“There Are 2 Kinds of Black People…”
You know that famous Chris Rock sketch where he talks about the 2 kinds of Black people living in America?
You can look up the video on youtube on your own time, but the script is classic. Rock outlines the differences between “niggas” and “Black people”. Black people uphold the law, pay taxes, own their own businesses, are good husbands, fathers, mothers and wives, and take care of their children.
“…we hate black people too! Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people really don’t like about black people ,and there’s 2 sides, there’s black people and theres niggas. The niggas have got to go.You can’t have shit when you around niggas, you can’t have shit. You can’t have no big screen TV! You can have it, but you better move it in at 3 in the morning. Paint it white, hope niggas think it’s a bassinet. Can’t have shit in your house! Why?! Because niggas will break into your house. Niggas that live next door to you break into your house, come over the next day and go, “I heard you got robbed.” Nigga, you know you robbed me. You didn’t see shit ’cause you was doing shit!You can’t go see a movie, you know why? coz niggas is shooting at the screen, “This movie’s so good I gotta bust a cap in here!”You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want credit for some shit they supposed to do. A nigga will brag about some shit a normal man just does. A nigga will say some shit like, “I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb motherfucker! What kind of ignorant shit is that? “I ain’t never been to jail!” What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation having motherfucker!”
No home training, respect for self and others, totally void of good judgment or refined character. Everyone hates niggas.
Rock doesn’t just desire to point out that not all Black people are the same- he goes on to explain something critical; Black folk hate niggas just like everyone else- but for special reason- they make us all look bad.
As Black people we know that Whites (not all) and others have a difficult time seeing the diversity of our people. Stereotypes are fed through entertainment, music, video games, and news media that only show the extremes; Oprah or the welfare queen. Denzel or the drug dealing, gang banging baby daddy.
Obviously (or not) we are much more than that. But successfully establishing that reality in the minds of everyone else is as impossible as an ant pushing an elephant up an ice covered hill in a blizzard.
The case of Maurice Clemmons, the accused shooter in the Lakewood Police killings has re-highlighted the struggle to not be judge on our race, but the content of our character as individuals.
Clemmons was a career criminal who struggled with mental illness and eventually turned into a desperate man, angry that he was likely going back to prison for the rest of his life for a developing child rape charge.
He spent two full days on the run, across cities and counties, leaving many in fear and panic.
Monday turned into stop-a-Black-man day, with people getting jacked up by police because someone said they “fit” the description. Some of it is to be expected, I suppose, but knowing now that Clemmons’ own family fanned that fire with false lead to the tip line seems wickedly ironic. But it wasn’t just them. People of all races across Tacoma and Seattle looked at Black men differently post-shooting; whether aware of it or not.
Local and national conservative talk radio revealed a narrow, bigoted perspective of the suspect and Black people in general.
Callers claimed a war had been declared on police by Seattle gangs, and that the neighborhood crews were all falling in line. He cited this case and Monfort, the Tukwila man who killed a Seattle police officer last month. Monfort acted alone and didn’t remotely fit the gang member label. Clemmons was a desperate man half out of his mind, from Arkansas. The caller was wrong- but the host certainly didn’t correct him. These were not gang members, and there is no war.
Next came a woman who claimed to have ridden the bus the day before and witnessed a group of Black youth on the back of the bus “cheering” at the news that 4 officers were dead. The caller said they were gang members. How she spotted this with her naked eye, I’m not sure- but she was certain they were bad, bad bad.
The night of the shooting, as I sat outside the ME’s office waiting for the slain officers’ bodies to arrive, an older white man said to me “one of your people did it.” Such statements usually provoke multiple reactions from me all at once. On the outside, I was stoic.
On the inside I was cussing that man out.
On the inside I was cringing that he really felt that way and had no clue what that meant about him.
On the inside I was angry that a part of the situation had become the need for Black people to defend themselves for someone they don’t even know, who doesn’t represent them or act on their behalf.
By mid-afternoon Monday it was clear to law enforcement that friends and family on Clemmons had assisted him after the shooting. One friend was a getaway driver, a sister bandaged him up and brought him to Seattle. As if those weren’t bad enough, it was then reported that other friends and family had actively worked to throw police off of Clemmons’ trail by calling in false leads to the official tip line, sending law enforcement chasing their tails. Investigators expect that 7 people will face charges for their involvement.
Not 1. Not 2.
With this news, ignorance prevailed. I heard a man on the radio claim that Black people didn’t believe in law enforcement at all- that we want to do away with cops and rely on the gangs to take care of us.
Yes, these general statements are outrageous, silly even, but they are evidence of deep rooted ignorance about what it means to be Black.
