America has a heart problem — and it needs a transplant

The idea that black folk would have to prove the existence of racism is evidence of how deeply systemic racial hate is ingrained in the fabric of America.

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Two women repost protest signs on Wednesday that were removed a fence along Lafayette Park near the White House.

Carolyn KasterAP

I’m damn near exhausted, sick and tired of trying to explain what it means to live in this skin as a black man in America.

“Does that really happen to you, John?”

“Not you, John?”

“Just tell the cop to give you the f---ing ticket,” I can still hear a white friend saying over dinner at his home a few years ago, explaining how he deals with a traffic stop.

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“…Man, I can’t say that to a cop,” I explained to no avail. “Matter of fact, I can’t even allow myself to think it — afraid that the words might bubble to the surface.

We know the routine, I explained. “If we are driving a nice car, a cop remarks, when pulling you over, ‘This is a nice car, buddy… What do you do for a living?’”

“I’m a drug dealer!” That’s what I have wanted to shout, I explained, though adding that sanity, wisdom and the desire to live always prevail.

My friend described a world foreign to me — his world — a world filled with a sense of empowerment he feels as a citizen in responding fearlessly to a cop who is being rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive.

“Um-hmm, white privilege,” I think to myself.

“I’d be dead, man,” I say aloud.

“…You’re not listening to John,” his wife, who is also white, pleaded.

It fell on deaf ears.

Years later, I’m still not mad that my “friend” didn’t “get it.” The issue for him and so many other whites for whom the daily life of black folk in America is beyond their personal experience: He simply could not accept my truth. It didn’t fit his paradigm.

With white folk, sometimes, it is as if black folk have to prove that racism exists. But how do we do that without a video? And even if there is video, will they believe us, or their lying eyes?

We’re tired, just sick and tired…

The idea that black folk would have to prove the existence of racism is truly evidence of how deeply systemic racial hate is ingrained in the fabric of America. It is as American as apple pie.

It billows across her fruited plains and purple mountain majesties with glaring segregation in the 21st Century, which manifests in the year of our Lord 2020, as economic redlining, discriminatory lending policies and environmental and economic racism that sting the souls of black folk daily.

This much is also clear: America doesn’t have a police brutality problem. Not a fair housing, equal education or employment discrimination problem. America has a heart problem — a heart calcified with racial hate. And it needs a transplant — especially the hearts of those white Christian evangelicals who claim to love Jesus but hate us. (By the way, isn’t hate a sin?)

It is certainly not all whites. I learned long ago that all black people aren’t my friend and that all white people aren’t my enemy. Neither is racial hate political. It’s neither red nor blue.

I have come to believe, however, that the cure — at least a deterrent to acting upon one’s hate or biases — is green. Indeed money — specifically, the threat of losing it — seems to have certain miraculous healing qualities.

The NFL, for example, did not suddenly grow a conscious. So black lives matter now, huh? Yeah, right.

Well, get down on one knee and apologize to Colin Kaepernick and give him his job back. Then maybe we’ll believe your so-called apology is really more about black lives than greenbacks.

Whatever the case, please don’t ask me to explain or prove racism. America, you already know. And besides, I’m sick and tired.


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