Saturday, April 11, 2015

White outrage over Walter Scott doesn't fix black fear of living in racist America

...Those who embrace the idea of respectability politics (like Bill Cosby, that moral compass) argue that if I am just smart enough, articulate enough, well-dressed enough, worthy of respect enough in everything but the color of my skin, I will have nothing to fear. Bootstrap thinking tells me that I should dismiss as a psychological failing the unique panic I feel when I’m in front of an all-white audience, or my worry that I’ll seem like an “ungrateful black writer” at a fancy venue at which I’ve been conditioned to feel unworthy (as BuzzFeed’s Saeed Jones put it), or the fear I feel whenever I encounter police even in passing.

But I know that whatever I achieve professionally will always be tempered by my place in American society as a black man; my academic and professional positions insure my sense of safety no more than New York Times’ columnist’s Charles Blow’s son was assured of his until a campus cop pulled a gun on him at Yale. I’ll likely never feel safe on a primal level, anymore than I will forget my own father’s stories of being harassed by cops his whole life or forget the time that a New York City police officer recklessly pulled a gun on me.


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