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Tag Archives: MSNBC
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Vintage Mario Cuomo appearing at the 1984 Democratic convention.
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Yesterday as I was watching the reporters scurry around and tell us the Senate’s findings on our torture program I thought of the movie A Few Good Men. We value our freedom in this country but freedom comes at a cost, and often that cost is not pretty. Torture is not pretty as a matter of fact it is downright cruel, but we experienced cruelty on September 11, 2001. When three planes targeted our citizens and killed 3,000 people. We can not follow a rulebook when the enemy does not respect the book. Our government is committed to safeguarding our safety and our freedom, and to take them to task years later is wrong and smacks of politics. We want thm on the wall and we can’t push them off when we think we are safe.
We know that when Darren Wilson and many of his defenders see a black man, they see someone who “looks like a demon,” and someone who has the extra/sub-human ability to “bulk up to run through” bullets.
We know this image of black men from an entire history of racist stereotypes. The image that Darren Wilson successfully invoked before the Missouri grand jury was the same image of monstrous black bucks lusting for white blood that propelled D.W. Griffith’s 1915 racist masterwork, “Birth of a Nation.”
Throughout American history, most images of blacks have been created and presented by whites—and throughout the overwhelming majority of this nation’s history, the nation and its people have been institutionally racist. Only for the past 50 years have blacks enjoyed laws aimed at granting us equal treatment under the law. For the previous 188, we lived as slaves and a sub-species of citizen.
However, throughout that history, blacks have developed our own images of whites, images buttressed not by the toxic stew of fear, hatred, and guilt that boils in white America’s kitchen, but by history and lived experience.
Imagine that my southern-born parents taught me that each white man or woman I encountered was a potential enemy, that each should be seen as someone who might deny me a job for which I was qualified, might deny me schooling, housing, freedom—even deny me my life.
Imagine they told me that whites often saw me through the twisted lens of a self-serving lie—the lie of my otherness, my laziness, my ignorance, of my propensity to violence—lies they told themselves to justify their vicious brutality, and their tolerance of it. Imagine I was told that to forget that in the face of the evidence would make me the basest kind of fool, deserving of whatever harm befell me at vicious white men’s hands.
Imagine that my striving, southern-born parents taught me that seeking equality with whites would be a demotion. A people who tolerated for centuries the enslavement of others, who enshrined chattel butchery in their founding documents, and then, most importantly, denied the existence of blood when their hands dripped with the stuff—these were not people with whom you sought parity. These were negative object lessons to whose depths you swore never to fall.
Imagine that my righteously angry southern-born parents taught me that the American Dream was for whites, that American justice was for white people, that Disney-esque happy endings were for white people.
Now, imagine that we’re not imagining. This is what my parents taught me—that every white man or woman was a creature that I should approach as I would a strange, stray dog, just as likely to bite your hand off as wag its tail. They taught me and my siblings to be wary at every encounter, and constantly steel ourselves against what ill will might erupt from white skin.
It worked. Like any good parents, ours prepared us for the world as it is, and by any standards, we are a highly accomplished set of children. I credit much of that to the hard lessons our parents taught us.
Now, imagine once more—this time that I, and those like me represent the majority, the state and its power, and that we have guns on our hips, badges on our chests, and the power to shoot you without consequence.
Leonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels. His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men, (http://bit.ly/ZyqSuN) is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes.
Is Bill Cosby a rapist? Is he a serial rapist? Did he rape underage girls? Everyday a new middle age woman is stepping up to the microphone and recounting her story, but did Cosby rape all of these women and did he also drug them? Why didn’t anyone speak up. Some of the women said he raped them in the “60s. In the “60s black men were still getting lynched for looking at white women and they stayed silent? What do you think?
When I heard the news that Darren Wilson was not indicted I was not surprised, but I was sad. Michael Brown might not have been an angel, but he was no demon. Over the past few months he has been characterized as a thief, a thug and finally a demon, but even if the characterizations are correct should he have been killed? He was somebody’s son, and this Thanksgiving he will be absent from the table. When the policeman approached him did he see suspect first? The question is what do policeman see when they look at our sons? Do they immediately think suspect even when there is no criminal activity going on? I talked to a friend of mine this morning and she said she had hoped for indictment. She admitted that it was more about her son than Brown, and I echo her sentiments. My son is universally described as a great guy. He is the kind of person that never meets a stranger and he goes out of his way to make people feel appreciated, but when a cop pulls him over what do they see? That’s the life and death question. That’s why so many mothers grieve with the Brown family because we are haunted by the question what do the cops see when they look at our sons.
Tiger Woods and Bill Cosby are two very successful men. They had fortune and fame, and they had the adoration of America. Woods was a golf phenom and Cosby was an entertainment trailblazer. Cosby was a television star when it was a rarity to see a black man on television. Woods made golf interesting to people who resided in the hood, but most importantly both men were successful pitchmen for Madison Avenue. Both men were married, but sadly both were serial womanizers. Here is where they differ Woods conquests did not claim to be drugged; Cosby’s conquests claim they were drugged by the entertainer. Cosby has never been charged with a crime. One DA has said that he wanted to charge Cosby in 2005 but the evidence did not support a successful prosecution. So why is he talking now? Because he is now a part of the media strategic plan to destroy Cosby. Janice Dickinson, the former super model who never saw a reality show that she did not want to be on has been a dramatic vocal Cosby accuser. She said she was drugged by Cosby and raped. She remembers little about it other than Cosby wore a patchwork robe. No police report just Dickinson’s word. Other women have come forth with similar stories. Last night I saw an actress who says Cosby mentored her and she would wake up with no memory of what had happened, and then she said he might have raped her. The operative word is “might”, but that was enough to get her a spot in the chorus line of accusers. I’m not a Cosby apologist but this drip, drip, drip of accusers stepping to the microphone is reminiscent of the Woods affair. We all know Cosby will never be a pitchman for anything, he will never star in another television show, and people will never look at him the same way again, but at what point will the dripping stop? Woods and Cosby were once at the top and they looked down on the rest of the mere mortals, but now they have both learned despite the former adulation they are both also mere mortals once highly regarded and now object of disdain. Share your thoughts.