White Privilege Strikes Again

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From the moment news stories began circulating about Ryan Lochte and his teammates being robbed in Rio, I gave a huge side-eye to the story. Not because its not plausible that four white men could be robbed at gunpoint while in a foreign country, but because the story just didn’t make a lot of sense from the get go. Ryan’s account was that he and his teammates were pulled over by men posing as police officers who pulled them over and demanded their belongings. While his teammates did as told, Billy Badass Ryan claims that he boldly told the robbers, “He refused to get down on the ground,” and when the robber put a gun to his head, he claims he scoffed, “Whatever!” before doing as he was told. It was at that moment that I called b.s. Four American athletes in a country known for having a high crime rate, and he wanted to be a hero? They don’t care about him being a so-called celebrity in Rio; real criminals wouldn’t have hesitated to put a bullet in his brain.

Days later, it has come to light that just as I suspected, Ryan and his teammates were telling a bold-faced lie about the robbery in an attempt to cover up the fact that they trashed a gas station. They paid for the damage they’d done and then came up with the story that they were the victims of a robbery. Of course, they obviously didn’t think this through, because those things called security cameras captured them at the airport with all of their belongings that, had they really been robbed, would have been taken. The IOC wasn’t buying this story either, and promptly began investigating. Ryan and friends, obviously realizing that their lies were about to catch up to them, quickly tried to flee back to the U.S. Ryan- who I feel was the ring leader of the whole thing- managed to hop on a plane and fly away to the safety of America, while his teammates were caught and held in Rio, where they eventually confessed to lying about the robbery story.

What makes me feel that Ryan- with his arrogant, cheesy grin, his shifty eyes, and his platinum silver/gray dyed hair was the orchestrator in all of this? First, he’s back home, tweeting about his hair, while his buddies are over in Rio, facing the music for what they did.

He doesn’t seem too worried or shaken up about being robbed. He had all of white America feeling sorry and ready to form a lynch mob and fly over to Rio and make whoever hurt these golden boys pay, even though the IOC initially didn’t seem to be buying the robbery story themselves. What really pisses me off about this whole situation is this. E-bigots, social media bullies, and sadly, some Black folks, have dragged Gabby Douglas ever since the Olympics began. They built her up four years ago, but have stopped at nothing to tear her down in Rio, bullying her about everything from not placing her hand over her heart while the National Anthem played during the medal ceremony, to her hair, to not being happy and smiling for her teammates. They brought that poor girl to tears, even after she apologized for whatever she’d done to offend so many people. However, these same people immediately felt sorry for Lochte and the other swimmers, sympathizing with these poor, defenseless, white boys who couldn’t defend themselves. And even after it’s been discovered that they all cried wolf, white America and even the IOC still wants to see them as the innocent victims. The IOC had this to say after it was discovered that the swimmers had fabricated the story:

 

See, I have a real problem with this. First of all, 32 year old Ryan is referred to as a kid just having fun. Funny thing is, Trayvon Martin was 17, yet constantly referred to as a man. Mike Brown was 18, yet he was a man. Tamir Rice was a 12 year old kid when he was shot and killed by a police officer, yet he was called a man. But Lochte, at 32, is just a kid. This is that white privilege b.s that irks my soul. There’s an obvious double standard being presented here- this group of grown white men were kids who didn’t know that fabricating a robbery story that was likely to be believed since they were in another country known for having a high rate of crime was wrong, yet these Black kids, whose lives were cut short by thugs with guns and badges, should have known better. I’m willing to bet that the U.S. won’t send it’s golden boy back over to Rio to have to be held accountable for his actions along with the rest of the swimmers. No, people on social media have already gone to Ryan’s defense, claiming that he was right to come home to safety from that God-awful diseased, crime-infested country. Conservatives have even claimed that the three remaining swimmers were somehow coerced by Brazilian officials to say that they trashed the gas station, but feel that they’re really innocent in all of this as well.

I wonder, would the same benefit of the doubt be given if the tables were turned and it was members of the U.S. basketball team that did something like this? I seriously doubt it. I’m telling you, white skin and blonde hair dyed gray can get you out of the messiest situations. While Gabby Douglas is still trying to lick the wounds inflicted on her by her own country, Lochte has moved on to trying to decide what his next hair color will be. I said from the beginning, Lochte is green with envy over the fact that Michael Phelps once again, took the spotlight during the Olympic games. He was racking up gold and silver medals white Ryan sat, unnoticed on the sidelines. He needed to get the media to pay him some attention and what better way to do that than to paint himself as both a victim of robbery and then a hero, for standing up to the nonexistent robbers. He is the worst kind of human being. His narcissism and arrogance will make him stoop to the lowest levels to ensure that he comes out on top. It’s a good thing the Olympic games are almost over, because I can honestly see him pulling some Tonya Harding type of hood stunt to knock Phelps out of the way so that he could shine. But, I digress. America loves him anyway. He can do no wrong in their eyes.

