Welp, in backtracking to the post about the horrendous nightclub shooting in Ohio a couple of weeks ago, it seems that the fears of a lot of black folks in the area who weren’t there and across the nation who got wind of the tragic incident were solid. Most likely, the shooting that injured over a dozen and killed at least one was done by black males, armed, angry and at the throat of other blacks males. It’s the same ole’ bullshit we’re used to hearing in the community. Some pissed off brotha with a gun started shooting at a place built for drinking and enjoyment.
Fast-forward to this week. There was a shooting in an elementary school in San Bernardino, California. It turned out to be a murder-suicide with one child dead from gunfire.
Usually, when it comes to school shootings in this country, one normally would assume that it was committed by a white dude since they are the demographic responsible for most of them. Let’s not get it twisted. A shooting anywhere is a tragedy. But in this nation, race matters. A white dude who went trigger happy is usually seen as mentally disturbed. A black guy, brown guy, Middle Easterner or Muslim? Not so much.
Prior to that, the mainstream news media reported on another murder-suicide at a gym in Miami, Florida. To make a long story short, a fitness trainer was fired, and he came back guns blazing. He killed two managers and himself.
In all three highly publicized shootings, all of the suspects and shooters were black males. You can only imagine the gleefulness of racists around the nation as they saw their pictures and the amount of embarrassment felt by many black folks across the nation.
Black crime statistics have always been the go-to argument for people whenever a topic of race is in progress as if we’re mindlessly unaware of the problem ourselves. In almost any given forum, a troll or two will remind people how excessively violent black people are compared to white people. ‘Black-on-black crime’ is always used to insensitively tell black people where their priorities for activism should be as opposed to any form of racial justice. And the gospel of white genocide rears its head to preach about the black scourge.
In many black homes where news is observed, whenever a terrible crime happens, especially if the victim is white, we say a little prayer request to God pleading that whoever’s responsible is not black. (It’s due to years of vigilantism and retribution at the hands of white folks.) If the suspect’s white or nonblack, we breathe a sigh of relief. If the suspect’s black, we become angry, humiliated and depressed.
No matter who the victim was, we mourn for them. Yet, we feel shame and guilt after learning that the criminal is black even though only that one individual is guilty.
Some black people produce collective pride and shame based on one or a group’s actions. When we hear of one of us accepted into an ivy league college, made CEO of some company, made strides in community service or even risked his or her life to save a puppy, we feel good. It tells us that we’re making progress and helps put cracks in negative racist stereotypes, or so we hope.
But the opposite is true as well. If there’s a viral video of black folks doing something stupid like fight each other over meaningless bullshit while being egged on by other ig’nit black folks, some of us feel ashamed. If one of us shoots someone, anyone, we feel ashamed. If we even do something minor like say something considered ignorant or non PC, we still feel ashamed. We always consider it as a push-back to our advancement, strengthens negative stereotypes, a need to do better and a fear of a backlash that will add more surveillance and less freedoms.
The irony is that we want to be seen as individuals, but we have collective emotions. We think this way, because we are never seen as individuals. If we’re programmed to be seen and treated as a collective, then it should come to no surprise that some of us feel collectively.
Black bodies are feared. We’re seen as dangerous, superhuman, primal and deadly, but never human worthy of respect, dignity or the right to exist whether we’re wearing a hoodie or a suit. Short and skinny, tall and brawny, we scare people by just being, and it has serious consequences.
All we can do is try to avoid processing collective emotions and see ourselves as individual people who succeed and make mistakes, neither of which define us. If white people are individualized, why can’t we? Why must one or a few fools define a population of over 40 million in this nation alone? Why must we always measure our road to the humanity only afforded to whites by what one of us says or does? And who are “they” to put us down on how screwed up we are when most of them likely have skeletons in their closet?
Yes, we have our share of screw-ups. We’ve never denied it in our history. But we’re not a race of screw-ups.