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Code WHITE: know yo' role

Based on my 18 years of upbringing in Texas, I know the power of white male rage and white women tears. When either group gets upset, there will be blood. Facts.

I always knew never outshine the (white) master and never make eyes at his (white) woman. And no, I am not talking flirtatious eyes; I mean literally, do not let your eyes meet; if you find yourself in close proximity, look away, walk away, run away. The face of Emmett Till haunts many black men, ’til this day.

There is this weird entitlement and objectification dynamic enacted by white men and white women. White men take what’s rightfully theirs (sarcasm or not), meaning women are just property, chattel, and or personal reproduction factories; white women, on the other hand, view many men as threats or competitors. Furthermore, like their male counterparts, white women see men of color, specifically, as things for sexual or spiritual conquest, sport, or clout (as the kids would say nowadays). White women think they are allies with women of color but refuse to trade in that white power and white privilege for service with and for their so-called “sisters.”

As I type these words, I begin to sweat, look around my apartment, and lock my windows and doors. No matter how college-educated I am; no matter how “articulate” I am; no matter how subservient I am, my black existence is dependent upon a single white gaze, a single white smile, or a single white tear—just any single white misunderstanding.

These are the social roles and scripts written by and given to us by the great white patriarchs. None of what I have said is natural; if anything, we have all been taught our respective places in front of certain faces. The #MeToo movement became big when white women spoke out; women of color have been examined, exploited, and excavated for hundreds of years, and white America never sympathized or felt an ounce of guilt. Plus, there was no cute hashtag to capture and market the wicked things America did to black and brown female bodies. Look no further than our healthcare system; either die on the hospital bed or just be another unsuspecting victim of eugenic experiments.

I know I sound like I am attacking white men and white women. Actually, I am warning people of color and white people, especially the working class; it’s funny that whiteness must make white people the center of everything—both the star and the victim, simultaneously. Take it all the way back to the cowboys and “Indians” battling it out in the Wild Wild West. Thanks Ijeoma Oluo for putting me on game in your book, Mediocre: the dangerous legacy of white male America.

Oluo’s words made me remember my big role in White American television (and in White America’s psyche). I never wanted to go into theater but here are the roles left for me: the scapegoat, the slave, the sycophant, the sinner, the black sheep. I feel oddly typecasted and pigeonholed. How will I ever re-negotiate my contract?

The real uncomfortable truth is that white patriarchy, plus capitalism, does not care about white people or any of us. White patriarchal capitalism imposes its will and deceives its followers to the point that they cannot see that the system is made to work people to the bone; to death… so, who wants the graveyard shift?

I write this piece as a black heterosexual man who funds his retirement accounts, works several side jobs, and still loves watching old episodes of Boy Meets World and cringes at the fact that he grew up watching old Western movies.

I write this piece because of the assault on Capitol Hill. I write this piece because of the ongoing seizure and slaughter of native folks and native lands. I write this piece because I know women who look like Sandra Bland. I write this piece because I know my words are weapons to some but shelter for others. I write this piece because I want people to be active, not afraid. I write this piece because I want to look White Patriarchy in its eyes. Lastly, I write this piece because I want our spirits to be in solidarity, in service.


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