White America’s unearned obsession with black culture

Iggy Azalea, center, has been criticized as a representation of white society's tendency to profit off black art forms. (Courtesy/Wikimedia Commons)

Dear black people,

We don’t deserve the beautiful things you have gifted to the world, not while we ignore and trivialize your anger, not while we call Colin Kaepernick a criminal and Ryan Lochte a kid who doesn’t know any better, while all of us chillin’ at home to catch the game in predominantly black sports feel fit to say Kaepernick doesn’t belong in this country, not while half of us are willing to vote for someone who reduces you to one term – “blacks” – not while we listen to your music, learn your dances, say “word,” “what’s good,” “how you livin’, ma?” “n***a,” “tryna,” and whatever other not-our-words we’ve normalized into our own, we can’t have it both ways, we can’t call you traitors and un-American from the bleachers while you try and do the most American thing imaginable – fix the problem we’ve given you through hard work, activism, organization – we can’t tell you how to go about things and laugh while four white arms wave out car windows yelling: “We gon’ be alright!” when we are alright, we’re just fine, that song is not ours, that is not something to play at a party, that is a political anthem, but it’s lost on us, so we JUMP while Kendrick raps about the violence we’ve guaranteed with redlining and gentrification, embodied by a presidential candidate who wouldn’t let “blacks” live in his buildings, we smile while Kendrick raps about the violence that stings you, “Man down, where you from?” Homie, that’s my motherloving jam! Lemme take another shot and BOUNCE to that ish, the bass is crazy, but we still use that violence to sting you, to say, “It’s okay if pigs employed by the state kill you, because, hey, you’re killing each other, too!” everyone is killing each other, it makes no difference to us, as long as we can watch your movies, laugh at your comedians, point to you as the reason we’re not racist, look! my colored friend! Get outta here with that nonsense, but we won’t, we continue to perpetrate nonsense, danger, we say Blue Lives Matter, we think they matter more than yours, and this ain’t the Olympics, but 1,502 people were killed by police officers in 2015, while 42 police officers were killed in the same year, we see it, and it doesn’t matter, videos of deaths presented to us raw, cold, back of the head, back of the police van, on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, another one every week, oh, well, was he/she doing something wrong? He ran a stoplight? She has tattoos? Do what you’re told and you’ll be fine, oh, and by the way, have you heard that new Fetty Wap single? You see that Chappelle show skit from back in the day? Key & Peele! Chance the Rapper! Cops put their lives on the line every day, I respect that, I do, that’s their job, but black people are putting their lives on the line by exiting their houses, having a party, driving a Civic, lives are taken for clothing, for toy guns, but we gon’ go ahead, sit back and continue critiquing, that’s what we do, you’re doing that wrong, Beyoncé, we’ll make you rich and famous as long as you don’t get too serious, as long as you don’t treat your art like it’s your life and the life of those around you in the tradition of Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, 2Pac, we don’t like the Black Panthers, their ideology was dangerous, bigoted, violent, we’re gonna go on TV and tell you how to do this right, we’re gonna come at you on Twitter if you don’t stay in your lane, if you’re a black female comedian in a white-male-dominated industry, this, that, the other thing, it never stops, hands up don’t shoot is false, Black Lives Matter is so PC, get over yourselves, everything is fine, if it isn’t, whose fault is that? Yours, of course, we’ve given you everything; welfare, food stamps, affirmative action, taken nothing from you, slavery was hundreds of years ago, we got the voting thing down pat with that act a while back, we don’t need it anymore, cuz we equal, you got yourselves a President who looks like you, plays basketball, we love Steph Curry! We hate Allen Iverson! And since your President is black, he should’ve taken care of you, and half of us won’t recognize him as our leader because he wasn’t born here, and when, will, it, stop?

Your pain is palpable, real, justified.

If my friend says the n-word I won’t let him get away with it. If I witness any Trump apologists, online or otherwise, I’ll let them know what’s really good. I’ll be at the protests, I want the pepper spray, don’t halt your progress no matter what we tell you. I’m not the only one who feels guilty. Those who make up the belly of the beast need to grapple with it head-on.

Apologetically,

A white guy.


Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sten.spinella@uconn.edu. He tweets @SSpinella927.