By Lavern Merriweather
For you youngins not old enough to remember, there used to be a very popular TV show on ABC that debut in 1974 called “Kung Fu”. It starred the incomparable David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a martial arts fighting nomad who went from town to town in the old west. In one of their better episodes, a white male was on trial for the death of a Chinese man. A friend of the accused, played by Scott Hylands, tries to justify the killing by claiming that the person murdered wasn’t really a ‘man’. Therefore, there was no murder.
Ever the brilliant philosopher, Mr. Caine explains that if you constantly remind someone that they are less-than and aren’t truly human, then would you not expect at some point for them to believe it?
Apathy towards people of color has been around for a very long time in America. It certainly has helped a number of white people in America justify bullshit killings of black folks in recent years. Apparently, Kwai Chang spoke truth, because that mentality can even come from other black people themselves.
A paramedic by the name of Melissa Jackson, who is black and female, refused to grant help to another black woman named Eutisha Rennix because, as she put it, she was on her lunch break. So, because Ms. Jackson thought her eating her Big Mac dollar meal was more important than saving a life, a woman had to die.
This is precisely why I think so many black male comedians are on the side of the white media when it comes to mocking and vilifying their own. Even while given countless opportunities to make just as much fun of or just as many cruel malicious comments about white people, they opt instead to attack other blacks. I get that a lot of black people back in the day threw another Negro under the bus to save their own skin, but what’s the excuse now? On second thought, fuck that! I don’t get how you can agree with the logic that says you are nothing, especially compared with the dominant culture.
The only way to bring about change is to change the status quo and speak truth to power, regardless of who gets offended or pissed off so the people of yesteryear that eagerly sold their soul get no free pass from me. Let’s be fair here; not all black folks commit acts of behavior for some greater good. Many times they do it because they are selfish assholes that don’t give a crap about anybody but their dang selves. I really don’t see how you can fall in line with the very group of people that keeps telling how inferior/worthless/despicable you are. The more that happens, the more killings of innocent black lives are going to seem like no big deal, even to the main group of people that are being targeted believe it or not.
What makes this all the more aggravating is that it’s not just limited to African-Americans or people of color period. Anybody thought of as different or an outsider is fair game. In 1979, an Amish couple and their two children were going home after having dinner at a friend’s house. Some local white male teens decided to have some fun at their expense. They were on a hunt for ‘clapes’ which is a derogatory slur for the Amish. (It comes from the term ‘clay apes’, something that they call Amish farmers.) The teens were throwing rocks at the family’s buggy and their 7 month-old baby daughter got hit in the head. The little girl didn’t survive; she died days later in the hospital from a fractured skull.
Now, you would think the heartless, senseless, stupid killing of an innocent baby would spark a shitstorm of outrage from the townspeople towards the teens. However, since this is America, if you are seen as strange or different, then your life has little or no value. The townspeople, instead, turned on the Amish couple, criticizing them for being out at that time of the night and for not having a vehicle like normal folks to protect their baby girl. After all, they said she wouldn’t have gotten hit in the head were it not for the fact that the parents were so damn irresponsible. They should have been in a car and the metal or glass would have saved the baby. I guess the notion that those dumbass punks should never have been out throwing rocks at people who have never done shit to them didn’t cross their moronic little minds.
The couple didn’t press charges and said that they immediately forgave the boys, leading me to believe that those assholes targeted them because they knew the religion, which they hate the Amish so much for, would get their sorry asses off the hook for doing something so heinous. The thugs didn’t spend one day in jail or prison and their parents only had to pay fines of 2,000 to 5,000 dollars for what they did. A local prosecutor tried to help the family seek justice, but they didn’t want their surviving daughter to experience the trauma of having to testify against those lowlifes. So, no punishment has ever been rendered, save the fines.
While in college during sociology class, I learned of a word called ‘neutralization’. That’s where those who hate others use words such as racial slurs and insults to dehumanize another person to make them feel as belittled as possible. It’s also why many create stereotypes. If I think that you are this, that and the other, that makes it okay if I hurt or kill you.
The professor also told us the story about the Amish couple which I then looked up on the internet. It sounds a lot like the rhetoric that was used by the Scott Hylands character in that memorable episode of the show. You mean nothing to me therefore your life means nothing as well. Never mind the family and friends this person may have had that did care about them.
I can only hope that the rash of violence and brutality against black folks won’t exist much longer. And that we can stop thinking like the dominant society when it comes to how much our lives matter.