The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Danny Cardwell's picture

    Overcoming Racist Imagery: A Trip Inside The Mind

    Who else is tired of their social media feeds being flooded with viral videos of Black people being harassed and/or questioned by overly concerned white people? I’m not saying we shouldn’t watch and share these videos. Ignoring this issue won’t make it go away. These videos serve a purpose, but I’m tired of seeing them. I’m tired of anti-Blackness. I’m tired of people deputizing themselves to police us. I’m tired of people assuming our presence needs to be explained.

    This kind of harassment is the child of ignorance and hatred. Unnecessarily following, questioning, or calling the cops on anyone can create a potentially dangerous situation. Not everyone is going to pull out a phone and start recording. There are people capable of going from calm to pissed off before their antagonist can dial 911, but even if the person being harassed keeps their cool they are put in the ominous position of having to explain themselves to law enforcement.

    These videos are new, but this behavior isn’t. Black bodies have been monitored and surveilled since the first slave ships dropped anchor. The moment Black bodies are “out of place” our patriotic friends spring into action. Their fear and unarticulated assumptions create drama where none exists.

    I know Black people who are policing themselves. I know people who have decided that eating at certain restaurants or shopping in some malls isn’t worth risking a potential confrontation. This is psychologically exhausting and emotionally damaging.

    We don’t have to be prisoners to this madness. Self-exploration, self-awareness, and ultimately, self-knowledge is our way out. Finding yourself doesn’t mean you won’t be victimized by racism, but it can keep you from internalizing the experience. We should be upset by racist behavior, we should confront racists tropes, but we shouldn’t allow the mania of others to limit our freedom. We can train our minds and strengthen our spirits.

    Plato thought there were three components to the soul: the logical, the spirited, and the appetite; Sigmund Freud lectured about the three parts of the personality: the id, the ego, and the superego; Frantz Fanon wrote extensively about decolonializing the mind; The Nation of Gods and Earths have been teaching about self-actualization since the 60’s. There’s a lot of information across a variety of disciplines readily available for anyone serious about overcoming the psychological effects of trauma.

    What works for me (if it is working) may not work for you. I’ve found that fighting the urge to reject objectification helped me understand they way people look at me and how I react to their reactions. I think of myself as an object, a subject, and an agent. This allows me to focus on the things I can control. I define my personal trinity in the terms of me, myself, and I.


    • Me: (object) a canvas where society projects its understanding (and misunderstandings) about language, culture, gender, race, sex, and class.
    • Myself: (subject) The internal battleground where assumptions, prejudices, and preconceived notions are either internalized and accepted, or confronted and defeated.
    • I: (agent) The external being whose actions reflect the conscious and unconscious struggles I face.


    We are constantly objectified: all of us. Every interaction we have starts with a look that attempts to understand us or place us in a category. At any given time, we have a number of character traits projected onto us. Those initial judgments are part of life; they will always be there, but we don't define us. We will never know freedom if we don’t find a way around social stigma. One can be bound without physical shackles.

    Our challenge is to diminish the power judgment holds over us while simultaneously elevating our self-worth. The phobias and “isms” plaguing our society flourish because of intellectual laziness. Ignorance and hatred aren’t going anywhere, but we have to remember that the hateful and ignorant aren’t the majority. We can’t fall into the trap of trying to refute every negative stereotype about Blackness. Ultimately, the most important judgment we face lives on the other side of a mirror.



    Thanks for detailing the nonsense of being policed for being black. I think many people try to minimize the impact of this stressor. There is a true physiologic impact of being black and living in the United States. I previously provided links to studies that show the blood pressure of blacks in the United States is higher than blacks living in Jamaica or Nigeria. The death rate of black women living in the Uniged States is higher than that of women living in the Caribbean or African. When black women from the Caribbean or Africa, their daughters have the same increased maternal mortality as black women born rn in the United States. There is a stress factor that cannot be ignored.

    You point out the psychological  impact. Black people fought too hard for their rights to begin to police themselves so they will not offend some random white person. Heck, in the right circumstance, sit next to the person and make them feel uncomfortable while you smile.

    Edit to add:

    The situation in the second paragraph relates to the situation when it is clear that the random white person does not appreciate your presence. Works well on airlines, wine dinners, etc.

    No disrespect for the points you raised but isn't Danny suggesting that being angry about it is not enough to make things different? Anger is important. But is it enough for a person to live?

    Why is it angry to point out health consequences?

    What does that question have to do with my question? I agree that the situation is sickening.

    What then comes across as angry?

    What in your report relates to Danny's challenge to look further than the real offenses known by all who are willing to look at them?
    I am not trying to make a claim upon your state of mind. I was looking at it from the point of view of what Danny is trying to say.
    Let me reframe the question. What is Danny asking for?

    I gave my response. Not ready to play 20 questions. Say what you want to say. What are you looking for?

    Edit to add:

    I think my position reflects my self worth. Just say what you want to say, because I have no clue what you want.

    You have not answered Danny's challenge.

    That's it.

    What is your response to Danny’s challenge? 

    I also note that his solution is as he said, his solution.

    Which may not be yours.
    Perhaps you guys should talk.

    I think if Danny wants to enter the conversation he will. 

    Idont think you’ve addressed Danny’s challenge 

    Put the challenge in your words and I will give it a try.

    More games

    Edit to add:

    I answered Danny’s challenge. well aware of the perceptions that surround me. I understand them and I define my self worth. My spirit remains intact.

    My response? It is everything I have been trying to advance since a long time ago.
    If you still care tomorrow, I will say something tomorrow.
    Maybe you don't really care what I have to say.
    That's cool. But I need some respect. I need love. Just like everyone.

    To say much.

    If I didn’t care I wouldn’t have asked

    I give a response, it doesn’t satisfy you. You then avoid answering questions. 

    The reason, I began with the health outcomes is because I feel that there is a direct health threat to living in the United States that impacts black people. I have family and friends who supply love and support. One of the things my parents understood was that there are people who don’t love me and won’t no matter what Indo. There are others who accept me as I am. I have close friends and close family. I enjoy life. I obviously don’t let others define me. 

    I have discussions with people on the other side of the political aisle we do not come to blows. I realize that if an issue concerning voter ID arises, they will follow the GOP lead. Ditto for abolishing portions of healthcare. They are able to feel sad about the children at the border, but will still vote for people who supported the kidnapping we agree to disagree. My blood pressure on no medication is 116/60 with a resting pulse rate of 62 bpm. I laugh at jokes. I think I’m doing OK

    I don’t hate Trump supporters. I don’t trust Trump supporters. Haven’t had the police called on me during a BBQ. Yet.

    if you decide to stop playing games and answer Danny’s challenge the way you deem appropriate. I’ll be here.

    I am not playing games. We are all in the shit. White and Black. You have said that yourself. And some other people who did not make that list.

    My understanding of the challenge is that if you exult in suffering, you will just keep experiencing that.

    Clear enough?

    Finally, an answer. Yes, we are all in the shit. Realizing the particular fecal material you are in does not mean exulting in it. It simply means that you realize that you’re in shit. It also reminds you of who is shoveling the shit. I am not exulting in the shit, I’m constantly reminding myself how much shit I’m in. For me, if I fail to realize that I’m in shit from the time I wake you until I sleep. I might begin to think this shit is normal.

    So a Birther is elected President. Shit. People are yelling to lock Hillary up. Shit. People thought Melania, Ivanka, and Jared would be positive influences on Donald. Shit. I am self aware. I see the shit. I know this is not normal. 

    When you fail to realize that you’re in shit, some find easier to attack people trying to flush shit down the toilet before you go after people shoveling the shit on you. Maxine Waters says look at the people shoveling the shit. She gets attacked for pointing out the obvious. Maxine is blamed for angering the people relentlessly shoveling the shit. That argument is full of shit.


    End of rant

    Do you have anything to say to the "overcoming" in Danny's message?

    He also says that we should confront racist tropes. Why do you ignore that?

    Strikes me that moat's reading Danny's full sentence and you are cherry picking out a phrase from it:

    We should be upset by racist behavior, we should confront racists tropes, but we shouldn’t allow the mania of others to limit our freedom. We can train our minds and strengthen our spirits.

    Danny says that his approach is not designed for everyone. I selected what suits me. According to your criteria. It would seem that any confrontation of racists would be inappropriate. You want to decide when confrontation can be applied. I leave it up to the individual. A great take away from the post, is that I’m not obligated to fit into your desires.

    I didn't state anything about any criteria of my own. I was talking about Danny's advice. Moat was continuing to try to goad you to speak to what Danny was saying. Because I pointed this out, you have now finally answered that you don't agree with Danny. This little interlude, it's all basically about reading comprehension and communicating clearly and not making strawmen out of other people's writing to push your own agenda.

    See below

    There's a certain amount of over policing of black people. But just because a white person calls the police on a black person doesn't make it racist. If a family is BBQ in a park in an area that is clearly marked No Fires or Grills they're breaking the rules. If the rule was put in place because people were dumping hot charcoal on the ground when they left and other children were getting burned while playing in the area I happen to think that's a good rule. I would support a person calling the police on people breaking that rule. I'd likely call the cops myself if I lived in that community. As the caretaker of a ghost town it's my job to enforce the rules about where and how one can have a campfire and where they cannot. I enforce the rules when white people break them.If I enforce the rules when Hispanics or Blacks break them it doesn't make me racist.

    Again I recognize that there is a problem with over policing of black people but there are rules governing the use of the commons. At least a significant minority of the time it seems to me a person is breaking a rule or regulation I support and should be policed. It doesn't automatically become racist if the rule breaker is black.

    First, none of your hypothetical happened in the BBQ Becky situation. No arrests were made and a larger BBQ was held at the same spot later in the month.

    Second, there have been fatal outcomes when police arrive on the scene when black people are involved.

    Unless the park is up in.flames, you call will be questioned 

    Perhaps there was more than one situation where the cops were called on people BBQ. In my reading of the story the area was clearly marked No Fires or Grills. The black family was clearly breaking the rules. I generally follow the rules of the commons and expect others to do the same. I enforce rules as part of my job and will report rule breakers.

    Let's look at the most recent story. A women lived in a secured building. All the entrances were locked and residents had a key. They were instructed not to let strangers into the building. A man entered the building without using his key when she opened the door. She asked to see his key and he refused. She followed him to his apartment to make sure he lived in the building. All the rules make good sense to me. White, black, hispanic, whatever I probably would have done the same thing. I'd also report him to the manager. 

    How does this become racist if the women was white and the man was black? Wouldn't a black women do the same thing? What if the women was black and the man was black or white? 

    The company that employed the woman in apartment situation fired the woman.

    Edit to add:

    Neighbors who used the park where the charcoal BBQ occurred noted the following


    Lake Merritt has three areas with stationary charcoal grills for public use, according to the map. But residents and officials told the news station that the rule is not typically followed or enforced, and is not a police matter.


    In the apartment the man showed his key. He was followed to his apartment. He went into his apartment. Police came to his apartment 30 minutes later.





    Sometimes people who are guilty receive no punishment or are rewarded. Sometimes the innocent are punished. You know that's true. Therefore your reply means absolutely nothing to me. It actually means nothing to you too. If I told you Kavanaugh was promoted to the Supreme Court would you find that sufficient proof of his innocence? Neither is being fired proof of guilt.

    I added some more info about both situations in the Edit to add portion.No one followed the BBQ rules and the police were called after the man was in his apartment.

    Edit to add:

    Here is how one TV station reported the apartment story.


    ST. LOUIS, MO, (KMOV/CNN) - D’Arreion Toles was returning home from a late night at the office when a tenant who lived on the third floor of Elder Shirt Lofts in St. Louis, MO, created a roadblock.

    “Please move, ma’am,” Toles told the woman blocking his entrance to the building.

    “Do you live here,” the woman said in response, even though Toles had already told her he lived in the building.

    In cellphone video he recorded, Toles showed a key fob, moved past the woman and took an elevator to the fourth floor.


    He had a key fob. He didn’t know the woman asking questions 

    Most people who speed aren't stopped by the police. That doesn't mean if I'm stopped I shouldn't get punished. Many people who are stopped don't get arrested or even get a ticket. That doesn't mean they weren't breaking the speed limit. That doesn't mean if I'm stopped I have the right to just get a warning.

    If you’re talking about the BBQ, the police issued no citation In fact, the police briefly questioned if BBQ Becky should be placed on a mental hold.

    Once again, I've been stopped for speeding and the police issued no citation. Does that mean I didn't break the law?

    See below

    Your excellent words remind me of Ralph Ellison in the last chapter of the Invisible Man. The last paragraphs:

    "Ah," I can hear you say, "so it was all a build up to bore us with his buggy jiving. He only wanted us to listen to him ravel" But that is only partially true: Being invisible and without substance, a disembodied voice, as it were, what else could I do? What else but try to tell you what was really happening when your eyes were looking through? And it is this which frightens me:

    Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?

    Here a story that flips the script. A black poll worker called the police on white people. The poll worker saw three white people eyeing him. He did not call police at that point. The white people got out of their car and hurled racist names at the man. The poll worker didn’t call police at that point. One of the white men lifted his shirt to expose a pistol. That was when the poll worker called police. The police wound up arresting the man for threatening. The gun turned out to be a BB gun. The episode demonstrates when it is appropriate to call the police.

    thought of your essay when I ran across this, sharing it as return token in thanks for a very fine essay (especially liked the last two paragraphs, they are very inspiring for all who have been judged by first appearances and so succinctly written!):


    Response to OK above

    The reason that whites calling police on blacks for nonsense is that there is a risk that the encounter can go south and result in injury or death.

    In both the apartment situation and the BBQ, the police issued no citation. The police had their time wasted, The police thought BBQ Becky was nuts. Bigger charcoal BBQs were held on the same spot. The apartment guy had his key fob and entered his apartment. The white woman still called the police. 

    You would still still call the police knowing that people in the neighborhood routinely held charcoal BBQs and that the guy had a key fob and entered his apartment?


    I ran into a friend by chance yesterday who was crying, at wit's end cuz his apt got broken into losing some expensive stuff among other things. Since the AirBnB went in downstairs, there are always new people coming in, but even before with a training office - sttange folk would would find their way up the stairs, and fortunately no breakins in athe city known for case & break-in, just stolen shoes I left outside my door &  a failed car break-in outside (plus lost my box twice). In any case, I usually check strangers who aren't going direct to the AirBnB - even friendly females or those asking innocent rentals can be casing the joint - they wiped out my sister-in-laws building in one go - 12 flats or so (she was at home, but didn't notice the rest).

    There's a drum circle that forms in the park across the street and plays for hours, plus a tuba player who makes a regular evening appearance. I'm sure it's freedom of expression, but it can get annoying in summer w windows open if not in the mood.

    We used to do street shows, and dealing w police was aa given - vendors were spending $50-100k for street space right next to us, but we usually worked it out. Some kid wants to loudly hawk lemonade on the street? Not everyone will be thrilled. Neighbors slashed my bike tires just because I ran an unapproved doorbell cable down the front of the decrepit building (or maybe because we had customers sometimes coming up to the flat).

    I was in a mexican fastfood/diner in Culver City - a homeless guy asked if he could use the bathroom, counter lady said to use the service bathroom in the right. After he came out, he started yelling at her for "not letting him use the normal one" - this was post-trans bathroom laws, so they actually had both bathrooms open for everyone (i saw later). But in any case, people will complain about anything, and others will listen. Not everythiing's a big deal.

    Country of 320 million, anything can look like a trend - even people jumping out of cars. How many incidents is a trend? 3? 5? Thanks to social media we can magnify the fuck out of anything. But what's *really* going on, what's *really* important? That's tough to figure among all the noise and fake signal.

    whites calling police on blacks for nonsense

    You claim it's nonsense. That's a subjective opinion. It's a misdemeanor. Often when I enforce rules here the people think it's nonsense. It's important to the owners and to me. It's not nonsense to us.

     the police issued no citation.

    Why do you keep repeating this, it's stupid and meaningless. I was stopped by police 3 times in Gainesville. Each time I was guilty of the crime I was stopped for. It was a misdemeanor so I was just given a warning.  The police issued no citation. I'm not so unique. It's probably happened to everyone here.

    Bigger charcoal BBQs were held on the same spot.

    A bigger charcoal BBQ was held on the same spot after the incident mostly as a protest to the park rules. 

    You would still call the police knowing that people in the neighborhood routinely held charcoal BBQs

    Probably. If it was against the rules. I support that rule and would like to see it enforced. Enough people of every color are pigs so I like limiting the areas they can BBQ. I have that problem here with the mostly white visitors. They dump their hot coals on the ground which means both adults and children cannot walk barefoot or sit on the ground without constantly worrying about getting burned. The coals don't biodegrade quickly and last for years. It's ugly to see the shore line of the lake strewn with black coals. The coals are often greasy so they attract large numbers of biting ants. Most parks have rules like this to protect the quality of the commons because city officials know that some people treat the commons like a shit hole and will destroy it. 

    Sorry about your situation. In the actual BBQ Becky case, she alleged that she was pushed. One dispatcher that Becky was mentally ill. The woman who challenged the rationale for the call was appointed to the board that oversees the park. This was a nonsense call. It was very low priority until Becky made an assault claim. She could have gotten people hurt.

    Would you also have called police on the apartment guy?

    The second paragraph of the blog is about the risks associated with calling the police. 

     This was a nonsense call.

    You can keep repeating this but that doesn't make it true. Perhaps you don't give a shit about the condition of the parks in your area. Perhaps you never use them. Perhaps you're happy going to your church and your wine tastings and don't care that sloppy pigs are destroying the commons. Perhaps you live in a middle to upper class neighborhood and don't give a shit about poor people who generally get shafted when it comes to city services. Do you realize that most cities and towns have a Parks and Recreation department? Parks and Recreation isn't just a comedy tv show. That department has officials that regularly patrol parks to enforce the rules that protect the quality of the commons. Recreation areas in poor areas are usually shit holes because the resources are used to maintain the quality of parks in the richer neighborhoods. Perhaps you  don't care about that because your wine tastings aren't held in parks in poor areas. 

    I care about the condition of the parks and recreation areas when I lived in the city because I used them. It's not nonsense to me. 

    The woman who challenged BBQ Becky was put on the park board. The park board obviously wants to destroy the park.

    Given the risks associated with calling the police for this crap, it is a nonsense call.

    Because it's a risk to call the cops when black people break the law black people should be allowed to break the law with impunity. That women will get a quick lesson on the difficulties of dealing with competing interests in the commons. I'm sure there are plenty of black people in that neighborhood who would like to use the park without hot coals scattered around. You do realize that there are black people who like to walk around lakes barefoot without seeing charcoal strewn everywhere and without having to watch out so they don't burn their feet. There are still black people who can't afford to go to wine tastings.

    Don’t call the police for nonsense. Send an email to the park board for an “illegal” BBQ (That everyone is doing)

    Nonsense police calls 



    Selling water

    Mowing lawns


    Using an Air BnB

    Moving into an apartment 

    Sitting in Starbucks 

    I always find it convincing when someone repeats the same word over and over again. It's takes a real intellectual giant to do that.

    Your problem, not mine. When you find the appropriate word you apply the word. The risk of calling the cops outweighs the moral flash that you get from people being hassled. I’ll repeat that the park put BBQ Becky’s challenger on the board, The dispatcher thought Becky was nuts. You repeat your rationale, I’ll repeat mine.

    No children were burned

    Edit to add:

    Been fun but lunchtime

    Again noting that the park board supported the woman who challenged BBQ Becky

    Danny Cardwell, I like the way you write. I like the way you say what you say. After I read your stuff, my brain feels like it has just had a good massage. Thank  you.


    We can’t fall into the trap of trying to refute every negative stereotype about Blackness.

    I find this sentence important for Native Americans as well. Constantly pushing against the wall of stereotypes is exhausting and this is what I tell the young ones coming up. I tell them to spend their energy on the positive.

    Whew, a dodged bullet...

    This obviously brings to mind the man who killed nine people at Mother Emmanuel in Charleston. President Obama could be a healer. Donald is not up to the task. Because of his lack of empathy and bigotry, he will take some blame for creating the atmosphere for the homicides. The disconnect between Trump supporters and the rest of the country will grow. Trump cannot be a uniter 

    Trump "cannot be a uniter", Trump doesn't want to be a uniter.

    Blood in the streets serves his purpose to distract from what he is really up to, claim the need for more personal power, incite hate, division, create endless pundit 'both sides at fault' discussion, and he will always conclude with blaming opponents. The buck doesn't stop at his desk, it goes in his pocket.

    He is a natural born fascist demagogue.  He didn't learn these political techniques to destroy civil society, truth, the free press, and democracy in a book. It's an ingrained instinct that guides his actions.

    And big corporate media and every big or small web opinion outlet love it, they follow the latest "cri$i$", as with the "caravan".  When he finally collapses the economy, the boon to media will continue, people will be watching the news wondering how it happened, and what's next.

    It looks like they caught the pipe bomber. Trump will say the FBI has been duped.

    Edit add:

    Trump wants to keep his base enraged. He helps the 1% achieve their goals. Trump said he would have a tax cut before the midterms, until he was reminded that Congress wasn’t in session. He lies to their faces and they still follow along.

    RM- He's a great liar, and he knows he is lying.

    NPR just had a clip from Trump talking to "young black conservatives" (all half dozen?) at the White House, he solemnly said "there should be no political violence in America" and he means it.

    How do fascist achieve that? Destroy the opposition, starting with the leaders, and at the same time destroy the free press, with violence and threats. Presto, the violence subsides, when it has achieved it's goals.

    Response to AA from above

    You emphasize the following snippet


    We should be upset by racist behavior, we should confront racists tropes, but we shouldn’t allow the mania of others to limit our freedom. We can train our minds and strengthen our spirits.


    My freedom has not been limited. I enjoy pointing out what Trump and the Trumsters are doing. We are getting people to the polls for early voting. Got a wine tasting lined up for Monday and a wine dinner on Thursday. Will pick up wine club offerings on Wednesday. Prepping for next level wine exam in March. Reading “Bone and Sinew of the Land” about Black Pioneers of the Western United States. Waiting for Michelle’s book.

    I’m so restrained (snark).

    I'll let your reponse stand on it's own without any other reply

    except to copy wabby's  reaction to Danny's essay from upthread:

    Danny Cardwell, I like the way you write. I like the way you say what you say. After I read your stuff, my brain feels like it has just had a good massage. Thank  you.

    We can’t fall into the trap of trying to refute every negative stereotype about Blackness.

    I find this sentence important for Native Americans as well. Constantly pushing against the wall of stereotypes is exhausting and this is what I tell the young ones coming up. I tell them to spend their energy on the positive.

    by wabby on Fri, 10/26/2018 - 8:48am

    Compare and contrast the response to your posts. That is all.

    Go back and read

    What works for me (if it is working) may not work for you.

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