The fact that Lochte could lie with a straight face to Matt Lauer when he gave his account of the false robbery story when he appeared on the Today Show, proves what a total psycho he really is. He and the other swimmers are an embarrassment to America. Their medals should be stripped away from them and they should be forced to pick up trash off the highways like prisoners or spend a day in prison like the kids on Beyond Scared Straight or something. Make them realize that it’s not cool to go around lying all willy nilly just to take the heat off of their own wrong doing. But we all know that absolutely nothing will happen to any of them. Their skin color makes them immune to facing punishment for their actions. Lochte got what he wanted though- he got the media to focus on him and not on Michael Phelps for a little while, although if I were him, this is not the kind of publicity I would want. He is sure to be the laughing stock of the media and the rest of the world for quite a while.

 

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I. AM. TIRED.

I woke up this morning and checked my Facebook page, the same way I do every morning. I kept seeing posts about another Black man killed by police. I actually scrolled past the first five or so stories- not because I didn’t care, but because these news stories are becoming too common, an everyday occurrence- and each one I read makes me see red. So, I told myself I wasn’t going to watch the execution of Alton Sterling, which was caught on video. But, I kept seeing the story and the posts being made by friends, expressing their anger and disbelief at the situation, so I finally clicked on the video. I wish I hadn’t done that. To see a man be tackled to the ground by two burly officers, his head shoved into the hard pavement, to hear them yelling at him, then to see them pull their guns and hear the several gunshots that followed was infuriating. Even more hurtful was hearing the girl who recorded the video screaming and crying as she watched Alton be murdered. I can’t un-see that image in my head.

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I am so damn tired of stories like these. So sick of thugs with badges- these same thugs who took an oath to protect and serve the community. There was obviously some un-written stipulation that stated –‘Protect and serve…unless you’re Black,’ because it seems like every freaking day, we’re reading more stories like this one. We’re offering too many condolences, saying R.I.P. way too many damn times, and while we’re having to continuously do this, the people who are the real problem- the monsters in blue with badges and guns- are going home to sleep peacefully in their beds at night on paid leave…their reward for a job well done (that job being taking the life of yet another unarmed Black man) I. AM. SICK. OF IT. As a Black woman, I’m sick of it. As the mother raising a Black teenage son, I’m not only sick of it, I’m terrified for my sons life every time he walks out the door. I live in a town with a history of violence against Black men (a Black inmate was killed by police back in 2003 but of course, police were cleared of any wrongdoing) My concerns and fears are well-warranted. As a human being in general, I am sick of the senseless killings of Black people, and any human with even half a heart, should be as well.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In typical e-bigot fashion, the racist white folk have come out the woodworks, offering their typical biased opinions about the situation, as if they were there. The color of the man’s skin automatically warranted him being executed in public. The color of his skin automatically made him a thug and a criminal who deserved it in their eyes. It’s like they live for situations like these to occur- so they can do better detective work than any of the people who never seem to find fault in the officer’s actions, even when it’s caught on film- looking into the victims’ backgrounds and digging up his/her criminal past and even if he/she doesn’t have one, they’ll find another way to try to justify their murder. I. AM. SICK. OF. IT. Then, they love to throw up Black on Black crime, as if we’re blind to what’s happening in inner-cities, such as Chicago. Newsflash, bigots- we’re not blind to it; but the thugs (Black, White, Brown, Orange, and whatever else) who are out recklessly shooting and killing each other every night live by a different code than police officers’- who’s jobs should be to protect and serve the people…ALL PEOPLE- not become the thugs the Black race has to fear the most. Common street thugs haven’t taken an oath to protect the community. These trigger-happy cops, however, have…and they are failing at their jobs miserably. Add to that, when Lil’ Bobby from around the way murders someone, he’s tossed in prison, and there’s swift justice for his victim(s) in most cases. That’s not the case with police officers, who can so easily murder a child, for instance, then walk away completely un-bothered…as if nothing happened. That’s what we’re sick of. That’s what we’re protesting against- police brutality and the justice for the the victims that rarely ever follows. And before you start, yes, there are a few good cops out there; but their numbers pale in comparison to the bad one’s and because they stand behind that blue wall of silence, they sit back and say nothing while Black men, women, and children are being taken from us EVERYDAY!

