This past Saturday afternoon was a microcosm for what has recently gone on in Chicago, my city.
In a roundabout way, it summed up how micro and macro-aggressions can take shape in this era of social media.
A member of the flippantly racist wing of my Facebook friends list showed his behind yesterday.
We’ve been going back and forth about all of the things that have transpired in Chicago recently regarding street violence and police killings. Most of his talking points come from conservative websites.
He questioned the aims of people who’ve been hitting the streets to protest the killing of Laquan McDonald at the hands of police officer Jason Van Dyke. He would tag me in posts about black-on-black crime, asking the familiar GOP-based riot act: “Where are the protesters now??” “Why are you sticking up for them?” “What about black-on-black crime??” And my personal favorite, “Why are you bringing up race? You’re the real racist!!”
In turn, I would post articles that me and some of my colleagues have written on the subject. I went even further by tagging his name to alert him about protests that I’d gotten wind of, politely asking him to join me and see what was going on in the community.
That was a huge mistake.
His response was: “I got an idea. Let's threaten to take away all your FREE section 8 housing, your FREE food stamps, and whatever FREE government assistance money, and watch this protest all the sudden disperse…..lord knows these folks aren’t working to survive…..”
When challenged, this guy wouldn’t back down. Even when confronted with factual evidence, along with being invited to talk with people on the frontlines, he turned out to be a coward who showed no heart when things got real.
I always said that the people who have the most to say about the protesters won’t be around when solutions are trying to be reached.
28yrs ago I composed a song called DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE It meant to challenge information. Today it easily could be DONT BELIEVE THE BLOGS— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) November 29, 2015
This gentleman responded with racism instead of looking at my invite as a way to learn about why people are so infuriated with what they feel is a corrupt system that places little to no value on their lives.
I also had some recent exchanges with a retired police officer who is the administrator of a closed Facebook group named “19th Ward News You Can Use.”
In Chicago, the 19th Ward is where many police officers call home.
He got wind of my tweets mentioning police culture, along with a few group members using racially-charged language. He took it upon himself to reach out to me to tell me that I was reading the group wrong and that he believe in “All Lives Matter.”
I told him that I never said the group was racist but the tone used gives me pause. Also, I let him know that All Lives Matter sounds good on paper, but it’s rarely practiced. History backs up my claims. The conversation as a whole was productive and respectful unlike the aforementioned exchange.
Members of Alpha Phi Alpha, some of which are police officers, marched in a Chicago neighborhood ravaged by violence. Prior to that, members of Kappa Alpha Psi held a back-to-school rally with free health and dental screenings, school supplies and haircuts. (Full disclosure, I’m a Nupe).
(Photo credit: The Source)
There are plenty of organizations in Chicago working on the frontlines to make a positive difference, such as My Block, My Hood, My City, Slow Roll Chicago, Polished Pebbles, The News Literacy Project, Englewood Police/Youth Baseball League, Hockey On Your Block, Inner City Education (ICE), Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK), Truestar Magazine, After School Matters and many, many more.
(Photo credit: Facebook image)
They’re doing the work, trying to make a positive difference without a need for recognition. Last week, I crowdsourced a Facebook page to see who in my timeline is doing what to help their communities.
I received a wealth of information. However, the people making wildly inaccurate claims were nowhere to be found. I wasn’t surprised.
Instead of shaming people in neighborhoods they don’t spend time in, perhaps they could make an effort to learn about what’s going on outside of their own secluded bubbles.
Until that happens, we’ll continue to have this corrosive back-and-forth between a people in pain and those who’ve drawn a line in the sand on the other side who make no effort to understand how and why they feel the way they do.