite my best attempts at ignoring it all, the CHANGE is here and is demanding my full attention.

Growing older in a Black female body is a special trip, though, especially because the majority of the health indicators aren’t exactly in our favor. Did you know that heart disease is the number-one cause of death for men and women in the U.S. but, moreover, Black women have heart disease rates twice that of white women. I have an aunt who isn’t even 60 and she’s been living with congestive heart failure for years now. We have higher rates of diabetes, and diabetes is prevalent in certain segments of the Black community. Oh yeah, there is also breast cancer, which is the most common form of cancer that affects Black women. The life expectancy gap is closing along racial lines but that is namely due to the plight of white folks dying earlier than they once did…probably from the stress of realizing life isn’t going so much their way as it used to and that only the really well off have futures with any comfort (welcome to some semblance of the world we Black people have lived in for decade upon decade upon decade).

If that wasn’t enough, there is also the cumulative effects of racism and patriarchy and the sense of being expected to always carry the loads. And yet rarely is there reciprocity. As Zora Neale Hurston wrote so many years ago “De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.”  That pretty much sums things up. We are often the first to show up, the first to do and yet almost always the last to be acknowledged or cared for. For all the work we do, it most certainly isn’t reflected in our economic status.  A study several years ago found that, on average, Black women have a net worth of $5. Then again, we do live in a world where the racialized wage gap leaves Black women earning sixty three cents to the white man’s dollar. It’s worse for our other sisters of color.

So you get to middle age as a Black woman and realize that all your hard work probably won’t prevent you from a retirement spent with the occasional kitty chow for dinner inside either your kid’s house, the subsidized apartment that may not exist by the time you actually get to retirement age or a snazzy cardboard box under the bridge. This while you are juggling whatever ailment that you are statistically doomed to suffer.

You can either get pissed off as hell, roll over and wait for the end or you can grab some joy where you can. I recently opted for “grab some joy” and did something that I have never done before. I went on a mini-vacation for two days and…damn it!…I feel refreshed. A few months ago, it hit me that I have never been on an actual vacation. All my travel has been either family or work-related. Never have I treated myself to unscheduled time alone. It’s almost embarrassing to admit that, since my Facebook feed tells me that most of the people I know are always traveling. However, I decided on early marriage and motherhood and spent my late 20s and 30s putting myself through college, graduate school and starting a career. They say shit happens but in my life shit happens often enough that the idea of vacations never materialized.

I am returning today from two nights away that fed my soul. I didn’t go far from home but I went just far enough that I was in an area  of Maine that is not part of my daily rounds.  I threw caution to the wind and it felt good and while racial bias is never far from the life of a Black person (a racially prompted traffic stop on my way to my getaway, plus being mistaken for the local help and not a lady of leisure by a waitress), it was just delightful overall.

My two nights away made me reflect on the importance of time away and how it is good for everyone. But for Black women and femmes, it is even more critical. Our bodies exist in a society where psychic and emotional abuse and misuse are the norms; we often internalize it, and it is hurts us. Too many of us are juggling too many balls often without a real support system. Too often our support system is simply another form of stress.  

How often do we look at the Black women and femmes in our lives and marvel at their strength without asking what that outward strength is actually costing them? How often do we profit from that strength without questioning it? How often do we truly give back to the Black women and femmes who bring beauty, knowledge and so much more into our lives? Do we ever see them as people who need a hand or a hug? Or do we sit so comfortably within the box of white supremacy that we take them for granted because deep down, we think they are indeed the mules of the world?

In a world where we must vocally declare that Black Lives Matter, I am declaring that my middle-aged Black self does indeed matter and that I will honor this vessel that I reside in, treating it as well as I can given my realities. If we say  that Black Lives Matter than we need to make sure that we are honoring those closest to us.
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If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Calling all white people, part 17: POC are not sex objects

Calling All White People, Part 17

(A periodic attempt to mobilize white people for something other than supporting just other melanin-deficient folks and maintaining a status quo of a nation geared toward whiteness as the baseline and the norm)

By An Average White Guy

TODAY’S EPISODE: Do not treat POC like sexual paraphernalia  

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

Good God, y’all, BGIM had some things to say (and said them well) in her recent post “Black pu**y, or Sexual racism…What we don’t talk about” and whether this is laziness or moral support, I’m going to jump right off from that post with my own post here. Consider it part two, I guess (and damn, I hope the people who inspired that post read it, see themselves in it, and do some heavy thinking about their approach to people of color).

