The Antidote for “I Am Not Black”

At the bottom of this post, you will find the video, “I Am Not Black.” If I could have found a way to make it drop down off of the bottom of the screen and dangle there like a broken zipper, I would.

It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s a bunch of meh, faux deep nonsense. I just watched it again, and I honestly can’t disagree with anything he says. But what’s the point?

Let’s be honest. He aint saying shit. Handsome people reenacting Michael Jackson’s Black or White is entertainment. It might even be inspirational. But when you scrape away at the surface and hold it up against all of the hell that we are facing right now, there isn’t much there. 

Kumba-yactivism like this has always made me a bit sick to my stomach. I love crystals and sage and all kinds of new age shit. Just keep it out of my struggle. This is garnish, not a main course.  

It isn’t activism and it isn’t actionable. How do I know? Well, Governor Snyder doesn’t care if you snuggle up with your Black, White or Blasian, boyfriend. He’s poisoning your water anyway.

The police don’t care if you don’t call yourself Black, as long as you fit some description. And… if you look Black, I guarantee you fit a description.

You gonna hug the cop? That’s another staple of Kumba-yactivism. It makes for a good photo op, but it usually doesn’t end well. Hugs look, and feel, like resisting arrest.

He's crying because he's scared. Of you.

He’s crying because he’s scared. Of you.

Go ahead Kumbaya ranger. The next time an officer asks you for ID, hit him with the warmest hug you have. Pack that hug with all of the vibes you can muster up. Visualize a sage scented rainbow… No, don’t. Just because I don’t like your tactics, doesn’t mean I want you to be tased, beaten, choked and/or pepper sprayed.

Girl saying riot police at a Freddie Gray protest in Baltimore last April. She's actually kind of bad-ass.

Girl saying riot police at a Freddie Gray protest in Baltimore last April.
She’s actually kind of bad-ass.

To those who think that the struggle can be fought and won with a picture of a Black fist and White fist in a firm embrace, above is the antidote. It’s a short video called, “An Overreaction” by Sarah ONeal.

It is not a message that we will all get behind. It is a measured call to action. It’s for those who can fly into a rage when Black Lives Matter stops traffic on an Atlanta highway, but shrug and reach for the easiest answer possible, when the police shoot unarmed Black people down. It’s for those who shout All Lives Matter and then disappear when a Governor poisons a community with a majority of Black children. And I’m not just talking about Flint.

The reason I Am Not Black went viral, is because it offered a safety blanket to everyone. That guy who has a ready supply of Mike Brown jokes can applaud, I Am Not Black. That guy who rebuts every criticism of police brutality with the question, “…what about Black on Black crime.” is just as welcome in the warm embrace of the video as the mother who thinks that dressing her child in a small suit will protect him from perceptions of thuggishness.

Maybe now isn’t the time to try to create a safe space for those made uncomfortable by the discussion of race. We tried it. Pretending things were getting better in order to be polite, as the rug was jerked from under us. It’s called the 90’s. It didn’t end well.

We can’t hug this out.