It Really Is Open Season on Black People

Malcolm X (www.pinterest image)

“It just feels like they’re coming for us. It’s not paranoia. It’s objectively just looking at what is happening…It used to be people felt shame for being a racist or saying the word ‘nigger’. Not now.”

— Eva Patterson, founder of Oakland’s Equal Justice Society, on the murder of 18-year-old Nia Wilson by a white supremacist parolee.

Indeed, people like actor Will Smith argue that there really is nothing new about these 21st century iterations of black debasement. The only difference now, he said, is that almost everyone sports a hand-held video camera which captures these “incidents.” These real time videos render these now quotidian outrages undeniable, or at least harder to rationalize as the exceptional acts of a handful of demented, abnormal, and above all, individual white souls.

Smith is right, of course, in that covert white supremacy/white racism and its attendant violence have become more visible because, and only because, of the new technologies. These devices have yanked the covers off heretofore simmering-just-below-the-surface, white resentment, white angst, white fragility, white anger, and white fear — all of which radiate from a visceral core of white-hot hatred of black people. These instruments have exposed a deep-seated white chauvinism which has always harbored an apparently inherent, pervasive, violent proclivity against us. These cameras show that this hatred runs much, much deeper throughout the white American psyche than most of us dared to believe.

The End of Hope

But…Then Came Obama

This sight drove many millions mad (

And now? As James Baldwin described their antecedents fifty years ago, today’s people who “think that they are white,” never cease braying that only they elected Obama. For them, Obama’s election signaled the “end of racism” because, they insist, he never would have been elected without them. This is true as far as it goes. However, they purposely gloss over or ignore altogether that in neither of his two elections did Obama receive a majority of white votes; that, indeed, he got fewer white votes the second time around.

And that has always been the problem, the white problem: There has never been a majority of white folks who supported black anything. On every “issue” affecting black people, white people gather themselves into one of three groups: Those whose affinity for black people runs from curious to patronizing to favorable, even self-effacing; those who adopt a willed indifference to, or place themselves above or beyond the entire “race” question; and, of course, those white folks who harbor (and occasionally act out) a deep and abiding hatred of all things black. The reality is that throughout this nation-state’s history, the indifferents and haters have consistently outnumbered and overwhelmed those who, as Spike Lee put it, might be inclined to “do the right thing;” that is, those who see, and more importantly, treat black people as….well….people. Obama and his black family’s presence in the heretofore lily white White House once again crystallized this formulation.

Making America White Again

Historically, like clockwork, a vintage, virulent “white backlash” has dogged every single step forward black people have taken since Lincoln signed the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. This Trump-inspired whitelash is every bit as terrifying as when ex-Confederate soldiers organized themselves into the Ku Klux Klan with only one purpose in mind: to violently prevent ex-slaves (putative “Freedmen”) from exercising their dearly earned, blood-soaked freedom.

Van Jones runs the voodoo down: tells the truth on Trump (and white America) from Day One.

Because of Trump, actual neo-Nazis, actual Klansmen, avowed white nationalists (including self-described “alt-rightists”) — all have flocked into the ranks of America’s upgraded paramilitary police forces. These are overwhelmingly white men, but not a few white women, who have commissioned themselves as the front-line protectors and preservers of a once all-powerful but inexorably diminishing “identity” — the so-called “white race.” These modernized white police departments employ updated versions of the same shock and awe tactics used against black people 300 years ago: a generalized harassment, occupation and isolation of black communities, false arrest, false imprisonment and forced labor, verbal and physical brutality, torture, and, of course, state-sanctioned lynching.

“Have Top Eye Open”

[Douglass] called it a piece of “tyrannical legislation.” It allowed — required — all white people to actively aid in the capture and return to slavery of any runaway slave — from any and every corner of the country. It removed all due process considerations, civil and human rights from any and all black people. “For black men, there is neither law nor justice, humanity nor religion,” said Douglass. This meant that even bona fide and legally free blacks could be accused of being fugitive slaves, spirited into the South, and enslaved for the remainder of their (and all of their progeny’s) lives.

Of course, runaway slaves and even legally “free” black people have never really been “safe” anywhere in this nation-state ( image)

And so, think about the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and its parallels with the presidency of Donald Trump. And then ask yourself have “things” really changed that much since Frederick Douglass rendered his searing indictment of this nation-state?

Originally published at

Freelancer since the earth first began cooling. My beat, justice: racial, social, political, economic and cultural. I’m on FB, Twitter, Link,

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store