Almost 5 years ago…

Why The Reportage on Black Lives That Don’t Matter Isn’t a Noble Cause

It began with the Starbucks fiasco as the case of the two Black men getting escorted out of the coffee joint — with their hands behind their backs — and the shame of how a simple idea to meet up with their contact turned into an inconvenience for the White woman who didn’t want them there.

There have been plenty other instances that have been reported since that unfortunate incident including two Black men who were accused of not “paying to work out” at one of the New Jersey branches of LA Fitness — and so the cops threw them out. And then the most recent palaver involving a Black student at Yale who was innocently napping when a White woman who felt threatened by such a sight — weirdly called the cops.

As timelines overflow with the persistent newsflash about how Black lives continue to be at risk by vicious cops and ignorant White people who feel entitled to their privilege — and have no issue working with law enforcement in an effort to add unnecessary shit to our already stressful existence —there’s a level of familiarity that is distressing.

Social media breeds the playground for news items that are twinning with the ever-present narrative that depicts Black people fighting off or being defeated by inhumane circumstances for the benefit of detractors who take notes for future encounters.

There’s also the other side of the coin that’s even more infuriating when you consider how the media grabs any opportunity to maintain the required level of trendiness as it pertains to headlines — that don’t deviate from the themes of #BlackLivesMatter and the White people who don’t give a fuck.

The truth is that White people have never refrained from their quest to demonstrate how the mere sight of us makes them queasy.

Just ask my father.

He was here in the late sixties and all through the seventies — and even though he’s the first to let you know how grateful he was for the chance to escape his worn-torn country for the gift of America — his adjustment as a dark-skinned African who dwelled in mostly White neighborhoods wasn’t a seamless exercise.

There was the time when he was invited by his wealthy White friend from business school to spend thanksgiving with his family in Long Beach, California. On a Saturday evening — while waiting for his host family to return from a wedding — my father decided to open the front door and step outside for some fresh air. When he got back in the house and went to sit down — the door burst open and the living room was flooded with cops.

Apparently the neighbors called the police when they saw the rare sighting of a Black man in their neck of the woods. Also — they assumed he was a burglar because how else could you validate the presence of a Black man in an exclusively all-White enclave?

My father said that if he had panicked and attempted to run — the cops would’ve shot him dead — and so to stay alive — he calmly explained why he was where he was and as luck would have it — the owners of the house arrived just in time to diffuse the situation.

Then — there was the other time — when my pregnant mother (she was carrying me) was cooking pepper soup and asked my father to drive down the street to get her one of the spices that was vital to the dish. My father did exactly that — but when he got there — he became confused about what he was asked to buy — so he roamed the aisles — searching for it.

Of course if he had a cell phone — he would’ve called my mother for help — but it was the seventies — which meant he was out of luck. It also meant that the owner of the neighborhood store in the burbs of the Bay area was absolutely going to call the cops to complain about a suspicious Black man walking around for no good reason.

My father ended up finding what he needed and paid for it — and as soon as he walked out of the store — the police siren from afar grew closer until they surrounded him. He was asked to identify himself and when his Id wasn’t sufficient — they drove back with him to the apartment where my mother was waiting — and he quickly searched for his passport.

There are more stories of that nature to share — but I’m sure you get the gist.

White people freaking out over the notion that they have to share space with Black people isn’t a trend — and reporting it as if it’s supposed to stun us beyond belief isn’t helping either.

Yes — we can’t begin or end the day without the mandatory homage to articles that bait us into the reminder that race relations continue to be the bane of our existence — and in case we ever doubt how bad it is — we’re only clicks away from links to the damning evidence.

But — in between the piles of data is the scariness of how we internalize this stuff with the expertise that flourishes under the certainty that this isn’t the first or last time you will be one of the avid viewers — witnessing the vileness of cops attacking a Black woman after a White woman ordered the mayhem.

You can count on the assurance of once again watching a Black man getting kicked in the head by a gang of thugs who use their badges as permission to be qualified hit men.

You can guarantee a front row seat to the humiliating showdown between cops and a Black woman — who has to prove beyond a doubt that she did in fact gain admission into an Ivy League school — and therefore has the right to deposit herself in the public facilities of the high-priced campus.

It just never ends and why should it — when there’s plenty more fun to be had at the expense of Black lives that won’t ever matter — for as long as the demand for entertainment at our expense continues to rise through traffic numbers and the clickbait that is assigned for good measure.

The feeding frenzy is costing Black lives and while we need to stay informed for the sake of knowledge — the nobility factor behind the consistent delivery is the bell of doom that should terrify us.

But — it doesn’t — and quite frankly — that’s tragic.

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