Ferguson? Trayvon? Michael Dunn? Some people just don’t get it. Or don’t want to get it. I doubt it, but maybe this will help? Share it with those who “don’t get it,” if you wish…
You probably remember the guy no one liked and remember when someone put a “kick me” sign on his back. If not the story is so common you’ve at least heard about it happening.
Now imagine someone born with that sign permanently implanted on their forehead, their arms, their legs: everywhere. And imagine a society that started on the basis that these, less than human, people were not only worthy of being kicked, but kicking them was how one kept these poor pathetic creatures in line. And even though eventually they won the right not to be treated that way, local municipalities came up with innovative ways to make kicking them OK: indeed approved. In fact they came up with ways to make it acceptable to kick them even harder.
Despite supposedly winning their right not to be kicked, year after year, century after century, slurs, insults: over generalizations that could just as well apply to those without the “kick me” signs, remain acceptable conversation. When such words, such phrases, became unacceptable they simply find other ways to say the same things.
Kick me people with less signs are somewhat more accepted, but usually accepted in a patronizing way, and only if they would cheer on those who do the kicking.
They get accused of being lazy, yet getting and keeping jobs while wearing kick me signs is damn hard to impossible. Not getting stopped by cops while having kick me signs is hard to impossible. Those who do the kicking blame them for each and every kick.
Other rejected folks are encouraged to blame the kick me people, because blaming those in power is so much more problematic for them. It’s like blaming the bully who might turn on you.
Now do you understand how blacks feel, how they’re treated?
The analogy isn’t perfect by any means. Indeed how blacks are still treated is often far worse. The coddling of those who do the kicking is worse. The kicking often (but not always) more subtle… though not always as those who were angered by what happened to Trayvon and Eric Garner found out. The dog whistles have been plentiful.
Look, there are a lot of people who have been oppressed for who they are: Atheists, Catholics, Protestants, gays and nationalities, ethnicity of all types. But most of these, no matter how bad it may be, aren’t wearing “kick me” signs they can’t get rid of, and shouldn’t have to get rid of.
As a recent caller to The Thom Hartmann Show said, “Blacks simply have the wrong paint job.”
The closest to this dynamic may be women. Women for years were treated as worse than second class citizens. Beating a wife was, at one time, considered a right, even a duty. But it was harder, overall, to keep this up. Without women there are no future generations. Since the merging of women and men is highly valued: especially by horny men, there’s power there to be had. And being a majority of the populace also makes a difference: once women’s rights, certain leaders and people willing to stand up for themselves did stand up.
Much of this potential power does not exist in the black community, and we have seen what happens when that community stands up for itself. Indeed we see it today in Ferguson. I guarantee if those were white women the reaction would be quite different.
A frequent, rather thoughtless, response is bringing up the fact we have a black president as “proof” everything’s OK now. “Thoughtless” because if this were valid then the election of Abe Lincoln would have meant slavery was no longer a problem, the election of Reagan meant the USSR was already gone and the election of Roosevelt meant there was no more depression.
One of the reasons for what’s happening in Ferguson is the same reason that has helped ignite other riots and righteous, yet maybe sometimes overboard, reactions. In 2014 some teen walking down the middle of the street shouldn’t be “kicked” to death, no matter what “sign” some cop may think he wears because of his color. Zimmerman, Dunn… there’s a long list of deaths perceived as murders and hate crimes. And in these matters perception is what matters.
If you disagree with me then be aware: the perception will continue and it will get worse. Not only black kids will die. Something must be done and bloviating about how righteous those who killed were will only makes it worse.
Let’s admit the obvious: although the long history of all this must be considered, we must admit there are many in society rejected for obscene, stupid, prejudicial and simply snob driven reasons. And there are those who ascend who never should have. Sons of the boss usually makes a horrible supervisor. The suck up who is otherwise a terrible worker is a poor choice for advancement. And here are always those snubbed by society for unworthy purposes: even generation after generation of some families. It sucks. So damn unfortunate. But despite all that they still have one hell of an advantage…
They have the “proper” paint job.
And not one damn one of them have what’s been deemed a “please kick me” sign for hundreds of years.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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