“Our” House Is on Fire
Somewhere in America, a white cop frames a black person. That black person goes to jail. The white cop, due to a rare slip by white supremacy, is caught. The black person is released from prison and the white cop goes to prison. Upon release, the two meet and the black person showers the white cop with good ol’ Christian love. The white cop is overwhelmed. And they live happily ever after.
This is the white supremacist fantasy. This is the stereotype about black people and our endless forgiveness of the transgressions of white supremacists and anti-black racism that many white people secretly hope holds true.
This is, after all, what makes their transgressions possible. It’s the idea that it doesn’t matter what white people do to us, hundreds of years of propaganda assures them that our reaction will be Mammy or Uncle Remus. They hold this notion while simultaneously holding Thomas Jefferson’s fear that one transgression too many might reveal us to be Assata Shakur or Nat Turner.
So it strikes them as neighborly and right Christian (which is why we were almost immediately indoctrinated with Christianity upon our unceremonious arrival to this country) of us to allow them to use us as the doormats they wipe their shitty feet on before entering our homes only to burn them down as we ask: “Massa, is OUR house on fire?”
Remus is the outcome they pray for; Shakur is the outcome they’re terrified of. Mainly because they know they’ve earned the latter, but hope they’ve brainwashed us enough that we behave like the former.
The great secret of some black folks is that we think being Mammy or Remus will find us favor with White Jesus and assure our entrance through the pearly-white gates. The other great secret is that for some black folks, pleasing white folks, acting in a way that earns us a pat on the head from them, brings us feelings of accomplishment, recompense, and reward. Like any trained pet, we get a thrill from the positive attention. Plainly, some of us think our superior morality in the face of destruction makes us look civilized (to whom, though?) and will ensure us a pleasurable afterlife when all that is certain, truly, is our deaths.
The title of the news story is: “Innocent man ends up pals with crooked cop that framed him.”
Many people will say this man showed enormous moral fortitude in being able to befriend the racist who made his life a living nightmare.
But he’s also a plum fool.
It’s an incredibly risky investment to bank on a racist’s conscience.
And I wouldn’t be shocked by a follow-up story in which this racist “accidentally” shot this man to death in a “misunderstanding.” Because duplicity is a crucial component of Whiteness.
In regard to the story, please notice the imbalance of the punishments doled out for the falsely implicated man and the actual criminal in the situation.
Notice how the story tries to minimize the cop’s racist behavior and maximize his supposed benevolence/reformation/redemption.
Notice how the story doesn’t explain how the cop was caught, doesn’t ask why the cop didn’t come forward on his own volition, and doesn’t pose the question of whether the innocent man would have remained in prison if not for the fact that this cop was caught.
Notice how the black man is positioned almost as antagonist/secondary and the racist cop is positioned as protagonist/primary.
And also notice the role Christianity plays in the reconciliation.
There are layers to this white supremacy shit.
“I said, ‘Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I’m sorry,’ Collins explained.
McGee says that was all it took. ‘That was pretty much what I needed to hear.’
Today they’re not only cordial, they’re friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him.
‘And I just started weeping because he doesn’t owe me that. I don’t deserve that,’ Collins said.”
Sorry is not “all [he] can do.”
He’s right about one thing, though:
He doesn’t “deserve that” love. At all.
Another thing about this story that bugs me is the cop’s dishonesty.
His answer to why he did it is: “I honestly have no explanation.”
That’s a lie.
He knows it.
And we know it.
I wouldn’t even remotely begin to entertain the sincerity of his apology until he answered that question honestly. And the answer is rooted in white supremacy.
But enough about him and what he deserves: Let’s talk about what the man he framed deserves. Because, you see, this isn’t merely a story about two people; this story is really about hundreds of years of imbalance and violence between two demographics.
This story is about white people making an identity and a tradition out of destroying the lives of black people — using everything from the whip, to the genitals, to the gun, to the bible to do it.
And White Jesus will get his turn, too.
That’s what McGee and the rest of us deserve — at the very least.
(H/T Marlon Châteauneuf)