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Is Black Skin a Leadership Issue?

May 31st, 2016 | Posted by David Whitfield in Uncategorized

I just responded to a tweet about a Black woman dying while in police custody. I always wonder why so many Blacks end up dead while in police custody. Black skin has a bullhorn, and it speaks in extremely loud voices; it draws negative attention, triggering hatred, violence, often death. It can’t help it. The late tennis player Arthur Ashe, believed being Black is more burdensome than having AIDS. For me, I believe being Black is worse than having cancer. Cancer is curable. Being Black is not.

Black skin is a compellingly persuasive stimulus. Look how some White cops respond to it. Example, how can a cop shoot a Black teenager 16 times, even as he lay dying? And the young man was simply walking down the street alone, bothering no one, talking with no one. But his black skin spoke to the White cop, “Shoot’em!” What does police leadership say about this?

When Blacks are attacked, while minding their own business, walking, driving, running, or whatever, our black skin tells the White cops to “act!” “Do it now!” “Shoot’em!” Look at Walter Scott, shot in the back five times—in the back!  “Choke’er!” What happen to Sandra Bland? Driving while Black, she was pulled over and ended up dead. Had she been White, she’d be here today.  What about 34-year-old David Washington of Virginia? As he sat in his car having a stroke while Black, White cops approached his car, ordered him out.  He didn’t move.  They used a Taser; and since he didn’t respond to the Taser, they pepper sprayed him. The video is deeply troubling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEXjfACemmA

Look how some landlords react to black skin; they may not explicitly say it but their message is clear: “Blacks are not allowed in my houses, apartments, my neighborhood,” etc. Store owners too, are stimulated by black skin; they watch us when we enter their stores.  Mind you, every group has thieves. But every group member is not a thief! Could community or municipal leadership chime in here?

I went into an Import store a few years ago.  As I walked around the store, going into different aisles; I noticed a young White male following me. No matter the isle I entered, he was behind me.

“Why are you following me!?” I asked in a loud, aggressive voice; because I was pissed. He jumped, became nervous, twitching, started fidgeting with his clothes, struggling for words; and he didn’t know what to say. I walked out and haven’t returned to an Import since. And never will. My skin color told him to follow me. What else could it be? He didn’t know me, my character, education, languages I speak, graduates classes I’ve taught, people I’ve coached, my military service, honorably discharged, the soldiers I’ve promoted, reenlisted, reprimanded, punished, awarded, etc.  Could the Board of Directors and CEO help here?

Finally, I started thinking about skin color more deeply when President Obama was treated poorly. Why is he hated so? Why is he threatened (his life) on average 32 times daily? Why did he have to show his birth certificate? His education, accomplishments, civility, etc., didn’t matter.  His black skin told people he didn’t belong in the White House—the People’s House?  Did the people vote for him twice?

Next time you see a Black person, if you’re White, note what goes through your mind.  What do you ascribe to black skin? Why?

Please take a moment and complete this sentence:  When I see a Black person, I….

I would love your thoughts, please.

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3 Responses

  • Leo Buchi Muoneme, S.J. says:

    Racism is clearly not a biological construct. It is socially constructed by those who have complexes and insecurities–in a nutshell by bullies.

  • carol says:

    When I see a Black Person I smile. Because I have shared dinner and drinks and laughs and recipes secrets love tears. I have laid my head on a black woman’s bosom. All the while she brushed my tears. As I have done the same. because I know my black friends my black family have enriched my life. When I see my black man of 32 years my face shines. For we have shared experiences and struggles only a few communities can understand. Do I fear for my husband. Yes I Do as I fear for my sassy daughters. As I do for all persons of color. Peace love

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