Now, while I hope the people noted in BGIM’s post read it and learn, I hope some of you in our white-skinned circles did as well. Because chances are that many of you (no matter how much you yearn for racial justice) have been, still are, or will be guilty of fetishizing people of color or treating them as a casual sex object in a way you wouldn’t with a white man or woman.

Note I said “you” and not “us.” This is intentional. I have biases, I have racist stereotype  leftovers in my head, I make racial/ethnic/cultural missteps. But for those of you guilty of seeing exotic hunks of passionate hot chocolate when you should see a thinking, feeling human being worthy of respect, I ain’t one of you. Never have been. And not gonna start any time in the future.

I wish I could say this is just some huge moral quality of mine, but I doubt it. Dumb luck, really. It’s one of the few areas I didn’t have to learn racial sensitivity and respect about. My parents didn’t go for racist tropes hardly at all (though they held a few less than stellar stereotypes and biases toward Asian immigrants which I am sad to say I held myself for a number of years) so that probably helped. Hell, even my white-privilege-cushioned, racially uneducated 10- or 11-year-old self knew there was something very tremendously awfully wrong with my favorite uncle calling Arab people “sand n*****s.” I’m well into middle age now and that memory is still burned deep and uncomfortably into my psyche.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. Point is, at least where romance and sex are concerned, I don’t have a racist bone in my body. Maybe one or two sexist bones at times, but never racist. To me, a woman is a woman (and if I were ever to have a less-than-straight urge, a man is a man). There are cultural differences, religious differences, political differences and personal differences aplenty (and they need to be recognized and respected), but in the end, it comes down to one thing with dating and sex: Do I like this woman intellectually and am I attracted to her? I have a slight preference for brunettes, sure. Gigantic chests aren’t really my thing. But other than that, I don’t categorize women and even those two previously mentioned items aren’t absolutes.

That’s a whole lot of rambling. But I just want to ask of any of you, my fellow white people: Why on earth would you objectify a man or woman based on race? Especially if you read this blog and often nod your head to any of the thoughts shared in it. It’s actually pretty heinous. I mean, it’s not *the* most heinous racist thing you can do, but it’s pretty damn bad. Much the same way the N-word is used to try to slice away a Black person’s dignity and personhood, so too does the sexual objectification of people of color dehumanize them.

Yes, it dehumanizes them.

You make them into nothing more than a fantasy. Nothing more than an object. Nothing more than a goal to attain or a bucket-list item to cross off. You make them a fetish.

I have nothing against fetishes. Kink can be fun. But as something for people to do, not something to make people into. To make a person or a group of people into a fetish is to not see them as actual people. And how can you respect someone you don’t see as human?

And even if you don’t see people of color or some specific segment of them (like Black people) as being exotic fetish objects, you also shouldn’t approach relationships or sex with them casually. I mean, not with especially high levels of casualness. Some of y’all are into casual sex all the time or some of the time and God knows the popularity of Tinder is proof enough we’ve decided that pick-up bars weren’t casual *enough* for our modern society. But the point is that too many white people want to “try out” a Black person or some other non-white person. Maybe it’s because they think they’ll be more sexually wild (or more passive) or for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because they want to feel more enlightened and open-minded or think it will help purge them of racism or teach them something about race.

But regardless, it’s wrong.

Again, people are not objects. They are not tools. They are not toys. They are people. No matter what their race or ethnicity.

Don’t treat them as a means to your end.
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If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Black pu**y, or Sexual racism…What we don’t talk about

Racism is everywhere. In part because white supremacy is everywhere, it is the foundation of American and other Western cultures. We are steeped in white supremacy and even when we think we are fighting it, it rears its ugly head. Racism, which is a direct byproduct of white supremacy, is like the bad penny…always showing up and sometimes when you least expect it.

