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I ‘buy black’ as a matter of survival

A rally and march organized by The Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, in the South Shore neighborhood on July 16, 2018. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

What I said was: “I don’t have a choice in being black. But staying black, especially when it comes to spending my money, is a different matter.

“I buy black, seeking to circulate the black dollar in our communities to help create a flowing economic river. I spend my hard-earned money with black-owned businesses.”

OPINION

In response to that August 2018 column, a reader wrote:

“Mr. Fountain, Rather than go on a rant about your racist column, I simply ask that you replace ‘black’ with ‘white’ in every sentence in your column and then imagine they were written by a white newspaper columnist. THERE WOULD BE OUTRAGE!! Liquor stores, CVS, cop cars would all be burned!

“How can you encourage more racism and segregation and think that is ok? As usual, it’s another case of ‘you can say it, but God help the white guy who says it!’

“You should be ashamed of yourself! ‘Stay black’? How about if I yell, ‘stay white’? How would you like that? …Stay black? Well, you’re certainly doing that, now aren’t you?”

My turn: Excuse me, sir, racist?

Do you even know the true meaning of the term? Absent of power in a society where whites are the predominant race and where black folks are systemically discriminated against, it is literally impossible for me to be racist.

I state clearly that I don’t favor cultural exclusivity. But that’s not what you choose to hear. I said that patronizing black-owned businesses is a matter of survival — our own. Whites don’t have to say, “stay white.”

That’s the way it is. You live it. It is a part of American-bred white privilege — par for the course.

So I’ll say it for you, and, as you say, for any white columnist who might want to say it: “Stay white.”

For that is what this society engenders when it continues to hate and discriminate against people of color. That is what President Donald Trump says with his policies, his appointment of white conservative federal judges and his divisive hateful language.

That is what cops say essentially when they gun down unarmed black men in front of their families. Racist?

This country was founded upon the blood, displacement, genocide and enslavement of red, black and brown people whom it has consigned to reservations, ghettos and unmarked mass graves.

And you have the nerve to call me racist for saying to my people that we must save ourselves from the insidious system designed to destroy us? For advocating that we save ourselves by self-reliance, self-pride and self-empowerment?

Promoting black power and pride isn’t “anti-white.”

The true racist here is the one who interprets as racist another man’s attempt to remove the noose his hateful oppressor has placed around his neck just long enough to catch his breath.

And yes, I will “stay black.” For as long as America judges me by the color of my skin. For as long as the president calls my NFL brothers SOBs.

For as long as businesses disregard people of color and we continue to be complicit in the economic pillaging of our own communities, I will advocate that we save ourselves and stand black and proud.

How is that a racist message in a land that hates us?

And as for any burning of liquor stores, cop cars and such, Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in cold blood. And the precious liquor stores and cop cars are doing just fine.

Even as black folk remain targets of a system that hates our black skin.

By the way, thanks kindly for a follow-up column. JOHN

Email: Author@johnwfountain.com

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.