By Rayiah Ross
Permit Patty is a funny description, but let‘s say her name, Alison Ettel, harassed an 8 year old girl for selling water outside her family’s apartment building. BBQ Becky did something similar, as well as Poolside Patricia. The common theme: doing anything while black is a crime.
If you look back at the Jim Crow era and evaluate the depiction of African Americans in the 1870’s to the 1950’s, you can see that anti-black imagery showed African Americans as caricatures and cartoonish. If you jump forward to today, you can see that discrimination is so ever-present in their daily lives it’s kind of like background noise. Children these days are growing up in a society where discrimination is normalized. Whether it’s Starbucks kicking a black man out of their store or another black man being shot on the street, the racial implications -ones that were forced on us years before now- fuel the crime. Trayon Christian was arrested for buying a $350 belt. Tamir Rice was murdered while holding a pellet gun. Stephon Clark was holding a cell phone, mistaken to be a weapon. And despite common belief, it is always about race when a person of color is involved. Always.
So here’s the question: Why are white people so afraid of black people? The simple answer is the ‘protection’ of white space. According to Naomi Adiv, a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University, calling the police in these instances is about having “the power to say you don’t belong here.” The symbol of black advancement in shared space between dominant whites is seen as ‘threatening’.
White people know that African Americans are capable of changing the world and that is what they are afraid of. We are modern day slaves in a country built against us, and this slave revolt would end in bloodshed and lacerations. It seems as if coexisting is not enough and one race must overpower another, except now we’re questioning who really has the power. We are looked at as criminals because we are black. We are labeled as “fear itself” because of a depiction of us from over 100 years ago. We are building off of legislations that only grant us rights when it seems convenient, though it never seems convenient enough to help us. White people are scared of us, but you‘re more likely to be scammed by the white man in a suit than you are by the black man with his pants to low. That same black man also cannot get a job, he can‘t buy a house, he can’t support his family because that white man in the suit is robbing from people like him. We should fear the white man.
Another part of me also believes that white people are so afraid of us, because we are no longer afraid of them. Of course that fear never really goes away. Even at sixteen years old, I still hold my breath when driving past a police officer. But I do believe that there are so many of us that refuse to stay quiet about what is happening in America. We are starting a revolution through protests. We are building an army with our Twitter accounts. We are standing up for what we believe in even if it leaves us vulnerable or alone.
We are fighting a war now. White people are scared of us for the wrong reasons, but just wait until we really give them a reason to be scared.