Entertainment & Culture
Tuskegee, Missouri and How to Build a Black Beast

A few stories glided under the national outrage radar this week, but a couple of them managed to perfectly illustrate the constructed cultural viewfinder that the rest of America peers through to see Black people.

Last weekend historic Tuskegee University celebrated its 2015 Homecoming in the usual style of an HBCU – unrestrained revelry flavored with the history and nostalgia to which the “Black Ivy League” institution is accustomed. The Montgomery Advertiser sent Albert Cesare – noted for his photojournalism and lack of melanin – to document the weekend, and he returned with what can only be described as a clusterfuck of insults and gut-punches meant to demean the legendary institution, and by proxy – her graduates.

To be fair, it seems as if Cesare didn’t bother to report on the game or the homecoming because, although his bio states that he has covered football all over the southeast, his final story and photo reel included nary a score or even a single photograph of a football player. It is apparent that his intent was to produce a drive-by Jane Goodall-like peek in on Tusgkegeeians in their natural homecoming habitat. Although he couldn’t manage to capture the negro debauchery on film, his hit piece “Straight Outta Skegee” managed to slander all in attendance by detailing how he was offered marijuana and a mysterious obviously alcoholic drink during the game and – that’s it.

No mention of the hundreds of years of graduates traveling from around the globe to descend on their alma mater.

Not one word about the generations of Black success stories conveyor-belted out of an Alabama college tucked in the middle of nowhere.

Not even a sentence about the championship stakes that were riding on the game.

Nope. Just blunts, “orange drank,” unrestrained jiggaboos, a half a roll of film and he was gone. Those crazy negroes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the black universe, every conservative commentator was dissecting how 32 Black University of Missouri football players made three institutions (The NCAA, The SEC and the University of Missouri) worth a collective billion dollars do their bidding and brought down the Provost and head of a 77,000-student University system. While anyone with an internet connection and a cursory desire for accuracy or truth could google the specific grievances of the Legion of Black Collegians, the overwhelming majority of the punditry class simply decided to reduce it to overzealous, angry black students discovering a feces swastika and overhearing the word “nigger” from a moving pickup truck.

No mention of those students taking their concerns to the administration multiple times.

Not one word about how the President whose salary those students pay refused to meet with them.

Not even a sentence about Wolf’s dismissing them blithely with a smart-alecky remark about their delusion of systematic oppression.

Nope. Just the crotchety “Black Lives Matter” crowd whining about Ferguson, dookie Nazi symbols or white privilege. That must be it. Now a poor Harvard School graduate, former computer tech software millionaire is out of a job. Those crazy negroes.

The majority of the 60,000 plus readers of the Sunday Montgomery Advertiser will never venture into the tiny town of Tuskegee to experience a football game – or any HBCU’s homecoming.

Most of the people who saw Joe Scarborough’s Republican bloviating reduce two Pulitzer Prize winners to exasperation never bothered to look up the real concerns of the Missouri Black Collegians.

And that is partly how you build a Black beast.

You simply add those on to the skeleton of last week’s at-large cop killer motivated by the Black Lives Matter movement who turned out to be a crooked police officer, but never officially retract the story. You build on the muscle of tales about the crazy, murderous, gang-crazed thugs of Chicago, even though it doesn’t rank in the top 10 murder rates in the U.S. (Wait. What? But they call it Chiraq. That can’t be right. Let me check again. Yep, women lie, men lie, but numbers…) You create an outer layer with the “Ferguson Effect” that says the rise in crime is because police are afraid to do their jobs after what happened after the murder of Mike Brown even though crime is down overall since Ferguson. (Wait. What? That can’t be right…) Then you subtly lay on the  immoral, drunk, high homecoming celebrators. You brush on some overmilitant, victimized, power-wielding, mad-at-white-people, college darkies. And what do you get?

You get a jewelry store calling 911 last week after a Milwaukee Buck’s player showed up to buy a Rolex, because he’s obviously a robber. You get a woman pulling a handgun on a man who asked her for a cigarette lighter because he “aggressively” approached her. You get a whole police department blindly accepting the police report that said Walter Scott reached for a police officer’s taser, even though he was shot in the back. You get a report saying shooting a 12-year old holding a toy gun in a park 2 seconds after seeing him is reasonable. You get 6-foot, 4-inch Mike Brown being “like the Hulk” to 6-foot 3-inch Darren Wilson.

Because Black people are scary. They are unruly, unreasonable, wild savages sucking on cannabis, sipping on gin & juice and ogre-ing over the poor white majority any chance they get. Whether it’s in their natural habitat or standing alongside the benevolent ruling class they are monsters, and monsters cannot be tamed.

No good, caring soul thinks it is okay to kill another human being – even if those other humans are Black.

But killing a monster…


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