People that know me will tell you I love a good media-manufactured brouhaha as much as the next media meatball, but the tempest behind the Heather Ellis case, with calls for you to take a day off your good job and go march or whatever, has come to a boil today. The Internet is outraged at the audacity of this latest racial injustice.
So that means it's time for me to jump in the fray.
As the story goes, preacher's daughter and med-school prospect Heather Ellis cut in line at a Walmart somewheres in Missouri to join her cousin to make a few purchases, and was rebuffed by others in line as well as the cashier. Police were called, Ellis was arrested and could be facing between three and 15 years in prison. Oh, by the way—she is also alleged to have assaulted two police officers during the fracas.
I'm sorry—did I bury the lead?
Yeah, I did.
Colleague and homeboy Money Watkins was on Tom Joyner's radio show discussing the Heather Ellis case with Roland "BeefJerkyGate" Martin in the context of the latest plot by Da White Man to keep down the Da Race. The problem is, Roland thinks it's OK to throw 'bows on the cops. He said "[hitting the cops] was the "C" outcome in an an incident that had an "A, B and C" or somesuch Negro jibberish, like he's putting the knowledge on you. Money noted that Joyner is sponsored by Walmart and seemed reticent to bite the hand that feeds him.
I also think Joyner can peep game—there are not enough facts here by a long-shot for the popes of blackness to don the cape, and cowl and ride.
Money Watkins expected you, Joyner, Michael Baisden, Nipsey Russell and all truly black people to mount up and join him in some protest on the stairs of the halls of justice today, but slow down, Jim Shoe. Before you spend your good money on T-shirts and mixtapes, pump your brakes and let me put some game in your ear.
Internet activism is almost always suspect because everyone has an opinion, but rarely does anyone have full possession of the facts. Ever. When six troubled young black men were going to be over-sentenced for assaulting another student, it somehow got connected to the fact that someone hung a noose on a tree. These facts were not in anyway related, but it made for sexy subject lines and blog-fodder for all the usual suspects to exploit and hop on board for their close-up. Back at the ranch, the boys are on BET throwing up faux-gang signs and on MySpace with mouthfuls of your donated money. For all the marching and lofty talk, today, those boys are still effed up in the game. I told Tom to his face: It don't matter that you use the radio and Internet to rally folks if everyone is wrong. We can't co-sign everyone just because they are black.
This gets to Heather Ellis.
See, as it happens, it's merely impolite in civilized society to cut in line, but it is illegal to assault a police officer in all 50 states. Still. I know—there's a black man in the White House. But even if you are buddies with B-Rock, you don't have a license to lunch out on the police. Sorry. Money Watkins is my man, 50-grand, and he knows it. But even the best of us get it wrong sometimes. This could be such a time. Heather Ellis may be a preacher's daughter with no previous record. But if witness reports are to be believed, she's not that innocent.
Heather Ellis is not being tried for cutting in line at Walmart. It's a sexy, Gina Macauley-esque header, but it isn't accurate. Heather Ellis is being tried for allegedly assaulting two police officers. A plus B don't equal C, or whatever math SuperDome would have you trying to figure. Whatever the police reaction—Ellis may have been wrong right out the gate. Sometimes when you are wrong, you buy a ticket to a ride you have to stay on 'til the end. Ellis needs to ride that ride alone, and we need to let a court sort that out. If every black person would just try keep their own nose clean, we'd put the Al and Jesse out of business.
Everything is not about race, and when you go hard on Da White Man and the truth comes out in the rinse, it'll make it harder to get at him when he's actually effing up.
Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper