This is what the racial grievance industry looks like:
On Friday, I was on the train to New York to do a teach-in on Ferguson at NYU. Beats headphones on, lost in thought, peering out the window, I suddenly saw a white hand shoving my work carry-on toward me. Startled, I looked up to see the hand belonged to a white guy, who was haphazardly handling my open bag, with my laptop perched just inside to make space for himself on the seat next to me.
That he wanted the seat on the now full train was not the problem. That he assumed the prerogative to place his hands on my bag, grab it, shove it at me, all while my computer was unsecured and peaking out, infuriated me. I said to him, “Never put your hands on my property.”
His reply: “Well, you should listen when I talk to you.” That line there, the command that when he, whoever he was, spoke, I should automatically listen encapsulates the breadth of the battle against racism we have to fight in this country.
Buoyed by his own entitlement, his own sense of white male somebodiness, this passenger never even considered that he might simply try harder to get my attention before putting his hands on my stuff. His own need to control space, his own sense of entitlement to move anything in his way even if it held something of value to another person, his belief that he had the right to do whatever he needed to do to make the environment conform to his will are all hallmarks of white privilege.
In the reverse scenario, a black man would never get on the train, snatch up a white woman’s bag, and shove it in her face. But then black women are rarely entitled to the courtesies proffered to white women, and black people never presume they are entitled to occupy interracial spaces so aggressively.
To have a white man in 2014 demand that I listen when he speaks is the height of racial disrespect and indignity. To have a white person shove my belongings to the side rather than simply get my attention and ask my permission is an unnecessary level of disrespect, one that conveys yet again that their needs matter more than my own.
I do not exist to make white people comfortable. The fact that I know that and act like it makes white people even more uncomfortable.
Some will argue that I cannot generalize ideas about white entitlement from the action of one jerk on the train. After all, people get into petty squabbles on the train all the time. Let us not forget, however, that the civil rights movement was catalyzed by a squabble over a seat on a bus. I’m no Rosa Parks, of course. But what these connected histories teach us is that the right to occupy public accommodations unharassed is a right black people fought for. Died for. Endured centuries of indignity and white entitlement for. Battles over how we share public space are foundational to the narrative of race in this country.
Still I am struck by the utter cluelessness of this guy on the train, by the way in which snatching up my belongings and shoving them at me seemed like an entirely reasonable thing for him to do. Mere seconds after this exchange, he looked at me frantically as he patted his pockets. “I can’t find my cellphone!” He knew I didn’t have it, but what he wanted from me was empathy and, perhaps, assistance. As I fought back the urge to pummel this man, it occurred to me that far too many white people really don’t get how short black America’s collective fuse is in this moment.
That was Rutgers professor Brittney Cooper, who teaches Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies when she’s not doing teach-ins and writing for Salon. I think it’s safe to say that she has “issues.”
My grandma used to say “If you go looking for trouble you’ll find it.” Ms. Cooper appears to be the type of person who goes thru like looking for offense, particularly racial grievances. It’s an extra added bonus if the perceived offense comes from a white male.
Not surprisingly, she finds a lot of them.
I don’t know the backstory on the man she is talking about. Maybe he’s an unreconstructed white supremacist and a male chauvinist. Or maybe he was just a guy who was tired and sore and needed to sit down on a crowded train. But I would bet money that his version of the incident would be very different from hers.
For the crime of touching her bag she wanted to pummel him. That says more about her feeling of entitlement than it does about his. Even more revealing is the fact that she perceives their interaction thru a racial lens. Even if you think he was being an asshole, there is no reason to believe that he would have treated a white man any differently. He didn’t say or do anything to indicate racial animus.
Maybe he just doesn’t exist to make black people more comfortable.
This is from Stephen Miller at Ricochet:
In an upcoming People magazine interview, Barack and Michelle Obama sit down and discuss life as the First Oppressed Couple of the United States. Hoping to shed light and relate to recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, Barack reached into the upstairs White House bedroom of his mind and called upon his famous imaginary son to make an appearance:
The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced,” President Obama said. “It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.
Once again, Barack Obama’s imaginary son has found himself unfairly in trouble with the law. If you recall, his imaginary son was also shot by an imaginary neighborhood watch guard in the same style as Trayvon Martin. But Obama’s imaginary son is plucky and resilient and has lived a hard life in the hood so he keeps bouncing back.
In his life, Obama’s imaginary son has been shot at, concussed out of football, and racially profiled. Yet he keeps picking himself up and carrying on. Obama’s imaginary son should be an example to us all. No matter what kind of imaginary circumstances we find ourselves in, we can continue on with our imaginary lives.
The President of the United States seems more comfortable citing the struggles of his imaginary son than the privileged successes of his real daughters. In truth, Obama’s son would have attended private schools in Chicago, just like his daughters. He would then be attending Sidwell Private School in DC, just like his real daughters. Obama’s imaginary son would get his pick of any college in the world, just like his real daughters. His imaginary son would then go on to any career he chose, in medicine, law, Hollywood, or Wall Street, just like his real daughters. But that doesn’t fit the divisive racial narrative — so his son lives the hard-knock life.
We all experience small irritations and indignities from time to time, but most of us don’t see it as part of a pattern of discrimination and/or oppression. Shit happens. H8ers gonna h8. Assholes are assholes. Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.
I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist. But if you have to go out of your way to look for it, it’s not nearly as big a problem as some people would like you to believe.
After all, what would the racial grievance mongers do if racism didn’t exist?
Racism is a handy excuse for some people. Racism is an external problem that leaves the victim blameless. The reason I can’t find a job isn’t that I’m lazy and uneducated, I’m being discriminated against! I didn’t go to prison because I committed crimes, the police and the justice system are racist!
If racism isn’t the problem, then it must be my fault.
Fifty years ago racism was a legitimate excuse. Back then you didn’t have to go looking for racism, there were signs in store windows proclaiming it. Now we even have a black President, but the black community is in as bad or worse condition and people are still insisting that racism is the reason.