A couple of weeks ago, Grey’s Anatomy actor, Jesse Williams gave a speech while accepting a BET Humanitarian Award about this very thing. He, too, expressed how sick and tired he is of watching our people be murdered in the streets,while many white criminals who commit horrific crimes, are taken into police custody  without a scratch on their bodies. The e-bigots were so mad, they couldn’t think straight…because the eff’ing truth hurts and they couldn’t stand the fact that this half-Black, half-white man chose to speak out about the injustices of his Black side. His light skin and light-colored eyes was supposed to mean that he was one of them…but he turned on them and identified with Black folks, so they turned on him, calling for him to be fired from the job he was given…by a Black woman. White fragility had them all up in their feelings, but to that I say, F**K YOUR FEELINGS. Black people’s feelings have been getting hurt for centuries, and they still are. Our feelings were hurt when the white slave-traders plucked my ancestors from Africa and forcibly brought them here, to work the fields of white plantation owners. Our feelings were hurt when those slave masters pinched the nipples and backsides of Black slaves women and girls- as if they were choosing a piece of ripe fruit from the grocery store- and taking them into the darkness to rape them, forcing them to have their babies, while their white wives turned their heads, pretending not to notice. Our feelings were hurt when slaves were forced to pick cotton in the fields, regardless of whether it was over one hundred degrees or less than twenty degrees. Our feelings were hurt when our Black men were chained to trees, whipped and beaten if they dared try to escape- hoping to try and find a way out of the hell they were living in, day after day- hoping to find a better life for him and his family. Our feelings were hurt when white folks happily stood lined up and down the street- as they watched the public lynchings of our Black men, women, and children who dared disobey massa- as if they were watching a parade. Our feelings were hurt when white slave owners would snatch mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers away from their families and sell them to someone else far away, never to be seen or heard from again, just to show he was in charge. Our feelings were hurt when, even after America claimed slaves were free, we only went from one side of hell to the other side, as we only endured even more decades of pain during the Civil Rights movement. Our feelings are still hurt when now, in 2016, Black people are still being lynched, still being publicly hanged and killed, still being made to feel inferior to whites…we’re STILL NOT FREE. So, to all the white folks who’s feelings and egos were bruised by Jesse Williams’ speech, I only have one thing to say: F**K YOUR FRAGILITY AND YOUR FEELINGS. WE. ARE. TIRED.

I sat and watched Alton Sterlings wife on the news earlier, and I couldn’t even concentrate on her words because standing beside her was her fifteen year old son, who weeped and sobbed, inconsolable as he repeated over and over, “I want my daddy.”  I felt his tears…felt his pain…sympathized with the mother, who tried to fight back tears as she spoke, and will now have to raise her children alone. White folks love to make jokes about the lack of Black fathers in our community. Well, perhaps if the cops stop shooting them all down in the streets, we might have a few more. I could ask, when will this stop, but I already know the answer: It won’t. It never has stopped and it never will. Some (not all) White-privleged Americans cannot, will not stop to try and understand our pain, our anger, our outrage. They don’t have these types of problems, so they can’t possible see where we’re coming from. If that’s your stance, cool; but keep your unwanted opinions about how we deal with our anger and frustration to yourself, because we don’t give a damn what you think about how we feel. When it comes to the genocide of the Black race, you’re either a part of the solution or a part of the problem. And if you don’t want to help try and stop all these senseless murders from happening, do us all a favor and shut the hell up, because your bigoted opinions don’t mean shit to us. If you can look in the mirror and not feel hurt and sympathy during situations like these, you truly need prayer. So, it’s another R.I.P. to another Black man while we sit and wait, hoping and praying it’s not our life or the life of our loved one people will be mourning next.

 

White privilege and literary racism

By now, I’m sure everybody has seen or heard about Grey’s Anatomy actor, Jesse Williams BET Award Humanitarian acceptance speech, where he so eloquently spoke out against police brutality. If you somehow missed it, click the Youtube link to watch it below.

 

Not one word he said was a lie. However, conservative white people (and token ass-kisser, Stacey Dash) are beyond pissed off that this Black man chose to use his voice and tell the entire world that he’s sick and tired of the genocide of Black people. You know, because for decades, Black folks have been told that we’re supposed to sit by and watch our people be hanged, raped, and shot down like animals in the streets, and shut up and just deal with it. Yeah, we’re not doing that anymore, and it kills certain people. The media has belittled this man every hour of everyday ever since he gave this speech, and anybody who agrees with and supports him, has also been considered a racist and a supporter of violence against police (no where in his speech did he promote this) but people hear things the way they want to. I’ve always been told that a hit dog will holler the loudest, so Jesse obviously stepped on some toes during his speech.

