If there’s one thing that 2015 has taught us, it’s that racism isn’t a thing of the past; it’s a thing of the present. The idea of a post-racial America is just that: a novel idea, but one that isn’t going to become reality anytime soon. National incidents and specific people put racism in the spotlight this year, and one of them is even running for president. God help us all.
One of my favorite movies back in the day was Higher Learning, especially since it came out around the time I was in college. Skinheads. Check. Black power types. Check. What do you get when they clash? A campus in turmoil.
This year, campuses across the country put race at the forefront of higher education. There were the racist frat bros of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma who thought that singing “There will never be a n—ger SAE” would go unnoticed. Little did they know that their little song on a bus would go viral. The SAE chapter at the school was eventually closed. Apologetic frat members were expelled, but of course some in the mainstream media wanted to place all the blame on hip-hop music. Because we all know that hip-hop is filled with racist frat bros. #Sarcasm.
Just as the incident with SAE was broadcast all over social media, other campuses learned that being anonymous on social media brings out the worst in people. At American University in Washington, D.C., black students protested the fact that the popular social media app Yik Yak was being used to target black students. Members of a student-led, racial-justice community organization called the Darkening launched the hashtag #TheRealAU to expose those using the app around campus. The university’s president, Neil Kerwin, responded to the student-led exposé by stating that the university would take steps to improve race relations on campus.
Race relations were also brought back into the spotlight in Missouri, almost a year after the death of Michael Brown. After a series of racist incidents at the University of Missouri that seemingly fell on the deaf ears of the university’s higher-ups, black student-athletes put their feet down, along with their footballs, and went on strike. The athletes’ hit-them-where-it-hurts (in the wallets) tactics didn’t go unnoticed. But it’s unfortunate that it took a group of athletes to get attention, when another Mizzou student, Jonathan Butler, who went on a hunger strike, didn’t cause the university to take action.
The students’ protests sparked the resignation of the school president, Tim Wolfe, and then all hell broke loose. Cowards once again took to social media just to show how racist they can be. But this time, Yik Yak would prove that not everything posted is anonymous. And a 19-year-old was charged with making terrorist threats.
Those were the biggest news-makers when it came to campus racism, but of course there were the annual parties with blackface; and then someone decided to play in the snow and write “white power” all over cars on the campus of Michigan’s Calvin College.
Black students go to college to learn, but unfortunately, the lessons of racism aren’t mapped out in their syllabuses. When you’re a black face in a sea of white faces, the only thing you can do is share your common experiences with other black students, look racism dead-on and then realize that the world is filled with racists. And go on to get that paper and not let it deter you.
Laughing While Black on the Wine Train, and Other Things You Can’t Do While Black
There’s nothing better than hanging out with your girlfriends and sipping on some wine. And that’s exactly what members of the Sistahs on the Reading Edge book club intended to do when they booked their wine-train trip through California’s Napa Valley. But unfortunately, that’s not even close to what happened.
Eleven members of the book club were escorted off the train because they were laughing and talking too loudly. Not only were they made to get off the train, but once they stepped off, they were met by the police. Laughing while black was yet another thing to add to the list of things black people can’t do.
Like going to a pool party while black, as a young black girl in McKinney, Texas, attempted to do. Need to pick up a few things from the mall? Well, shopping while black isn’t going to bode well for you, either. Just ask the Milwaukee Bucks’ John Henson, who attempted to buy jewelry but was racially profiled instead.
Wanna be a Star Wars Stormtrooper while black? Eek. Nope. That’s not going to work, either. John Boyega learned that the hard way. But he’s laughing all the way to the bank. As Yoda might say, “Dumb you racists are. Yes, hmmm.”
It’s exhausting keeping track of everything you can’t do while black. Excuse me while I go and stockpile food and water so I don’t ever have to leave the house again while black.
And You Wonder Why N.W.A Said “F—k the Police”
A police officer’s motto is to protect and serve. But nowadays, too many are serving up their fair share of ass kickings and killings, and doling out some good-ole-boy attitude, during all of that so-called protecting and serving. Yes, sure. I know what you’re thinking: “There are good ones out there.” But until those so-called good cops step forward and put their feet into the necks of the bad ones, in the same way that the bad ones treat the “innocent until proven guilty” people, then they’re just as bad.
This year alone, so far there have been 272 black people killed by the police, and out of that number, 69 were unarmed. But if they’re not killing black people, some police would rather stick to racially profiling them. Just a few months ago, tennis star James Blake received his “Negro wake-up call” after a New York City police officer mistook Blake for a man who was accused of identity theft and attacked him. And when they aren’t racially profiling black people, some cops are raping black women.
It seems as though there’s an unspoken rule of shoot to kill when it comes to apprehending black suspects. But when you’re white, you’re taken to Burger King for a supersized meal.
In a world where the police are policing suburban neighborhoods and cities, who’s going to police the police? Because we all know the Department of Justice has been doing a piss-poor job of that.
Evil Incarnate: Dylann Roof
In June, Dylann Roof opened fire on a prayer group in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. In the aftermath, nine people—including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney—were killed. Roof’s reasoning for the shooting was that he wanted to start a race war. And he failed.
People around the world mourned the victims, and although prosecutors in Roof’s case are seeking the death penalty, it could be months before the case goes to trial.
But to paraphrase the infamous words of Samuel L. Jackson’s character in A Time to Kill, if Roof does get the death penalty, plenty of people will probably yell, “I hope he burns in hell.”
A Boy and His Clock
A kid walks into school with a clock he built in a new case, and school administrators immediately think it’s a bomb. One has to wonder, if Ahmed Mohamed were white and not Muslim, would his teachers have just assumed that he was trying to keep track of time in an unconventional way?
There were those who stood in solidarity with the 14-year-old, and there were those who felt that it was nothing more than an attention-seeking ploy. Yeah, a ploy that could cost the Irving, Texas, school district and the state $15 million. That’s a lot of clocks.
Donald Trump Has Always Been Racist
What can be said about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been said? What many thought was a gimmick at first, with Trump once again declaring his run for the presidency, turned out to be the real thing. But in his latest campaign, Trump has managed to prove that not only is he indeed a full-fledged racist, but his supporters are, too.
Trump’s well-documented animus toward Muslims and Latinos shouldn’t be that surprising, if you’ve kept track of him over the last decades.
Remember when Trump encouraged a witch hunt against the innocent black men who had been wrongly convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park in New York City?
Or when black people accused Trump of housing discrimination?
So I wasn’t shocked when I found out that Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the country.
Finding out that Trump can’t tolerate Latinos didn’t shock me.
Finding out that Trump doesn’t even have a platform to speak of didn’t shock me.
What shocks me the most is that Trump thinks it’s OK to wear his hair like that after all these years.
Of course, these are just a small sampling of the racist events of 2015. But when you’re researching and writing about what’s happened over a year’s time, let’s just say it’s exhausting. But the exhaustion doesn’t come from the research; it comes from knowing that it’s hard out here when you’re black. When you’re black, life—I mean, racism—comes at you fast. There will always be those black people who choose to wear their rose-colored glasses, but eventually they’ll have to take them off and see the world for what it is.
Sure, it’s a melting pot. Just one that’s bubbling over with racism.