By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.
I told you guys that my principle worry about all of these allegations of racism would be the cry-wolf syndrome. Well its here, and it’s biting really, really hard.
I am going to flash-run this stuff because, Number One, I’m quite perturbed by the fact that the very thing I hated to see happen…is already happening. Number Two, these accounts are so ridiculous that it really takes a speed run to get through the sly amounts of smokescreen that pop up throughout each story. Let us begin.
Most recently a Princeton college professor (how elite of a position is that) charged onto social media to proclaim how she was profiled for speeding by Princeton police officers. Well, aside from the fact that she was caught going 22 miles per hour over the actual speed limit of 45 mph, she also was found with arrest warrants for two separate driving violations from 2013, and her driving privileges were suspended at the time that Princeton police stopped her. The professor, Dr. Imani Perry maintains that she was racially profiled by the two officers who stopped her because they happened to be white Americans. If anything was profiling, it was Dr. Perry’s own action of speeding, which fits in with studies done in New Jersey that found that black and Latino drivers tend to speed more in that state at an alarming population ratio (the shortest version of New Jersey’s finding is here, the longer version from the New York Times’ attempt to discredit the study is here). Read Dr. Perry’s Princeton story here. The whole situation is ridiculously sad.
Recently social media has also been aflame over Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance…instead of Coldplay’s awkward microphone volume. But, it is understandably so. Beyoncé took to her stellar stage performing talents to address a social issue during the Super Bowl and people are at once irate and jumping to her defense. Beyoncé’s performance was based off of her new social “activist” song called “Formation.” It’s intended to be a tribute to black American strength and valor, but…
The actual music video for “Formation” has her posing as a Creole madame at a Big House with what appear to be well-dressed black servants.
Why servants? Well, her lyrics praise her Creole roots. (Creoles were an entire social class of mixed-heritage persons native to Louisiana and some surrounding areas; Creoles were notorious for owning African slaves and campaigned for slaveholder rights in their funded newspapers like The Daily Creole.)
But it wasn’t all stuck in the artist’s probable familial past. Beyoncé also spoke of her personal ability to make money, her ability to take her husband out to Red Lobster after their intimate moments in the bedroom, and her celebrity ability to hype the prestige of any location where she is present.
Okay. Interestingly, this entire music video and song was filmed as a token for black American pride and it takes place in the context of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans. There are some hints at slavery (very questionable hints) and there is a sign of some sort of cultural pride as Beyoncé boasts of her daughter’s mixed heritage by her “Negro” (Beyoncé’s words not mine) husband Jay-Z. Cool. Other than that, the location at New Orleans is an awkward mirror to Beyoncé’s own Creole roots…just like the Big House scene. She ends the song by telling her listeners that getting money is the best revenge to take on jealous people. Is her song specifically about having pride in the black American social community? I leave you to decide that.
At Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance her tribute was seen as an ode to the legacy of the Black Panther Party. But after Beyoncé’s performance finished, her dancers posed with a sign they received from Black Lives Matter protesters decrying the “unjust” shooting of Mario Woods. Really? They want justice for Mario Woods? Mario Woods: the San Francisco man who had a history of incarcerations, was affiliated with the “Oakdale Mob” street gang, and the man who had just violently assaulted and stabbed a man named “Jacob” (his identity hidden for reasons of personal safety) with a kitchen knife before he himself was shot by law enforcement officers. In fact, when the wounded “Jacob” fled to the San Francisco police, the police moved quickly to search for Mario Woods and found him still clutching the knife that he used. Despite being pepper-sprayed and being shot with nonlethal rounds, Mario Woods would not surrender to law enforcement. He got up and approached an officer still clutching his knife, and then he was shot. This entire story wreaks of criminal-being-shot-by-police. No racism needed. Even in one of the cell phone videos taken by a woman (who later was outraged that the police dared to shoot Mario Woods) you can hear her, the very same woman recording the video, pleading with Mario Woods to just drop his knife.
Does Mario Woods deserve a protest? Well, apparently something in the message of Beyoncé’s song and symbolic stage performance communicated to the performers closest to her and also those representing the Black Lives Matter movement that he does. Well…maybe Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s generous donations to the Black Lives Matter movement also helped to encourage this (hopeful) miscommunication.
Keep in mind that the San Francisco police department these women protested also escorted their entire crew to and from the Super Bowl location. I leave you to your own whims of honor judgment there.
Crying wolf is a brutal thing to do. Crying wolf didn’t end well for the sheep in the story, and in some versions of the story, it didn’t end well for the little boy who lied either. Many of us need to learn from The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Especially those of us too busy making Beverly Hills money by being famous or spending our career lives in elitist educational institutions. At the end of the day, it is the sheep, the most vulnerable characters in the story, the people without the prestige or degree titles behind our names, who are most at risk–
Some of us mere mortals need what little credibility we can muster when prejudicial injustice actually does happen.
UPDATE: The Princeton police have released the dash camera footage of Dr. Imani Perry’s arrest a while back. I saw it and have decided to share it with you. True to form, look at how she has responded. This is recklessly irresponsible behavior on her part on behalf of all Americans and law enforcement.
See it for yourself here: