I been in this country for years. Still, they treat us like animals
They made rules for Black people, they wrote us a manual.
A step-by-step booklet, so we can get
Our race on track, and stop being so Black
Rule Number Uno: Never ever tell white folks
How much stuff you know, ‘cause they’ll blow.
Facts be maddening, and the Blacks be
Bringing up old stuff. That’s why we so fucked up.
Number two: Never ever tell the truth.
Focus on Black-on-Black violence. Be silent
Negroes always whining,
About when they hit our kin with whips, lynched our kids and shit.
Number Three: Don’t teach history
If you ever bring up the white hood and mask stuff
They’ll get mad as fuck, so they gaslight us.
Number Four: I know you heard this before
Never ask why. Trust white folks’ lies
Number Five: Keep your guard up where you work at
I don’t care if they ain’t around, don’t let it down
Number Six: Want some got damned credit? Forget it.
They believe they achieved everything off merit.
Number Seven: This rule is so underrated.
Keep white and Black people completely separated.
White girls and Black men don’t mix, you’ll get tricked or get lynched
Find yourself in Emmett Till shit.
Number eight: MLK says you must judge them
By the content of their character, not color of skin
Number Nine should’ve been number one, to me.
Even if you don’t break the law, you can trust the police.
When white folks think you’re guilty, they ain’t trying to listen
They’ll get an all-white jury to put your ass in prison
Number Ten: The mere words “white privilege”
Will make them cry like idiots. Don’t ever mention it.
If you say “white people,” they’ll say “Hell No!”
Call you “the real racist,” melt like a flake of snow
Follow these rules, and don’t be like the hoodlums
Be good like Cuba, not the country, but “one of the good ones”
All they know about Black folks, they took from
Hip-hop and films like Boyz n the Hood, son
White people messed the world up, but if you ask
All that white supremacy stuff is in the past
All you can do is play ball and run fast
So stay in your lane and they might give you a pass
If you can’t, just read the Clapback Mailbag
This first letter comes from a very nice person who felt sorry for me because of the article on St. Paul, Minnesota’s decision to stop prosecuting pretextual traffic stops.
From: Joe R.
To: Michael Harriot
I am writing to tell you how sad I feel for your last opinion piece. I have been a fan of your writing and work for a long time. While I respect your right to write as you wish, I believe that the piece about cops not happy for not being allowed to shoot black people was in poor taste and does not contribute to building bridges or trust. If we cannot teach people PEACE and reconciliation, what can we teach them? Surely you didn’t think this through. If you are NOT helping if all you want are CLICK BAITS.
I am writing to tell you how sad I feel about your letter. While I am happy to know that you are a fan of my writing and work, I find the fact that you disliked the article to be quite unsettling. In fact, I’ve found it hard to sleep since I read your email.
Oh, I don’t give a fuck about what you think of me; I just think it’s weird that you think my words about cops killing Black people were “in poor taste” but you don’t seem bothered by the fact that cops disproportionately kill Black people. Perhaps—and I’m just spitballing here—the shooting-Black-people-in-the-face part of policing prevents us from “building bridges or trust” more than articles about shooting Black people in the face.
What if there were no dead Black people over which we had to teach each other “PEACE and reconciliation?” What if we didn’t have reconcile our differences because there were none? Surely you didn’t think this through.
But, just in case you did, I would like to offer you a proposal. I pledge to never write such a disrespectful, angry and outrageous piece of clickbait again. In exchange, all they have to do is stop killing us.
Of course, there were people who disagreed with the obituary for Tim Scott after he subverted police reform legislation.
From: Joe K.
To: Michael Harriot
You don’t know what you’re talking about. You think the government can solve all of your problems. If your blog told your people to stop committing so much crime we wouldn’t need police reform.
I was going to clap back at you, but instead, I’ll take your suggestion and try it your way.
Dear Black people.
Joe says please stop committing so much crime and police will stop shooting you.*
*This does not apply to:
- The unarmed black people who were three times more likely to be killed by police than a white person with no weapon in 2019.
- The people who were killed by police who were not committing a crime.
- Trayvon Martin
- Eric Garner
- Breonna Taylor
- Philando Castile
- Sandra Bland
- Rekia Boyd
- Alton Sterling
- The juries that convicted Michael Slager, Derek Chauvin, Roy Oliver, Andrew Delke, Aaron Cody Smith, Nouman K. Raja, Peter Liang
- The research that “sought to answer whether officers were more likely to shoot and kill someone who is unarmed if the shooting happened to occur in a high-crime area” and concluded that is not the case.
We’ll see how this turns out.
And finally, the article on how the Democratic Party ignores Black people sparked some outrage.
To: Michael Harriot
Negroes like you tou think you’re “woke” but all you’re doing is helping those who want to hurt us.
Dear Rugged and Ayana.
Maybe you’re right. Perhaps there are other solutions. Now that I think about it, I had plenty of other options. I could have:
- Not said anything: Perhaps I should have pretended that these old white people really care about Black people and stayed silent. How has that been working out for Black people?
- Focused on the real problem: Instead of calling out Democrats and jeopardizing the Dems’ chances in the midterms, I should have written about the real problem–the Republican Party, white supremacy and whiteness in general. I didn’t even think about doing that...except for when I did it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
- Act like it wasn’t true: That’s how you become a trusted news source: ignoring problems and lying.
- Offered more support: Is this what causes the Democratic Party to act the way they do? Maybe they don’t know they have support in the African-American community!
- Be nice: I should have been nicer than the people who stood in line and voted for Democrats but got nothing in return. I should have been nicer than the people who gave up their lives to vote but watched the party capitulate to Kyrsten Cinnabun and Joe Manchin on voter suppression. I should have been nicer than the dead Black people who are killed by police. I should have been nicer than the people whose parents don’t have healthcare and whose kids don’t have good schools.
Or—and hear me out: I can say a thing that’s true. I can ask the people who we entrusted with our vote to do the things we asked them to do. I can point out that they aren’t doing their job. I can act like I’m a citizen who lives in a supposed democracy that is supposed to be represented by the people I elected. I can act as if I deserve all the things that white people get and take for granted every day.