I often tell white people what was told to me as a child; as many Black people there are in the world are as many ways there are to be Black; translation, it’s an individual thing, not necessarily a group thing. Hearing this at an important age allowed me the courage to define myself, rather than allowing Black people around me or what media calls “Black culture” to define me. No, I define myself.
Even with the ability to define myself for myself, inside and out, I’m smart enough to know there are times when I don’t have the power to define myself, when stereotypes and ignorance win out, and all people see or hear is what they want to see or hear, what they’re used to and comfortable seeing and hearing. That’s usually referred as racist or bigoted opinions, even though those holding those opinions don’t like to admit it.
Still, this is what we are all facing today; Black men are being compared to a deranged cop killer, and Black people are looked at as questionable because so many helped this man escape- would we all do that? That’s what they want to know- and for some who already think we would, the events of the last 72 hours has them now certain we would.
We would help a man by providing medical supplies, food, transportation, and actively lie to police to throw them off the trail of a killer- that’s what we’re up against now. That doesn’t even give credit to the point that Clemmon’s and his family are “outsiders”- that’s to say- they aren’t from here, but Arkansas. They’re transplants.
A White person asked me last night “why haven’t you all come out and said something against this man and his family?”
Well, first of all, “we” as Black people are no more responsible for the Clemmons clan as all White people are responsible for David Duke. That’s just silly. Second, it’s a damn shame that people would think that it takes a public, verbal damnation to prove that we don’t condone the behavior. Third, and as noted just a few seconds ago- this isn’t a Seattle family. These are outsiders, as I and many others see it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not condemning people from Arkansas- I have family from the Ark. Nor am I say we here in the PNW live in a perfect society until outsiders come and screw it up. Violence does not discriminate.
We don’t know who these people are, and even if we did, we don’t have to jump up to criticize what they did to prove that we don’t agree or are as horrified as everyone else is that this happened. We’re pissed to high heaven, not just at the murder, but the conduct of his fam afterward. That is just unacceptable. I hope they are prosecuted to the FULLEST extent of the law.
Nevertheless, they have become the standard by which Blacks are being judged right now, especially in the Pacific Northwest.
Take for example Clemmon’s niece, Destiny Hinton. Her home was one of four stormed and searched last night in a coordinated effort by law enforcement to search the homes of known family and friends after it was found Clemmon’s was receiving help. Hinton claims to have not seen or heard from him in over a month, but that didn’t stop the media from taking a close look at her.
In the hours before Clemmons was caught in South Seattle, KIRO TV took to twitter to share Hinton’s myspace page. What one finds is severely less than flattering. Some of it is outrageous, borderline on disgusting, depending on your tastes.
Why the media felt the need to point viewers to her myspace, well, you can figure that out yourself I would hope. There are no pictures of the suspect, there are no comments posted by her about the shooting, and again, he was never at her home. Seemingly, though related to people who would aid and abed, she has had nothing to do with this case. Yet the newsmedia wants people to see these pictures, of which there are dozens.
At 28 years old, her profile lists her as a resident of Federal Way, though clearly she lives in Renton which is where police found her. Her occupation is listed as “entertainer.” If you don’t know, that means stripper. Her myspace pictures would seem to support that. It appears from the pictures she has 3 children; 2 girls and a son.
But they support something else too. Hinton has a photo album on myspace from Halloween of last year. Here are just a few of the shots:
In case you’re having trouble differentiating the costumes here, there is a ho, the mother; a pimp, which appears to be the eldest daughter; a gangster/pimp which is her son. Fantastic. This is what a mother did for her 3 children for Halloween. Whether CPS would ever investigate such pictures is questionable, but thanks to the mainstream media putting these images out there- I have no doubt some poor concerned citizen has already made that call.
There are worse pictures of her alone on her site, but, she does enough to further stereotypes against Black women without me posting them for all to see. It’s public info (until and unless she locks down her acct), you can find them for yourself.
Let me say loud and clear, for all of those who may be confused, or hell, for those who think all Black people are the same- this woman does not represent Black women at all. She sure as hell doesn’t represent me.
I’m not even going to take issue with her being a stripper- that’s her business. You can be a stripper and love the hell out of your kids and raise them well. What I DO take issue with is 1) her poor judgment skills and 2) that people will look at this and think that all Black women would be stupid enough to do such a thing. I am not the worlds best parent and I never will be- no one is. But I don’t encourage my kids to glorify a criminal lifestyle (which isn’t the same as thug life, but we’ll start slow here) and I sure as hell don’t walk around my house looking like a stripper.
I don’t identify with or support the actions of this woman or her clan in the least- but because the majority can look at her and turn around and attempt to define us, there is a level of responsibility and obligation I/we carry like a ball and chain.
Don’t want it, can’t get rid of it.