I write about racism, I speak on racism and I run an anti-racism organization and yet even in my interpersonal relationships, it has become clear that there is little relief from racism. This piece is a bit more personal than usual but I suspect it is a piece that any person of color who finds themselves in predominantly white spaces can relate to.

When my marriage ended over two years ago, I knew that I would have a lot of work ahead of me; after all, I had been partnered for two decades to the same man. My most pressing concern was whether I would be able to financially provide for myself seeing as how in all the years that we had been together, I was not the primary breadwinner. My former life partner was always the chief earner of money and I was the chief dreamer and do-gooder. It was a great pairing until it no longer was and, a few years ago, I was confronted with the reality that while the career path that I had chosen was a beautiful thing, it was a very sad thing when it came to my finances. So when I realized that the party of two was to become a party of one, my focus was on rebuilding myself at midlife and learning to become financially self-sufficient.

Since leaving the marital home a couple of years ago, I have made great strides towards economic self-sufficiency as well as the mental and emotional work of flying solo (I admit, I still have my bad days) but what I am realizing is that I now live in a world rife with the minefields of casual sexual racism. The type of racism that doesn’t immediately show its hand but when it does, it hurts worse than any random N-bomb dropped from the mouth of an idiot in a car rolling past you.

At a certain point in the new life-after-marriage adventures, that dating thing comes up. For some folks, they jump immediately into dating and for others, it takes a while. It took me a while; frankly, I still needed to remember to buy toilet paper and garbage bags for the longest time…tasks that had previously belonged to the co-parent. So I already had my plate full without adding a helping of find-romance to it. Needless to say, the juggling of my professional and personal life along with child schedules in the same year that my eldest kid decided to get married and have a baby meant that my first years sans a life partner was not really about dating.

However, at a certain point, the inner woman inklings started and, well, a woman has got to do what a woman has got to do and thanks to technology and chance, I ended up in my first post-marriage relationship. It was a good pairing but our lives have taken us on different paths and several months ago, the decision was made to put the relationship on indefinite hiatus. That first post-marriage relationship was what I needed to rediscover myself as a woman, to feel comfortable in my skin and frankly get my ass back in the game instead of in my bag of Cheetos and bottle of wine.

Now let me stop here for a moment. I am a middle-aged Black woman living in what is the whitest state in America. The pickings are really slim as far as the dating pool in terms of prospects that really mesh with me on intellectual, social and cultural bases in general, and they are painfully slim in terms of non-white prospects. To be blunt, as a heterosexual woman, the pool of available Black and Brown men over 40 in this state is damn near nonexistent. That means that if I plan to date anyone, the odds are pretty damn high that I am dating a white man.  Unless I plan to import some Black and Brown men to Maine, I am SOL on them. Trust me, I am trying on the importation thing but given what most folks know about Maine and how Black and Brown men are perceived here thanks to our loud-mouthed governor, it is a hard sell. After all, no one wants to be confused with the imaginary (but still prominent in many Maine minds) Smoothie or Money D. It also means that I am meeting men who have had, in many cases, little experience with real-life Black women and who have frankly spent a lifetime in the silo of whiteness. It means that I am encountering men who are so steeped in whiteness and often patriarchy that they have no idea how much work they need to do. Instead they assume that their willingness and desire to date me is proof that they are not racist. Nope, not at all.

White men being desirous of Black women is not new. I repeat, white men wanting to get jiggy with Black women is not new. Let’s take it back to Thomas Jefferson: That cat was out in the world talking about how all men were equal, all the while he was creating a whole family with Sally Hemmings who despite modern-day attempts to whitewash history was not his mistress or even his enslaved mistress. She had no agency and I am pretty sure given the time frame, Sally couldn’t exactly tell ole Tom no. This wasn’t a love connection. She was his property, a sexually assaulted slave pure and simple, no matter how we try to spin it.

White men were sneaking into the slave quarters back then and frankly many are still trying it today except that now Black women do have much more agency (even in this white supremacy-steeped nation) and while the approach looks more humane today, the end effect is often the same: the dehumanization of Black women. The refusal to see Black women as fully human. To treat them as experiments or fetishes. The belief that we are oversexed caricatures instead of fully human women who deserve more than a white man’s table scraps of humanity.

