A long time ago I wrote about the knockout hype.
A dark shadow of random stupidity had fallen across the land. Sneaky Black boys were punching people in their faces. White people.
You all already know all there is to know about it. It’s violent, it’s random and it is scary. It is also statistically non existent. Yes, the world is slowly coming to terms to the fact that despite the fact that some black Boys took part in this non phenomena, it is neither a trend nor a fad.
Its big break in social media came when two hapless journalism school dropouts strung some far flung incidents together and made believe it was a thing. Along the way the broke every rule of reporting, but so what. It was compelling and it tapped into a deep vein of racialized shame and fear. It spread like wildfire
I remember those early days. Rational, intelligent and informed Black men were meditating on knocking some child out cold. Folks couldn’t wait until a knocker-outer met with a pistol packer. (It happened. Punches thrown, buttocks shot.) White people were asking why the liberal media had neglected this piece of alarmist propaganda. The media had a good reason. It wasn’t news.
I’m not speaking on individual assaults. They were recieved plenty of coverage. More than some rapes and murders. But when you attempted to put it all together into a national story it fell apart. It simply didn’t happen all that often. One of the victims even came forward to quell the mounting panic.
Still, in a nation where armed assaults, rape and domestic violence are the norm, a handful of simple, albiet random and horrible, assaults had claimed our attention.
We are a country of believers. My cable network has a Santa Tracker to make it easier for us to pull the wool over the eyes of my gullible three year old.
A few days ago a brushfire of outrage spread because Kanye West said that he would eclipse Nelson Mandela’s legacy. He had said and done a whole bunch of dumb shit. This isn’t one of them.
Not long before that a story went viral which featured weaves stolen from graves and recycled to living clients. Clients who later died from spider bites because poisonous arachnids had nested in the stolen hair… Does any of this sound plausible? Where is there such a shortage of weave hair that folks have to spend hours digging up corpses? Oz? Tatooine?
But people took it as gospel.
That’s fine. The weave industry can take the hit and I’m sure Kanye’s downward spiral won’t be affected by the bad press. I doubt he noticed. But young Black men can’t afford another smear campaign.
Young Black men are stopped more, searched more and sentenced more harshly. Schools in the inner city are being defunded. Prisons are popping up in their places. The playing fields have never been level but it’s getting worse. Much worse.
We have to get into the habit of second guessing these things. The media has gotten out of the business of truth. Hysteria is much better for the bottom line. But we know our boys. They’re human, not animals.
There is no young, Black, ratchet army.