“Dear White People” IS Racist. Here’s why.

We live in time of perpetual outrage. From the perspective of the Conservative Right, the anger is often articulated in Daily Mail headlines with capitalised words to emphasise just how OUTRAGEOUS ‘it’ is (whatever ‘it’ is). For Liberal Lefties, taking to the streets waving placards and chanting, is how their indignation is expressed. It is not surprising then, that the announcement of the new Netflix series “Dear White People” was going to enrage some people.

Based on the film of the same name that came out in 2014, the release of the trailer for the show sparked the type of outrage that causes people to take to twitter and start furiously hash-tagging, and threatening a boycott. On this occasion, it seems it is the Conservative White America that has been especially offended, or “triggered”, to adopt an internet phrase. According to the Daily Mail article reporting that the Youtube video of the trailer attracted one million dislikes in one day, the outrage is justified. Having perused the comments section of this article (my go-to when I want to understand the way in which racist people think), it seems nobody really knows what the show is about, but it must be racist against whites because, “you couldn’t get away with a show called ‘Dear BLACK people’ could you?!?”

I find all of this very amusing. Firstly, because when the film version came out in 2014, I do not recall this amount of anger being expressed. In fact, to me, the film trailer seemed very enticing at the time. It seemed a straightforward plot – a black(ish) looking girl using her radio station slot to directly address the micro-aggressions that many black people encounter when interacting with white people on a daily basis. In fact if I recall correctly, the film was made as a response to a real life incident that occurred at an Ivy League university when white students attended a Halloween party dressed in black face as a costume. As I understand it, this type of thing has been reported numerous times across America. I was intrigued then, that it seemed a mainstream film had been made to address this type of ignorant behaviour, and challenge the stereotypes of black people that are so often propagated by the media. When I eventually watched the film, I discovered I was very wrong. Dear White People was ironically slightly racist… to black people. In what can be best described as an own goal, the casting and writing of the film has many stereotypes that are negative as far as black people are concerned. Here are just a few:

Stereotype 1: Only a light skinned/mixed race woman can play a leading role.

The storyline in Dear White People has a convenient “twist” that allows for casting a mixed race woman as the leading role, as is it later revealed that she is actually not “fully black” as she has a white father, despite being so “militant”.

Stereotype 2: Black people, and especially black people who are concerned about racial injustice, are always angry.

In the film, there is an angry black mob, none of whom have any speaking lines, and only serve the purpose to appear every now and then, looking furious and staring black raging daggers at people.

Stereotype 3: Even in a so-called “black film”, a white character must always be the hero.

The Light-Skinned Leading Lady (I cannot remember any of the characters names, and I cannot be bothered to look them up), has a secret White Boyfriend, who sticks by her even though she treats him like dirt, and is ashamed on him. Both she, and all the other characters in the film seem to have deep flaws. Supporting Dark-Skinned Female character is very unlikeable, as is the Leading Black Male character. The Black Gay character is written as complete wimp. The only character that comes out shining and smelling of roses, is the secret White Boyfriend, who in the end, Light-Skinned Leading Lady chooses over her other love interest,  Brutish Black Man.

dear-white-people-2

If the Netflix mini-series is going to be just like the film, then I agree; it is racist. However, to suggest it is racist towards white people is a bit ridiculous. To address the suggestion that it would not be ok to have a TV show called “Dear Black People”; such a title suggests that the show would be written from a mainly white perspective addressing certain behaviours of black people that make white people feel oppressed. The problem with that is, virtually every show on TV already is written from a white perspective, and given that in the US and UK, black people are a minority, it is difficult to see how white people in these countries could feel so oppressed by their behaviour.

I will not be watching the Netflix series because I thought the film was pretty rubbish, but I have no feelings of fury about it. My suggestion to Spitting Mad Conservative White America, is to stop the internet whinging and threats of boycotts, and do the common sense thing whenever something you do not like is on TV or online: simply, do not watch.

