sentimental gentleman

White America and The Opinions Of Black Celebrities: Part 2,651

I was sitting in a restaurant when I heard it. A restaurant much like any other restaurant that is acutely aware of its pretentiousness. Just imagine a place where all the patrons drink Fernet Branca, quote Jaden Smith unironically, and wear sunglasses regardless of the time of day or them being inside an actual, y'know, establishment with it’s own lighting. Busy as I was by being so deeply committed to this douche-esque thoughtful critique of my environment while simultaneously glided over the implications of my character by willingly being there when it happened.

“I mean *jowl assisted chuckle* how can he say that with his millions and millions of dollars. I don’t see him going to the inner city to help any of these people he’s talking about. Just shut up and stick to football, you know.”

It doesn’t take a morphine-addicted Sherlock Holmes to deduce that he was talking about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Who famously remained seated during last Friday’s Star-Spangled Banner number before a preseason game. He clarified his actions by saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” A sentiment that I wholly endorse, which in turn makes my resentment of Blake McDoucheface IV (I’m sure it’s not far from his real name.)

Much like the luggage of anyone who’s prepared a bug-out bag in case Trump is elected, there’s a lot to unpack here. I’m doing this by way of writing while stewing and replaying that statement over and over in my head. As potentially ignorant as it may sound, I didn’t have to turn around to confirm the skin complexion of the person who made a comment so stupid they must’ve brought it second hand from the trunk of Johnny Depp’s assistant. Nor did I have to have any particular insight into who they are to know that they’re probably the type to insist, laboriously, that GamerGate was about “ethics in video game journalism” or some other vinegar-based horseshit instead of a poorly-acted charade to assault people who have the gall to possess an actual vagina. So, I’m writing this in the interest of expediency and my own personal decompression.(Very counter productive for me if some random brochella jerk were to catch these hands like the Zika Virus.) So lets’s pick this stale ass turkey apart piece by piece:

  • If the basic movement of your mouth and jaw is wholly dependent on the rolls of fat you have stored there like newspapers on A&E’s Hoarders, then maybe you shouldn’t be so critical of someone exercising their, peaceful yet deafening, freedom of expression. After all, you’ve expressed your, peaceful yet deafening, freedom to abstain from having a neck that doesn’t look like a belly in it’s third-trimester of pregnancy with ballpark franks.
  • Where on the conventional metric of financial success does someone lose the right to speak about injustice? Is it somewhere between “I Shop At Whole Foods” and “Yes, I Do Own A Bidet. Why Do You Ask?”. I really want to know, because the subtext in someone contending that his millions somehow makes him immune/oblivious to structural racism is dumber than the entire concept of ass to mouth. One could argue that, because of his status and the large platform by which he has to speak, he has a moral obligation to call out breaches of integrity concerning law enforcement. Especially in regards to people who live in communities so unfairly targeted that the frickin’ Department of Justice basically had to step in and stop cops from treating Baltimore citizens like dark-skinned black men treat women in Tyler Perry movies. No one would be talking about Colin Kaepernick, the Ikea Sales Associate. No one would give a roasted fuck if Colin Kaepernick, Google Fiber Representative, said this in between annoyingly enthusiastic sales pitches for faster-than-ever Internet. Say what you will about the societal implications, but his fame and fortune grant him a bigger voice than the rest of us.
  • We all know that when someone uses the term “inner city” and “these people,” what they’re actually referring to is niggers and nigger babies. Just once, I would love to hear a white person refer to a group of black and brown children as “nigger babies.” I wouldn’t even be upset. I’d just breathe a prolonged sigh of relief that someone finally decided to be honest instead of burying their dog whistle racism under dulcet tones of condescension and white guilt. Also, I think people forget how real change is affected. Just throwing money at a situation does nothing to remedy the actual problem of economic disenfranchisement, institutional and systemic racism prevalent in both state and federal levels of government, and the fact that most people of color simply inhabit a different space than their white counterparts. This is why you don’t just keep throwing ACE bandages at the women in battered womens shelters after giving them all 30-second pep talks. It’s why you don’t expect the drug flow within challenged communities to stop once you’ve arrested the dude that does all of his deals in the bathroom of the Arby’s on Peachtree. You identify and strategize against the root of the problem. That problem being how some Americans can confuse patriotism with jingoism and simultaneously ignoring the struggles of their fellow countrymen with such ease you’d think all of black America was Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense.
  • “Just stick to football.” This is the most egregious of all, at least to me. If this were the only sentiment the gentleman had expressed that I overheard, it would have been enough for me to transform into some kind of Black Rage Hulk. Rampaging throughout the streets of Atlanta while reciting excerpts from every Ta-Nehisi Coates article I’ve ever read. This implies that a black celebrity’s only value is that by which they’ve achieved fame. That they are stripped of all thought, intellectual or otherwise, agency, and capacity to grasp issues larger than themselves. Essentially, that we are all nothing but vessels from which you derive your entertainment. This is evident every time a Black celebrity expresses an opinion formulated through observation and simple deductive reasoning. We are more than just repositories for catchy pop culture phrases and ephemeral dance crazes. The fact that we keep asserting asserting as much is guaranteed to ruffle the feathers of White America more than Michelle Obama speaking common facts by saying that slaves built the White House.

I suppose that maybe these four cups of coffee, glass of Buffalo Trace Bourbon neat, and the most delightful cucumber tea sandwich I’ve ever had has made me more than a touch sensitive. Maybe I’m just reacting to this poor fellow’s statement from a place of indignation that’s only heated by the small proximity I have from when I initially heard the news. That is also a possibility. But, chances are, I’m not overly sensitive nor too caught within the moment to see a situation for what it clearly is: A large number of people saying that the flag is the quintessential representation of what it means to be free. And to exercise that freedom by protesting what amounts to a racist 19th-century pop ballad (think Ted Nugent and Toby Keith getting drunk on moonshine after watching Civil War reenactments somewhere in southern Arizona. Then writing a song on the back of a of Trump/Pence shirt they bought at a yard sale. That song would be the Star-Spangled Banner.) It’s enough of a logical quagmire to make your teeth itch, and you’re eyes bleed, but enough people seem to think it makes perfect sense. Clearly, I have a lot to learn from “these people.”