There are two Americas.
In one America, Jacob Blake can try to avoid an escalation, and try to walk to his vehicle, with four policemen pointing guns at him. He can be grabbed by the police officer and shot seven times. He can be paralyzed. He can have it blamed on him that he didn’t “comply”. He can be met with deadly force because maybe he had a knife somewhere in his car and presented an imminent threat.
In the other America, Kyle Rittenberg can cross state lines with an illegally owned AK-45. He will be greeted warmly by police while visibly armed. He can murder two people in cold blood and injure a third person. Then he can calmly walk past the police. He’ll be taken into police custody peacefully. No deadly force needed.
This is America as black people understand it. It’s never been any different. From slavery to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights movement until now, black lives have been expendable. Our every action can be met with bullets from police officers, and white people will try to cobble together a vision of America in which all black people have to do is comply with the law and they won’t be brutally murdered by police officers.
Tell that to Philando Castile, who, in the middle of a routine police stop, was shot and killed in front of his girlfriend and his daughter for lawfully informing the officer that he did have a legally registered weapon in the car.
I’ma just be blunt and straight to the point on this one. I don’t know which America the endless parade of coons (dearest Karen and Chet; never use the word “coon”) lining up to lick Donald Trump’s asshole at the Republican National Convention think they live in, but regardless of what they think, it is almost assuredly the first one.
The Republican National Convention has been marked by an endless parade of conservative black men with bad shape-ups trying to convince black men that they should give Donald Trump a chance. They bring up Biden’s (admittedly infuriating) gaffes while talking up a President who can’t bring himself to say “black lives matter”. They talk about Joe Biden’s role in 1994 Crime Bill, which did lead to thousands of black men going to jail, but only after Republicans repeatedly attacked it as too soft.
They say Democrats take black votes for granted, which, again, does have an air of truth to it, if you ignore the fact that up until *checks notes* Monday, Republicans have all but abandoned any hope of swaying black voters to vote for them. They say Joe Biden said that if you vote for Trump “you ain’t black”, which was stupid and endlessly tiring, but Biden ain’t the one trying to actively dismantle the means by which most black people feel they can vote safely and securely. Democrats aren’t the ones closing polling stations, instituting laws that disproportionately affect black people, and threatening to send armed federal agents to watch polling stations. Democrats didn’t spend years trying to kill the Civil Rights Act, prodding it in the ribs until it found a nice place to stab it and start disenfranchising black folks again.
Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron had the nerve, the fucking unmitigated gall to say Breonna Taylor’s name while actively declining to pursue any action against the officers who murdered Taylor — an EMT, a “blue life” if there ever was one — in cold blood, in her own fucking apartment, with a no knock warrant for a suspect that had already been arrested somewhere else. How dare he go on TV and use her death as the reason why black men shouldn’t vote for Joe Biden?
All these knuckleheads are saying the same shit. That black people aren’t a monolith. They speak about being “unchained” while cozying up to massa. They speak of freedom while trying to get promoted to Head House Negro. They’re vying for acceptance from a party that is yelling, practically fucking screaming that they will back police brutality over common decency every single time. They’re trying to sell to black men the idea that joining a party that has for years insisted that diversity and inclusion are things to be mocked and derided and cast aside is the correct move because, um, err… *checks notes* “black people are not a monolith”.
White acceptance is intoxicating. Take it from a black dude who spent far too much time letting white friends talk to me about how I was “one of the good ones” or “wasn’t black enough”, and how thoroughly and completely that shaped my view of the world. You can get blinded by white folks giving you credit for speaking well, or for not thinking like “those other black people”.
Black Republican men and women convince themselves that dismantling systemic racism and oppression shouldn’t be the goal. Accepting it as a reality should be the goal. Bathing in it, being molded by it. Allowing it to happen. Accepting a society in which white people staring down their noses at black people and think we’re not good enough is all gravy. Don’t resist, comply! Eventually, maybe they’ll sort of kinda maybe almost treat us like human beings.
But is living in a world where Daniel Cameron can get pulled over tonight and be dead tomorrow because the police officer thought maybe he had a knife on the passenger seat of the car one where Cameron really wants to live?
Because that ain’t the one I want to live in.
If Daniel Cameron and Tim Scott want to exist in the Sunken Place, that’s on them. They’ve been forced to hide their blackness and capitulate to white men for too long to be saved.
But any black man considering voting for Trump (or more likely, not voting at all, which is what the goal of all these black people showing up and talking about how awful Biden is seems to actually be) need only look to Kenosha, Wisconsin. They need only watch police officers stand by idly while a murderer with a weapon calmly walks past them while people protesting police brutality lay dead in the streets. They need only watch armed and dangerous white men be taken peacefully into custody while the black bodies continue to pile up in the disinfecting light of Trump’s presidency.
They don’t care about you. They will never care about you. They not only don’t think your life matters, they will go on TV and tell you, loudly and proudly, that your life doesn’t matter.
I’m not saying Joe Biden is the best. I’m not saying he doesn’t say stupid shit all the fucking time, because he does. But, even given the most cynical reading of how Biden feels, he’s at least great at pretending to be empathetic towards our plight. We can not and will not get anywhere propping up tin pot, wannabe dictators like Trump and the white supremacists he surrounds himself with.
And we can’t be swayed by bad faith actors, and black men who are trying to convince other black men that the path to prosperity for our community is accepting that we can be killed dead at any time for any reason by the police are definitely bad actors.
The America we live in is one giant plantation. Most black people are still in the field, trying to make a living, trying to survive one more day without angering some white man and ending up dead or in jail. I’d ask how men like Tim Scott and Daniel Cameron can sleep at night knowing that we black people can be shot and killed at a moment’s notice, and the cops will be exonerated and the armed vigilantes praised as heroes.
But I already know the answer. The view from the house on the plantation looks mighty fine. They may not be free, but they have more “freedom” than the rest of us.
And that’s really all they give a damn about.