The Politics of Color


Which way USA?

As videos of the police shootings in Tulsa, OK and Charlotte, NC make the social media rounds, opinions vary from the intelligent, to the downright bigoted. That isn’t surprising, it’s simply human nature. The truth is, what’s in you comes out under pressure.

As a privileged, white-American who has no idea what it means to feel fear when pulled over by a policeman during a traffic stop, your condescending remarks about officers being under pressure, and black men resisting arrest, ring far too hollow.

How do you explain the “murder” of Terence Crutcher? He had his hands in the air demonstrating surrender. He was hit with a Tazer gun and fell to the ground. Then he was shot to death point blank. Why? Because, according to the cop in the helicopter, “That looks like a bad dude too! Could be on something.”

Turns out Terence wasn’t on anything and was simply returning home from a college class. So, how do you determine from a helicopter’s vantage view that someone is “a bad dude and could be on something”? I’d really like to know. Recently a guy planted bombs in New York and New Jersey, exchanged gun fire with police, and was finally taken into custody…alive! He wasn’t black. Yet we pretend that this selective policing against black men is imaginary? You insult our collective intelligence.

My friend’s brilliant daughter, Natasha Oladokun, sums it up astutely as she reminds us:

“Black skin is not a weapon”

It’s incredibly sad that we have to be reminded of that fact, but clearly we do. The problem is compounded by the fact that a large portion of white-America seems happily oblivious to the division that’s ripping the fabric of American society apart. They, like the proverbial ostrich, bury their heads in the sands of blissful ignorance while bullets fly indiscriminately at the heads and hearts of innocent black men simply trying to find a way to live right.

What does it say about the collective psyche of a nation that raises their ire at people refusing to stand during the National Anthem, yet remains awkwardly silent at the indiscriminate killing of innocent black men? We are a divided nation, and under pressure the truth speaks clearly.

From our churches to our politics, it’s clear that there’s an unhealthy dividing line between black and white. Little wonder the world watches and calls those of us who profess to be Christians, hypocrites. We look nothing like the Jesus we profess to follow as we fight to protect our borders against hapless victims of terrorism who are simply trying to flee the violence in their nation to find a better life. And we do all this claiming it’s time to protect ourselves at the expense of the world. I’ve heard a lot of “unchristian” things in my lifetime, but that one takes the cake.

So, let me conclude by saying, I’m all for standing for the National Anthem. I’m a naturalized American — which means I chose to become American — and I love everything the flag and the anthem stand for. However, I’m also a black man living in America, stained by the debilitating color of racism, and that, is distinctly un-American. Just my dos centavos!