(AllHipHop Opinion) I am getting to the age where my faith in humans is eroding about as rapidly as the polar ice caps are melting. When I was younger, and Hip-Hop was resolutely anti-racism, I was convinced we’d be able to eradicate the systemic racism from our existence. And there was no reason my young, Pollyanna-self would think to the contrary. Not only was rap against racism, but it seemed like the whole world was. In the late 80’s there were movements like USA For Africa (Americans fighting famine in the motherland), Hands Across America (Americans against hunger and homelessness) and Live Aid (celebs fighting Ethiopian famine). Remember songs like “Ebony & Ivory”? No? Yeah, well that time has long passed. We have been reminded, time and time again, that America is not moving forward progressively.
I live in “Middletown, USA.” And when I say that, I mean I live in a place that can be just about anywhere in the nation that does not have a gumbo of cultures. I’ve always been reminded as such, but recently, I was caught off guard. Check this video out, where I started to record about 5 minutes after the incident started.
First of all, this isn’t a small thing. I’ve been called n###r, I’ve been profiled, and countless other “small” things. The thing is, these small things - microaggressions - add up like a beach is comprised of countless grains of sand. Like that time, a pair of Indian kids called me a n###er in the gym parking lot. (After running away, jumping in the car, and speeding off, they would - through their parents - claim that they were singing some Hip-Hop.) Or the time, the Costco worker all but said my daughter, my friend Holly and I were going to steal from them so we might as well leave our bags with her to avoid the aggravation of getting caught. And don’t get me started on getting pulled over by the police January 1, 2018. That was harrowing, but something statistically normal.
What is not normal - for me at least - are regular af people trying to police Black people. And yet, it is “a thing.” In all of my years dealing with racism, I had never had an individual attempt to tell me I could not go somewhere. I won’t lie, a part of me wanted this man to get more aggressive so I could properly defend myself, but I think he knew better. His father certainly, knew better, as he attempted to quell the tension he helped create by sending his son out there in the first place. This police-like activity has been seen all over the nation with cute names like Parking Lot Patty, BBQ Betty, Southpark Susan and other monikers. What is not cute is disturbing, agitating and instigating tensions that can result in bodily harm. Or death.
For me, it was simpler.
I was minding my business, improving my life and health. I was working out. I was not a threat. I was not impeding anybody’s life. I was simply listening to music while running, when a strange, man startled me. I was in a state of peace. In the video, I repeatedly asked him why he felt the urgency to disturb me. He had no answer.
People of color are not all the same, even though Black people try to stand in solidarity. Racism is taught and people learn to stereotype folks based on their skin color. That’s why in the video where the kid says, “You’re probably from the hood,” I clapped back. Who cares if I am from the hood? What does that matter? But, I felt the need to let him know he does not know who I am at all. In fact, I hope he sees this and knows that he’s an ant to me that could have smashed right there.
These days, I keep to myself. I do my best to be a good person, but I don’t have the energy to try changing somebody with racist tendencies. Kanye’s MAGA hat fetish confounds me, but I put the kibosh on that open letter I was going to write. For what? Seeing Trump rallies hearkens to a darker day when white people stood around at lynching parties, frothing at the mouth. I’d rather spend time uplifting other good people, mentoring kids and creating systems of support.
I’m going vote on November 6, as I do in most instances, but I know my vote will not make these people see me as a productive citizen, great father or leader. Voting won’t stop elementary school teachers in Middleton, Idaho, from dressing up as Mexicans and President Donald Trump. Voting won’t make his supporters see Trump for what he is: a xenophobic, racist, nationalist, sexist...bad person. It won’t make them care about the gross disparities along racial, environmental and gender lines. If I die, they will not care. These people only respect harsh penalties and power. Small things...turn into bigger things.
This is where voting is important, especially on a local level. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words ring true.
But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated.
It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.
Voting may seem like a small thing, but its also exactly like those countless grains of sand. They add up to the unassailable advantage.