Of course, Conservative Trump supporters- who go around hollering how much they’re ready to ‘take their country back’ want to censor Jesse and anybody who applauded him, by any means. I’m sure Jesse hasn’t had a peaceful nights sleep ever since his speech, due to Facebook/Twitter keyboard racists and thugs bomboarding his page with hateful comments, but they’re taking it a step further to try and silence anybody who has re-posted and/or agreed with him. This just happened to me today. Some white lady took the time to write a long, drawn-out letter on my page, telling me that ‘since I agreed with Jesse, I must be racist’ and she asked if I realized that I’m excluding the ‘few white people who are all for equality’ by re-posting his speech. Yes, she really said that. It was like she was threatening me to either shut up about how unfairly Black people are still being treated in this country that loves to claim everybody is free and deal with it, or she won’t buy my books.

I had to get her told real quick. First of all, if me speaking out against police brutality and the unfair treatment of Black people offends you, you clearly weren’t checking for me or my books anyway, so please have several seats. Second of all, I have NEVER in my life been an ass-kisser. If you like me, cool; if not, that’s cool too. What you won’t do is come on MY platform and try to think you can tell me what I can and can’t say, and basically threaten me as an author that you won’t support me- knowing good and damn well you weren’t buying/reading my books anyway- if I don’t behave like a good little darkie and shut up. No ma’am/sir, I am not the one to try this with, because it won’t work.

These are the same people who are so quick to call a Black person racist. These are the same people who turn up their noses at Black romance authors and their books- because Black love isn’t a real thing to them- when the story lines are the exact same as white authors who consistently grace the NYT Bestsellers list; but because the cover models and authors are brown-skinned and don’t have blue eyes and blonde hair, they choose to bypass that book. I once read a certain Black authors’s interview where he talked about this crime series he’d written and he said a traditional publishing house told him that the only way his book series would ever make it to the big leagues (on the book shelves and/or Kindle’s of white readers) was if he changes the main character from a Black man to a white man..make him more relatable to white readers, and only then could they guarantee him a spot on the NYT Bestsellers list. Yes, racism still exists, even in the book world. Black authors are excluded from mainstream bestsellers lists constantly,being told our books aren’t good enough, aren’t mainstream enough, and aren’t relatable to non-Black readers. If we don’t conform to and write what non-Black literary agents think we should, we’re overlooked and tossed into the not interested pile. We have to fend for ourselves, start our own publishing companies, create and organize our own literary awards if we want recognition, which is truly sad in 2016. Yet, people get so mad when we voice our concerns and opinions about the lack of equality.

To that commenter who felt the need to look down your nose and judge me- threatening not to support me if I don’t sit back and accept Black people being shot down and killed every single day in the good ol’ USA, while nobody is ever held accountable for it- you and anybody else who shares your sentiments can do me and yourselves a favor and un-follow me. Trust me, I won’t care. You made the claim that I’m ‘excluding potential white readers’ because I used my First Amendment right to free speech and quoted Jesse’s speech in a post I made, when the truth of the matter is, as a Black, self-published author, I’m often excluded from white readers view anyway. As soon as AA Fiction and/or Urban Fiction is recognized, most non-Black readers choose to bypass my books, simply because of the book genre. Just as Jesse mentioned, our freedom (success) has always come with conditions, and we’re sick of it. If there have to be conditions on whether or not you’re going to go out and buy a book by J.L. Sapphire, I don’t need or want your support anyway. And you can call me a racist until you’re blue in the face, I will not be quiet or stop voicing my concerns. As the mother of a young Black man who is about to graduate high school and go out into the real world soon, I can’t afford not to speak up. That you expect me to do so shows more about your character than it does mine. The thing is, what God has for me is exactly what will be- with or without white conservative conditional support. You can’t stop my blessing, no matter how hard you try. I suspect I will lose followers after this post, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Having a certain number of followers isn’t what sells books, trust me on this. I haven’t made it this far in life by placing much value on random people’s thoughts and opinions of me. Take your conditional support somewhere else, because I don’t need it.