My American Dream has Died

When I was a child my TV
showed US shows each day to me
Sold US dreams to this
Black British
Young girl and won me over easily
Because I watched, I wanted prom
Wanted to call my mother “mom”
To cheer lead dancing with a Pom Pom
To me you see
The U.S. was where I belonged
If given the choice where to reside
Bel air, Beverley Hills or Bayside
Who cares
I’d have better hair
And white teeth
Like all Americans who live there
I’d go to the mall, hang out at the beach
Life in America would be peachy

That’s what I’d see
When closing my eyes and California Dreaming

That dream has been cut short

By the sound of black voices screaming

I was late
To read the words that graced
The pages of Haley’s story
For my unexposed mind, this was gory
My eyes spilled metaphorical tears
For a people stolen, brutalised, the worst of all fears
Realised
DeGruy is right
That the trauma is still alive
My American Dream was beginning to die

Feelings of heaviness inside
How can a people live with this past
With this pain
With this knowledge that your blood spilled
Was their gain
You weren’t human in their eyes
My American Dream began to die

And then Obama
They’ve come so far
The most powerful man
And he’s black like me
“We don’t see colour, look at Obama. See?”
Yet to to make black lives matter
Powerless is he.
I was not fooled
But still fooled to believe
That racism was only in the awards blacks didn’t receive
Was only in parts on screen they could never play
America was still a place to travel to some day

The trouble is
Now we have technology
Camera phones that record and see
What the overseers, sorry officers
Don’t want anyone to see
Thank God for passers by
Now the world can see what America would like to hide
You still want black labour,
So you put blacks in jail
You still want to be Massa
white supremacy prevails
It was not a crime then for a slave to be killed
And still now you murder blacks as you will
Instead of serving time
You hit the big time
Get lauded as a king
Or sheltered under the Roof of a Burger King

I’m no longer dreaming, I will stay woke
It is sad to say, I can’t see a day
That the dream MLK spoke
Of will ever come to pass
Blacks still being pushed
To the bottom of the class
When it comes to wealth and healthcare
They’re still coming last
The whites have the gall to put “immigrants” on blast
You are also an immigrant have you forgotten your past?
But for the blacks it’s
Not so much California, but Compton
But even when the blacks
Do live in a nice neighbourhood
The whites believe blacks are no good
“This is our swimming pool
Stay out of our spaces
Or we will call the cops
But don’t you dare call us racist”
Yes Amerikkka; the police man of the world
Allows its own police force
To assault innocent young black girls
As I watch the whitewashed media spin
It sinks in
From the beginning
The dream was never for those with melanin

I now watch Amerikkka through cynical eyes
Death in police custody is followed by lies
Lies followed by victim blaming
And shaming
No justice for black bodies
Just more hashtag naming
Everyday a new hashtag
The world ignores Amerikkka’s genocide
But not I
I dare not step foot on that blood soaked stolen soil
Lest I die
(If I do I did not commit suicide)

To express what has been implied:
My American Dream has died

Happy New Year?

The reason for the question mark in my title is, hasn’t January 2015 just been a little bit depressing? I do not mean to sound negative here, but I really do hope things improve from here on out. The following (in no particular order) are a list of reasons why in my opinion, this year so far has not been so “happy”:

  • It is very cold, windy and rainy.
  • Trains everywhere seem to be running an appalling service, constantly running late, and are extremely over packed. Oh and fares have gone up too.
  • I’m fatter than usual following Christmas 2014. Usually after Christmas, I go up just one dress size, but this year it’s two.
  • Hospitals everywhere cannot cope with the number of patients being admitted. I’m scared that should I need urgent medical attention, an ambulance may reach me by January 2016.
  • The general election has not happened yet, and David Cameron is still the prime minister.
  • Over 2000 people, according to Amnesty figures, were massacred in Nigeria. As bad as that is, the tragedy was made worse by the lack of media coverage it received.
  • It’s 2015 and instead of there being greater understanding of different cultures etc, racism, it appears, is more acceptable than ever under the guises of “an honest debate about immigration”, “promoting British/Western values” and “the freedom/right to offend”.
  • Black lives still don’t matter
  • The rich continue to get richer, and the poor get poorer
  • Celebrity Big Brother has returned again. (When will this trash die?)
  • I can’t even comfort eat away some of my woes because I now have to be on a stupid diet

Despite all of these things, I live in hope. Not every year can be entirely wonderful, and anyway, this is just the beginning. After all at this time last year I was unaware that I was going to be proposed to a few days later, and then married by the end of the year (more about that later).

The best comfort really, is to continue to remind myself that this life is temporary, and to think of things eternal.

The Death of Michael Brown: Who is to Blame?

When the story first broke, of an unarmed black teenager shot by a white police officer, it was tempting to immediately take to social media to vent outrage. But something told me to hold back and wait until all of the facts came out. Since then, CCTV footage of Brown appearing to rob a convenience store, stealing a packet of Cigarillos has been released, there have been conflicting witness accounts, and now we have the decision from the Grand Jury, having reviewed the evidence that Darren Wilson, the officer responsible for the killing, will not face charges.

