The facts start out simple enough. A black guy in Cambridge came home from a trip and had to force his way into his own house. A neighbor heard the noise and called the cops. One thing led to another, and the cops wound up taking in the man who broke into his own house. The details of the story that led to the arrest? They are incredibly unimportant as the story took on a life of its own. That’s the real story here.
Incidents like this happen all the time. Anyone who is black either had it happen to them or heard nasty stories from a friend, a brother, or a cousin. They are mad about it not because of the incident, but because of the pattern – a pattern that seems to add up to a lingering institutional racism in the USofA.
If someone believes in their heart that racism is playing a role in events, there is no one on this earth that is going to convince them otherwise. It’s something they are going to carry with them for one simple reason – they know it happens. Our tolerance for such events should be right about zero, but they happen anyway. That’s the real anger that comes out when things like this do down.
It’s an explosive anger that is great for filling airtime because the issue is one that comes from the guts. Many white people can’t believe this sort of thing happens and apparently haven’t heard the stories, so they react from their guts. Based on a belief that this can’t possibly happen in this day, it must not be happening. Until they get to know the stories for themselves, they’re not gonna be convinced, either.
What this creates is a story that takes on a life of its own. What people believe in the situation has nothing to do with the facts of the situation but has everything to do with their identity. If we could listen to the stories across the lines of identity we wouldn’t have a problem, but our deeply held beliefs get in the way.
Few of the people weighing in on this had ever heard of the black guy in question before. Some would have trouble finding Cambridge on a map. Their connection to the story is only in their guts, but it’s so powerful that they feel compelled to “speak out” regardless. It’s fired up by the “other side” doing the same, and what the Hell do they know? The cycles repeat over and over as a real issue becomes a farce and the anger intensifies because of it.
The simple fact is that people get mad over these kinds of things because they are real. A decent person would at least stop for a moment, realize that the initial response to this event was clearly coming from anger. The logical thing to ask is, “Why is this person so angry about some event he didn’t witness involving some person he doesn’t know?” Once you realize that the reactions are coming from the guts, it’s the only thing you can do.
If you stop for a moment and try to understand the anger among blacks over this, you’d realize that they easily see themselves in the same situation. If you put yourself in the same situation, you’d be righteously pissed off, too. It’s just not right – but it happens all the time. The tiniest bit of empathy goes a long way, especially when you realize that all the noise isn’t about this one particular event.
President Obama weighed in after an ambush question that he should have let slide, since he was speaking as President and not just for himself. He didn’t, and I’m sure he’s sorry for that. The fact that he didn’t let it slide when he clearly knows better shows that even very smart and skilled blacks get a twinge in their guts when this sort of thing comes up. That tells you something right there. It’s real, people, and if you don’t like it you better start dealing with it. Be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.
But our nooze has decided to let the anger keep burning, as if the details of this case will somehow sort themselves out rationally. No, I don’t think they believe that will happen, and I believe that they are just cynical enough to understand that letting this thing burn will produce material that people will really eat up.
The details don’t matter, what’s in our hearts matters. If we have reason to be afraid of authority, we run between scared and mad. If we can’t see that burning inside of someone else, we’re emotionally dead inside. Exploiting that to sell stories is just plain sick. Let’s get into our hearts and at inside the heart of this matter so we can start fixing it.