The Great Good/Bad Black Male Hoax

Dec. 19, 2014 / By Anthony Carter

When I hear the nonsense of racism regarding scary black men and then get immediately assured that I am not one of “them”, I often wonder: When is my time coming ?

We have been hoodwinked into believing that some of us deserve life (educated, churchgoing, those on their way to college) while others (drug users, those grappling with mental health issues, low self esteem, and identify as gay/bi/questioning) do not.

Part of our socialization tells us this is cruel, not nice and certainly not true.

Those of us who consider ourselves “different” are slower to question the brutality that is targeted at those who look like us and in some instances make different life choices.

As I leave my home daily to go to work, I often assume that my tie and a smart pair of glasses will shield me from abuse and homicide.

Having worked with young people who many of us would term hoodrats, I understand that while our speech and dress may be opposite, those with badges who have not done the work of eliminating internalized racism may see us as identical.

Does this mean that I am never safe ?

Our culture loves the good/bad dichotomy and ways to quantify/box in and define.

When we are confused about where to place another, our racism instructs us to decide  whether the individual in front of us is a good or bad man.

By supporting this flawed logic, we sign many death warrants.

We breathe a little easier when it is discovered that a slaughtered black man had a record, a history of drug use (no matter how benign or severe) or any type of police record.

As a community member, I am falsely seduced into thinking that a college degree and well read mind will escape bullets that take down men who at some point have been up to “no good”.

I spoke of delusion in an earlier post and understand how comforting this state can be and what it can offer those who seek safety.

I am now challenging myself and those who have had the benefit of a middle class upbringing to examine the falsehood that is safety and the reality that no one ever asks to see a college diploma or a resume before they pull the trigger or strike a blow.