An angry black person is a wrong black person, right?
Back in 2009, my parents planned a five-day trip to visit my aunt and uncle in Roanoke, VA. I decided to meet them there, but I’d only spend the weekend.
Logically, I packed for a weekend. No use in bringing a big bag for just few days, right? The aim was to pack everything into a bag small enough that I could carry it on. I hate checking bags. It just means spending extra time in the airport waiting at baggage claim, hoping that the bag I checked actually made the flight. I’ve been burned before, so I steer clear whenever I can. This was one of those perfect opportunities. I had a bag specifically made to be a carry on. I knew that if I could fit everything into that bag, I’d have no problems.
I was right. I carried my bag on, found my seat, and slide my bag under the seat in front of me. I was all set.
The trip was great. I always have a good time when I’m with family. But things got interesting when it was time to head back to KC. You see, Roanoke has a pretty small airport. Like, the kinda small that requires you to walk outside to board your plane. Like, the kinda plane that looks like it could fit inside a Cracker Jack box.
As I walked outside carrying my bag about to board the plane, the flight attendant, a middle-aged white lady, was hanging halfway out the door of the plane. She looked at me and my bag, and suggested that I hand it over to be checked right there at the door (there was a gentleman standing there taking bags to put them under the plane). She said, “That bag is pretty big, there’s no way it will fit inside.”
“No, it’ll be fine,” I said. “It fit under the seat in the plane I came here on, which was the same size as this one.”
“I SAID TAKE THAT BAG TO BE CHECKED!!!” she yelled.
By this time, I had walked up the stairs, and I was standing face to face with her as I boarded.
“It’ll fit under the seat,” I said, trying my best to remain calm.
As I walked down the aisle to my seat, she screamed, “Well, once you realize that bag doesn’t fit under the seat, you’re going to be personally responsible for getting up and taking it outside to be checked!! I’m not doing it!”
She was making a scene. Everybody on the plane was looking at me. Trying my best to contain my inner abrasive negro, I replied, “Yo, would you please stop yelling at me!”
I found my seat, sat down, and slid the bag under the seat in front of me. When everyone had boarded and she shut the cabin door, she came walking down the aisle ready to be proved right and send me back outside. She looked at me, then looked down. “Is… Is that the same bag?” she asked.
“Yep,” I answered, looking at her blankly.
After that, a friend, who had made the trip with me, asked for her name so that we could report her for how she’d acted. She gave it to us without question. As we got closer to our destination, my friend and I discussed how we’d confront her again as we got off the plane. I decided that I would conceal my phone and record the conversation. By the time we reached her to talk to her, the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh, are you going to record me?”
One of the other passengers that had been sitting close to me had tipped her off. That burned me to the core. Here’s the rub: the only thing that the people on that plane witnessed was her yelling at me as I walked to my seat, me try to control my frustration, and my friend asking for her name. But still, despite what they’d seen and heard, somebody was willing to believe that I was in the wrong rather than her. Without any evidence, someone was willing to believe that I MUST have done something to cause the reaction from her that everybody on the plane saw. Somehow, she was justified. Why? Because in the eyes of way too many people, an angry black person is a wrong black person. Every. Single. Time.
I told you that story for a reason. Every day I read about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and get more and more upset. There are plenty of reasons to be angry. Another unarmed black boy has been murdered. Another unarmed black boy has been murdered by a police officer. His killer has yet to be arrested. With the leaking of the video of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store, there is an attempt to paint him as a thug, justifying his murder in the eyes of far too many people. The police have been acting like Army Ranger wannabes as they try to control the unrest… The list goes on and on.
The element that has me hot right now is centered around a comment I read on a news story about Ferguson. It read, “I hope the Officer who shot Brown hires Mark O’Mara. That lawyer is a magician in the courtroom.” (If you’re unaware, Mark O’Mara was on the defense team that represented George Zimmerman in 2013.) In addition to that, I came across a Facebook group that has been created in support of Officer Wilson. A group that at the time of this writing, has over 27,000 likes.
This says a few things to me: 1) Some people genuinely believe that Officer Darren Wilson should be free and that Michael Brown’s killing was completely justifiable. 2) Those same people felt like George Zimmerman deserved freedom, and Trayvon Martin’s killing was completely justifiable. 3) Regardless of eye-witness accounts, autopsy results, simple physics and common sense, some people are just not going to side with the big, black, angry mob even if the big, black, angry mob is right.
At this point, it’s Wilson’s word against at least three eye-witness accounts, all from people who don’t know each other. The most recent autopsy didn’t reveal anything that backs up the claim that Michael Brown punched Darren Wilson in the face, especially with enough force to cause injury. But none of that matters. What matters is that on one side you have a white officer, a six-year veteran, who is a nice, loving husband and father (according to the Chief of Police). On the other side, you have a 6’4″, 300-pound black kid, who had just robbed a store for some Swishers.
The big, angry, black mob is siding with the black kid. And they are really big. And really black. And really angry… So they must be wrong… Right?
*Note: I checked that support page for Darren Wilson again after posting this on Tuesday morning (8/19/14). It had grown to 33,000. I thought seriously about posting a link to this post in that group, but why? Some people are just going to always oppose the big, black, angry mob. They’ll ignore the evidence that doesn’t line up with what they want to believe, and magnify the claims that help them prove their point. I’m not here to start arguments with people who I already know will refuse to hear me.