Sometimes black folks just don't see the web.
I'm not talking about this Internet thing. I'm talking about the web that connects us all. There is a human web, and within that web there is a "black" web.
Some of y'all are shaking your heads already.
"There you go with that separatist talk again Big Man. How are black folks ever going to move past this race thing if y'all insist that y'all are separate all the time?"
First of all, I'm not interested in "moving past" this race thing. I like being black, it's wonderful. I wouldn't change my skin color if offered the chance. Besides, "this race thing" is real life.
Finally, race was created by a certain group that shall remain nameless, so I would imagine that it's up to that group to correct the problems they have caused. Maybe once that happens we can "move past it."
Now, with that minor tangent out of the way, let me get to the meat of my treatise. First, as is my wont, I'll share a little anecdote.
I was sitting in bible study the other day and we were talking about putting on the "clothing" of Christ. Basically, that means making your life mirror Christ's life in how you treat folks and conduct your business.
But, as the preacher is talking about spiritual clothing, he takes a long and detailed detour into a conversation on the clothing of today's youth.
Anybody who has spent some time in the black church knows that there is a serious disconnect between the young folks and the old folks on the issues of clothing and music. Honestly, I can see the old folks point as I grow older, but that doesn't mean they don't get off track on occasion.
In this instance, the preacher begins railing against clothing that identifies young black youth, particularly males, as criminals. Y'all know, that "thug clothing."
He tells the young men that they may not be thugs, that they may not be criminals, but when they dress a certain kind of way, everybody assumes they are thugs. And, what really got to me was that he seemed to be defending this state of affairs. I mean, the preacher said it "might" not be right, but he never actually condemned the practice and seemed to be pushing the meme that it was justified.
That kind of ruined my worship.
Look, I understand the Uniform Doctrine. That argument says that if you are not doing the job, don't wear the uniform. I get it, and to a certain extent, I agree with it.
The thing is, life is full of unforeseen consequences.
In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series that mantra was known as the "Wizard's Second Rule." (Sorry for exposing my inner nerd, won't happen too often in the future.) When black folks use the uniform argument on young black men, they provide cover for those who racially under the Black Skin Doctrine. That doctrine says that the uniform of criminals is black skin. Period.
I have spoken to folks who have had their young sons beaten or abused by the police, and none of them are "okay" with the Black Skin Doctrine. They may have embraced the Uniform Doctrine before their children got humiliated and injured, but when that doctrine is taken a tad further, they have a real problem.
They didn't see the filaments.
The filaments. The connections that bind all of us in this human web. The little invisible bindings that we can't see and just won't acknowledge. The filaments that make your neighbor your brother, and make his welfare just as important as your own.
Older black people need to realize how easily the Uniform Doctrine turns into the Black Skin Doctrine. They need to understand that their status as "Good Negroes" is not some blanket protection. They need to remember Christ's words about the "least" of his children.
When you rationalize the profiling of some, you're really rationalizing the profiling of all. You may think that folks will be able to tell that you don't deserve to be profiled, but you're wrong. Once you give people the green light, it's up to them whether they follow the speed limit.
How many of y'all are speeders?
I'm really debating whether I should bring this issue up with the pastor at my church. On one hand I feel like it needs to be said, but on the other hand, I wonder if it will be received in love and truly considered. Most folks feel like their views are perfectly logical and acceptable given the realities of the world we inhabit, and they aren't inclined to change them for some idealistic vision of how the world should be. I get that, I truly do.
But, I still see those damn filaments.
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