On February 4th, the night before the Super Bowl between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, comedian and Saturday Night Live actor Michael Che called Boston “the most racist city I’ve ever been to,” during the show’s popular “Weekend Update” segment.
The comment didn’t garner a lot of attention at the time, but when he repeated his statement on March 23rd at Boston University, it was received with much more acrimony from White folks who felt he had crossed the line and needed to apologize.
Che had apparently committed the nouveau unspeakable sin of labelling a White person, a predominantly-White location and a historically White institution, racist.
While Che’s comments became nationwide fodder for online and offline debates regarding the appropriateness of labelling someone racist, hate crimes were being committed against visible minorities all over the country (you know, actual racism). And in six and a half weeks between Che’s original comment and the latest backlash it caused, there has been ample amounts of racist savagery.
This month, 66-year-old Timothy Caughman was stabbed to death by a 28-year-old White man whom, after being arrested, admitted that he came to New York specifically to live out his fantasy of killing Black men, especially so White women would stop dating us. His racist rhetoric not only closely resembles Charleston church shooter Dylan Roof’s, but it also mirrors the talking points of America’s historic legacy of anti-Blackness. It’s one that traverses many different states throughout the nation.
Yet, instead of analyzing that harsh and tragic reality, we must allocate precious time to redirecting the conversation towards actual victims of hate crimes, not those who feel they are because the truth has been hurled at them.
@AlbertBreer serious question: you get this mad on twitter at actual racism?
— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) March 26, 2017
Only for them to leave the conversation pretending that anti-Black racism is an unverifiable fallacy.
I mean, I’m dealing in facts. And I’d say I have some sense of the Boston area, more than just a couple anecdotes or an outdated stereotype.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 26, 2017
Then we have to search for easily digestible numbers to progress the conversation, since explaining our very real experiences of peril is not enough. But even if Che showed everyone the facts—in 2017, the LGBTQ community and Black folks were the most victimized by hate crimes in Boston—his detractors would just find another way to minimize or ignore the evidence laying in front of them. They’re not in it for the “truth.” They’re in it for gaslighting the victimized.
When White folks make the label of racism the crux of the conversation, they restrict the discourse from progressing to a thorough examination of all the many, very real forms of restrictive and violent racism that plagues our society. By making the claim of racism more egregious than racist behavior, it obfuscates the discussion and leads us away from ever finding meaningful solutions to racialized incursion by framing the word as a subjective pejorative, or even worse, a baseless insult.
It’s critical that the collective Black community pushes back against the idea that we must diminish our need for a serious dissection of the race problem affecting America and the world at large to accommodate a deluge of fake ass White tears. Those who care more about being called racist than the existence of actual racism are simply just trying to deflect and detract attention away from an issue that determines our safety and progress. And at the rate that hate crime and populism is spreading throughout the globe, there’s no damn time to debate the obvious when actual lives are at stake.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.