White Conservatives and Black Liberals appear to be the most extreme of opposites in politics today. Far more than the actual viewpoints and cultural differentiations in our society, this Tug of War looks to be fought till the death, rather than a lose/win situation.
Arrogance and stubbornness plays a larger role in the battle more-so than actual facts. In our social and political climate, everything up for debate yields toxicity and loses the possibility of serving as a productive criticism on society when it becomes a cause for scandal and/or critical defense for one’s party viewpoints.
For many, Facebook is the chosen haven of solace at times when Twitter is the backyard of imprisoned opinions. It’s much easier to share with a community of family and friends you’re familiar with than to state an opinion to a world of different cultures and beliefs. With an array of friends, co-workers and colleagues who may drastically differ from you, Facebook is the place in which you can hold healthy and unhealthy debates with one another with little to none insult.
Therefore, it was no surprise (nor bother) when the first of two following images began to circulate with “likes” and positive, impassionate comments in agreement.
The first begins with the emboldened title: “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY I AM SO ANGRY.” Directly below these words is a photo of a Black man with one hand clamped over his mouth; (a sign of suppression). To the right it continues to read:
I am not mad because of slavery
I am not upset about separate water fountains or civil rights.
I am not worried about white hoods burning crosses in my yard.
I am mad that you follow me around stores because you think I am a thief.
I am upset that you arm yourself against me and hold your purse tighter when I walk by.
I am worried that I will have to prepare my children and tell them that they will be hated, feared, and demonized for absolutely no logical reason at all.
It’s not the past that saddens me, it’s the future.
It’s a rather simple message. Not to mention, very less political as it is social. Racism and prejudice are typically deemed social matters because they have historically been denied by the law. In the same breath, issues of the heart, mind, and social construct aren’t necessarily ignored, but are instead used as a ploy to achieve political relevance with constituents. The way one comes to understand the world, pick and choose manners in interaction with others, and deal with culturally distinguished subjects is through these social constructs.
This ad does not advocate for anything in particular, but serves as an example of reasons why some believe the Stand Your Ground law should be revoked. Even as it was pushed by Democratic organization MoveOn.org, it became a viral sensation because it echoed the sentiments of many around the nation.
So, what is wrong with this ad? It places no blame on any one person, group, or race. It expresses frustrations from a significant population of individuals. It gives a voice to an often marginalized community. They’re most certainly not reasons to be a Black Democrat, so how could anyone find a cause for defense when no offense was attempted?
Of course, on the holy day of Sunday, I would come across this article: “Why A White Guy Created A Viral Graphic About Black Conservatives,” which angered me more than the author claimed to be. What I came to understand upon reading is that his answer was not in defense of Black Conservatives as he claimed, but in defense of White Conservatives who didn’t believe Black men were honestly depicted in the previous ad.
Lee Stranahan created an identical ad beginning with the emboldened title: “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY I’M CONSERVATIVE.” Below the title is the same photo of a Black man with his hand over his mouth, and to the right it reads the following:
I’ve read history and know the KKK and Jim Crow were supported by Democrats.
I am fully aware that Planned Parenthood was founded by racist Margaret Sanger and that the black abortion rate is obscenely high.
I watched as the same Democrats who attacked Clarence Thomas defended Bill Clinton’s sexual harassment.
I don’t accept for one second the notion that I need special treatment or dependence on the state in order for me to succeed.
I believe in personal responsibility and success.
I cherish the second amendment and don’t trust those who want to lessen my right to defend myself, my family or my home.
I loathe those who want to tell me how to think or vote by calling me an Uncle Tom or a sellout.
It’s not the past that saddens me, it’s Obama.
Why did a White man create a viral graphic about Black conservatives? Arrogant privilege.
Stranahan’s ad is emotionally negligent and stubbornly arrogant, missing the message of the original ad in its entirety. He’d rather be right about his notion of justice than to admit to the obvious faulty paradigms in society.
The main thing Lee Stranahan set out to prove was just reasons why Blacks are stalked and racially profiled. He used this video of Black Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia denouncing the violence of their teen youth:
If you want all of us — black, white or any other color — if you want us to respect you, if you want us to look at you in a different way, if you want us not to be afraid to walk down the same side of the street with you, if you want folks not to jump out of an elevator when you get on, if you want folks to stop following you around in stores when you’re out shopping, if you want someone to offer you a job or an internship somewhere, if you don’t want folks to be looking in or trying to go in a different direction when they see two or 20 of you coming down the street, then stop acting like idiots and fools out in the streets of the city of Philadelphia. Just cut it out.”
Yet, Mayor Nutter’s response to the violence in his city was completely misguided and certainly irrelevant to the original ad in conversation. All Black teen youth are not violent, all Black teen youth are not disobedient, and all Black teen youth are not disrespectful. Mayor Nutter even mentioned that the young culprits of his city made up 1% or less of the population. The beauty of Nutter’s speech is that he directly addressed an issue from a place of honest concern, not politics. The inconvenience of Nutter’s speech, however, is his inability to separate his emotions from his personal connection to the Black youth.
The facts are that African-American youth are not more criminally active than any other race, but are disproportionately arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated at astoundingly higher rates than non-African-Americans. While Blacks are more likely to be sentenced to prison for the same crime than Whites, one third of minorities sentenced to prison would have received a shorter or non-incarcerative sentence if they had been treated in court the same way as White defendants facing similar charges. (Public Eye)
Furthermore, one should not feel that the entirety of their race is “damaged” due to a group of individuals who are belonging to all races of people. I will never be ashamed that last week’s flesh-eating cannibal was quite possibly belonging to an African lineage, more-so than a White person should be ashamed that Jeffrey Dahmer is belonging to theirs. Therefore, telling a diverse group of young people similar in color alone that they are accountable for the actions of all within their generation whom they do not know nor associate with, is irresponsible and morally unjust. Mayor Nutter was inadvertently advocating for racial profiling while simultaneously asking for change. Cut that out!
What’s actually counter-productive and frankly dangerous is the fact that someone would become so offended by an ad that takes no aim at any political bullet-points. And far more disappointing, he used his own deluded information about Black men to pit Black conservatives against Black liberals. Unfortunately, we have yet to achieve a post-racial America, so even your Black conservative friends have most likely had their own taste of racist rhetoric, including a dose from your very own Republican fore-runner.
The Stand Your Ground law is what had George Zimmerman free on bail after admittedly killing a teen; and sent John McNeil and Marissa Alexander to a lifetime in prison after defending themselves as victims. Trayvon Martin is believed to have been shot because he fit Zimmerman’s description of what a thief and thug appeared to look like in his mind. Whether true or false, there is a group in our society who relates to the feeling of being unjustly stalked and followed; they have a right to speak out about it. McNeil and Alexander are believed by some to be in jail because the legal system is historically unfair, with minorities sentenced to jail over three times more than a White person for the same offense. Is this the reason they are behind bars? Who knows? In this case, it’s irrelevant. What is relevant, though, is the facts and the the facts prove that the possibility of it being true are high.
Arrogance and privilege has continuously held back the progression of our society through law. If all sides– Democrat, Republican, Independent and other– would find a way to set their ego aside, it’s possible that more eyes may open to a new world you’d never had known to seek in the first place.