Today, I had the pleasure–I’m not really pleased by it–of reading an Op-Ed on Time.com about “America’s fear of black people”. The writer went as far as to call this “fear”; “Negrophobia”. “Negrophobia”? OK. I am lucky to say this is my first encounter with this term but unfortunately I did have to eventually encounter it. Last I checked, a fear of a particular race is called “racism”. I believe I was taught this in elementary school, the writer of this piece is a Stanford student so I assume he’s heard of “racism” at some point in his lifetime. But maybe he is racist, I mean, he did compare the tragic murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown to his arachnophobia within the first paragraph.
As of recently, it seems America is becoming afraid to call a racist, a racist. Especially the media. During the coverage of Trayvon Martin’s murder, it seem like no one would just call George Zimmerman a hateful racist. Zimmerman saw a black man in a hoodie and saw him as a threat, this is a fact! Even if Zimmerman never murdered Trayvon Martin, that initial judgement is racist. And no one will call the police who are responsible for the recent, tragic deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford, and Ezell Ford racists. Even though they are obviously racists.
The NBA had a racism issue over the summer regarding former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling’s girlfriend recorded a conversation she was having with Sterling, in which he ridiculed her for taking a picture with Magic Johnson and posting it on social media because Johnson is a black man. Sterling went from berating his girlfriend, to going on a racial tirade. The NBA acted quickly, banning Donald Sterling from the NBA and eventually stripping him of his ownership. But many in the media defended him, saying he should not be punished because he was unknowingly and illegally recorded having a private conversation.
I was not surprised of Donald Sterling’s remarks because of his reputation and there was evidence of bigotry in his past. But I was shocked when another NBA owner spoke out in, what I took to be, defense of bigotry. Now, I agree we all have prejudices and use stereotypes from time to time. But Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, talked about how he would cross the street if he saw “a black kid in a hoodie late at night” approaching him and if he saw “a white guy with tattoos” all over his body he would walk back to the other side of the street. Maybe I am looking to deep into his remarks but the second example he gave seemed like bullshit. A piece of clothing on a black kid does not equate tattoos all over another guy. I can almost understand a prejudice about guys with tattoos all over their bodies of any race being threatening but why is a hoodie only threatening when a “black kid” is wearing it? Now, maybe again I am over-analyzing his comments but “black kid“? Really? After this interview, in which he talks about his own personal bigotry and how he believes we should all conceal ours, he did the right thing and reached out and apologized to the family of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was killed just over a year before Cuban made these remarks because a guy with the same mindset as Cuban saw a “black kid in a hoodie”, felt threatened by him, and killed him.
It seems like unarmed black people are being killed by cops routinely nowadays. This year in particular–hell, this summer! Michael Brown was shot down like an animal in the streets of Ferguson, MO. for a reason that is still unknown after a month of investigation. Eric Garner was just minding his business in Staten Island, NY, the police started harassing Garner, so he pleaded to be left alone, indicating this harassment was routine to him. Garner had been caught selling loose, untaxed cigarettes in the past. After refusing to get down because he had not done anything wrong, an officer put Garner in a headlock despite Garner screaming “I can’t breathe”, the officer refused to let go until he was silent. John Crawford was a young black man from Dayton, OH. was just playing with a toy gun in a local Wal-Mart and was killed by the police without hesitation. Crawford was on the phone with his girlfriend when he was gunned down and she said the last thing he said before being shot was “it’s not real”.
The issue of “black-on’black crime” has been brought up, particularly by the ignorant, to combat the outrage over the police killing these innocent Black Americans. My response to those people is simple: All Americans pay the police to serve and protect them. So, as a Black American, I would like not to be killed by someone who is supposed to protect me. But maybe I’m wrong for expecting the officers of the law to actually uphold the law…