on FTP and interracial dating

The image in the tweet contains two Black folks; the hoodie on the left lists names of Black people that have been killed by police and the shirt on the right reads “Fuck the Police: #FergusonSpring.”

So I saw this tweet and…the more I thought about my previous relationships with white men the angrier I got at myself. As in:

“I let my exes get away with thinking unintentional racism was acceptable, so when I finally called them on it, they thought I was the bad guy.” 

Now before we begin, let me state that it is a waste of your time to try to guess which white man inspired this post, as I’ve dated multiple and I was in two long-term relationships with white men before I realized it wasn’t worth the risk for me. Well meaning white people often don’t see their white fragility, whitesplaining, or white logic–a symptom of being raised in a white supremacist society–and in turn don’t see how these thoughts uphold white supremacy. In other words, if white people don’t check themselves, they wreck themselves AND others.

So let me be clear on a few things:
1. “FTP,” also known as “fuck the police” is a valid statement in a police state. If a cop is truly a “good cop,” even he would recognize that FTP is a normal response to the 928 people killed by the police to date. It is a particularly valid statement for a Black queer man to make, regardless of class standing. In other words, going to UC Berkeley or being raised working-class as opposed to poor does not make me or Martese Johnson any less immune to the violence of the police or other authority figures. The difference is that our neighborhoods may be policed less heavily and so we benefit from less frequent and less violent exposure, most of the time. But in a white world, respectability politics and accompaniments do not serve as an invisibility cloak.

2. We all live within a matrix of domination, meaning we’re all oppressed in some way; oppression is relative (thank you, Patricia Hill Collins). But oppression is multiplied by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness, literacy, educational status, socioeconomic status and so on and so forth. But if you’re a white man, regardless of class, you’re one of the most privileged people in the world, even if you travel outside of Western countries.
3. If white people want to date Black people–not me, thank you very much–they need to understand that generational trauma is a very real thing. They need to understand that long before Black folk even arrived in this country, white people’s [figurative and literal] relatives: Did. Not. Want. To. Live. With. Us. White people need to understand that TODAY many of their [figurative and literal] relatives still do not want to live with us. And if that’s the case, I don’t want to live with them either. The white devil has and will hunt Black people down; the brutal murder of Emmett Till was not an isolated case and we all know the more recent Trayvon Martin case. So if I’m going to live with or near white folks, bring me the ones who understand not just American history, but international history. These white folks at least understand why I don’t trust them in this normatively racist world.

4. White people built the U.S. by brutally killing Native folk and subjugating Black folk before continuing to feed on the labor of others. Black people were one of the first currencies of the United States of America. This created a very specific racial antagonism and racially gendered relations between Black folk and whites. Whites have, for centuries, been obsessed with and repulsed by our Blackness. They have sought to contain our Blackness and yield power over it, even going so far as to display us in human zoos. White men often raped female slaves, men in general serve less time for raping Black women, and the case of Dajerria Becton in #McKinney shows us that even–especially?–14-year old Black women in 2015 aren’t safe. So needless to say, American chattel slavery was just one point on a timeline of anti-Blackness by those of European origin. Many Black people know this, but for those who don’t: white people would watch lynchings and send postcards to friends. And guess who the white people lynched when they caught wind of an interracial relationships? The Black people, of course. 

5. I don’t have any problems with who other people sleep with or choose to love, truly. But here’s a tip from one Black person to another: if your white partner doesn’t recognize that the police are pigs, watch out. If this last year hasn’t taught you anything, hopefully Rodney King or the Stanford Prison Experiment did. So to my folks who are in the swirl now, I hope that your white partner is willing to create a human shield for you when necessary.


#BlackLivesMatter: on malicious hate

By using social spaces to assert that Black Lives Matter, I have noticed a certain pattern in responses. But let’s be clear, #BLM merely means that we need to pay attention to Black lives because our lives have never been valued in the U.S. That is, outside of seeing us as property, free labor, cheap labor, experiments, and vehicles for capitalism via slavery, discriminatory housing policies, HeLa cells/the Tuskegee Syphilis study and the prison industrial complex.

Let’s not forget that we, as a people, have never been silent about our mistreatment. But as a result of recent events, we now vehemently assert that our lives matter. We do not claim that they matter more than anyone else’s, but merely that they matter. But by speaking out about our precious Black lives, people get…offended, upset, and hostile. People get downright nasty. We assert our lives and many fellow North Americans assert their hate. And I choose the word malicious specifically, because the hate we receive has no grounding. The hate we receive targets us simply because we are Black. Whereas most Black people I know only talk about white people as a response to said hate, many white people are mad that we are asserting our right to live. The anger we receive is not because we personally did anything to white people. The anger we receive is not because we are actively harming people. The forms of anger we receive, the names we receive, the death threats we receive result from the assertion that our lives matter.

You’ll understand my confusion when I, as a pro-Black Black man, merely assert my right to life and receive hateful responses.  And for the record, pro-Black and anti-white are two very different things. My pro-Blackness is not an attack on your whiteness. I only problematize white people in response to something heinous done against my people by white people, or in the spirit of maintaining white supremacy. Don’t forget that there is a large contingency of white people who are maliciously hateful, spiteful, and violent towards Black people.

Even so, my frustration and pain stems not from a general dislike of white people, but utter hate for white supremacy and the everyday agents who uphold it, often without realizing it.  So when we talk about dismantling white supremacy through non-violent means like police reform, why do we receive physical, verbal, and symbolic violent threats? I already know the answer. But I ask that you consider all the wrongs done against Black people in this country [after all the wrong done against Native people] and how we, as Black people, still take the high road more times than not. I ask that you consider who committed those wrongs, the system that encouraged it, and how that system still exists. I ask that you don’t just look at and for everyday acts of racism, but at the ways in which the system we live in runs on racism.

photo taken by author in Berkeley, CA.