White Privilege & Rape Culture: Putting the victim on trial

Picture a young woman at a party with her sister. She’s had a few drinks and somehow or another, she finds herself separated from her sister at some point. Hours later, she would learn that after being separated from he sister, she was found being sexually assaulted behind a dumpster at a frat house by two good Samaritans who happened to be riding by. Luckily, they realized that it didn’t appear that the unconscious woman had consented to the sexual acts being performed on her, and they chased her would be rapist down. She would later learn all the details of her sexual assault at the hospital, while being administered a humiliating rape kit. As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, once it was all said and done, the rapist- a privileged white guy with rich parents who’s money would later allow him to only be sentenced to six months in prison, despite being found guilty of three felonies once the trial was over- would be the one feeling like the victim in all of this.

No, this isn’t an episode of Law & Order: SVU (although I suspect they will give us an episode based on these actual events) this happened in real life. And as with many other privileged white men who do despicable acts against innocent people, it took public outcry and outrage to even get Brock Turner’s mug shot released; because you know, they don’t want to tarnish the image of a white boy who was a great swimmer and who had dreams of competing in the Olympics one day. The fact that the media has been so focused on his promising future (which is surely shot to hell now) and less on his crime- raping an unconscious woman- speaks volumes loud enough to bust your eardrums.

You’d probably think this story can’t get any worse. Oh, but it can…and it does. You see, Brock’s daddy, Dan Turner (who is the reason why his son thought he could rape a woman and go on with his life as easily as if he’d taken her to prom and dropped her off safely at home by midnight) had the audacity to write a letter stating: ‘His son deserves probation, not jail and basically says that Brock-not his rape victim- is the real victim in all of this.’ In his letter, he  whines that “Brock’s life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve, and that the recommended sentence was a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” the letter says, noting that the former Olympic hopeful is now a registered sex offender.

Dan Turner’s letter is equally as disgusting as the acts his son committed against his victim. He seems to imply that if the girl was stupid enough to allow herself to be raped by his son, it’s her fault, not his. Unfortunately, we live in a society where if a woman is raped or nearly raped, it’s automatically her fault. In the letter Brock’s victim read in court, she states what so many rape victims who chose to speak out about what happened to them have all found out- that people seem to care more about the person committing the crime than the person who was on the receiving end of the crime. She talked about how she learned what happened to her while reading the news story on her phone:

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming.

Forget the fact that she’d been raped…let’s talk about what a great athlete he was. Sickening. She went on to say:

...he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

So sad..and so typical. This is rape culture and it sucks. I don’t care how much money a person has and how much they offer to pay me if I defend a rapist in court and did what I had to do in order to get him the lightest sentence possible, I couldn’t do it. All money ain’t good money, and if anyone on the defense has a daughter, mom, sister, or wife, I wonder how they can sleep at night, knowing they help this pimply-faced boy get a slap on the wrist for ruining this woman’s life. Let Dan Turner tell it, this is just a blemish on his son’s perfect record, and after he does his six months in jail, he can go back to his perfect life…where he likes to eat ribeye steaks and prey on more innocent young women. Meanwhile, his victim won’t have the same luxury. She mentions that ‘she’s plagued by nightmares, unable to rest her mind or body.’ She’ll have to endure the stares and whispers from strangers who will look at her and wonder if she didn’t somehow deserve it. She doesn’t get to move on from this.

The media and their doubles standards irk my soul. I seem to remember that back in 2012, and unarmed, 17 year old boy walked to the corner store one Sunday night to get snacks to eat on while watching a basketball game. That 17 year old boy- Trayvon Martin- would never go home again. Instead, he was murdered before he could make it there, by a man who preyed on him, stalked him in the rain and under the cover of darkness, provoked a fight with him, then shot and killed him when he started losing that fight. When police found Trayvon, he didn’t have stolen property on his person. He didn’t have a weapon. He had candy, a can of tea, and his cell phone. That’s it. Yet, the media and racist public didn’t waste a moment digging into Trayvon’s past- learning that he’d been suspended from school for having a fight (something most kids do) He didn’t have a perfect, squeaky clean background, so like Brock’s attorney, Trayvon’s killer’s lawyers used any and every piece of information they could, putting the deceased teenager on trial instead of the piece of shit who murdered him. His killer would later walk free, not even getting the slap on the wrist that Brock was given. Instead, he was given a free pass to go out there and hurt another innocent person, and brag about it to any and everybody who will listen. Just like Brock will do. With his father in his corner, he’ll never be forced to suffer the consequences of his actions- he’s privileged enough to not have to do that.

I can only hope that during the six months that Brock will have to serve in prison, he’s treated to the harsh reality of what happens when you go to prison. You see, his fathers money can’t protect him behind those prison walls. He won’t be treated to steaks and all the good snacks he wants, when he wants. He won’t be his happy-go-lucky self in there, and that’s the only good thing to come out of this story.