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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Boyd: Smokescreens and mirrors

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I recently received an email. It’s not unusual for me to receive emails as I receive a large amount every day. However, this email was a little different than the norm. It started innocuously enough. The subject line was simple: “Hello” it read. I suppose the writer thought if he opened with something harmless, I’d take the bait and open the email. Or maybe I’m giving this person too much credit in making him seem like an intelligent being. Judging from his email, he clearly is not. Either way, I opened it.

I won’t go into details about what the email said, but just know I was called everything except a child of God. I was also told if I didn’t like America to leave — a tired old cliche if I ever heard one. From that email I learned Al Sharpton is my hero. I’m so glad someone told me this information because I never knew Sharpton was my hero. It’s funny how people who don’t know you, never met you or had any contact with you, know so much about you.

I got such a kick out of this email, I shared it on social media. Many of my friends and family members didn’t think it as funny as I. A few of my people were ready to go see this person, and by go see, I don’t mean chat. However, I assured them none of that was necessary. Plus, some of the sleuths on my team did a little investigating and discovered the sender lives in Maryland.

The reason I found this email to be so hilarious is because it’s so unoriginal, and it’s not the first time as a journalist I experienced a bigot. I fully expect I will encounter a racist or two working for a newspaper specifically for the Black community. Heck, I experienced it when I worked for a mainstream newspaper. If I don’t agitate a few racists, I’m not doing my job.

I need some originality if I’m going to get worked up. I grew up watching episodes of “The Phil Donahue Show” and other daytime talk shows where you have the Black “hate group” and white “hate group” square off, or the Black people come on and try to change the minds of white supremacists by making them see our humanity. Talk about theatrics! This stuff made for great TV. The ’80s and ’90s were fun times!

I remember thinking of ways I would counter some of the arguments with undisputed facts so they would have to shut up and listen to me. My goal was (and still is) to make racists look dumb, and I figured I could do it — and do it well. However, watching those shows I realized nothing is getting resolved and no one is listening. Inevitably, a fight broke out. Again, such great TV in the ’80s and ’90s. I understood the fighting because it seemed to me you expect a right hook if you’re comfortable calling someone a racial slur. That just seemed like the logical consequence. Now, I wasn’t the mature adult I am today, so I was down with this foolishness. I wouldn’t even pay this nonsense any attention today. I avoid subjecting myself to this level of frustration.

Watching those shows over the years, reading books and documentaries about race, I learned the same sentiments are continually expressed. It’s so lazy. I mean so lazy. I can’t even allow myself to get upset at such laziness. It’s all so laughable. I usually can tell we’re about to take a trip into cliche-ville when a person starts off saying “if you don’t like it here, go back to Africa (leave).” Does the person who uttered this trite phrase think he or she really said something? And is this lame phrase supposed to hurt my feelings? I just can’t.

That’s where I am with so much of this nonsense. It’s hilarious. People who don’t have anything intelligent to say receive none of my energy. There’s real work out here to be done, and I don’t have time to focus on emotional and intellectual dummies. That’s the low-hanging fruit. It’s easy to make them look stupid. I’d rather focus my energy on those who use their intelligence to keep systemic racism in place and are smart enough to mask their anti-Black views with euphemisms. These are the people with power. They’re the ones who appreciate the low-hanging fruit racists because that’s who we focus on and miss what the racists with the power are doing. So, to those guys I say: I see you.

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