White folks calling the police on innocent Black people has been in the news a lot lately.
You had a White student named Sarah Braasch at Yale University calling the police on a fellow Black student, Lolade Siyonbola, who she didn’t know and had fallen asleep in the study lounge; you had a group of Blacks who rented an Airbnb in California only to have a White neighbor call the police on them, because she didn’t recognize them and — get this — they “didn’t wave” to her. Those were her actual words.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
As my boy Solomon once told me in Proverbs 4:7: “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding.”
In this column, I want to have a conversation that is going to make some of you, my loyal readers, quite uncomfortable.
While the issues revolving around race are very complicated, complex and multidimensional, I am only going to focus on one side of the equation. The side of equation that is in our total control.
The one issue that Blacks are in total control of is the images that “we” create, publish and distribute to the public; this includes, radio, TV, newspapers and social media.
A few years ago, I addressed this issue in one of my columns. This conversation created a storm of controversy, but more importantly it sparked a necessary conversation within the Black community.
So, again, I will ask the same question: What have Black folks done that causes police to totally undervalue our lives and causes others to feel threatened by our mere presence and immediately feel the need to call the police?
We have shows on television like “Empire,” “Insecure” and “The Quad” that showcase Blacks in some of the most negative roles possible.
I hear Blacks calling each other n—–s in public spaces, then have the gall to get upset when a White person uses the same word.
We glorify the thug life in our music, scantily-clad Black women have become the standard in music videos and we even permit some our pastors to advocate for the gay lifestyle from the pulpit. Really?
Again, let me be perfectly clear: none of these things justify the police abusing their authority or a White person automatically feeling threatened with our mere presence, but I do understand.
Most of the images shown about Blacks in the media are negative. Why? Because the media makes lots of money off of portraying Blacks in such a negative light. Let me clarify: liberal, White media makes lots of money off this negative portrayal of Blacks.
Put yourself in the shoes of a White person riding public transportation that sees a train full of Black teenagers with their pants hanging half way down their butts, calling each other n—–s, and constantly grabbing their crotches.
Or the police pulling up to a crowded park and hearing loud rap music being played talking about “f— the police” or “b—- this” or “b—- that.”
We have almost 30 years of negative images about Blacks throughout every media platform available and now you want to act surprised that people have these negative perceptions about us? Come on, man. Let’s be real.
Don’t tell me you are a hoe and then act surprised when I treat you like one. Don’t introduce me to your best friend by saying, “this is my b—- Jennifer” and then get mad when I call her a “b—-.”
Maybe Whites believe in the old adage that says, “when a person shows you who they are, you better believe them.”
So, what I am saying to Black folk is pull up your damn pants, stop calling each other n—–s in public and private, stop calling each other b—–s and hoes and thinking these are terms of endearment, because they are not.
To my folks who are in powerful positions in Hollywood, can we do some movies and TV shows that have nothing to do with promoting thug life, homosexuality or slavery?
There is so much more to Black history and culture than the foolishness that we see in the media.
How many of you know that the wealthiest man to have ever lived was Mansa Musa I of Mali (West Africa)? He was the first king of Timbuktu and had an estimated worth of $400 billion (adjusted for inflation). He controlled half of the world’s supply of salt and gold deposits at the time.
Just imagine, 30 years of putting images like Mansa Musa out to the public.
Or how about people like Dave Steward in St. Louis. He is chairman of World Wide Technology, the largest minority businessman in the U.S., doing out over $10 billion a year in IT.
So let’s stop blaming White folks and the police for believing we are who we say we are.
Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party.