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My ‘Black Man Code’ or is it a ‘Trayvon Martin’ moment?

In Politics, Society on March 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Yesterday afternoon after work I had what I have now discovered to be the “Black Man Code”. It is so amazing what one discovers as one researches, reads what he comes across and only to discover things one never thought they existed. Or if they existed, it is quite interesting to know the creativity behind some of them.

In my discovery – or experience, if you will – I shared on Facebook yesterday what I regarded as somewhat bile and ill-informed criticism at Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille, for her “refugee” comments last week on Twitter.

This after she tweeted that: “While ECape Educ collapsed, we built 30 schools – 22 new, 8 replacement – mainly 4 ECape education refugees. 26 more schools coming”. Many criticised Zille for this, claiming – bizarrely nogal that she referred to black and not white people mainly in the Western Cape province.

In trying to analyse and make sense of what Zille had said – it is clear that there was nothing racist about her comments (in my view) and that those who criticised her and even suggested she apologises (because in their view by “refugees” Zille implied us blacks) are just playing the racist card. I mean why would they assume in their limited and racist opinion that she was referring to us black people?

It is therefore because of their “view” or “understanding” of what Zille meant that I remembered my own little “black man code” moment earlier that day. And given Zille’s critics’ understanding of what she meant by refugees (in their opinion), I was of the view that black people, just like many of their white-counterparts, are so quick to claim racism where such does not exit.

For example, controversial African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema’s comments – on a number of occasions, even where such does not exit, at least to me, that is, and who apologised last week to those (mostly whites) he might have hurt as a result – have always, if not most of the time, been seen by many whites as racists. Another example is that of author Annelie Botes’ comments on her fear of black people that were seen as racist.

While waiting in the BMW mode of a car outside our boss’ house as he had gone out, and said he was coming back so we decided to rather wait for him outside his house, in what I classified a “white residential area” – and seeing the way his neighbours looked at us as they were leaving (for wherever that is), I said to my colleague: “I hate it when whites tend to treat us blacks with suspicion”. Well, I said this because of the way they were looking at us: like were wanted to rob them or something like that. Their “look” (or view of us as two black guys) said a lot. At least to me it did. As a black man I could sense this somewhat racist view of us.

What I am saying is this: there will always be black people amongst us who always, if not most of the time, see white people “through their racist glasses” and some of those whites who would always, if not most of the time, too, “choose to see blacks (and everything to do with us) through their racist glasses” even where such (racism) does not really exist. In addition, it is often the whites – as in the experience mentioned above – that would often treat blacks as criminals than blacks would treat them while blacks, on the other hand, would treat them as “the rich”.

And it is this POINT which Associate Press Writer Jesse Washington coined as “The Black Man Code”. I am not sure if he was the first to come up with it, but he was the first one from whom I heard it after blogger kstreet607 directed me to it (see also here).

Writing on 24 March 2012, Washington told his son to: “Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few”. Washington said his son should: “Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes”.

His comments came after the Trayvon Martin tragedy in the US where he was killed by George Zimmerman, claiming self-defence. Washington’s son told him after listening to the report on the radio that: “The guy who killed him [Martin] should get arrested. The dead guy was unarmed!”

As you can see Washington’s last part also confirms my experience, which, unfortunately, is also experienced my many black people in South Africa while in America – where Washington is based – it is experienced by African-Americans (black Americans, that is). He, however, warned his son to not “assume… that all white people view you as a threat”. “America is better than that. Suspicion and bitterness can imprison you”, he told his son.

While Washington told his son that as a “black male, you must go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are”, this will, however, be difficult in my view for as long as we see each other on racial terms or that Zille’s comments are seen as referring to blacks and for as long as Martins of this world are seen as a criminal by the likes of Zimmerman.

But until then blacks will always have that “Black Man Code” moment.

Or as I now believe – the suspicion with which whites treat blacks will always make the latter have their own “Trayvon Martin” moment.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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  1. [...] My ‘Black Man Code’ or is it a ‘Trayvon Martin’ moment? (akanyangafrica.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. [...] My ‘Black Man Code’ or is it a ‘Trayvon Martin’ moment? (akanyangafrica.wordpress.com) [...]

  3. [...] racist and anti-black and all that nonsense – but she is definitely not a racist. As noted in my recent blog post “trying to analyse and make sense of what Zille had said – it is clear that there was nothing [...]

  4. [...] racist and anti-black and all that nonsense – but she is definitely not a racist. As noted in my recent blog post “trying to analyse and make sense of what Zille had said – it is clear that there was nothing [...]

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