The Visible Man
Imaginary Black Reaction from a White Man in Post-Trump America
If I were black — because you have to try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes — here’s what I would think right about now:
“I can’t stand this idea of unity. There goes the white man politician talking about unity again. One white side wanting unity, the other white side with guns still drawn or tucked in their purse as they still try to sneak them into the Capitol. Don’t you watch TV? What’s wrong with you congresswoman, congressman? Well, why don’t you newly minted centrist experienced president, ask a black man first about unity? Or is your forty years of unity reaching across the aisle to shake a white southern hand?
You think after the civil war the president went to freed black slaves first in front of reporters and said: Hey, how about unity now? Everything OK with you? You feel like you want unity again? Or was Reconstruction all about appeasing the ex-white slave owners who suffered great indignity from their loss, losing their ‘property’?
Do you think they said when Jim Crow laws forced separation they said: How about that, Mr. black man, you feel unified now? Everything OK with you? I mean your separate, but you’re equal, right? We went to the Supreme Court and they said that’s a fair law. That’s got to count from something. And you can pick your own cotton now, is that what the black-robed white judges said? Maybe even learn to sell it at auction.
Sure, just take the bodies down from the ropes they are hanging on because some of my brothers were caught looking at a white girl or accused of raping a white girl when it just her boyfriend or stepfather, then we can be all unified. Oh, and I’ll stop looking at your white woman, how’s that, all better? Because that’s what I really wanted. Not justice or fairness or the constant living in fear. Now, we got a deal?
You think then they said, How about you go fight the Germans and the Japanese, but in your own black units, we don’t want you disturbing the southern whites and distracting them while they’re shooting the Nazis. You understand, right? You’re used to being separate, right? Shouldn’t be that big of a deal for a little white longer? After the war we call be unified again, okay?
After Civil Rights, they signed the bill and said, Well now, that’s that, we’re all unified again, right? You shouldn’t be angry since you have rights now? Just have your children look dignified when they walk through the angry white gauntlet screaming hatred and death threats at a six your old because she wants to go school, that will make you look good, like justice has been served. Oh, and we are sorry about MLK, a pacifist shot by a white man, we understand the irony, but we can make a statue. No? How about a holiday? We can’t make corporations observe it or have any parades or honor ceremonies, you understand, but at least we are unified with you now, right?
Really? You take off Easter and then celebrate it with a fake chocolate bunny and pretend he lays colored eggs, but you can’t make a chocolate man from a real black man? Maybe a white chocolate MLK would be more dignified?
White men politicians always going to each other first, talking about unity. They nation fights and then they, They, have to declare calm and unity. I don’t hear Joe Biden mentioning Black Lives Matter in his inauguration address. I didn’t hear him come to black leaders first, FIRST, and asking in front of the cameras, ‘Before I try to ask for unity with the white racists across the aisle, how about I ask you all first. What kind of unity do you want? Does that feel right to you?’
I didn’t hear or see them, the left white politicians coming first to blacks and saying, How do you feel about unity now? The white journalists on CNN asking Ibrahim X. Kendi or Dr. Cornell West or Roxanne Gay, Hey, What can we do in seeking unity with blacks first? They instead speak to the right with an olive branch extended, to the right wing, to the racists, to the southern lynch mob with their OK symbol really meaning White Power standing with David Purdue, and that is who they have to ask for unity from: Can you guys unite with us and just calm down? Boy, there’s some real dog-whistling there. How many insurrections did they charge with Hate Crimes? The ugly supremacist holding the ‘rebel’ flag?
They enslaved us, bred us in their own American breeding camps then sold us, freed us but to nothing and nowhere, and gave us the vote then took it away quickly, burned down our Wall Street we built with our own money we scratched for, killed and overthrew — through successful Insurrection — the first black government duly elected in the city of Wilmington North Carolina and drove us out town and took our voice — our newspaper. They started building suburbs without letting us in after we fought in the World War for them, using the white GI bill for white education and white housing in a ‘peaceful suburb” (another dog whistle there). They separated us until we were beaten on TV and the northern whites were shocked, absolutely shocked!, to see peaceful black men being beaten by white cops as they cross the Selma bridge.
Really, it took that to realize the shock? ‘That’s not our America.’ They made our women welfare queens and our black ‘super predators’, so when every cop now saw blacks on the streets breaking windows or standing near a broken one, they can throw them in jail for a joint they found. Then they changed, I’ll give you a warning, and said that reform of ‘stop-and-frisk’ was working. We look suspicious do we? Our school window is still broken Mr. Mayor.
When will you come to us FIRST on national TV for unity after the schism, the cop shootings, the racist chatrooms, the insurrection? That was a shock? Oh, I guess you’ve never been black before. Did you miss George Floyd’s neck being crushed? Did you miss the biggest peaceful rallies by far in US history sweeping cities of American for a month during a dangerous disease because We Want Justice, We Want Peace?
You talk about a few crazy white supremacists and again ask, So, what about unity? How can we bring these Q fanatics on the fringe into the fold again? How can they be deprogrammed? Man, isn’t far right racist chatter on the internet fascinating. To which I reply, really?
What about unity Joe Biden? We had the biggest march in US history, and you worry about some fringe racists first? Come to us first and ask, So, what about Unity? Don’t tell us what we want, ask. We were in peace in mass on the streets with open arms. The hell with them fringe whites. Don’t seek unity from those that don’t want it. Seek it first from those who deserve it.
So, ask us first, on TV, in front of everyone. And we might finally be ready to tell you.”
Of course, I’m not going to pretend that my outrage is theirs. Yes, I’m a white man who voted against Trump and for Obama. I’m just imagining what it would feel like to be black right now. And I’m not sure it’s good enough.