Saturday, July 19, 2014

White fear of Black men: Public Enemy Number One

I was tweeted this link and read the following:

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.

For example:

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


  1. That "fear" is deeply rooted is accurate in general, but the way the article portrays it is more or less mysticism -- as if an individual person is born with the memories and perceptions of other people. It's so incredibly odd to approach something that way while simultaneously asking questions like "why, exactly."

    I'm not sure how much stock I put into someone's anecdote about how they realize most criminals are white people, they've been harmed and assaulted by white people, yet it's black people they're afraid of. Does that play well to you? Her psychology must be rather unique -- yet she goes on to claim it's not unique at all.

    If she's being truthful, that's part of her own prejudices, and who the hell is she to pawn off her racism on society or mysticism? That's her personal issue! She's simultaneously a victim and oppressor, apparently powerless to escape her white genetic makeup and general whiteness before finally waking up to realize...what? Whitey's responsible for her personal bigotry?

    I'm only inferring here, but it seems to me she's basically saying, "Dear generic black man (as I view you all the same), please accept my apologies for being racist. I don't know why I'm racist, so I'll blame other white people. I don't know why I have this fear. It's not anything to do with countless young black men portraying themselves as street toughs for decades in popular media and in real life. It's white society doing all that, 100%, Mr. black man, so please forgive us. It's our media and our portrayals and our biases. We're the culprits; you're all just victims."

    Many people fear many things. This writer makes claims for "most" white people, but does she know that an old woman who locks her door when she sees a black man doesn't also lock it when she sees any man? Maybe it's size. Maybe it's location. Maybe it's familiarity. To instantly jump to skin color, and to project on EVERYONE that they're only doing it to black men, like she supposedly was -- well, it seriously reads like condescension and pandering. It reads like an elite, guilt-riddled soft bigot seeking penance.

    Sure, some people undoubtedly have racial biases and work themselves up into a frenzy over them. A lot, no doubt. And I wouldn't discount your personal experiences by searching for excuses for those women. Maybe they were racists and nobody but black men brought that out of them. But if the goal is to seriously examine the issue and to change it, there has to be more science than emotion evolved.

    A real--emphasis on REAL--study. No loaded questions. No opinion polls. No PC tricks. Enter with a blank slate; create a blind study; create a control; test for emotional responses for skin color, clothing, day/night, familiarity/unfamiliarity, alone or with company, etc.

    It's hard for me to take this woman seriously when, to me, she just comes across like a racist looking to evenly spread the blame amongst all of white society. And the "as a privileged white woman" sealed the deal for me that this is pandering nonsense. White = privilege is something that apparently only well-to-do whites and some minorities seem to believe. Nobody told all the millions of dirt-poor whites outside of those precincts. (Whites who, BTW, might not fear blacks like her privileged ass does. They grew up in a different environment. But, of course, she seems to stereotype races rather well. Doesn't she?)

  2. @Josh...I value and learn from your responses: My thing is steel sharpens steel. My lament, even as you rebuke posts in which people express their -- granted unscientific -- two cents, do you realize the emotional content in many of your views.

    Your prose is exemplary, however I can detect a simmer rage just below the surface: my perception and you may have the same perception of me.

    Once again, I extend the offer for you to post (unedited except for grammar etc.) on the main stage of my blog.

    As far as scientific studies (just to mention one off the cuff, non-googled):

    Kenneth and Mamie Clark dedicated their careers to conduct well respected studies confirming societal deep bias against blacks and even internalized hatred blacks have for themselves. EX: the black doll test.

    Next, even Rand Paul -- Libertarian du jour -- has given speeches expressing the unfair racial component of the "War against drugs"

    Rand Paul:

    "I believe in the issue, but you are right. It is opening the door for me to talk to communities. Three out of four people in prison are black or brown for nonviolent drug use. However, when you do surveys, white kids are doing drugs at an equal rate, and they are a much bigger part of the population.

    So, why are the prisons full of black and brown kids? It is easier to arrest them. It is easier to convict them. They don't get as good of attorneys. And, frankly, they live in the city in a much more collected fashion than in the suburbs, and so the police are patrolling the city more.

    But it is unfair. The war on drugs has had a racial outcome, unintentionally, but it has a racial outcome. And I want to try to fix it."

    Their have been decades of studies authenticating: housing and job discrimination.

    Studies in which black and white (even dirt poor whites) applicants with exact same credit history, education, income and overall economic class are treated differently.

    But I digress, my mantra to blacks that use this as excuses for failure is scathing. Just read my earlier post.

    The older I get the more conservative -- even libertarian I become. I do not endorse the Big daddy government mentality for people that can get up, work and hold it down. I have issues for people procreating with out a plan.

    Why am I not a quote unquote black conservative. While I share some of their views, I do not share their audience. Too many so-called black conservatives (similar to Rev Al) are also race pimps. Too many see preaching black contempt as a career move, as opposed to coming into the black community to preach self-reliance,

    On the contrast, they run to Fox in order to confirm stereotypes.

    More on this subject latter -- my train has arrived: I am in town to cover the ACC media days in Greensboro, NC


  3. oh errors when rushing their instead of there; simmer instead of simmering: cringe factor lol,,,u get the gist.

  4. Learning is what it's all about, if I had to guess to any possible meaning of it all. And I learn a lot when I come here (like how much you hate Republicans! lol....jk!)

    The war on drugs is nonsensical. Ridiculous mandatory sentences, crooked prosecutors, overzealous cops, politicians stuck in an era that never existed -- it's sickening. I doubt we really disagree a great deal on this, at least in terms of impact.

    To the doll study: It seems to be too narrow, IMO. The conclusion also seems unclear. I'm not intimately familiar with it, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong below.

    Wouldn't it cover more ground to use additional objects besides the dolls? You want to eliminate factors like possible perceived attractiveness to lighter colors; i.e. blues being more attractive to people than all other colors, and colors closer to black not even coming in the top six or seven. (Is that based on people and skin or how our eyes operate?) Wouldn't you also want a good control, like also testing in a nation that was predominately black and testing children of multiple races? Even segregated schools were still part of America, so it seemed they studied to match conclusion without handling many variables.

    Even with the coloring portion, where black children were coloring white/non-black mates, a geographic expansion would offer stronger confirmation if the results were dissimilar. I.e. Ugandan children choosing mates that matched their color scheme instead of a different color.

    As to emotion: I definitely have emotion, passions and biases. Though I'm also not claiming what the writer of that article is claiming.

    The "white society made me racist" bit is going to take another type of study entirely. (And I have no problem expanding on what I mean.)

    I feel uncomfortable inferring so much from one article, but I am intimately familiar with the connotation of "white privilege" in today's age. And any white person who willingly submits to the idea that they're privileged solely because they're white comes across as if they're trying to appease their guilt by patronizing black people and telling them what they think they want to hear.

    I'm obviously not in anyone's head and can't tell what they're thinking, but damn if that article didn't read to me like the woman is just a racist, holding the same opinion of all black men, and blaming others for her personal issues. It's like she's that type of person that focuses so much on not appearing as a racist that the only thing she can see about someone is their skin color, and never who they are as people. Which ends up making her racist. Self-inflicted wound, not society's doing, IMO.

    (Here's a good take on how "white privilege" is used by a younger generation on social media today, and a huge reason a lot of white people are scared and guilted into accepting the label: