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neighbors

While attempting to find mental refuge from the guns of August and injustice overload, I decided to watch a comedy recently released on DVD. I like any movie starring Seth Rogen because it’s a sure shot of laughter that often uses jokes with various sub-culture references. The film Neighbors delivered the exact dose of funny I desperately needed until that, that scene, unseen to most.

My ear-to-ear escape was interrupted by an ultra-violet burning cross that forced me to stop the movie and check the credits. As the number of people on my vex list increases please do not let Seth Rogen make the cut. We all have degrees of prejudice but if Seth wrote this scene it means he is pledging allegiance to an inside joke that winks solidarity to hating black people. It’s not so much a KKK bat signal as it is a manufactured coon cosmetic meant for black people to wear and not see.

Back to my search results: The movie Neighbors, a box office heavyweight, was written by Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien and…Seth Rogen was NOT a writer – thank Elohim!

Now as for Cohen and O’Brien, I believe they pulled off an insensitive frat boy prank that I could’ve let slide but I’m not; mainly to prevent a trend of copycats. I’m not the only black person who caught the joke. If MLB player Carl Crawford saw Neighbors, I’d assume he’d be even more insulted given his history with the slur. When off duty officer John Perreault called him “Monday,” it obviously wasn’t the first time Crawford heard it and there’s no denying its slur status because Perreault loss his job.

The fact that this documented racist joke was used in the dialogue between two black supporting actors could be mere coincidence. It is also possible, to protect themselves from this very accusation, through calculated premeditation, the writers, Cohen and O’Brien, named the black character “Garfield” to justify use of the slur and cover-up the alleged crime. If this is the case, it is another example of how whites go out of their way to torment black people.

Cohen and O’Brien aren’t the only ones to pay homage to the Garfield. Among others were the writers of 30 Rock who kept a fictional “I Hate Mondays” poster in the dressing room of Tracy Morgan’s character. I love Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and the rest of the cast like I love Seth so I wrote it off, largely because as a writer, I had so much respect for how the show was written. Like Carl Crawford on July 5, 2012, I’m just not trying to hear it no more.

In 1920, there was a silent movie called “Neighbors” starring Buster Keaton. It’s a slapstick family feud love story. As part of the comedic subterfuge, Keaton’s character hits a cop while in blackface (done with some artistic taste) then temporarily gets away with the assault by washing “the black off.” He allows the privilege of his white skin to declare his innocence as the officer runs pass him and arrest the first black person he sees. Fast forward to real life 21st century transparency, police are now shooting the first black person they see. However, even when caught on tape, are we all seeing the same thing?

When people protest anything, they’re equally protesting evidence of things not seen. When Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson made a video apology to the family of Mike Brown and Ferguson community, why wasn’t he wearing his uniform? Was that code? How do we know he wasn’t wearing an “I am Darren Wilson” bracelet on his ankle? Or that he didn’t send a pic of his fingers crossed to Bob McCulloch, Jeff Roorda and Governor Jay Nixon? Thank you Shaun King for sharing your telescope.

I see the multi-dimensions of black face that transcends the naked eye. Sometimes it’s as harmless as sunscreen, sometimes it’s as harmful as framing a random black person to disguise a crime. For whatever reason, blacks have to worry less about sunblock and more about the police shooting them with a historical sundown legal lynching entitlement. Yet, it should be noted that the violent acts against blacks pale in comparison to the character assassinations in the media. The Twitter-verse produced the very poignant hashtag of #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to counter how white suspects and killers receive better treatment than black victims. Watch the following clip in entirety. What’s the purpose of this intentional edit? A coded inside joke for a promotion perhaps?

This is why you can’t believe everything you see.

Dash, body cams and video surveillance are great exhibits of evidence but unfortunately hold little weight against the threat of the feral black man (or woman) attacking. I will reserve my commentary on Planet of the Apes allegory, since we already know we’re equated to animals. Still there is an odd hierarchy of respect in this animal kingdom. The justice system worked better for Apollo the dog than it did for Mike Brown and countless other unarmed black men. Kajieme Powell wasn’t just shoplifting or else he would have been long gone from the store. He had reached a breaking point and was having a temporary moment of insanity protesting the de-valuing of black life – he was a martyr of animal rights. It’s all proof that grand juries and internal affairs are not working to uphold the law but to uphold food chain supremacy.

So why waste time coding agendas when the double standards are endless (i.e. Bundy Ranch and incidents like this)? Laws like Open Carry and Stand Your Ground seem like nothing more than legal defenses when a white person feels compelled to kill a black person. It ain’t duck or wabbit season, it’s n-gg-r season – or some might prefer to say M-nd-y season?

Darrien Hunt must have been an Afro Samurai who could do a reverse flying lunge when the police shot him in the back. Victor White III seemed like a promising magician the way he killed himself while in handcuffs. You know cop crimes are out of control when the so called perpetrators have to make their own “wire.” As further proof of how St. Louis benefits from poverty, had 21 year old Terry Robinson not recorded the cops, he might have just been another Monday in jail. One of the only reasons Officer Sean Groubert was immediately fired and arrested was because Levar Edward Jones amazingly lived and managed to give a full testimony and apologetic cross-examination while he was on the ground shot and bleeding in handcuffs – damn. Otherwise, it would have been blue shield vs. criminal corpse – seat belt violation might I add. Yet, even with all the latest HD and surround sound technology -we are forced to see in black and white.

While the police get away with murder by numbers the future sting is creating a databank that “predicts” criminal behavior. So in addition to the current trend, soon they’ll be able to kill more black face children with pretense immunity – any algorithm would sadly pre-qualify the 4 year old interviewed who wanted to be a police officer. Well, why not also have a databank to predict which officers most are most likely to shoot unarmed black people. This way we can give them better “aim-to-wound” training, simply because not squeezing the trigger is not an option.

Cynicism aside, this raises a legitimate question of managing an officer’s inner rage and prejudices. One could easily deduce that officers like Dan Page and Sgt. Mike Weston should not be on security detail for Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama. If a whole precinct was shut down for being plagued by racial strife, then the re-assigned officers should receive special attention (one already killed Mike Brown). Deeper psychological profiles can be administered through watching videos like the following. Please do me the honors of being my test focus group. What do you see?

Be honest, did you find this clip to be funny or infuriating? Indifferent? If you watch in mute, do you simply see love? Do we know if they’re in a relationship? Does it matter? What if I added the caption “I love Mondays,” who’s the joke on then? Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of pontificating because I have to worry about what others (who don’t look like me) see. I must now worry if there’s a white guy who loves that white girl and hates Mondays. What if her father was Chief Jackson or her secret admirers included Darren Wilson, Groubert, Cohen, O’Brien or even my boss? They probably ask themselves, why him? What does she see in that…man? Why did Hannah Graham go off with that…man? What if Graham was caught looking at Jesse Matthew with the same lust hours before she disappeared? Would the media show multiple loops of that glance the same way they showed Mike Brown in the alleged strong-arm theft?

This country can’t handle the truth of its sexual history. The whispers alone cause avalanches. Emmett Till met his heinous demise due to an alleged whistle. The National Guard bombed and burned down the black area of Tulsa, OK because someone heard a white girl scream (or maybe moan) and a black boy leaving the scene. John Crawford and Angela Williams are dead because Ronald Ritchie blew the whistle reporting what he wanted to see. So excuse me if my heightened senses hear a coincidental dog whistle in a movie causing me to write this. I’m traumatized and conditioned to be aware of the ways of white folk, even those who I applaud for how they included “Hooty-hoo” in their movie. Still, I know being an Outkast fan doesn’t automatically make them a friend of mine. Is there a way to discern the smile behind a screenwriter who inserts a coded racist joke and the smile coming from this white guy at the St. Louis Symphony after he called Mike Brown “a criminal?” If you see what I see,you’ll see the subconscious common denominator of white guilt, white rage, white privilege and white power is fear. How you choose to react to that fear will determine the fate of our co-existence.

When MSNBC’s Chris Hayes got rocks thrown at him while reporting from Ferguson, he was able to quickly process the reason was based on how the protestors felt about overall smearing news coverage. Other white males like Matt Zoller SeitzMatt Stauffer and Andrew O’Hehir atoned with articles of self-reflection. There’s been good play action with Comedy Central shows (as usual) and SNL’s been trying to figure it out with recent skits and hires. The most difficult part of white repentance is knowing it will take generations before the large majority sees an “American” as anyone other than themselves. Comments made at the scene of this St. Louis Cardinals game differ little from an era of black and white footage. No matter how repulsive public support and funding for Darren Wilson may be, the ostensible hatred is understandable while I find the lack of outrage for Officer Daniel Holtzclaw combined with the lack of support for the rape victims to be reprehensible – No More dot org?

Fighting through our mutual distrust is a slow but necessary act of attrition. While blacks defensively strategize on ways to survive, whites find ways to make democracy conditional. No angels or not, we can’t afford to meet in the middle because it is a proven zone of unjust entrapment where neighbors of faith break commandments and corporate funded politicians create rules that only punish, us.

The colored people of America are coming to face the fact quite calmly that most white Americans do not like them, and are planning neither for their survival, nor for their definite future if it involves free, self-assertive modern manhood. This does not mean all Americans. A saving few are worried about the Negro problem; a still larger group are not ill-disposed, but they fear prevailing public opinion. The great mass of Americans are, however, merely representatives of average humanity. They muddle along with their own affairs and scarcely can be expected to take seriously the affairs of strangers or people whom they partly fear and partly despise.

For many years it was the theory of most Negro leaders that this attitude was the insensibility of ignorance and inexperience, that white America did not know of or realize the continuing plight of the Negro. Accordingly, for the last two decades, we have striven by book and periodical, by speech and appeal, by various dramatic methods of agitation, to put the essential facts before the American people. Today there can be no doubt that Americans know the facts; and yet they remain for the most part indifferent and unmoved.

W.E.B Du Bois “A Negro Nation Within a Nation” 1934 

Suggestion:

The biggest inside joke in law is that Lady Justice is blind. The scales will never be equal so let’s just ask her to take off the see-through cloth from her eyes, put down the sword and make some compromises. In order to not make all these countless police KILLINGS “a race thing” can we agree there should be laws that reduce a cop’s pension if they kill an unarmed citizen in non-threatening circumstances? A percentage for every bullet sounds good to me. In addition, the parents and children of the victim should be exempt from paying state taxes – EVER AGAIN.

We as Americans are all neighbors of Ferguson. Politicians, I hope this suggestion is something you can properly structure and institute. Hollywood, I’m going to ask anyone writing a movie for Seth Rogen to exclude coded racial epitaphs. White people, just because you can no longer freely use the N-word doesn’t mean you should replace it with another word. Black people, if a white person invites you to a beer summit during Monday Night Football, it’s okay to go, just keep your guard up. Last but not least, Cohen and O’Brien, thank you for reminding me there’s no respite from the on-going struggle for justice AND that no matter where I live in this country, it’s likely I’ll have racist neighbors.

T. Better Baldwin is a creative mercenary and ethical lobbyist who was born, raised and resides in New York City.

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