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  • Barrington Edwards

Is my Black Card in Jeopardy?

Quasi crook / “Am I self Hating?”

It’s a pity that black people can never just be... people. Racism makes everything more narrow because it’s viewed through such a limiting lens. Black people who commit crimes aren’t just people who made bad choices or have sicknesses. They are criminals by nature, never nurture, because that would let the weight fall on society as well. No. Black people who commit crimes are criminals. Black criminals.

Or, here’s the twisted part. Because we are not equal either because of racist untruths or the oppression they prescribe us to we are victims and products of that racism so we have no agency. So we aren’t criminals, just unfortunate object lessons and exemplars of society’s failings. Cautionary tales and chickens come home to roost. Never just bad or assholish because, hell, we are human and capable of all sorts of good and bad and schmedium stuff.

So that liminal space created by the ping pong game vagueness either makes a cozy nook for malcontents to sit in and feel comfortable being both the asshole and, when convenient the misunderstood victim. It’s uncomfortable to admit that the “Race Card” actually exists. It rarely gets played. It’s a high spade, face card. A few turds with no game or skill will ship it out as often as they can because it disarms certain people easily but usually it’s a one off trick before you have to scat.

The real trouble is that in the fight for racial equity ( not equality because we are born equal; know the difference) it’s disadvantageous to expose the weakness of the group you are defending. Black folk code says to never tell family business outside the house. This is ironic because in modern times with identity based music, media and art, all the salacious stuff from the barbershops and salons and stoops has been done been put on front street long ago. Nevertheless, we can’t talk about black crime or black assholishness. Any suggestion that we show respect to folks in general gets labeled “respectability politics”. As if respect could ever earn justice and equity. We are so far down the rabbit hole and lacking any way to dig back out that we can’t talk to each other about boundaries or respect very much when we really need to.

The crisis we face makes black criminality an especially touchy subject. No one wants to involve the police and potentially getting another black person beaten or killed. I imagine that the truly dedicated and steadfast warriors for justice among us are expert at compartmentalizing the unacceptable, criminal or just annoying behavior. It makes sense. If you do a thing that is technically a crime but you don’t see it as harmful you don’t see how it disturbs others so much. You’re focused on the struggle. The big picture. You learn to deal with things until they grate up against your personal boundaries. Right now my block sounds like footage of Syria or Palestine being bombed. Assholes all around us are competing for whose the most annoying in a non-stop call and response of M-80s and Roman Candles. Regardless of pleas to stop or suggestions to take it to a park because being annoying is a part of the thrill. Every year it gets worse. Last week someone called the police and 40 cops showed up. It was a hot mess. Nobody wants that. So... here we inadvertently carve out the liminal space for turds. Not black or brown turds, just turds.

I assure you I know that turds in white communities are as bad or worse. I’ve been there. I live in Boston. Southie is a few blocks away. Therefore, assholishness and crime and turdiness is universal. Add racism on top of general turdiness and the bearer can get a free EZPass to the highway to hell.

But the stressed out, poor, hardworking assholes yelling and screaming next door right now with no regard ( secretly wanting us to hear their troubles) are just plain old assholes as long as they stay in the designated area. The black and brown assholes on ball courts and fields and stages are fine as long as they stay out of boardrooms. Any hint of impropriety in public office or public service gets leveled scrutiny like UFO footage. Had a sitting president of the United States of America had a few unpaid parking tickets white Racists would have had synchronized embolisms. Had he been a real crook... let’s just say I’m thankful we didn’t have to find out.( the weed smoking was a smoothly dodged bullet)

This is all to say I wish I could call the cops on these assholes without the fear of the real consequences looming in wait. I wish I could run away but white foolishness plus racism would be like fireworks and knife juggling in a poopstorm... with sharks.

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