EL BARRIO, EL FALLS – It has been one hell of a week. The year 2020 will be talked about as much as the year 1968. We have dealt with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and the nation’s always-simmering racial tensions exploding. Here is the menu for today: Black in America & MLS Lockout.
Black in America – Considering the state of the country and everything going on, I felt – or more like I wanted to say something – as 1 of 2 Black writers on the staff.
Most people that meet me assume I am an African-American, but I am not. My story is slightly different because I am not an descendant of African slavery. I’m just an African. Ghanaian to be exact. I’ve been here since I was 5 years old, so I am acquainted with racism in a big city, since I lived in New York City for a chunk of my life. Now I’m in smaller upstate NY for the next chunk. I am very familiar with a lot of the challenges and struggles that the average black man or American Black, whichever term you prefer. I have my vivid memories of my interactions with the cops denying us the simple pleasure of racing home because three black kids can’t run in the hood unless they were guilty of something. It was until I was 17 and a college freshman, that I made my first white friend. Every white person I knew prior to that was an authority figure. This was common of my childhood friends .
I have witnessed the Black American experience partly as and insider and partly as an outsider. All around. It’s really hard to put everything about it into words. One thing I will say about this experience – that nobody ever get here in the stands – is the ambassadorship of being Black in America. By that I mean it feels like all your actions and talk are representative of a group or are compared to a group. I have been called “the whitest black guy, I know” by people because I don’t do certain things one way or the other. “Why do black people like Beyonce so much?” Or, “What is the feeling on OJ, now?” And somehow you are supposed to be the person with the answers, even though I don’t listen to Beyonce. However, you also have to remember you may be the first black person that they consider a true friend and so they have questions. So, as I’m watching all of this go on and all of the riots and stuff, a couple of things are in my head.
First off, don’t let the rioting take away from the message. That’s already been stuff about the riots being instigated by outside agitators or undercover cops. As a History major, I can tell you that this is a common PR tactic – believe It or not – by law enforcement, because people are more concerned about the riot then they lose the message. It keeps people from talking about all the things that led to the protest. Much like in rape cases, in cases of racial injustice there is always a search for the perfect victim. You have to have been perfect. You can have never shoplifted when you were twelve or done anything that might have been possibly inappropriate. That wipes out the injustice that happened to you. Talk of what George Floyd did prior to/years before his arrest or Ahmaud Arbery‘s high school experience, or something else. It’s always something else that makes this person not the perfect victim and therefore it’s excusable.
Secondly, to understand the challenges of minorities in America, especially black Americans, requires accepting awkward conversations, uncomfortable answers and tough questions. Since everyone is working from home, I have friends that have their office Chat Messenger going crazy about black people rioting and it coming to the suburbs. You can see Facebook posts filled with it. The idea of black people raiding the area where whites lived is as old as slavery. It started race wars, it was part of the Great White Flight to suburbia and it is all lies. It plays on the fear that someone is going take what you have. It doesn’t happen and won’t happen. It doesn’t even happen in NYC.
In summation… more listening, more empathy, less assuming and moral high-horse nonsense.
And in lighter news…
MLS Lockout – It looks like MLS is headed towards a lockout. I’ve been with this league since they started when I was in high school and I’m pretty sure if soccer was as big as it is now when we first arrived I might have actually been a half-decent soccer player. Maybe even made one of the low-level leagues – but that’s another discussion. Anyway, it appears the owners rejected the Players Association’s offer and sent them back to agree to the owners’ offer in the next 48 hours or so. I think this is ridiculous as for such a small sport. It would be insane and they would be shooting each other in the foot for no reason. Even small Major League Rugby decided to cancel the season and pay all of players. It was just smart by the owners and I hope the owners of major league soccer would look at the big picture at the long-term and how this will do nothing to help you grow the game in the US.
Share your thoughts and come back tomorrow for Big Ben Whitney. You can also find us on Twitter: @JunoirBlaber, @MeetTheMatts & @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram– @MeetTheMatts – and Facebook – Meet The Matts.