The coronavirus changed me.
Before this pandemic, “Caucasian Acoustic Cruising” was one of my favorite pastimes. I loved rifling through YouTube to find examples of white people playing guitar while earnestly singing acoustic versions from the most ratchet negro songbook available. I watched this video of Chad Whitman (Not his real name, but probably his real name) singing Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” at least 38,309 times. Oh, how it gave me joy!
But that was the old Mike.
Ever since COVID-19 crawled out of a pot in Mar-a-Lago’s kitchen (I’m pretty sure that’s how it happened), my new favorite hobby is trolling the internet for videos of people of no color going apeshit about wearing masks. Apparently, wypipo find the prospect of covering their noses and mouths with a piece of cloth so disturbing that it triggers a reaction psychologists describe as Unseasoned Mask Affective Disorder (UMAD). And, because I am nothing if not a giver, I decided to share a few of the worst cases of UMAD that can be found on social media:
White people changed Terry Crews.
Before the pandemic, Crews was expected to compete for a silver medal in the 2020 Olympics (no way he was gonna beat Candace Owens in the shucking events but I think he could’ve taken Jason Whitlock and Kanye West in the jiving competition), but since the Summer Games were canceled, Crews found time to tweet this on Tuesday.
This fits Crews’ modus operandi. Crews’ Twitter account is a smorgasbord of fuckshit displaying his repeated attempts at cleaning the collective Caucasian Doc Martens using only his tongue. In a previous episode of Everybody Hates White Supremacy (Except Terry Crews), the Van Jones of Ben Carsons invalidated Gabrielle Union’s experiences on the set of America’s Got Talent by defending #TeamRacism. He constantly pleads with the black community not to fall victim to their anger and promote something he calls “Black Supremacy.”
Apparently Terry Crews wakes up every morning and thinks to himself:
“I must protect white people at all costs.”
If nothing else, you have to admire Crews’ ability to contort himself into a knot of twisted stepandfetchitry to center whiteness in a black narrative.
Ok, you don’t have to.
While you might think Crews may be auditioning for the lead part in the Marvel Universe’s new superhero saga, Respectability Man (with Diamond and Silk as the Wonder Twins), I understand what Crews is saying. I’ve heard it before. I think he is regurgitating a narrative that is actually a trending topic.
Terry Crews is trying to protect white people from a black supremacist takeover.
Seriously, it’s a real thing.
The 2020 protests changed America.
Before the public lynchings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, persecuting its unwilling captors was one of America’s favorite pastimes. Think about it. Birth of a Nation, the country’s first blockbuster film, was a movie praising the Ku Klux Klan for their patriotism and bravery. We euphemize the bloodiest conflict in our short history as a “Civil War.” We still romanticize white supremacist Confederate traitors. We herald brutal police officers as heroes.
But that was the old America.
Ever since black people took to the streets to protest injustice and police brutality, warning black people about unrestrained black anger has become America’s newest national pastime. There is a widespread belief that black people are finally fed up with white people’s bullshit and all the negro anger is spilling out into the street and endangering white lives. And it’s not just white people like Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump and Candace Owens who are warning people not to explode.
But white people have nothing to worry about. This moment that America finds itself in has nothing to do with anger or backlash. Contrary to popular belief, Black people aren’t mad about anything. We are totally calm. That uncomfortable feeling that is causing white people to celebrate Juneteenth, remove racist icons from pancake boxes and apologize for every perceived act of discrimination is not because of our anger.
We just took off our masks.
Imagine how angry you’d be if you had to be muzzled like a dog for 400 years. Imagine if you had to wear a mask for your entire life. Imagine living in a world where the men and women charged with protecting and serving you would blow your face off if they didn’t like the way you walked, talked or even reached. Imagine sending your child to schools named after white supremacist traitors so your kid could learn how enslaving your ancestors was part of someone’s “heritage.” Imagine working in a place where white people dished out bite-sized morsels of racism and called it a “microaggression.” Imagine building a country for free while watching generations of people benefit from the stolen labor while your family toils in poverty.
Now imagine if, when you pointed out these irrefutable truths, they said you were playing the “race card.” Imagine having to do all this with a smile on your face lest you upset the people who perpetuate that historical harm. Imagine if your grandmother was “muzzled like a dog” and her grandmother wore the same muzzle.
That’s what it’s always been like to be Black in America. Black people have to walk and talk and live in a country every day pretending there isn’t an invisible virus called white supremacy in the air that makes it hard for us to breathe.
Which is (and I know this is going to sound crazy) actual proof that Black people are not angry.
If Black people were angry about our condition, there would be no more white people. There would be no more America. This entire planet would cease to exist. Earth’s atmosphere could not contain the white-hot heat that resulted from black people releasing their anger.
What makes you think we’re angry?
Police murdered Black men long before Rayshard Brooks. Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till are just two examples of white people lynching Black people for being in a white space at the wrong time, just like Ahmaud Arbery. Police all across America were disproportionately taking a knee on Black people’s necks long before Derek Chauvin met George Floyd. Cops were breaking into unsuspecting homes long before they served a no-knock warrant at Breonna Taylor’s apartment. Ask 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Ask 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston.
That was a rhetorical statement. Cops already killed them.
But rest assured, this is not anger.
This is a mask removal.
We just simultaneously stopped devoting so much of our energy to making white people feel comfortable. We just took ourselves off “mute” because we also want to know what it feels like to breathe free. And if seeing Black people unmasked gives you the heebie-jeebies, imagine how white supremacy must feel.
And now that our masks are off, there is one more truth that must be told. Perhaps this is the secret that Terry Crews feared getting out. But fuck it, I’m gonna say it:
Black supremacy is real.
In this particular context, on one side, there is a group of people who are incessantly whining about the prospect of wearing a mask for the 15 minutes they are picking up their free-range, gluten-free avocado kale wraps from Whole Foods.
On the other side... You know what? I’ll let Paul Laurence Dunbar explain it:
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
That poem, “We Wear the Mask,” was first published 125 years ago. And until this day, all white people—every single one of them—have never seen us without wearing the cloak of white appeasement.
See, white people? We hate masks, too. But unlike these belligerent sufferers of UMAD, we’re not gonna whine about it. Until things change, America will just have to get used to Black people not wearing those respectability masks.
Well... Not all Black people.
Can somebody tell Terry Crews?