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    • Terri Connett

    • September 10, 2014 in Columnists

    The Fried Chicken Bucket Challenge

    Good for ALS research!  All those celebs and ordinary people showing the world, or at least their Facebook followers, how much they care.  The challenge was to douse or donate… but by the tally I’m guessing a majority did both. It all started with 29-year-old former Boston College baseball player, Pete Frates who shared his heartbreaking story and made us want to act. I’m hopeful this could lead to a cure. My question is how can we make it cool, or even acceptable, to focus the country on another terrible condition, racism.

    It could be we all wanted to look away from Ferguson and dump a cold bucket of water over our heads. Racial bias, militia-type police force, rioting, looting and mistreatment of our fellow citizens are not easy things to watch. And even though many, including Ferguson’s white mayor, deny racism exists – it’s time to call a spade a spade.

    Fifty-seven percent of blacks think Officer Darren Wilson should be convicted of killing Mike Brown, compared to seventeen percent of whites. I’m aligned with the 57 percent on this one. But I do reside in Camp Whitey when it comes to OJ.

    And yes, the video of Mike Brown pushing a little store clerk was menacing.  Mission accomplished, FPD.  But why didn’t Officer Wilson tase him, bro?  Taser gun not handy? Why not just shoot him in the knee cap?  Why is “shoot to kill” a first option and not a last resort?  The facts are not in.  We don’t know if Mike Mike was charging Officer Bang Bang… if only he had been wearing a lapel camera.

    Oh wait, we do have recent video of other white-officer-on-black-citizen incidents.  Let’s rewind the tapes:

    1. May 20, 2014 – African American ASU professor, Erusla Ore was roughed up and forced to the ground by a white campus cop for jaywalking.
    2. July 6, 2014 – African American homeless woman, Marlene Pinnock’s head was relentlessly used as a punching bag by a white California Highway Patrolman because she was walking on the Santa Monica freeway.
    3. July 17, 2014 – African American illegal cigarette salesman, Eric Garner, was forced to the ground, put in an illegal choke hold and killed by a white policeman on Staten Island.
    4. August 21, 2014 – African American mentally unstable, steak knife wielding Kajieme Powell was shot nine times and killed by white officers in St. Louis after stealing two energy drinks, lining them up on the sidewalk and telling the approaching officers to shoot him.
    5. August 24, 2014 – African American mother, Kametra Barbour, driving her two young sons and two little godsons in a red Nissan Maxima, was stopped and cuffed by white police in Texas after getting a report that a tan Toyota with four black males was driving on the freeway with a gun pointed out the window.

    We may never know what really happened on August 9 in Ferguson. We do know an unarmed 18-year-old is dead. We know his body laid there for 15 minutes before he was covered. We did not see anybody rush to his aid. We know once they blanketed the top half of his body, Mike Brown laid in the summer heat with his legs sticking out; his blood and dignity running onto the pavement for over four hours. Was that on purpose? Did Ferguson’s 95 percent white police force want to send a message to the nearly seventy percent black community? It’s hard not to think of Trayvon in the morgue three whole days after being reported missing by his mother. The authorities had his cell phone and could have easily deducted how to identify him and reach his parents, but it took them 72 hours.

    Before you object to where this is going, I readily acknowledge black-on-black crime exists in our country and believe it’s an important issue. Fellow iPinion columnist, Kelvin Wade wrote a great essay last month and I encourage you to read it.

    My column is about white on black hate.

    A segment of the white population believes African Americans are less than human. That’s not an easy thing to talk about.  Heck it was hard for me to write. But I know it’s true.  In the ‘60s, my grandfather would call black people “porch monkeys” and “jungle bunnies.” This was back when the Civil Rights Act had just passed.  I was 11 years old, and although monkeys and bunnies seemed nicer than niggers, I still knew he was wrong. But nobody corrected Grandpa. Once I grew up, I had hoped racism was generational and would eventually die off, along with Gramps, but we know that’s not the case.

    A few years ago, a 30-something Italian American administrative assistant to a vice president in a Fortune 500 company where I worked had a complaint. She told me she was upset that an African American female director was moving to the office next door because “those people have an odor.” Hand to God!

    Gay rights have progressed because straight people learned of LGBT members in their families, places of business and neighborhoods. Women’s equality is slowly catching up in the workplace because we are the sisters, wives, mothers, daughters and aunts of powerful men who call the shots.

    But how many white families have black relatives? How many white people have black friends? Another great column by Kelvin! African Americans can peacefully demonstrate ‘til the cows come home, but without a Bobby Kennedy or LBJ (who listened to MLK) it’s gonna take white America to do what’s right and accept our black brothers and sisters as equal. I mean, when the neighborhood cat torments birds, there’s really not much the birds can do.  It’s up to Mr. Whiskers to back the fuck off.

    In 2009, Wanda Sykes talked about how black people could finally relax and loosen up a little now that the first black president took office. She said black people always had to be dignified to avoid setting back the entire race. Of course this was her stand-up routine, but it wouldn’t be funny if it wasn’t true. She talked about how she yearned to buy a whole watermelon but refused to give “whitey” the satisfaction and, instead, took her “dignified ass” over to the grocery store salad bar to buy sliced watermelon, camouflaged with some cantaloupe. But because President Obama was elected she could now hoist a whole watermelon on her shoulder, look back and exclaim “Obama, bitch!” She closed her bit with, “I hope he gets a second term.  Then I’m goin’ to Popeye’s!”

    The challenge is for those of us who have racist family members to open up a dialogue; correct them when they call an Aunt Jemima cookie jar Obama memorabilia. (Sadly that would be my brother and I will continue to work on him.) Ask your city council to conduct a town hall meeting to address racial disparity in your community before another unarmed black teenager loses his life. Write a letter to the editor. Communicate with your local police about diversity on the force and sensitivity training. Go to the African American Network at your corporation and ask how you can help in their/your community. Talk to your children and grandchildren about Ferguson, about our country’s history. Do something, anything. Pull your head out of the bucket of sand. Put your foot down when it comes to racial stereotypes.  Do something.

      • Maya North

      • September 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm
      • Reply

      I’ve been doing something since I was an actual child. I remember a conversation with a young, female, white college student who admitted (in her charming Missouri accent) that she was “prejudiced.” I asked her, “Do you know what that word actually means?” She admitted she didn’t. I told her “it means to pre-judge someone before you know anything about them. How would you like it if someone made up their minds to hate you without even getting to know you?” “I’d HATE that!” she said and then “Thank you! You’ve really made me think!” I was 11. I’ve always known this was an important fight and I’ve tried to stand up and be counted, even when it made me pretty unpopular. It’s not something we can ever give up doing — not until it’s gone for good. <3

        • Terri Connett

        • September 12, 2014 at 11:57 am
        • Reply

        Great story, Maya. You were a much more evolved 11-year-old than I 🙂

      • Terri Connett

      • September 13, 2014 at 8:44 am
      • Reply

      6. August 5, 2014 – African American WalMart shopper, John Crawford II was shot and killed by two white officers in Beavercreek, OH after picking up a BB gun from the shelf and walking around with it while talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone.

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