A curious phenomenon has become popular in the last few years and is beginning to spread like the Zika virus (which I am almost 100% positive will be the genesis of the upcoming Zombie apocalypse). I’m sure every Black writer who writes about the intersection of race and culture has had it laid in their lap before. Aside from the hateful private emails and messages we receive, there is another category of complaint that is becoming ubiquitous. It has become an accusation that conservatives, Alt-right neo-Nazis, and White people who wear shorts and penny loafers with no socks launch like bricks through the open windows of any conversation critical of cops, the dominant culture, or America in general.
Black people are now racists.
I am not one of those people who believe Black people cannot be racist. I wholeheartedly reject the popular notion that one must have some sort of power to be racist. I have seen some backwoods Confederate flag-wavers who had less power than they had teeth and dollars combined, but still hated anyone whose skin was darker than the Bible pages from which they never bothered to read. I also know some Black people who hate Black people more than any Klan member ever could. Racism and power have nothing to do with each other, in my opinion. Hate needs no caveat.
But nowadays, any Black person who raises their voice above a whisper to speak critically of any issue that affects people of color immediately has their discourse thrown back in their face like a leaking tear gas canister and is immediately branded a “racist.” Yes, anyone who even makes a distinction about race is now deemed a “racist” by many.
Last week, LeBron James tweeted his congratulations to Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas for their record-breaking Olympic performances:
White Twitter immediately jumped all over him for injecting race into something that should be about national pride.
I wish I could have warned LeBron about this. The phrase “Black” is no longer acceptable because privilege has made White people feel left out and disenfranchised when they aren’t included in a conversation. You can’t announce anything good as “Black” anymore without feeling the wrath of people overcome by White Fragility spilling white tears into your applesauce. Loving anything Black is forbidden, because to them, it is racist.
Ask Beyoncé how some White people clutched their pearls when she decided to tell the world how much she loved African features and Blackness at halftime of the Super Bowl. She was immediately transformed from queen of everything good and light-skinneded, to evil racist seeking to foment those rabble-rousing Negroes by applauding the efforts of the “terrorist” Black Panthers.
Ask anyone who dares to say the words “Black Lives Matter” or speak out against police brutality. If you even whimper a complaint about the deaths of innocent Black people, or suggest that police should stop shooting people in the face, you are branded an anti-cop troublemaker. And what’s worse is, you are racist. Although Black Lives Matter makes no distinction between the White cops who shot Philando Castile and the handful of Black cops involved in Freddy Gray’s death, the movement must still be racist because…well…that’s just how some White people feel.
At first I thought it was a concerted effort by White people to keep their hands clean. I figured they talked about it at their monthly Global White People meetings right after they discussed dancing off beat and the new lines of Birkenstocks. I thought they had concocted an immature, offensive plan to combat all accusations of racism by simply retorting, “No, you’re the racist!” I call it the “I’m-rubber-you’re-glue” defense.
Then I thought it was fear. I thought that accusing Black people of racism was a pre-emptive strike to muddy the waters of all conversations about race, because they feared these reminiscences would one day trigger Black people into remembering all the pain, suffering and brutality White people have inflicted throughout history, and suddenly think, “Wait a minute, where’s my machete?” and go all Nat Turner on them. But then I figured out what it actually is.
It is a very technical, academic term that is seldom used, but was coined in 1933 on a playground in Secaucus, New Jersey:
The Heebie Jeebies.
Many White people do not like the constant reminder of the pain Black people have suffered at their hands. It gives them the willies. It bubbles their guts. It troubles the souls of the good ones and dismantles all arguments by the actual racist ones. The subject of race is a painful one because it comes with the knowledge that, historically, they have always held the whips. They have always tied the nooses. Those memories are an actual affront to most of them; therefore, anyone who broaches the subject of race must have intentions of hurting them. Thus—reverse racism.
I am often called a racist. I believe one of the biggest reasons the pejorative is hurled at me is because I make a conscious effort to use the phrase “White people.”
I use it so often because we have been conditioned that White is not a race. “White” is not even a thing. No one flinches when a writer or public figure speaks of so-called Black-on-Black crime, Black-owned businesses and Black neighborhoods, but “White-on-White crime,” has never been a problem (although 83% of White homicide victims are killed by White people). If I lived in a neighborhood that is 90% Caucasian, it is called a “nice” neighborhood, not a “White” neighborhood. WalMart is not a “White-owned” business, it’s just a business. I bet you laughed at the earlier reference to “White Twitter, because it sounded funny, too.
I point this out because many think “White people” sounds accusatory. By saying, “White people,” it may feel like I am intentionally trying to be mean. So it’s no surprise that “White people” sounds like reverse racism to many. When I use the term “White People” it makes people cringe. This article has 36 references to Black people, yet the 18 times I referred to White people in this piece somehow feels wrong. It engenders the heebie jeebies. I must be racist.
To many, I’m a racist because I say, “White people.”
LeBron is racist when he refers to Black people.
Because it seems like anything we say we will be branded with the “racism” tag, there are only three courses of action we can take:
- Give up, be quiet and comply
- Say whatever we want and be ostracized, knowing we are using our voices to point out the truth
- Cover ourselves in OFF! and Skin-so-soft, and wait for this Zika Zombie apocalypse to get cracking.
Which one will you choose?