Like Coco dancing.
I imagine hate feels like Coco dancing.
Erica Gimpel played dance student Coco Hernandez on the 1980's television show Fame. Coco didn’t comb her hair. She didn’t care about anything else but dancing. And, in every third episode, the Fame producers would write a scene that required Coco to bust every available move in the dance room at the fictional New York City High School for the Performing Arts.
My sister loved Coco.
When she was a little girl, my mother would occasionally allow my youngest sister to remove all of the barrettes, ribbons and rubber bands from her hair. Sometimes we even helped unbraid her pigtails so it could fly free—Coco style. We would blast the radio and watch as my sister climbed her frail frame on the bed, hair flowing in the breeze of the ceiling fan, and literally danced like nobody’s watching.
I’ve never seen anyone freer than that...
Until I met white people.
Black people are not free.
I am not referring to the literal bondage of slavery’s chains, Jim Crow’s subjugation or white supremacy’s oppression. I am talking about the existential, intangible feeling of unapologetic, reckless abandon. In my opinion, there is one great privilege that whiteness affords above all else:
Oh, how beautiful it must feel to be able to hate the thing that hates you! To exist in a world that doesn’t require you to camouflage your disdain for the ones who slap you in the face with their bloodstained hands. To not have to ingest the poison and swallow the vomit it induces. To have an unbitten tongue and an unseething soul. To summon death and destruction at your displeasure.
This is freedom:
This was from a Thursday protest as gun-toting white people rushed into the Michigan State House to demand that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sentence more Michiganders to death. The mob of “Open the Economy” advocates rallied and stormed the capitol building as the state legislature weighed whether or not they would rescind Whitmire’s stay-at-home orders meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus. I’m sure no one was intimidated.
Only white people could do this. It’s not just that the cops would shoot the first black person in the head as soon as they crossed the threshold. It’s not just that the armed invaders are so willing to offer other people’s bodies up for sacrifice in exchange for dining in at Applebees and checking out at Walmart. It’s that they are so unabashedly angry about it that they brought killing machines with them! Only someone with an abundance of entitled privilege would even release such a large amount of white-hot hate for such arbitrary and frivolous reasons.
These people hate America.
Oh, they love flags and guns and the idea of a Constitution. But they do not love America—not even the fantasyland of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that only exists in their dreams.
No, these motherfuckers would never show up to protest for that America. They issue their own, individual stay-at-home orders when innocent black people are killed by police or when brown children are being locked in cages because they could give a fraction of a fuck about the non-white faces in that huddled mass yearning to breathe free. Their idea of democracy is really a dictatorship of whiteness, so they organized the Million Mayo March for... Well... No one really knows.
Gretchen Whitmire isn’t encroaching on their freedom. The government isn’t taking their guns. No one is forcing them to stay at home. And if you’re wondering how I can be so sure about this, here is why:
They are out of the house, screaming at the police, with their guns!
To be fair, this is not a white thing. The vast majority of people—regardless of race—aren’t cool with an economic anxiety-induced coronavirus genocide. According to the latest Politico/Morning Consult Poll, 73 percent of whites and 76 percent of black people believe “Americans should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus even if it means continued damage to the economy.”
Which is why I need your help, white people.
I know most people worried about the house parties in Chicago and the barbershops in Atlanta, but what about Lansing? Colin Kaepernick didn’t show up at Jay-Z’s house with a gun demanding a spot on a starting roster so you can’t complain about Kap kneeling until you do something about white-on-white crime.
White people, I know you’re not down with this. We need you to come get your white mans and ‘nem. You people need to unite and work on problems in the outer city. Maybe you could set up an afterschool program for overprivileged youth or do some community service with people of no color.
And what in hillbilly hell is this about?
Is that a pair of preteen Caucasians dressed in an American flag tutu and sequined Daisy Dukes wearing a Barack Obama mask while tap dancing to a bluegrass banjo parody of “Candy Man” about government intervention?
OK. I was just asking.
Anyway, white people, I just wanted to know if you could talk to your people who hate this country.
Or, maybe you could just help create a world where black people don’t have to tuck the loathing for their oppressors behind white teeth and a clenched jaw. If I manage to survive your desire to unleash COVID-19 on Black America like a rabid dog in a meat factory, perhaps you could teach us how to release the insidious thing that gnaws at our insides without us having to wonder if our unrestrained rage will conjure up a noose or a call to the cops.
Black people are taught that the only path to our freedom is through peace and love while you get to slit throats and storm castles. Damn, it must be great to be immune from everything, including the golden rule. To be able to do unto others and never have it done unto you.
No, I don’t hate white people. I wouldn’t even know what that felt like. Most black people don’t have the luxury of carrying around something that corrosive, waiting for it to eat us from the inside out. We weren’t born with the pressure-release valve that whiteness affords. But if we did have one, sometimes—perhaps as about as often as Coco danced—I might hate like nobody’s watching.
I would just be free.