Bonnie Berman Cushing
I have been devoted to a white anti-racist path for close to a dozen years, but I still stiffen with fear and a state of heightened awareness when I find myself alone on a darkened street with one or more Black men nearby.
As a dedicated student of anti-racist facts and principles I know intellectually that white people are five times more likely to be attacked by another white person than by a Black one and that two-thirds of the rapes committed in our country are by white men.
I am aware that the vast majority of corporate criminals are white and that most of our politicians who have declared war – bringing death and destruction to millions – also have the same skin color as I do. My own experience includes a mugging at gunpoint and a date rape – both at the hands of white men. And yet I have never found myself anxiously responding to a white male or males on an evening walk the way I do in the presence of Black men.
Why, exactly, is that?
I believe there are several reasons for this disturbing phenomenon and that it certainly isn’t limited only to me, but also to most (if not all) white folks – and many people of color as well. read entire article
I personally identify with this writer's description of the often irrationally and inexplicable fear of black manhood in this society. And before you rant about crime stats of the hood, I am not referring to the Mark Cuban Syndrome.
As he stated:
We're all prejudiced in one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie late at night, I'm walking to the other side of the street. If, on that side of the street, I see a guy with tattoos all over his face -- white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere -- I'm walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. source
Straight up... I understand how anyone of any color would have fear walking the streets of North Philly, Southside of Chicago or East LA. -- common sense. This is not the fear we speak off.
Irrational fear is far more insidious and rooted much deeper in the sub-conscious.
My first "real job" out of college was working in the Security Trust department for a major bank in Richmond, VA. I worked on corporate accounts in a highly secured bank vault area -- you had to get buzzed into one door and when that door closed, you had to be buzzed into another door.
My job: I processed millions and millions dollars of stock, bonds and cash for Fortune 500 corporations.
Like all Security Trust personnel, I had to be vetted by the FBI and have an extensive credit background check (workers could get fired for bouncing 2 checks in a 30 day period).
We wore special high security clearance ID badges at all times. Our ID badges were among the highest ranked security clearance in the corporate headquarters. But day in and day out, my elevator usage created a wide-range of black man fear reactions from many white women (and sometimes men) of all ages and shapes.
My look was very conservative: Business suit, pleasant disposition, short well groomed haircut (no locs back then) and clean shaved baby face. I was five foot eight inches and maybe 142 pounds with rocks in my pocket.
Nothing countered this irrational fear.
I worked there for four years, yet the same ladies that saw me on Monday would have the same reaction on seeing me on Friday: posture stiffened, clutched pocketbook close to body and avoid any eye contact.
My white friend, co-worker (yes he noticed reactions to me) and I had mad elevator situational jokes. But the laugher betrayed a growing resentment inside of me that can be best summed up by:
Why ask what Whites fear about Blacks? Why not ask what Blacks fear about Whites? More Blacks have been killed by Whites in our country than the other way around. I don’t even know the number of unarmed Black men who have been killed or attacked by police or simply just pulled over for “Driving While Black.” When was the last time you heard of an innocent White man being riddled with bullets by the police? source