“He who passively accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King Jr.
I don’t remember hearing Dr. King’s last name until I was in 6th or 7th grade. He was “Martin Luther Ni**er” as far as I knew. When my elders spoke about him, they always mentioned what a hypocrite he was because everywhere he went, there was violence. He was “supposedly” non-violent but everywhere he went, he had a bunch of agitators making a ruckus. “Ni**ers need to know their place. They should be grateful they ain’t running from lions with a bone through their noses.” That’s the thing about white propaganda, it poisons slowly and it’s always deadly.
My dad is a lawyer, his brothers are lawyers, my grandfather going back generations were all lawyers. The thing about lawyers that distorts their perception is that in law school, they teach you to have professional cognitive dissonance. After all, how can you be a zealous advocate for a guilty client? It truly does depend on the ethics of the attorney. It is a principle any trial lawyer who’s worth their mead will tell you about endlessly as an example of their honesty.
I’m sure that’s why the great poet Samuel Johnson said, “For gold, the hireling justice distorts the law.”
I was in court with my dad one day, it was a final sentencing day. One of the more famous cases in Louisville was an embezzler who stole over $2 million from a construction company to feed a gambling habit he had. He was a white man who was working at a Kentucky Fried Chicken at the time of his sentencing. His victim owned a construction business that employed almost 30 people. When the owner discovered that he was ruined, he hanged himself so his family would have the life insurance money. When his wife found his body, she had a heart attack that disabled her for life. The business’ assets were sold off to pay their creditors. Everyone lost their job.
At 9 am on the final sentencing day is when you learn your fate. The prisoners were led in chains into the courtroom. This particular morning one man was being sentenced for his third strike for possession of 3 grams of crack cocaine. If he had a kilo of powder cocaine, it would have been the same felony. The plump judge stared through his gold-rimmed glasses and lectured the prisoner about his failure as a human being and said that all his thievery made him a menace to society. Then he sentenced him to 25 to life for $50 worth of cocaine.
Currently, the most conservative estimate for housing a prisoner in the Kentucky Department of Corrections is $32,000 a year. That’s $800,000 the taxpayers would shell out to imprison that man. There were at least 20 others behind him.
When you have an attorney, you got to cut in line so to speak, to get your final sentencing versus the public defender people. The embezzler had the finest attorney money could buy and the judge chided him for all the harm he had done. The judge then sentenced him to 7 years probation and ordered him to pay restitution.
I asked my dad, “what’s the restitution?”
“Ten percent of whatever he makes until the end of his probationary period.”
That’s when I realized, when you’re black, it’s always the lash.
When you’re black, it’s always the lash.
When former Chief Justice William Rehnquist was a law clerk for Justice Robert H. Jackson, he wrote a controversial memo supporting Plessy v. Ferguson decision which codified the Jim Crow notion of ‘separate but equal’ into law. The court in Plessy was a conservative court in 1896 which reflected the attitudes of the day towards black Americans. In 1954 the progressive Warren court heard Thurgood Marshall argue the landmark case in Brown v. Board of Education which ended the barbarous notion of ‘separate but equal’ in Plessy. It’s difficult to fathom how anyone could look back at the 58 years between the Plessy and Brown and conclude that Plessy was anything but a disaster in every conceivable way, especially if you’re black.
What is most troubling is why conservative politicians and jurists have opposed every bill and case which has sought to make black Americans equal citizens.
Every. single. one. One can hardly imagine why Chief Justice John Roberts when gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Shelby v. Holder could say, “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” unless you forget that he clerked for William Rehnquist.
If things had changed so much in the interceding 40 years since the VRA was passed, why did every single state which was sanctioned under the VRA start passing bills to constrain African-Americans from voting immediately after the Shelby decision? It was the great Yogi Berra who said:
“It’s deja vu all over again.”
Tomi Laren is the exemplification of an oblivious privileged white hypocrite. Her vapidity is almost as legendary as her flat imbecility. She’s a world champion of feigning white persecution by the “terrorists” black lives matter members. The focus of her phony rage is Colin Kaepernick who she finds extremely disrespectful for not standing during the national anthem.
Lahren often invokes all the dead soldiers who died for Kaepernick’s right to kneel during the national anthem. She also uses their valiant deaths as fodder to shame Kaepernick for disrespecting those Christian soldiers who died to provide him such extravagant freedom to the ingrate. If Lahren had the intellectual prowess of a gnat she might be shocked to learn that tens of thousands of black soldiers also died for his freedom to kneel and they might have something to say to Tomi if black lives mattered to her.
Perhaps it would behoove young Tomi to learn that the author of the line, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ was in point of actual fact, a slaveholder.
She has the brand of privilege that allows her to be as ignorant as she like without consequence and her hypocrisy truly knows no bounds. Conservative who know these lines from the Star Spangled Banner will twist themselves into a pretzel denying Francis Scott Key’s racism but to any honest person, it is flagrant.
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
There has always been a chorus of white people ready to tell black athletes how they are supposed to behave. Jackie Robinson was a Captain in the U.S. Army during the war but that didn’t stop a lot of “patriotic” white Americans from telling him to go back to Africa after they had spat on him. Muhammed Ali was stripped of his title because he would not go kill poor people in another country for a government who refused to grant equal citizenship to the greatest boxer of all time.
This country is steeped in protests which have formed this nation. From the Boston Tea Party to the Women’s March On Washington. The status quo has always been a force of divisiveness and nobody exemplifies oblivious white privilege more than Donald Trump.
If you are unsure of the OWP that most people like Trump enjoys, take the curious speech he gave in Alabama where he told his compliant frothy-mouthed followers, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!” This from someone who repeatedly disrespected John McCain for being taken prisoner in a war he skipped because of “bone spurs.”
Trump’s message was loud and clear, ‘if you are against me, you’re against the country.’ The thing about white privilege is that there is no protest that is peaceful enough. There is no protest quiet enough. There is no protest non-violent enough to satisfy the criticisms of white supremacy. Trump took out a full-page ad in the New York Times declaring the Central Park Five guilty even after they had been exonerated by the courts, all of whom were people of color. That fact did not escape sentient black people.
What does it say when we condemn the Colin Kaepernicks, Muhammed Alis and Jackie Robinsons who protested against the injustices of their day? What does it say about us when the POTUS is calling the mothers of black athletes, “bitches”?
The answers to those questions are not nebulous abstracts to the unarmed American citizens who are being killed with an appalling frequency by white police officers. To date, not one has been convicted for unjustly killing any black American and until we as a society confront that injustice, a quiet protest during the national anthem is a slight discomfort that any Klan member can endure. The truth is that black people will never find a way to protest that will suit white supremacists.