I Retire from Explaining Racism to Well Intentioned White People.

I felt good about yesterday. I woke up with a sense of purpose. I had a list of things to accomplish, and all of them fit neatly in my grand scheme. I was going to seize the day, get it into an arm bar and then make it scream “Uncle!” Then this happened.

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Not the picture. It takes more than some shoe polish and the willingness to display the fact that you are a bunch of miserable racist dicks, to put a dark cloud over my head. It was disgusting, but in a totally unimaginative, “seen that a bunch of times,” way. I mean, I guess last weekend was when most of the racists decided to host their halloween parties, because this week there has been a whole bunch of black face, in my face. I’ve listed some below in no particular order.

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I didn’t post names. Let’s just call them generic racists. There are more, I’m sure, but I’m tired of pointing and clicking. One of them is famous. She was portraying Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black. And she apologized. Is that worth noting? One picture is from a jungle themed birthday party in Australia (I think). One picture takes place in Italy, and I hear is full of fashion designers. So, yeah. Black face is getting Huuuuuge. It’s fucking international. And it isn’t even Halloween yet! By the way, since when were there KKK in the jungle?!

Yeah, the people in the picture at the top raised the ante a little bit, by depicting Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, but they really didn’t show me anything new. I mean, Trayvoning is so last year. The lessons for this week – that sometimes white people are racist dicks – is something that I learned as a kid, when the white boys said that I was the color of shit, on the bus to kindergarten. You can read that here.

It didn’t make me hate white people. I don’t even hate the above white people. My attitude towards them is steely apathy, forged by 42 unbroken years of Blackness. Fuck them. I won’t give them the satisfaction of shaking my fist at them.

But some of my Facebook friends were commenting on the photos. And I couldn’t resist the urge to peek. And then I jumped down the rabbit hole and commented. It was a mistake.

After that things were deliberately derailed. Highjacked by a white guy that demanded to have about three semesters of Black History class distilled into a few posts on Facebook, so that he would get what the fuss was about. If we didn’t, didn’t that make us just as racists as the assholes in the picture? Sabotaged by a white woman who was so upset by the fact that she might be associated with the people in the picture that she then spent the entire day and a handful of posts explaining her perspective as a white woman growing up a largely Black Indiana town. There was a lot of comforting going on…”I don’t think you’re racist… You seem like a nice person…” Not a whole lot of discussion of race. Just a whole lot of cyber-hugs. Two people had managed to steer the dialogue so much that it went from being a commentary on the photos to a support group for white guilt.

Afterwards, one of the high-jackers suggested that this is simply how he learns; by stirring the pot and then enjoying the intercourse. He suggested that, because nobody wanted to answer his litany of stubborn, churlish questions about white privilege, he would simply steer the discourse to answer them. Which, to me, is the ballsiest display of white privilege I’ve ever seen. I had been staring down pictures of three racists nearly all day but the one person that I wanted to punch in the face turned out to be a dude who said that he was married to a woman of color, and is the polar opposite of what racists are supposed to look and act like.

I am not an academic. I can only talk about what I’ve been through, and what I don’t want my children to go through. So by the end I felt as if I were on emotional display. A model of the contemporary, hand-wringing negro. Liberal enough to talk to, but still angry enough for the reader to get the whole, “negro” experience. Not Wayne Brady Black. But not Samuel L. Jackson Black either. More like Wyatt Cenac Black… just Black enough.

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So today I am officially retiring from being that guy.

I’ve flirted it, ever since another Facebook conversation when I was admonished by a Facebook friend and college professor for not recognizing Zimmerman’s colored half. Which half pulled the trigger?

I should have quit then. I wanted to. But I also wanted to believe that there was still some white people out there that would be down with some straight dialogue, without hands being held, or prefaces being issued. What I found is that there is always someone waiting just off stage left, that is just dying for an opportunity to make things about them. So, how do you feel about black face, Lincoln? Mary, it must be terrible knowing that someone may think that you are like those people. Tell me more, please?

That was sarcasm. I don’t give a fuck. I quit. If you want to know how feel, google it. You might even find this post, right here.