Journalist Gayle King recently made waves for her interview with the domestic terrorist who tackled a black teen for a phone she accused him of stealing. The attack proved as difficult to stomach as the interview, as both reeked of disregard for the integrity of African people.
Something I found particularly disturbing about the about the media’s portrayal, was the emphasis placed on the assaulted black teen not having the domestic terrorist’s phone. This emphasis posits the domestic terrorist’s actions as ameliorated if the teen had taken her phone. Here, the black collective witnesses the same dialogue that surfaces in conversations about the police. There is no excuse for attacks against the African-descended. Period. The perpetual actualizing of anti-blackness onto the black canvass without reflection, apology, or consequence conveys the indelible mark domestic terrorism casts onto black people.
This indelible mark makes it so that the African-adjacent are free to actualize their supremacy at any time to “teach” black people how to remain in a globally perpetual space.
A perpetual space festered in the vast understatement afforded to the complexities of callous actions rooted in racism. In this interview, this understatement took form in claims from the domestic terrorist that referenced hurting the assaulted boy’s feelings. These words delineate an inability to conceptualize beyond facile sentiment. What is imperative to note here, is that her behavior elucidates that negative behavior towards the African-descended constitutes an American axiology. Specifically, a domestic terrorist can only align a superficial emotion to their behavior because they cannot relate to being systemically disenfranchised. The African-adjacent minimize hegemonic behavior as ” hurt,” because they cannot properly conceptualize racism or to acknowledge the psychological intention of their actions. This is part of the innate assault of a domestic terrorist.
This behavior, however, is what black people experience daily. Whether followed around a store, instantly regarded as “poor,” “fatherless,” or “uneducated.” Whether being villianized for our hair or bodies, domestic terrorism is most violent when it is unspoken or conveyed in comments that the domestic terrorist conveys patronizingly. The media’s meditation on the overt performance of this daily practice censures its extremeity not its “lesser” forms still dismissed as arbituuary.
With this being said, I wish to focus on the viral moment, from the interview; the moment where the domestic terrorist defensively silenced Gayle King with the word “enough.” The deed was certainly condescending, but the behavior represented an experience the African-descended encountered daily, an experience rooted in sacrificing truth for comfort. A moment where black confrontation and insistance of truth is proves inconvenient to an anti-black agent or space.
The domestic terrorist did not reflect a person who wishes to silence anything that would “wake her up” from white supremacy; rather, her behavior reflects a person with the systemic and social power to create a reality that is not be disturbed by words that may engender any accountability in actuality or expectation. This silence was a verbal manifestation of the physical assault that relegates the being of black form to a dichotomy detrimental to their identity but essential to white nationalism.
It is worth mentioning that this practice is also what viewers witness with Gayle King herself. King, with this interview and the recent interview with Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, conveys King as blackface to CBS’s pseudo attempt at neoliberalism. The Lisa Leslie interview that King conducted on the heels of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, engendered censure for a question that sought to circumscribe Bryant’s legacy to a racist white gaze. While the public castigation fell on King, the event exposed what the supremacist space was trying to mask with King’s presence. Thus, this interview, and the every interview conducted since the Leslie interview, functions as damage control from a racist white media that, even when seeming to offer awareness, seeks to inflict its poison into the black mind from behind a black face.