Cowardly New World

What follows is my most recent column from the Portland Phoenix May 28 issue, enjoy!

I know that the ancient Mayan calendar indicated the world may go and end in 2012, but I doubt it. Instead, let me illustrate how bad it might get, starting in that year.

Tucson, Arizona — April 7, 2012, 7:18 p.m.

 “Excuse me, sir, what’s your name?”

“Carl Alvarado, officer.”

“Yeah, right. Well, Carlos, show me your papers.”

“Papers? I’m a citizen. I live about 12 blocks…”

“Show me your ID, then, Carlos.”

“It’s Carl. I didn’t figure I needed an ID for a walk, sir.”

“Shut your damn mouth, you fucking wetback. You can rethink your story in the immigration service lockup.”

“Officer, we could just go to my house and…”

“Resisting arrest? Cool. We can play it that way.”

“Officer? Shit! Put away the taser, man!”

Dallas, Texas — November 10, 2021

A student of melanin level 8 was expelled from high school today after referring to “slavery” and “the slave trade” several times during a history class discussion, despite repeated warnings from the teacher.

“For 10 years now, we’ve had the mandated term ‘Atlantic triangular trade’ in schools, and for good reason,” said Principal Eric Davis. “It’s been shown time and again that terms like ‘slavery’ and ‘African-American’ and ‘racism’ are divisive and counter-American. I won’t stand for a student of any color throwing the word ‘slavery’ around when we’re trying to intelligently discuss the issue of imposed human resources practices of the past.”

District Superintendent Marge Whitney added, “You let a student get away with that, and the next thing you know, they’ll be bringing back those divisive ethnic studies classes that we in this great state and the state of Arizona have fought so hard to rid ourselves of.”

Washington, D.C. — June 4, 2026

Tea Party members celebrated their biggest victory yet since gaining the White House when President Rand Paul signed into law today the Civil Choice Realignment Act of 2026, giving private businesses the right to deny service to potential patrons, clients, customers or visitors based on religious, ethnic, sexual or philosophical grounds.

In Kentucky, where Mr. Paul had previously served as one of the state’s U.S. senators, Razorback Grill restaurant owner Gil Downey proudly placed up a sign in his front window, minutes after the signing of the law, reading “Whites Only — No Homos” and told reporters, “It’s about damn time we finally got government out of the business of telling us who we have to be around.”

Maybe those vignettes would seem more fanciful, and wouldn’t make my blood run cold writing them, if they weren’t based on recent news stories. Because Arizona’s draconian new laws regarding immigration pretty much give the police the power to demand “papers” from anyone they want to consider suspect in terms of legally being here, any time they have a valid reason to interact with a person on the street.

Because the Texas Board of Education does want to refer to the slave trade as the “Atlantic triangular trade,” a term that makes the act just seem like some simple innocent piece of historical commerce, as if slaves were comfortably stowed on ships along with textile and spices, instead of crammed in like sardines in the hopes that most would survive the journey across the ocean to become chattel and be stripped of all rights and dignity.

Because Rand Paul really does think that the Civil Rights Act really only intended to prevent governmental and “public” forms of discrimination, and that private businesses should be allowed to deny people services based on things like race.

The moves are already being made, and all it takes is enough people to not notice, or not care, or to rabidly support such nonsense, and we begin to have a nation that’s a lot less inclusive, much shorter on the concept of fairness and justice, ripe for more strife and violence, and a whole lot less diverse.

ETA: Just a few days ago in Chicago a Puerto Rican man was almost deported to Mexico since apparently the local cops thought he was here illegally despite the fact his mother showed proof that he was indeed born in Puerto Rico. Thankfully they realized after holding this fellow for several days that Puerto Ricans are indeed US citizens and have been since 1917. In this brave new world sadly I see plenty of Americans possibly being shipped off to countries they have no connection to because they don’t look American, oops make that white.

Who is more valued?

