I had a nice little list, today. Things worth bringing to the attention of my occasional lectors. I was going to write about how England won something. At cricket no, less. I was going to mention how Neil Amstrong wants us to go to Mars, and how strongly I agree: and how South Africa has finally redeemed itself after Thabo Mbeki by developing a potentially viable AIDS vaccine. But then I checked up on what the Angry Black Woman said today and now, I’m angry too.
In truth, I am not angry. I am enraged. Which proves I should heed Nojojo’s advice better in future, and not read the comment threads on articles about race in America.
I know that the US is more racist than Britain; it’s the pay-off for being massively less xenophobic. The American culture is built on unrestrained migration, for all that modern rich people like to deny it. Britain, on the other hand, always went to other places, but we also banned slavery over two hundred years ago and didn’t need to fight a war to do it. The British got out of habit of thinking like emperors sixty years ago, and the Americans only learned to think that way at around the same time. But: and I say this with ire and fury, that’s still no excuse for this shit.
So, it looks as though the police in Cambridge, MA have arrested a man for being black. Film @11, you might say. Unfortunately for the Cambridge PD, the black man is also a nationally known civil rights philosopher, literary analyst and speaker. Ok; so, when we know more, we will probably find that the Cambridge PD are harbouring racist street cops (which will come as no surprise to anyone) and will hopefully provide yet another in a long line of expensive humiliations for institutional racism. And yes, I’m pretty angry about this; we don’t know details yet but it looks fairly clear that the guy was arrested for being black and having dignity in his own home.
But what left me livid was things like this:
How many times can someone “cry wolf” until those cries land on deaf, uninterested ears? Besides, a white professor never would have locked himself out of his own house to begin with.
Because he is who he is, he could not or would not control himself and was arrested.
Enough of throwing down the race card … we have a Black President now, so that tired old ship has sailed.
It’s worth noting in a little more detail what we’re talking about, here. This is a 60-yr-old university professor who is having trouble unlocking his front door, which had become jammed, at lunchtime. Yes, this is broad daylight. Police arrived “investigating a possible burglary”. He identified himself appropriately, including evidence that he lived at the address. The police then booked him for disorderly conduct, cuffed him and dragged him to the nick.
So; presumably, someone saw a black guy fiddling with a lock and called the cops. Someone so blind and stupid that they didn’t recognise a guy who lives on their street as entering his own home. Or possibly, just someone who wanted to get a black guy arrested, because he lived on their street.
There is no language which can properly express how racism makes me feel. I grew up in real slave country: in a country where black men stole black men and women and sold them to the white man. A country under imperial domination for a hundred and fifty years and through three wars. I was an ethnic minority for the first 16 years of my life. I was put in a cell for not speaking the language once: I was 12 years old. I have been the target of a race riot for being white in the wrong place at the wrong time. And neither of these things happened in Ghana.
The people of the 69 tribes in my home country were subject peoples, to each other or to white men, for over 700 years. If anyone has cause to hate the white man it is the tribes of northern Ghana: they and other West Africans like them are the core of the New World slave population. And yet they do not hate. Ghanaians, over there or over here, have always treated me and mine with respect, with humour, and with dignity. They will open arms and homes, hearths and hearts to anyone who deals honestly by them. They are not racists; but we are. And I am not proud of my skin today.
Today, I am a white man shamed by contagion. Today I am a young man disgusted by the corruption of the old men’s order. Today I am a thinking man left thoughtless by the hate of others, whose skin looks like mine but whose hearts are hollow. And today, I have done with speaking the language of calm.
I have been trained by a Western political tradition which says that emotion negates rationality. That if one feels strongly one must hide it behind bastions of balanced view and formal language, or be ignored. To which I say, enough. Emotion is power; reason is but purpose. I am enraged and I will not hide the flame of wrath in the bushel of intellect. If more white people got angry at the abuses their fellows perpetrate, we would live in a richer world. If more Britons got angry at our government’s complacent arrogance, we’d have a republic by now. If more men got angry at wife-beaters, we’d see less battered women.
It is not up to the oppressed to heal the world. That is the task of those with power; which means the rich, the white, and the male. We’re fucking it up, guys. This is not good enough!