Politics & Race
White People Don’t Give a Fuck

When NegusWhoRead became a reality, we wanted to associate the site with brilliant, thoughtful people who were unapologetically black, so we created this video.




James Baldwin. Muhammad Ali. Nina Simone.

It had to include Nina Simone. Her unapologetic, bold Blackness still chills bones and straightens the backs of anyone who ever heard her talk or listened to her music. Nina Simone spoke with perfect diction and English, yet she “talked Black.” More importantly, Nina Simone looked Black. None of the neo-“woke” think pieces I’ve read want to say it, but Nina Simone was American ugly. She had fudge-colored skin, big lips and a broad, bell pepper nose,but we thought it was beautiful. She knew it was beautiful. It was as much a part of who Nina Simone was as her ability to play piano or write hauntingly introspective lyrics.

And now white people have a beige woman playing her in blackface.

When Zoe Saldana played an alien from another solar system she wore less makeup and prosthetics than she wore in the Nina Simone biopic. She wore more than The British and Australian white men playing Africans in Gods of Egypt. More than the translucent-skinned, redheaded Emma Stone playing an Asian in Aloha. These were not artistic choices. All of these trespasses were the  well-thought out decisions of multi-billion dollar corporations but rubber-stamped by individuals. The reason for these and other transgressions is clear:

White people don’t give a fuck.

Again, when I say white people I choose not to coddle the definition with “some” or “a great number of.” I mean “white people” in the same way Hillary Clinton gets the “Black vote” or I was simultaneously a part of the “underprivileged” and the “Black youth.” White people is the all-encompassing mass from which “the white man” sprung, but I mean “White people.’

And they don’t give a fuck.

They don’t have to be sensitive to the views and their portrayals of others because this is their shit, like how my granddaddy used to smoke cigars in the house or how dogs piss on the tree in the corner of the yard. Not giving a fuck is different than not caring. If I dressed up as a storm trooper from Star Wars and carried the wrong color phaser, it would be because I don’t really care. If I squinted my eyes to play an Asian, it would be because I didn’t give a fuck. Slathering an actress in shoe polish to make her kinda dark-skinned is not giving a fuck. Casting Gerard Butler as an African God is not giving a fuck.

In defense of white people, maybe there is a shortage of fucks to give. Or maybe they have become institutionalized from their long tradition of not giving fucks.

They give so few fucks that they are holding the rest of America hostage with knots in our stomachs and a collective case of the bubbleguts wondering if Donald Trump is going to be our President (notice, I said our President because we are supposed to respect the highest office in the land and love this country because it’s the greatest piece of dirt in the world, unless it is led by a Kenyan Muslim trying to stuff political correctness and health insurance down our throats).

As a matter of fact, if Donald Trump becomes President and runs America into the ground, making us the laughingstock of the western world, it will only be because White people don’t give a fuck. They don’t care about portraying Mexicans as rapists (because white people have special x-ray-like vision that allows them to seen naturalized citizenship and green cards). They don’t care about the economy, or xenophobia, or white supremacists, because they are angry and disenchanted with the political process, so they are ready to fuck shit up. See, it is easy to not give a fuck when the entirety of the social safety net exists only to make sure you land softly and comfortably. White people are setting America on fire because they live in a flame-resistant world. White people don’t have to give a fuck when authorities start asking hispanic-looking people for their papers, or middle-eastern-looking people about their religion or fellow white people why they are wearing white hoods.

Here’s how much white people don’t give a fuck:

White people summoned every ounce of caucasian outrage when Beyonce insinuated a tribute to the Black Panthers — then disingenuously painted them as a hate group and police refused to protect her. Meanwhile law enforcement officers around the country are putting boots in the backsides of any dark-skinned person with “that look in their eyes” at Donald Trump rallies even though he tongue-kissed the KKK — an actual hate group —  on national TV.

They are slowly turning “Black Lives Matter” into adjective synonymous with any Black person who raises their voice above a whisper. They’ll paint them with that moniker because they are working their way towards demonizing it the way they did “jihad” and “Islamic.” When Ashley Williams interrupted a Hillary Clinton fundraiser to confront her about racist statements in the past, they didn’t give a fuck that she didn’t belong to an organization or utter the phrase — she was a “Black Lives Matter protester” because they want to invoke that dark-skinned boogeyman.

They are still bemoaning the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol building even though it was offensive to a millions of its population and a reminder of the history of government-sanctioned rape, torture and imprisonment of Black people. They like the flag, so they don’t give a fuck about your feelings.

They turn on the selective fear and outrage about Syrian refugees, halftime shows or the Zika virus but have curiously become ho-hum silence when an entire city is poisoned with lead. Maybe it’s because the city of Flint is 53% Black, or maybe it’s because white people don’t give a… you know.

Martin Luther King had a dream. We are no closer to his children being judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin than we are to Mississippi (who still flies a state flag containing the Confederate symbol) becoming an oasis of freedom. Maybe we will one day get there. Maybe one day white people will wake up with a fuck abundance and will spontaneously start giving a fuck.

But be careful…

We might stop giving a fuck, too.

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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