It’s Saturday afternoon, and the black collective now approaches the 72nd hour after the Breonna Taylor verdict. Admittedly, it feels disingenuous writing that last clause, because there was no trial. The verdict was read when the soldiers of white supremacy burst into Breonna Taylor’s apartment in March.
Nevertheless, I digress.
The white media has predictably seized the opportunity to censure black men who they deem problematic in their, not America’s, anti-black ideology. Daniel Cameron, Charles Barkley, Chris Brown, and Tory Lanez are just a few of the black men publicly reprimanded in wake of the Breonna Taylor verdict. The black man, not the system of white supremacy, becomes a societal scapegoat that affords white supremacy immunity as they become the subject for what functions as pro-Breonna speech. One can, of course, not be pro-Breonna and anti-black man especially considering Taylor’s boyfriend, a black man, is the only source to which Breonna Taylor’s life mattered on that fateful day in March.
This white nationalist methodology echoes the troublesome words that Daniel Cameron spoke on Wednesday evening which implicitly indicted Kenneth Walker for white male murderous actions. Thus, the aftermath, despite castigating Cameron, socially reproduces the poisonous praxis he performed on Wednesday evening. The lesson to the black public is that the ways of white supremacy must not be separated from whiteness despite who manifests its wrath.
In addition to the white supremacist’s overt work to spin supremacy into intra-cultural tensions, the ivory tower casts its bullets in a global war on black people. Amidst carrying the load of a racial reality reinforced by the Breonna Taylor verdict, a non-black graduate professor at an HBCU saw fit to have a white woman lead a discussion on the transatlantic slave trade. Amidst black people getting killed in the street by whites, she saw fit to have a white woman come into a course inundated with black women at a black school and lead the discussion on an experience autonomous to her own. To coerce black students who sought the intellectual and social refuge of an HBCU to listen to a white woman assume epistemological control over a narrative and experience that engenders her societal privilege and scholarly credibility, is an act of violence.
To hear a white woman complain about imposter syndrome and the complexities of having to breastfeed during a conference at all, but especially hours after the Breonna Taylor verdict, engenders a peculiar pain to supplement an almost uncontrollable rage. And, of course, they didn’t even say her name.
My question becomes: How am I, an African in America, not to feel enslaved if non-blacks continue to lead the conversations about black abjection? With black freedom continually espoused to “good” white people, how am I to not believe that contemporary freedom is not a figment of the white imaginary?
These imposters attain and maintain relevancy because to many blackness does not matter unless a white person says so. Thus, these imposters create another means to ignore black voices, because their epistemological positionality does nothing to negotiate the societal hierarchy, irregardless the content produced or subject matter pursued. This dynamic of white interest and authorial positionally over black history, culture, etc, which has attained significant traction in the past decade, keeps the black collective as a whole restricted to the bottom of a societal slave ship, where the hegemonic hold relegates them out of sight, out of mind, and spoken for by a burgeoning white imaginary that continues to anchor black identity.
This dynamics make is so that dialogue and discourse on black people as a scholarly subjects can occur completely autonomous from black people, a dynamic that reinscribes black abjection and exclusion. The gentrified black archive and epistemological abduction render the black subject, to borrow Malcolm X’s theory from his autobiography, a mascot to his or her’s experience. Thus, my professor’s choice was not fellowship among scholars, it was a performance that demanded black compliance and participation in maintaining their peripheral placement in an anti-black world. The black collective is subject and scholar, not a scaffold for the ivory tower and its white and off-white re-presentations.
I include this anecdote to highlight the duplicity this anti-black world exhibits to render the black collective a mascot. Particularly, in the instance of Daniel Cameron and black male censure in wake of the Breonna Taylor’s verdict, white nationalism assumes an invisible stance despite fueling the distractive tensions that divide a community that should be united in the social and systemic affront the Taylor verdict illuminates. This mutilated logic proves the foreground for the ruse of white allyship and the white savior. To put it bluntly, the “bad” projected onto black people, namely black men and those who come to their defense, proves a formidable platform for “good white people.” Thus, it is imperative that we, as a collective, conceptualize good as inherently African and rightfully acknowledge the trickle-down effect of our abduction and disruption as the “bad” that birthed whiteness. As the war waged against us continues to adopt new forms, Black vestment in white redeemability reinscribes the ideology that attempted to enslave our ancestors, the logic of the good master.
The logic of the good master convinces it’s believers that despite circumstance they are still in the best country in the world, yet, the truth is we never got off the boat. The boat that bought us to America inundated the black person with portraits of their abjection; America displays an identical ubiquity without apology or mercy.
Furthermore, this logic of the good master ensures two things: that there is always a master and a corresponding enslaved population. As long as a white nationalist ideology continues to lead discussions around race and censure, whether overt or covert, freedom will continue to be a product of the white imaginary.