 

This decision has set the internet (and in the literal sense, Ferguson) ablaze and having read various blogs, and commentaries, I feel like I can finally piece my thoughts together to throw in my opinion, worth little as it is.

 

There is a clear dividing line when it comes to views about Brown’s death. There are those who believe that Brown was a violent thug, and Wilson was the hero who put a stop to his tyranny, and those who argue that Brown was unarmed, and therefore should not have been shot at and killed. The latter feel that, the only reason he was killed is because he was black, and in America, black lives do not matter. It seems to me that there is some truth in both opinions. But it seems that not many people are willing to accept that. Not those who have immediately started burning down buildings and looting in Ferguson, nor those who sit comfortably behind their computer screens hastily posting insensitive comments suggesting that Brown deserved to die.

 

I should mention a third camp. Those who are sympathetic to the anger that surrounds Brown’s death, but question why there is not the same anger expressed when a black person is killed by another black person. There are problems I have with each of these views.

 

To those saying that Michael Brown was a violent thug who deserved to die, I say this: when one views the CCTV footage, it is hard to argue otherwise. But a person is often more than one thing – he was also a high school graduate for example. Furthermore, it’s important to put things into perspective. His violence, as far as I’m aware, did not involve killing anybody. To say Brown deserved to die because he was violent, sends out a message that any kind of unlawful or undesirable behaviour is punishable by death, administered by the gun of whichever law enforcement officer happens to feel threatened by person who has misbehaved. The last time I checked the death penalty in the America is the most serious of punishments, only meted out to cold blooded murderers. Had Brown had the chance to live, who knows whether he would have changed his ways, and developed the more positive aspects of his character.

 

A key feature of the argument above, is that colour played no part in Brown’s death nor in the police and media response. It’s difficult for me to accept that. Many black men in America speak of how they are perceived by whites as being threatening, in situations where they are innocently going about their business. At the point Brown received the fatal bullets, he was already wounded from the earlier scuffle, and had run away from Wilson. Some witnesses say he was surrendering. But did Wilson nevertheless perceive Brown as a threat because he was black?

 

Was the media colour blind in its reporting? Why was the CCTV footage released, when it later transpired that the robbery was unconnected to the shooting?  The Huffington Post have an interesting article called “When the media treats white suspects and killers better than black victims”( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/media-black-victims_n_5673291.html), which makes the point better than I can. To put it gently, it is quite naïve to say that colour has nothing to do with Brown’s death and its aftermath.

 

To those that say Brown was unarmed and therefore should not have been killed, I admit I have much less to say. I largely agree with that, but find that there tends to be a blindness to the anger connected with this view. Too much of a blind eye is turned to Brown’s violence and thuggery. It has to be asked, why did Brown not simply hop on to the sidewalk when asked? According to Wilson’s first account (which later conveniently changed), he did not even know about the convenience store robbery, and just wanted Brown to stop walking in the middle of the road. And though some part of Wilson’s account seem incredible, it’s probably true that Brown gave him some attitude. Again, why?

 

Brown good and bad

Turning to the third argument, which I find particularly irksome, why are people not angry when a black person dies at the hand of another black person? This is my answer: that is simply beside the point. Firstly, it does not sit well with me to suggest that people should only get angry when somebody of their colour dies or is killed. Secondly, the real issue here it seems, is anger against the system. Wilson was not just a white man. He was a police officer. An officer charged with the duty of protecting citizens, yet he killed one. Imagine if there was no anger about this situation? We’re talking about holding a powerful institution accountable for the way it treats black citizens. It is just too simplistic to say “oh but black people get killed by blacks all the time”.

 

When a black person kills another black, they usually end up in prison. How many times in such a situation, do you hear of a cover up? Does it ever appear that the system tries to protect the black murderer from facing justice? Not that I have ever seen. But it does sort of look like system is trying to protect Darren Wilson. Even Piers Morgan has written a piece (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2849133/PIERS-MORGAN-farce-Ferguson-Darren-Wilson-6ft-4in-210lb-five-year-old-history.html) about the holes in the investigation into Brown’s death, and even though I thought I already knew all there was to know about the case, the new information I learned, I found disturbing.

 

So back to my question; who is to blame? I still do not have a straight answer. I can’t say it’s all Brown’s fault, as appalling as his behaviour was, we are all sinners, but by the grace of God, not all of us get gunned down and left dead in the street for hours. In this fallen world there remain many injustices. Perhaps it is too much to ask that at the very least, Darren Wilson be taken to trial, his actions put under scrutiny, so it can be properly decided whether he is truly free of blame.