Black folks don’t generally like to air out our own laundry, but on some things, the secret is already out. If I asked you to travel to your nearest Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard after 9 p.m. on any night of the week, you’d pause. You may do it, but not without safety precautions streaming through your mind faster than a
Republican rebuttal to a health care reform. Self-preservation rules for everybody, but in minority communities, the need for it is too palpable to dismiss as simple cost of living.
In corporate offices, blue-and-white uniforms or HWCU’s, institutional racism from our fairer-skinned brothers and sisters may be daunting. But in the streets, we crave their presence. At an ATM, I hope there’s a white person behind me. It’s OK to admit such. It’s something about seeing white folks that disarms our safety mode. Their appearance in droves on the social scene is the ultimate sign of safety; in bricks-and-mortars, the feeling is replaced by uncertainty.
It’s a sentiment that makes Uncle Ruckus proud and just another affirmation that, well, we all have a bit of ol’ Ruku in us. The insecurity, literally, that black people harbor towards one another is not lacking for height. It’s a psychological scar that has been perpetuated for a long time, starting with [your favorite historical time period] and culminating with the last time you visited any urban area past twilight. True, as sociologist Dr. Dierdre Oakley says, black poverty tends to be urban, white poverty tends to be rural. So the chance of a stick-up by Joey is much less likely than one from DeAndre.
However, something is to be said about the general anger that resides within the souls of many black men who frequent the neighborhoods, nightspots and other events of the black (hip-hop) experience. This large coalition of anger coalesces to form a force (of nature) whose sum is much more powerful than the parts. Nigga moments are what they’re called, and they tend to happen in abundance where:
a) alcohol is involved
b) stimulants are involved
c) flashy accessories (cars, jewelry, clothing)
c) there are big crowds
d) loud rancorous music permeates
e) there is a massive crowd listening to loud music and drinking alcohol, smoking/inhaling/snuffing stimulants while they are sporting gaudy clothing and jewelry in customized cars.
In other words, when senses are heightened, anything can literally be the gasoline. Of course, any group of people can be set off by those events. Difference is, blacks are the only group of people that fear each other in this situation more than they fear another race. Only when we meet for a singular purpose (to see Mary J. perform or eating at the opening of a Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant) is the nigga moment mitigated. There’s a notion that the media is the propagator of the expounded sense of these moments. Fox News, many say, would do whatever possible to convey an elevated sense of pandemonium in colored communities. It’s not really that bad. It’s just a hyped up myth inflamed by folks who know nothing about what goes on there.
But nobody really believes that. At least those who grew up, say, an exit away from said MLK Jr. Boulevard, like yours truly. Chris Rock was on to something when he aptly asked, “Do you think I’ve got three guns in my house because the media’s outside my door trying to bust in?” Answer: In 2005, 43 percent of all murder victims were African American, according to the Department of Justice. 93 percent of them were killed by African Americans.
The numbers have only plateaued since. Vernon Forrest was murdered Saturday night in southwest Atlanta from the semi-automatic weapons of “two black men,” according to ESPN Sunday morning. If you were surprised by the race of the perpetrators, then I have some Bernie Madoff stock tips for you. Truth is, we, African Americans have some “soul searching” to do. How can we lament the media’s depictions when, gulp,
they could very well be true we sort of believe them ourselves? That’s like a parent excoriating a teacher for giving their child a C when the child never went to class. Senseless finger pointing is both illogical and enabling, yet it, along with lawsuits, exorbitant bonuses and racial profiling is the American way.
Dismissing the severity of being afraid around our own doesn’t eliminate the elephant. It makes it ubiquitous, thus making it harder to get rid of.