If I were a newcomer to the United States and I started watching the nightly news shows and reading the newspapers, here are a few things I would conclude about the inhabitants of this land. They are a very violent people; they seem to kill each other on a regular basis. The brown folks particularly the brown men seem to be really violent since they are always mentioned on the news. The non brown men seem angry and they like their guns but they don’t kill like those brown men and the pink women seem to always be missing…at least that’s what that Nancy Grace woman says. On the other hand nothing seems to happen to those brown women. None of the news programming mentions much about them.

Clearly this newcomer to the US would be wrong; though the one thing is right we are a violent people. Just in the past few weeks hell you had a college girl with a great future, lacrosse player who it appears was killed by a man she dated. The death of Yeardley Love is tragic and if its proven that the boyfriend did kill her, hope he rots to death in jail. Hell, whoever killed her should rot in jail.

On the other hand I am getting just a tad tired of wondering why when bad shit happens to Black women or children, we never hear about it. Mitrice Richardson, Chioma Gray, Angela Reeder, and Rodnell Burton. What do they all have in common? Why they are all Black and they all went missing but there is a good chance you have never heard of them. Only one I was aware of before I went to Google, that was Mitrice Richardson who’s story has been featured by many Black bloggers. Yet when I turn on the news I am always seeing pictures of cute perky white women who are missing. I don’t begrudge the news coverage paid to missing white women and kids but what I want to know is why Black women and children don’t get equal coverage. Probably because at the end of the day, our lives are simply not valued as much.

Since this nation’s turbulent founding, the fact is white women have been put on pedestals and valued where Black woman and now other women of color are simply tolerated. I am convinced that one of the reasons Black women and White women can’t even come together on issues that impact us as women is because most white women refuse to recognize the inherent privilege that they have simply by being white women.

Perhaps its this unspoken privilege that is so deeply embedded in our culture; is why this morning I read about Yeardley Love’s old lacrosse team playing its first game since her death in the NY Times. But had to hear about 7 yo Aiyana Jones who was killed by the Detroit Police Dept on a Black blog.

Aiyana Jones’s was sleeping with her favorite Disney blanket on when the Detroit Police Dept came in (no busted in) her house searching for someone, as best as I understand the cops threw a grenade in, came in and somehow a mistake was made and the cop fired on little Aiyana killing her. Look, I am not going to down the cops for doing their job but I wonder would they have been randomly firing on someone sleeping with a Disney blanket had they been looking for a white suspect? Call me crazy, but I suspect that had this been Gross Pointe (affluent suburb of Detroit) that the cops would have been a whole lot more cautious before randomly firing the guns. 

Yes, violence is at epidemic levels in some Black communities and that is an issue that needs to be addressed, without a doubt. But we have to also address the fact that deep down it seems no one values Black life particularly that of the women and kids. I wish I had some answers but I don’t.

ETA: After reading a commenter, I wanted to add that I am aware that there are plenty of white women who go missing that we never hear about. After all the common demoninator in the cases we do here about is usually the missing gal is solidly middle class, and attractive. It still bothers me that regardless of class or cuteness, missing Black women just don’t seem to exist as far as the media is concerned.

Happy Black Girl Day

I was on Twitter this morning and stumbled across the blog of a younger sista, proudly proclaiming that today is Happy Black Girl Day. Now at first I wanted to laugh, after all do we really need a Happy Black Girl Day? However as I thought about the media portrayals of Black women, we are hoes, jezebels, mammy’s, bad Mamas, walking vectors of sexually transmitted diseases, and the list of negatives go on.

Yes! We need a Happy Black Girl Day, a time when our lives are nor dissected for the masses. We need a day that can celebrate the joy in being a Black Girl. (no matter what your age for the purposes of this well-meaning day, its girl, but not as a pejorative). A day where we celebrate all that is good and positive with us and we share that joy with the world. Hell if you have a Black Girl in your life, you can celebrate too by being positive.

Happy Black Girl Day is to be celebrated the second Wed of every month, I think the traditional hump day is a great time to celebrate. After all if Wednesdays feel sucky to the average Joe/Jane, how the hell do you think it feels when you are a Black woman? So enough with negativity and let us enjoy a beautiful day.

Happy Black Girl Day! Tell me what you are doing and thinking that will make this a happy day for you.