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Thinker's Notebook

Who you Tellin’?

Black people enjoying themselves merits a call to the police. Reports are she waited 2 hours for the police to come, and then no one was arrested. All that time invested waiting for the excitement of seeing Blacks in pain and no payoff. Messed up the whole rest of her day.

You read the one about the white woman who called the cops because a Black family was barbecuing in the park, right? Okay, how about the one where the white woman called the cops on three Black women that were renting an Airbnb next door? How about the one where the white college coed called the cops on a Black student that had fallen asleep in a common room in their dorm? These random, petty incidents would make for good comedy if they didn’t happen to be true.

While the era of Trump and white neonationalism has led to an uptick of hate crimes and incidents of racial bias in our country, it has also seemingly brought about the return of the Jim Crow-esque ideal that if you are white then you have the right to force Blacks into compliance. The stories are becoming more and more prevalent, and they all pretty much have the same structure. A white person sees Blacks doing something, the white person doesn’t like what they see, the white person calls the cops. Only five months into 2018 and we have already seen dozens of iterations of this scheme occur. Earlier this month, a Black real estate investor in Memphis paid a site-visit to a potential investment property. A white woman who lived next door to the property demanded to know what he was doing. Even after the guy shows the woman his contract for the property, she still calls the cops. Last month, a group of five Black women who were all new members of the Grandview Golf Course in Pennsylvania were removed from the golf course in the middle of playing a round because the staff felt like they weren’t playing fast enough. Even though the group playing behind them never complained, the staff decided to call the cops and have the women removed.

Reasons, you ask? They all have their reasons. The one who called about the barbecue? Her reason was that the Black family was using a charcoal grill in a part of the barbecue area that wasn’t designated for charcoal grills. The one who called on the Airbnb women? Her reason was that the women didn’t say hello to her. The college coed? Her reason was that no one should be sleeping in the common area anyway. Karl Marx said that reason has always existed, just not always in a reasonable form. Any normal person would agree that calling the cops on someone because they didn’t exchange pleasantries with you isn’t a reasonable act. It is an act of privilege, a cowardly act of a person whose reality rests upon a fragile foundation of ignorance and prejudice, the last bastion of white racist America, their only power being their ability to make you feel powerless. You think these folks calling the cops on Blacks for nonsense don’t know about Mike Brown, or Tamir Rice, or Eric Garner, or Philando Castile? You think they don’t know that you know what happened to them? They aren’t calling the cops to stop a crime. They are calling the cops to stifle your comfort, to threaten your life.

The African-American has been America’s greatest commodity for the better part of five centuries. Black folk are iconic in the sports and entertainment industries. Our best athletes fill our stadiums, and our best singers fill our arenas. We shine on the big screen, and on television. Our stories make film companies billions of dollars. We are the biggest consumers in America, our dollar powers this economy. We also fill America’s prisons, and in the privatization model this means that Blacks equate to prison profits, too. A commodity, sold an era ago as slaves, bought in this era through hypercommercialism, but always seemingly looked at as raw material to be handled. That’s what’s happening when a white person calls the cops on a Black person for nonsensical reasons. They are attempting to handle us, to show us that if we aren’t willing to follow their directives, we are going to be in trouble. This current administration has actually done one thing right. It has exposed “proof-positive” that this ideal of a post-racial society is a farce.

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