IN THE WAKE OF THE MURDERS of unarmed blacks by either persons of authority (police) the first thing you hear, especially from the right wing media is a demand for blacks to in essence, up their respectability. Bill O’Reilly makes this a part of his show each time tragedy happens. Don Lemon — top liberal/moderate CNN anchor — similarly, follows suit. At first these guidelines look great; they are certainly things I can stand behind and most are things I do already. Let’s take a look at Don Lemon’s guide to equality:
- Pulling Up Your Pants
- Stop Using the N-Word
- Stop Littering
- Finish School (we assume college, but he’s not specific)
- Stop Having Children Out of Wedlock
This totally looks reasonable on a superficial basis, however, one problem I spot is the fact that NONE of these are solely black problems or things only black people do. There’s millions of discount Kevin Federlines and Justin Beibers who sag their pants, yet there is yet to be an unarmed white kid who got shot on trigger-finger-reflex, who we swiftly learn the toxicology report of (but not the killer’s) and promptly anathematized in media. EVERYONE LITTERS. Every ethnic group litters; black people didn’t invent that, nor hold a copyright or registered trademark to it. Most black people finish school much like most of anyone else. Blacks do not own that either. And EVERYONE has children out of wedlock. Hell, the most famous kid having a child out of wedlock is currently Bristol Palin — and that’s a white girl (now imagine if Obama’s daughter did the same thing).
And while I diligently explained N-word privileges a while back, that doesn’t mean I support the word’s usage. Understanding social proximity doesn’t equal a sign off. But I’m more concerned with the N-word as an ideology which can manifest without even saying it (which of course disenfranchises or murders people) than the casual use or angered use of the word.
Now let’s just get this one thing straight; I agree with the notion of following these guidelines towards greater admirability. What I don’t agree with is the notion that Equality — basic human rights — should be tethered to admirability. After this fairly swift realization, Don Lemon — while being well intentioned — begins to look like Tom Dubois off of Boondocks; a highly intelligent brother who doesn’t have a clue.
There are numerous reasons why Don Lemon’s (and O’Reilly’s) guidance misses the mark. For starters, let’s use me. On top of fulfilling all of the prerequisites listed above, I once saved a teenager’s life when he got drunk and beat up as a ninth grader in high school. I always fought bullies, or people who didn’t pick on people their own size. I always stood up for people. Later on I went to serve in the military with two years of my prime served in Afghanistan. I was always known to be well-spoken and pensive. I once helped someone balance their royally destroyed credit. Before I really begin to look like I’m on my own sack, let’s stop here and ponder… would anyone know any of this if they saw me minding my own business in a Walmart in the gun section, walking down the street from the store with a bag of Skittles, knocking on a door after crashing my car, or walking off the sidewalk? Fuck no, no one would know this shit. My life record should be completely irrelevant in regards to showing me basic HUMAN respect.
Equality, should NOT be tethered to admirability. In fact, equality shouldn’t be tethered to anything. Equality should be unconditional.
Other reasons include the fact that Don Lemon must have situational amnesia; he must have forgotten that his highly admirable non-saggy pants ex-CNN anchor T.J. Holmes got racially profiled by police. In 2008, ridiculous as it gets, a top ranking police chief was racially profiled by street police. I’m certain he finished school. Lavar Burton — Geordi LaForge — even gets profiled and he never sagged his pants before. Ironically, this is YOUR SHOW Mr. Lemon, a show you were on where you yourself pointed out an experience with racial profiling. I’m sure you wouldn’t give advice that you do not follow. But it is evident that your advice doesn’t work, and honestly we are tired of dancing to strings of those who are more than happy to maintain this white supremacist system of institutional bigotry.
If one were to note history, one would understand that Emmett Till did not sag his pants. He was brutally murdered by whites, because he was a black kid that they hated and feared. Martin Luther King didn’t sag pants, nor did Malcolm X. They were killed. Fred Hampton didn’t sag his pants, and he was murdered by police. The thousands of lynchings in the United States, many of those people did not sag their pants or wear hoodies either.
Each time well or ill-intentioned folks speak of these rules, guidelines and prerequisites to equal treatment, it registers as: “Only under these conditions shall we grant 40 million Americans basic human rights”. And that is the wrong answer.
The point is this… trying to redirect blame as such is like telling what a woman should do to stop a man from beating her in a domestic violence matter. This is like telling children five steps to admirability to STOP pedophiles from preying on them. No, the predator needs to stop, not the prey. Equality should be granted UNCONDITIONALLY, period.
Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud