This is my last post about Jussie Smollett because — like I said — I don’t really care about this anymore, but I just want white gays to take a beat and see what their Definitely Guilty stance looks like to people like me who have listened to White America decide over and over that Black kids are “definitely guilty of something” whenever the police tell us they are.
This case stinks and at this point, I think it’s impossible to get everyone (or the majority of people) on the same page because of the way the case was handled from the beginning. What I do know is that so many of y’all are vehemently proclaiming Jussie’s guilt because the cops say he’s guilty, yet I’ve seen you chime in over the years in support of Black activists championing investigations into police conduct when unarmed Black people are murdered and the official cop position is “I feared for my life because…” or “We had no choice because they were a criminal.”
Where’s that support and skepticism of the police now?
The city of Chicago has paid more money to the victims of police shootings than any other city in the country, yet their cops don’t end up in prison. We’ve seen them lie repeatedly about the sequence of events leading up to the murder of another Black person…and then the tapes are released and they have to change their story. This police department leaked SO MUCH INFORMATION to the press, held so many press conferences about new “evidence” during an ongoing investigation to a degree that I have never seen before, seemingly to sway public opinion to their side.
And, I guess it worked because you same folks who meet our skepticism of the police with head nods of agreement have thrown all that away now that the alleged crime affects the perception of *your* LGBT community. We have a criminal justice system in this country, and for all its flaws, the basic premise is still “innocent until proven guilty” not “innocent until the cops show the public the evidence they want us to see, the same cops who show us evidence in many cases where they are eventually proven wrong, sued, and have to fork over a few million dollars to the victims.”
If Jussie lied, it’s terrible that Trump & His MAGAts have a new lightning rod to use at rallies…but they’ve also been chanting “lock her up” for three whole years now…so who cares? It’s terrible that the next (undisputed) victim of a hate crime will have Conservatives question the veracity of the story with “but Jussie lied!”…but they already question the veracity of every hate crime…so what has changed? Jussie Smollett lying about a hate crime wouldn’t set back LGBT victims any more than it set back Black victims (please stop ignoring that there was a noose; the erasure of race by gay white men starts at ignoring the racial aspect to the alleged crime and ends with ignoring the voices of Black people telling you to hold your pitchforks for a moment and THINK!).
If there was a way to prove he lied (and there isn’t, at this point, thanks to how poorly Chicago PD handled this case) I wouldn’t spit on him if he was on fire. There’s too much division in the country, too much violence, too many lives at stake for a privileged brat looking for a bigger paycheck to trivialize the real dangers regular people face and to exploit the fears of two communities that have supported your career for years. If there was a way to prove he lied (and there isn’t, at this point, thanks to how poorly Chicago PD handled this case) he should never be able to work in Hollywood again — he should be blackballed straight out of the industry. If there was a way to prove he lied (and there isn’t, at this point, thanks to how poorly Chicago PD handled this case), he should absolutely be punished by the legal system and serve time for not only diverting attention to himself at the expense of other victims in Chicago but also for causing Black people, LGBT people, and Black LGBT people (hello! I’m right here!) extra stress in an era of MAGAts always looking for a “gotcha!”
And even still, even if we could prove he lied and got away with it, the parade of white men in government and law enforcement pretending they care about crime, pretending they care about lying to the legal system, and pretending they care about the credibility of marginalized communities telling their stories would still enrage me far more than any staged crime Jussie came up with. That is the discussion I was having with other Black people and that is the discussion I brought to the floor on *my* wall. I don’t need to discuss the repercussions of a crime we can’t even agree happened. I don’t want to go back and forth about the appropriate punishment of a man who may or may not have committed a crime. I don’t want to watch gay white (and white-passing) men proclaim the guilt of a Black man based solely on the word of police and tell ME how angry I should be about it and how I should hold my torch and my pitchfork when the man in question isn’t even being prosecuted due to lack of evidence!! I don’t need to have Facebook debates about someone who hasn’t been proven guilty or innocent (because he’s not going to trial) when I do have guilty white men in my face shedding crocodile tears for this terrible “miscarriage of justice” when they can’t even muster a thought or a prayer for dead Black people at the hands of a system they operate!
It’s not that hard y’all! I’m not debating what consequences should be assigned to a Black man who has not been proven anything one way or another when I’m trying to express my anger about the lack of consequences assigned to a group of men who MURDER innocent Black people while the politicians who uphold that system are pretending that a staged crime is more serious than a dead body.
Seneca Village, Black displacement, and the history of Central Park.
Let’s have a look at the first free Black settlement in NYC.
Some tweets about Central Park have been going viral the past two days and they are missing valuable context and clarity. Yesterday, I saw this one:
Central Park is hard to enjoy when you realize Black families owned all of this land at one point. https://t.co/d3UDLISJUz— Scott (@alscottwrites) September 24, 2021
Black people owned less than 1% of the land that would eventually become Central Park.
Central Park used to be known as Seneca Village, made up of a predominantly black community, (most newly freed slaves), who built homes and schools. In 1853, all their properties were demolished. The community lost their right to vote, as they no longer owned a property. https://t.co/FKwVVy3WLc— 𝕃𝕖𝕒𝕙 (@leahlizzyy) September 25, 2021
Seneca Village was about 5 acres of land. Central Park is almost 850 acres of land. So no, the area was not called Seneca Village. There were lots of little villages with their own names dotted throughout the area.
PERFORMING LITERALLY ON THE SAME LAND THAT WAS CALLED SENECA VILLAGE— A BLACK COMMUNITY DEMOLISHED TO MAKE CENTRAL PARK… ITS TIME TO TALK ABOUT IT https://t.co/VfK24XSNI6— ALL THE RUMORS ARE TRUE (@lizzo) September 26, 2021
A third of the people in Seneca Village were white. In fact, most of the people in Central Park were white — they were Irish and German farmers.
The United States is a terrible country founded upon theft, greed, and subjugation. All of this land was stolen from Native Americans in the first place, so this is not an effort to impart any warm and fuzzy feelings about US history. Hyperbole is the enemy of truth, and exaggeration in one area of history serves to undermine facts in another. We live in a country where textbooks speak of slavery as a valid business model with a few mean employers. Because of that, when we are trying to force the reality of the horrors of slavery and racism into the American narrative, we can’t afford to embellish other injustices.
When you say Black families had their homesteads razed to make way for Central Park, the average person will picture roving bands of white people setting fires and violently chasing Black people with dogs and weapons. It happened all over the country throughout our history. Countless Black communities are forgotten today because the history of white America is written in Black suffering.
The location of Central Park wasn’t a decision made with race at the forefront. Seneca Village was indeed the first free Black settlement in NYC after slavery was outlawed. Free Black men could vote if they owned enough property, and around 15-20% of those property-owning men lived in Seneca Village. The city did take control of that property through eminent domain to make way for Central Park. All of these things are true.
These things are also true: At its peak the population of Seneca Village was less than 300 people and a third of those people were white. The total population of the area now known as Central Park was almost 2,000 people, and the majority of them were Irish and German farmers. The city used eminent domain to take all of their lands, but that doesn’t mean the lands were stolen from them. All of the residents who owned their property were paid for it — double or triple what the original selling price was — but they couldn’t say no to the sale. The city forced them to sell and move elsewhere. Aside from that though, most of the population of NYC lived below 14th Street, which meant much of the rest of Manhattan was semi-rural and people farmed land all over the island that they didn’t own. When the city decided to build Central Park, they forced the squatters to start paying rent to the city, and when they couldn’t pay, they were kicked out.
The image being painted on Twitter is that Central Park was full of communities of prosperous, land-owning freedmen who lost their voting rights when NYC decided to build a park where the Black people live. And that’s a fair assumption! NYC is full of racist building projects, and US history is full of racist legacies where successful Black towns were essentially punished or destroyed for simply thriving. That’s not quite the case for Central Park. Most of the displaced people were white. Most of the residents of Seneca Village were poor and 80% of them didn’t own the homes they lived in. Those who owned property, which in turn meant they could vote, were paid more than they’d originally invested. They could use that money buy property elsewhere, which meant they could still vote.
But! This is still the United States. While racism may not be the central figure in the creation of Central Park as it was in other tales of yesteryear, it’s still there as a supporting character.
When NYC wanted a park, the original location chosen was a place called Jones’s Wood. The prosperous white families in that area successfully fought the city, so a new location was scouted and the city settled on the area now known as Central Park. Seneca Village was a very, very tiny portion of the land area and the Black residents there were a small percentage of the mostly white population that would be displaced, but there were very prominent Black families in Seneca Village. The majority of the residents were indeed poor farmers, laborers, and domestic workers who didn’t own land, but the people who did own land were important to the Black community in NYC at large.
The Lyons Family in Seneca Village were conductors on the Underground Railroad.
All Angels church was one of the few interracial congregations in the country. When riots broke out in Lower Manhattan as white racists attacked Black abolitionists, Seneca Village much farther north was spared any damage. As a result, this much more rural area attracted other prominent Black activists, and by the time Central Park was planned, 20% of the Black voters in the city lived there. The residents of Seneca Village put up a fight against the city just as the residents of Jones’s Wood had, but where those prosperous white families ultimately prevailed, the prosperous Black ones did not, and the city moved forward with its plans.
The two biggest takeaways from the creation of Central Park and the history of Seneca Village is the lack of violence and the displacement of white people. Those two factors counter the image most of us have when we hear the city took land from Black people to make a park. There are no stories of Black displacement where most of the people affected were white, and there are few stories of Black displacement from the 19th Century where the government engaged in protracted legal battles with the residents and ultimately paid property owners for their land. Seneca Village should be remembered as the first free Black settlement in NYC, but we don’t have to paint it as another Tulsa to drive home the history of racism in the US. There are enough Tulsas to go around.
Leave slavery out of your abortion conversations.
Why do seemingly well-meaning white people like to compare various struggles to slavery
Another day, another White Liberal unnecessarily using slavery to make a point.
Joyce Alene is a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. She has appeared as a legal analyst on various cable news channels and she was an attorney for the Obama administration. And she thought it was a good idea to compare abortion rights to slavery.
Not sure why this repeatedly has to be explained over and over, but it is very much possible to discuss persecution without bringing Black people into it. There is never a need to compare any struggle in this country to the worst atrocity in the history of the United States, and doing so makes you look unserious. What we are dealing with right now in regard to reproductive rights can be discussed on its own merit. We should be horrified by what’s happening, period. No hyperbole is necessary. No conflation with genocide is needed.
Why do seemingly well-meaning white people like to compare various struggles to slavery, when absolutely nothing the Modern White American faces has any similarity? Nothing the Colonial White American faced had any similarity. Leave slavery out of the conversation.
It’s a double insult. On the first side, Good Whites can’t come to grips with the foundation of America’s success in the world firmly resting atop slavery, so comparisons to modern struggles are subconsciously made to lessen the severity of what happened. Even the most liberal of White Americans has a difficult time accepting the fact that everything you see owes it existence to slavery. There would be no United States without the economic engine that was chattel slavery. From Yale to Bank of America to whiskey — the legacy of slavery is everywhere.
On the other side, too many Good Whites feel such a strong need to identify with the oppressed that they will manufacture similarities that don’t exist.
Or possibly a third side:
If you acknowledge that it’s a bad take and you don’t mean any offense, then you only said it to be shocking and to grab attention. You have trivialized slavery as a gotcha for clicks, and that’s even worse.
Women are being oppressed. Yes, restrictive legislation on reproductive rights disproportionately affects poor women and women of color, but all women are at the mercy of an evangelical government that believes it has the divine right to subjugate Eve’s daughters. That is enough to work with. Comparing it to anything other than that is a distraction and a disservice. Women deserve rights on their own merit.
We gotta invite Tigger to the Cookout now.
Maybe it sounds so much like n—-r some people just lose their minds.
Some cartoon characters are Black because they’re created that way.
Some cartoon characters Black because we decided they are.
And some cartoon characters are just cartoon characters. I don’t recognize any Winnie the Pooh characters from my daily life, so they’re just animals to me, but we might have to welcome Tigger into the family. There’s no other explanation for why this white lady is so mad that he’s on a flag.
Tigger must’ve played rap music in her driveway or looked at her purse on the elevator or something, because this lady is acting like that flag says Black Lives Matter And Yours Does Not. I am very certain there are no rules (by this non-existent housing association) prohibiting a cartoon character flag and this woman feels like “rule” is the same as “I don’t like it,” which is unsurprising given the age and hue of the protagonist in this short film. My first retail job was at Bath & Body Works in a Southern shopping mall, and if there’s one thing I know for certain about that particular demographic it’s that they definitely believe personal opinions are facts, feelings are rules, and there is a manager of something somewhere who will side with them so they can get their way.
Bless the restraint of this homeowner. I probably woulda cussed that woman from here to Tara and then I would be gone with the police after she called 911 on me.
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