“God, I hope he’s not black. Please don’t let him be a Muslim. I hope he’s not Latino.”
Above are statements spoken by at least one member of nonwhite groups in America whenever something terribly wrong occurs. When you hear about any crime in this country, usually something major and fatal, and you’re a member of “other” groups outside of the white dimensional plain, you get this cringe in your heart and a knot in your stomach. Then, words run across your mind like a ticker which may read along the lines of “I hope he’s not one of us.” You worry and dread. Then, a description is made of the suspect or suspects involved. Either that or a mugshot is produced. And when you find out that the fools are members of your group, you curse, you get angry, embarrassed and you predict that somewhere, white people in high places will make life harder for you than it already is because you’re guilty by coincidence; you share the group’s characteristics like skin color or religious beliefs.
As a black man, I hate to admit it, but I experience this kind of collective shame. It comes from watching or reading the news or videos that only WorldStar would be interested in. We know that black people and crime – and violence – are well connected in news reporting within the first seven minutes of the six o’clock news and the front page of local newspapers. Whenever a black person commits a crime, there it is on TV or in the newspaper.
So, why do such emotions exist? We all know it comes from the history of oppression that continues to this day, unrelenting and unresolved. For blacks in this country, one wrong act could punish the entire community. It’s reasonable to fear the worst whenever it happens because even in contemporary times, that still goes on. Stop and frisk, mass incarcerations and police murders anyone?
The next thing you know, you have people, mostly conservatives, babble about the lack of accountability in the black community. They will turn to the usual supposed cause of the problems going on, lack of black male fathers. Sometimes they will turn to rap music as the issue. They will even blame single black moms. Whatever it is, black people are to blame for what’s wrong with black people.
Society, in various ways, media included, essentially wants marginalized people to feel bad about being what they are. They want blacks to feel bad about being black. That would explain why most news you see in the mainstream is negative, and most don’t realize it, especially some black people themselves. Some brothas and sistas have a steady diet of this kind media junk food and don’t realize they’re getting sick.
It’s not often you hear positive news concerning black folks. For whatever reason, that’s not as “attractive” as say a football athlete clocking his wife in an elevator and dragging her like a caveman. No. Stereotypes are what’s in. Always have and always will as far as society’s concerned.
This collective shame is a form of mental oppression. It’s part of a trick to make you ashamed of what you are. It also strikes out the notion that you are an individual and not some part of a monolithic group. It fools you into thinking that you, or your people are the problem, not the ones who set the disaster in motion like politicians who cut funding for jobs and education or billionaires who put millions out into the street.
There is nothing to be embarrassed about whenever one of your people screws up. They are human, and all humans – yes, including you white folks who love to point fingers at everyone else but yourselves – mess up. But only know that when someone screws up, only that person deserves to be blamed, not that person’s race.