Today, (some) white people were LOVING me. Locally, in the white world, I was the best thing since sliced bread. And why? Because a black person (me) ripped another black person (in this case, Memphis mayor Willie Herenton) a new one in public.
#2,356 thing that white people love? For a black people to criticize other black people in public in a way that white people LONG to, but can’t, because they’re white and are afraid of being called prejudiced or bigoted. (Notice I did not use the word racist – which is fodder for another post another day).
My column about Herenton was…. not complimentary. It was a written berating of a man who could do a good job if he just quit acting a fool. WMC-TV Channel 5, the NBC affiliate here, interviewed me today about the column (I didn’t watch it) and what I said that didn’t make the cut (or so I hear) was this:
It is BEYOND awkward having (some) white people eviscerate me REGULARLY for writing about race (which is a relevant topic in this divided city, no matter what bigots think) only to have the very same people turn around the next day, when I’m critical of a person who happens to be black and say I did a great job. I feel like my public scolding of Herenton gives some white bigots the license they were freaking DYING for to rattle off all the racial slurs they can think of against Herenton, and probably digress into a tirade about black people in general.
Note to the bigots: I don’t get extra $ in my check for writing about black people, white people, or race. In fact, all I get is internal angst when I see how absolutely giddy some white people are when I criticize a black person, and hate mail, death threats and nasty voice mail messages (from white people) when I have the audacity in 2009 to write about anything related to race.
There’s no upside, regardless of what I choose, so to my own self, I will be true. I decided that, oh, a couple months into a job I’ve had for nearly six years now.
If I want things to be mellow, I write about international affairs. No one locally seems to give a damn about that, and I can be sure there won’t have any vitriol via voice mails, e-mails or hate mail to contend with. Just crickets.
I so get why Chappelle quit his show.