“How does it feel to be a problem?”
This is a question asked in W.E.B. Dubois’ treatise The Souls of Black Folk. The question doesn’t ask how does it feel to have problems or have the kinds of problems that some people can’t or won’t understand. The question directly asks how does it feel like to actually be a problem. This question is also the title of a book by Moustafa Bayoumi who gives an indepth look as to what it’s like to live in a time where being a young Arab or Muslim American is often judged as being the enemy. A threat. A terrorist.
Being a member of the “other”, especially if you’re black, you are not granted the privilege of being individuals, especially if a crime occurs. When a black person is so much as suspected of any crime, the whole race is suspect. If a black person was the suspect and there are white victims, the whole race is looked upon with disdain and mistrust, seen as the potential enemy of white folks who will seek another innocent white person to get back at them for slavery. It seems like it’s always slavery that’s the underlying reason white people believe is the reason for any black-on-white crime. But I digress.
I remember a few years ago back in 2008. A UNC Student named Eve Carson who had a potentially bright future ahead of her was robbed and murdered by two young black males. It was a major news story. A white woman was killed by not one, but two black men. I also remembered two words in one article I read. Racial tension. I hear and see those words often whenever there’s a story about an interracial crime. Usually when it’s black-on-white, that’s when a feeling of dread hits me, because I fear of repercussions for that area against the black community. When a black person commits a crime against white people, black people, not just those responsible, must be held accountable.
Most people still can’t, or won’t, grasp the racism that reeks whenever black people are seen as a collective problem that must always pay whenever a few of their own fuck up. A lot of people avoid being called the r-word by excusing it with statistics, so-called “facts” that they’ve found most likely at a racist conservative website that exaggerates numbers to prove their point. After all is said and done Whiteness is nuanced, blackness is not
On the other hand, white people are granted the privilege of individuality no matter how often or how heinous a crime is. Whether it’s a school shooting, a bombing, serial rape or even mass shootings, white people are given the third degree and had their culture questioned, nor are they given stern lectures to “do better” by those who unofficially appoint themselves as guidance counselors for the whole race.
It has been a few days since the Biker shootout in Waco Texas that claimed nine lives, injured over a dozen more and led to the arrest of over a hundred bikers. The media treated the bloodbath with kid gloves, turning it into a singular incident where it was an isolated tragedy and not part of a string of white-on-white crime where more than a few lives are usually taken.
However, the same media treated the protests in Baltimore and Ferguson as if it was a warzone. Protests themselves became riots. Protestors became looters. Animals. Thugs. The peaceful anger and uprising vanished within the news media’s sensationalism and racism and became an outbreak of black pathology unfolding before America’s eyes.
No matter what, black people are constantly seen as the problem in America. It’s safe to say that no matter what we do, our faults end up overshadowing our accomplishments as well as overall humanity and individuality though the eyes of the white racist mindframe that continuously sees itself as innocent and normal while it sees blackness as criminal, pathologic and something to be feared and taken care of mostly by imprisonment or brute force.