Politics & Race
Orlando, The Okey Doke and The Inherent Danger of White People Shit

When growing up Black you learn quickly that there are two simultaneously occurring universes to which we exist. At different times they are called different names, but they are parallel worlds, sometimes intersecting but are never the same. The one to which Black people belong is constant and unchanging. The other world, however is dependent on the angle from which you look. When you are young, it is called “grown folks shit.” A child does not dare step into the galaxy of grown folks–especially when they are talking. There is also “Other People’s Business.” If you want to survive in this world, getting in other people’s business is as dangerous as  wearing a Star of David at ISIS headquarters while drinking Flint water. But perhaps the most forbidden of all the parallel Universes is “White People Shit.”

The world of White People Shit is not as taboo as Grown Folks Shit or Other People’s Business, but it is far more treacherous. While getting into other people’s business is untoward, and may get you involved in something you wanted nothing to do with, White People Shit is dangerous. Because of privilege and good health insurance, it is not always precarious for them, but it is–as my grand mother says–“just not for us.” White People Shit is kayaking off a cliff in a canoe with a parachute attached to it. White People Shit is hiking the border of Iran and Iraq. White people shit is refusing to unlock your car door for a police officer until you speak to his supervisor.

I don’t get involved with White People Shit for a different reason: The Okey Doke. One of the inherent dangers of getting involved in White People Shit is having the “ole switcharoo” pulled on you. I’m sure you’ve seen how the Okey Doke works: Even though you’re happy with your compensation, you join your co-workers in a strike for more benefits, and the company relents–but only after they fire the Black guy to make room on the payroll for the benefits. That’s what you get for getting involved with White People Shit. Or you go on a midnight mountain hike with your white friends, and when you are halfway up the trail, you find out it is a ritual blood sacrifice… with your blood. That’s what you get for fucking with White People Shit.

Take the Orlando nightclub, for instance. After Omar Mateen gunned down dozens of partiers at Pulse nightclub, America immediately jumped on the bandwagon for increased gun control. The problem must be a lack of gun control. That’s White People Shit.

Whenever a group of “innocent Americans” (pronounced “wyt pee-pull”) encounter a mass tragedy we immediately turn to restricting gun sales, because we always want someone to blame. When 15 black kids are killed in Chicago during a summer weekend, no one ever talks about gun control. It wasn’t on the table after Trayvon was assasinated or when Jordan Davis was lynched for playing his music too loud. We never consider the fact that there might just be evil motherfuckers who we cannot stop from doing evil things. Let’s be clear: Every study ever produced shows that the most stringent gun laws will have no effect on overall gun deaths.

I am not a gun nut. I am a pragmatist. I believe if we want to curb gun violence, we need ban guns. Anything other than that is a waste of time and an exercise in futility. Omar Mateen would have passed a background check. So would have the Sandy Hook shooter, Dylann Roof and most of the other mass killers. Very few of them used assault weapons. Making these itty bitty steps towards gun control that actually does nothing is White People Shit. When stringent guns laws are enacted, who will take the brunt of their harshness? Black men, of course. Right now Black men’s jail sentences for federal gun laws are 3 times their white counterparts and–according to the department of Justice–weapons arrest rates per 100,000 population are highest for teens and for blacks. More stringent gun laws mean more Black men in jail for longer periods. Beware the okey doke.

There are others who will point out that at least we should restrict people from buying guns who are on the terrorist watch list. If owning a gun is a second amendment right, then they are advocating stripping away a constitutional right from an American citizen without a trial or conviction. White fright always prods the public into doing heinous White People Shit that disproportionately affects Black people. When the Patriot Act insisted that “making a terrorist threat” was now a crime, they didn’t apply it to captors in Guantanamo or Neo Nazis. It began popping up on indictments and lists of charges from nightclub fights and street brawls. That’s how the okey doke works. You think you’re hiking, but they’re out for blood.

When a California judge gave Brock Turner a negligible six months in a county jail for sexually assaulting a drunk, passed-out woman behind a dumpster, there immediately arose an outcry to remove the judge from his seat. When asked about it, I responded “Don’t come to me with White People Shit.”

To be clear, I think the sentence was wrong. I also know that the judge for Trayvon Martin’s case still sits on the bench and Bob McColloch–the Prosecutor who prodded the grand Jury to not charge Darren Wilson with the murder of Mike Brown–still holds his job. Furthermore, I refuse to participate in a process that makes judges subject to the emotional whims of the public. If judges sitting on the bench think they can lose their jobs if the public thinks they aren’t harsh enough, who do you believe will suffer?

You know the answer.

Beware the Okey Doke.

When it comes to justice–I’m all for it, but I know America’s justice system is tilted away from Black people, so I can’t enjoin anyone to take part in any piece of it that makes it tougher or more strict. It is like tossing an anvil into the air and paying no attention to where it is going to land. White People Shit always leads to the okey doke, which leads to more tribulation for Black People.

It always does.

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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