It’s the white man who has his respectable white woman and respectable life who thinks it is appropriate to try to get some side action with you. Or the man who thinks that if he buys you a few trinkets when you are low on money, you will be his faithful concubine. Also, the man who thinks complimenting you on your strength along with those trinkets is the way to your heart meanwhile he is posting  happy weekend pictures with his respectable white woman on Facebook. NO sir, that is not the pathway. Especially when it is clear this his desire is rooted in the “exoticism” of your Black skin.

The flip side of the respectable white man on the down-low is the brazen white man, the one whose eyes linger too long at your breasts when you run into him and his eyes undress you in a room full of people. He is the one who after one too many drinks at the local watering hole comes up to you with offers of dinner and pleas to spend time with him and yet when you turn away, you hear him muttering how he wants your Black pussy. This guy is crass and you wouldn’t touch him if he were the last man on the planet but at least there is no pretense. He wants that “hot Black puss”y that he believes to be wild and untamed. Tarzan with a side of Jungle Love anyone?

These two types you can almost laugh at because their white male desires that focus on the otherness of Black skin is easily recognizable and while it is othering, they are the ones you will never allow close to you (OK, some people still do, but not me and hopefully not too many of my Black sisters). They annoy you but it’s what Black women, especially Black women in predominantly white spaces, put up with.

It’s the last type that could crush you but instead disappoints you. It’s the white guy who reads the books, the guy who reads your writings, the guy who annoyingly plays devil’s advocate but who is willing to talk about the uncomfortable issues and so you think there is some potential there and you allow a friendship to grow despite the voice in the back of your head that says, “Are you sure”

He’s the one who over time, you call and text. He’s the one you start to slowly develop a first level of trust for. He is the one who takes you out and you laugh together and acknowledge that there is the foundation for something real to grow between the two of you and given your failure at relationships you decide to take it slow. He is also the one whose pals who aren’t too keen on you. The ones who judge you as an angry Black woman, the one whose texts you have seen on your friend’s phone, perplexedly and dismissively questioning that friend on his interest in you. This white friend you have made and are now growing more interested in is the one who just as he starts to see the insidiousness of how white supremacy works and is on the cusp of change realizes that life was a lot easier before he met you and, in the end, the silo of whiteness beckons. And perhaps a conveniently placed available white woman (facilitated by that annoyed friend of your friend) makes it easy for him to make his getaway. He says he values the friendship and doesn’t want to lose it but in the end, as you play Monday morning quarterback with a trusted confidante, you realize that your connection had been littered with pink flags. That you were probably never more than a white boy’s way to show how down he was. That despite the words, you were never more than a curiosity piece.

Whether it is the literal pussy or the metaphorical pussy, for many white men that is all they want from a Black woman. Sure, there are exceptions but for the vast majority of white men over 40, they haven’t done the work of dismantling whiteness within themselves to understand what their “choices” mean. So when you encounter these men, it means you are literally walking into a minefield not knowing what exactly you will find. Which in a weird way reminds me of a conversation that my father had with my preteen self over 30 years when I developed a crush on a white boy in middle school.

To be blunt, my father, who having been born and raised under Jim Crow, was not a fan of mixed race unions. He understood that the words of a white woman could literally take a Black man or boy’s life. He had already lived long enough to see his family kicked off the sharecropping land they called home because of his father’s (my grandfather) refusal to let the farm owner have my aunt when she turned 18. Yes, that means exactly what you think it means. My father’s family, in the post-slavery era, lost their home because my grandfather dared to protect his daughter from a lecherous white man.

Anyway, my father (upon learning about my first crush) told me: “Honey, the Lord made apple trees and he made orange trees, he didn’t make an apple-orange tree.”  For years, I thought that was cruel but his words have never left me and despite having been married interracially and dated interracially, the older I get, I am starting to wonder if there is not some truth in those words. Perhaps the struggles as a Black woman make this life too difficult to allow a white person into my world on an intimate level. Perhaps the social coding runs too deep for the average white man to understand that how he sees a Black woman (or fails to see her) is the result of a social code that was put into place many generations ago.

One thing for sure, racism is everywhere and neither love nor lust hold the keys to systemic change.
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If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense

 

Calling all white people, part 16: Devil’s advocate deviltry

Calling All White People, Part 16

(A periodic attempt to mobilize white people for something other than supporting just other melanin-deficient folks and maintaining a status quo of a nation geared toward whiteness as the baseline and the norm)

By An Average White Guy

TODAY’S EPISODE: Devil’s advocacy can make a devil of you, too

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

From the very moderate to even the most progressive and seemingly open-minded white people, my brethren of the pink-hued skin seem to love to play devil’s advocate when issues of race come up. For some reason, they don’t seem nearly as eager to do so for issues like poverty, the environment, etc.

But that’s not the most annoying thing. The most annoying thing is the failure to realize, especially with an issue that is as highly charged (and dangerous to those affected by it) as racism and racial inequities, that to play devil’s advocate is to become a bit of a devil yourself.

Major social issues aren’t minor things, so why are you “playing” around at something, anyway? Unless you’re an actor in a paid role on stage or screen, why play the defender of the devil? And that *is* what a devil’s advocate is, you know. Essentially, the devil’s lawyer.

Why would you feel a need to defend people who are doing harm, when there are so many other less-sensitive and less-aware people to do that already? Why do you add to the stress of people of color to argue how just maybe some probably racial incident could be seen from one perspective as not racial at all? Why are you essentially on the attack…however soft an attack it may be…against people already under attack for the color of their skin and nothing more?

Moreover, why the insistence to play devil’s advocate for people who are least in need of your protection? Like, for example, the police.

Now, I’m not anti-cop. From friends of the family over the years to actual family members, I am now close to and have been close to current and former members of law enforcement. I even dabbled with the idea of going to police academy a few years ago for a mid-life career change. I’m not keen on anarchy and like to know someone is around to enforce the law. But the police are terrible on the racial track record and aim their actions disproportionately and unfairly at non-white people. The less white; the harder their approach. So I’m not here to try to cheerlead for them, either.

And why would I need to (or you)? I’m not saying that being a police officer isn’t stressful or risky. But there are more than a dozen professions in the United States (last I checked a few months ago) that are more dangerous than policing, many of which are actually more valuable and critical to our daily lives, and are people who we *don’t* lift up all the time and worry about like we white people tend to do with police officers. (BGIM note: here’s a list of the most dangerous U.S. professions in descending order…police are at #14)

Not to mention that the stats clearly show the threat of death (the thing the police keep telling us is a rising danger to them) has gone down for at least the past decade if not longer, and the Barack Obama presidency was one of the safest periods for police officers in modern history (while violence against non-white people by police was a frequent and disproportionate occurrence and one for which they have almost always gone unpunished, even for the most egregious cases caught on video). Police wield so much power, see so few repercussions when they do wrong, and still we rush to their defense. We are so eager to defend them and we say “blue lives matter” so easily while often tripping over “black lives matter.” (BGIM note: figures on police officers’ relative safety in recent years here and here.)

Not to mention the comments like, “Well, 98% of cops are good people,” which I see over and over, even as recently as yesterday. And yet it’s those 98% of cops who are very much doing things like stop-and-frisk on almost only non-white people or doing searches of cars for minor traffic infractions by non-white people. Things that are more likely to turn up evidence of criminal activities; things that if they were also done to white people (and they hardly ever are) would mean a lot more white people in prison to make things more proportional there (or maybe not, since stats clearly show white people are treated more leniently in the courts for the same crimes as non-white people). Also, when the so-called 2% of bad cops do wrong, who is there to turn off body cams or audio from dash cams? Or to protect them from being revealed or punished in other ways? Who are the people who don’t stop the bad cops when they’re out of control nor speak out against them? Pretty much almost all of those 98% of “good” cops.

And we also rush to the defense of politicians and celebrities (among other well-defended or privileged folk who don’t need our devil’s advocacy) who spew nonsense and dangerous rhetoric trying to downplay white supremacy and systemic (and personal) racism. Again, people who don’t need defending by those of us who claim to be critical thinkers and compassionate people.

Racism is evil. An evil that is woven deeply into the fabric of America. Evil is associated with the devil. If you want to be a devil’s advocate, you need to ask yourself if you’re becoming a devil yourself. Step away from the abyss. Please.
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