Well, we gave it a shot.
For eight long and often tumultuous years; through tragedy and outrage; through solidarity and division; we attempted to have an honest conversation about race.
When former President Barack Obama gave his “A More Perfect Union” speech in Philadelphia, the conversation was meant to begin.
When Trayvon was killed, the conversation was meant to begin.
When Black Lives Matter emerged, when police killings of unarmed black men and women reached a strange, and seemingly over-the-top zenith, the conversation was meant to begin.
When Tamir Rice was gunned down, when Sandra was found dead, when Obama was Muslim, when the awards ceremonies were #OscarsSoWhite, and finally, when Donald Trump ran his racially insensitive and xenophobic campaign that would eventually carry him on the shoulders of white nationalism into the White House, the conversation was meant to begin.
And so here we are, in Anaheim, California, when an off-duty police officer attempted to publicly kidnap a Hispanic 13-year-old boy because the man felt the child had threatened to “shoot him” (the boy maintains he had only threatened to “sue” the officer) after walking over the man’s lawn, we are once again thrown into this old familiar cycle where we all wait for the commencement of a racial dialogue that has been long overdue.
But something happened when I begun paying attention to comments surrounding the incident. I started noting that arguments on the side of the officer, seemed to be informed by recent liberal rhetoric.
Sentiments have ranged from, Where are black lives matter now? and This is what happens when the police are continually disrespected.
That’s when it dawned on me, we’ve actually been having a conversation on race for quite some time now.
What I had been looking for — and what I assume others like myself had also been looking for — was some type of concession. Because in our heart of hearts, we simply believed that we were right and that our foes were wrong-headed individuals who simply needed to be corrected.
It never occurred to me that they feel the same about me; that they had been biding their time similarly, waiting for me to come to my senses.
So where I see a video capturing what amounts to a public kidnapping by an off-duty police officer out of his jurisdiction, another person sees a dangerous group of teenagers, attacking a man who is simply standing up for himself.
There are people who, no matter how many times they see videos of police officers shooting first and asking questions later; no matter how many times they see a non-Muslim commit an act of terror; no matter how many mass shootings we as a country have to mourn through, will never see any other side except their own.
They’ve heard our arguments, they’ve just made up their minds to the contrary.
There are people who don’t care, and more importantly, won’t ever care.
So for eight long years we have been having these conversations. And I’m sorry, but if, at this point, you don’t understand or care that there is an unwritten “too” at the end of the phrase Black Lives Matter, then I think our conversation should be done.
A friend of mine, who is unfortunately trapped behind enemy lines as it were, yelled at me with righteous indignation about my new-found ambivalence concerning social understanding.
Me: I don’t care anymore if certain people don’t “get it.” I think we need to move on…
Her: Well aren’t you the lucky one? You’re so lucky that you can just choose to “not care.” I wish I could “not care.”
Me: … Yeeeah…I’m sorry if that came off insensitiv…
Her: I wish I could “NOT CARE,” but I actually have to go to work throughout the week and deal with these assholes who suddenly think every wrong-headed thing they thought about the world has been validated. I have to actually have meetings and work on projects with these folks, I have to eat lunch with them. Trump is part Scottish.
They made me eat haggis.
Haggis, Richard. Do you know what haggis is?
It’s a buncha shit, stuffed in a chitlin’. Have you ever tasted a buncha shit stuffed ina chitlin’?
Me: I’m sorr-
Her: FUCK DONALD TRUMP!
Being a black woman working in an office building with nothing but Trump supporters who feel no displeasure in keeping her up-to-date on the current wheelings and dealings of his Orange Highness can’t be a good thing.
So while I understand her plight and her need to address stupidity, I can’t escape this nagging feeling that, as a country, we’ve crossed into a space where discussion is no longer of any use.
I think blacks, especially, are done with the Obama-era buddy-buddy, touchy feely attempt at inclusion at all costs. And if we’re not, we should be.
This is especially true after the Trump election.
Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States solidifies the idea that there is a sizable and very mobilized section of our country’s citizenry that doesn’t give two shits about the issues of minorities in this country, let alone the plight of the African-American community.
So what kind of conversation are we really ever going to have? And what good would it actually do?
We’re no longer dealing with people who simply don’t know. This group has had an 8 year crash course in black plight. From protests, and marches to riots; everything from the intellectualized thoughts of black academia to the screams of the uneducated, black and oppressed; it’s all been explained and there’s absolutely nothing left to say…
The lines are drawn in thick greasy, black, shoe polish. We all know what side of the fence we’re on.
So where does that leave us? Where do we go from here? What’s the next move?
If you ask me, that’s the problem with the traditional left, it’s too reactionary.
Remember when Obama was elected and he had to fight, even within his own party, to get financial reform and healthcare reform passed?
Remember how hard that was?
Well look across the aisle at the so-called idiots who don’t believe in climate change. Those idiots, in less than 100 days, have created, written and implemented a de facto ban on Muslim immigrants from several countries, undid protections for transgender teens, promised to aggressively enforce previous federal attacks on marijuana users, openly backed and been backed by the private prison industrial complex, restarted the Dakota Pipeline (DAPL), and so, so much more.
They stopped having conversations with us a long time ago.
Call them dumb if you want, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice, because they are not dumb. In fact, they are very competent in ways that the left simply is not and, above all, they sure as hell aren’t reactionary.
No, they organize politically and make things happen. So I suggest, rather than talk, those who oppose President Trump’s many dangerous and anti-progressive policies should act.
Contact your state’s U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative when you have an issue. Keep up to date with your local politics, not just on a state level, but a county level as well. Research and/or get involved in your local Black Lives Matter chapter.
Also, on March 10, in protest of the current administration’s support of the DAPL, Native peoples and allies will gather in Washington, D.C. “for a March from the Mall to the White House beginning at 10 am. [After the march they] will gather for a rally at the Ellipse.”
Look it up, sign on and join in because the days of conversation were sadly short-lived and fruitless. No, the time for talking is over.
With Trump in office, those of good conscience are all behind enemy lines, and no matter how great haggis may be, I’m not eating anything against my say so — especially if it’s just a buncha shit stuffed in a chitlin.