To some, I’m still just a n****r in a stolen car

To some, I’m still just a n****r in a stolen car

“A FB "friend" posted this. And although I wanted to be positive today, it just served as a reminder that no matter how hard I work, how much education I have, and how many sacrifices I make, to some I'm still just a nigger in a stolen car.”

I wrote that last night with the above meme.  I was offended when I saw the meme.  I physically scrolled past it, but my brain didn’t allow me to just scroll past.  So I went back and looked at it long and hard.  I looked.  I felt anger.  I felt sad.  Not only do people feel this way, but its OK to post this crap on FB.  After much thought, I shared the post on my page with the above caption.  Before doing so, I talked to my wife about it, at first, she wanted to tone my language down.  I tried and succeeded some, but ultimately, the language used was necessary to prove my point.

I considered tagging the guy who shared it on his page.  I didn’t because I didn’t think it gentlemanly to do so.  But he came on to defend himself.  His defense was: “Sorry buddy. Facts don't lie. Quit feeling sorry for yourself.”

Thank you Ken (FB “friend” who posted it) for proving my point.  You’re right, facts don’t lie.  And the fact is that no matter what I have done to make myself a good man and what I continue to do to be a good man, to some people I’m just some nigger in a nice car I didn’t earn.

I work hard.  Very hard.  Ask my wife.  Ask my staff.  So, when I get pulled over, hopefully the police officer pulling me over doesn’t have this meme on his phone.  And even if he doesn’t, the bias is still there.  And we all have that bias.  Black, white, brown... we all have it to some extent.  It’s impossible to actually get rid of the bias.  That’s impossible to do.  All I want and all I expect is that the bias is recognized, so that we as a people can work to overcome it.

And let’s be clear: most police officers aren’t running around with this meme on their phone looking to shoot black men.  But Ken’s meme and his defense prove the point that the Black Lives Movement makes: Treat me the same way you would treat Ken during a traffic stop.

Now, respect goes two ways so we have a duty to respect the law and comply with valid orders.  However, and this is what white America doesn’t understand because you haven’t lived it, there are times when I’ll get pulled over not for speeding, but because I’m black in a nice car or a neighborhood I don’t belong in.  There are cops who want to remind us of that fact: Nice car boy, but you’re still black.  That happens folks– not nearly as much as 20 years ago, but it happens.  And when it does, the stop begins with frustration, not because I was pinched for speeding but because I am suspect because I’m black.

And that’s the point: The color of my skin doesn’t make me suspect.

After I posted, a mini riot erupted on my page.  And the people that know me– including all of you that have read my page over the years– knows that was not the intent.  Here’s this morning’s response:

“Here's the thing folks: I didn't post this to start a race war, especially on my page. I posted it for two reasons: a) for the reason initially stated-- to many, it doesn't matter how many words you use to describe me: father (a damn good one too-- I take the most pride in this) husband, lawyer, friend, son, brother; it doesn't matter how much money I earn, where I live or how I live, I am still defined by some by the color of my skin. Secondly, I wanted to shine a light on it. Initially, was going to tag Ken, but didn't think that "gentlemanly" or honorable, so I didn't. But, he came on and tried to defend himself. And his defense proves my point. Black families with guns are thugs whereas white families with guns are sportsmen or protecting themselves from me. Its ironic, because Ken actually makes the BLM (I'm not wild about BLM) point: treat me the same as you would a white man/woman. That's really all I expect. And for the strict constitutionalists out there-- which I presume Ken is one-- that's what I deserve. Regardless of the color of my skin, I've certainly earned that, Ken. With that, have a great Saturday, people! Be well!”

So I share that with you now.  I’m not looking for sympathy or pity.  Ken– and the people out there like him– prove the point.  Racism, bias and prejudice does exist.

And I certainly don’t feel sorry for myself, Ken.  I feel sorry for you.  I feel pity for your children.
After the post, I was on my patio with a neighbor and my wife having drinks.  My kids were upstairs sleeping.  When my neighbor left, when my house was quiet, I stood in my dining room and looked out into the street.  In those few moments a flood of emotions came bubbling up; none negative.  I felt immense pride.  Pride that my kids do not live in a house that teaches bias toward people because of skin color.  Racism is learned.  Ken’s kids will learn it from their father (and maybe mother).  Mine won’t.  My children will associate with people based upon the content of their character.

I felt pride of the example my wife and I provide for our children.  We work hard.  Education, in and out of the classroom, is important.  I felt pride about our neighbors, our many friends and the life we’ve built in Northbrook (and the foundation we laid before moving here).  We’re just the Thomas house.  I felt pride– and still do– about the direction this country is moving.  We’re going the right way.  I feel it in my community.  I feel it daily.  And there are stragglers out there with Ken who miss the good ole days when you could say nigger in public, but that generation is dying.  So we soldier on.  And we work to be good parents.  We work to be good examples for our kids.  We work to be good neighbors.  We work to be good people.

But I’ll fall short on being a good person.  But when I do, remember I fell short because I’m human, not because I’m black.

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  • Somehow, Newt Gingrich said about the same thing, but was criticized for the awkward way he said it.

    It has also been pointed out that chef hit and run's friends at the NRA had little to say about two black men apparently carrying legally being killed by the police, although someone at the NRA said that the Minnesota case was troubling.

    Just like selling untaxed cigarettes in NY is a capital offense, apparently so is driving with a broken taillight in Minnesota. Unlike most of the broken taillight cases, nothing was said here that somehow the stop provided probable cause to investigate further, not to mention shoot up a car with other occupants in it.

    But I an sure that if it were a white driver, the cop would have just said to bring in the receipt from the repair shop.

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    Brian,
    I'm well aware that the stigma of being black is fully prominent in America today, but what my husband posted was neither racist or biased. What he posted is in reference to the American citizens who are not law abiding persons of our society. Not just Americans who are black...My husband may be a lot of things but racist is not one of them. I am proud for you that you have accomplished the beautiful things you mention in this post and think you have every right to feel that pride. His post was not intended in any way to offend you or make you feel like you don't deserve to have the things you've clearly worked so hard for. His intention was to merely make an example of the old saying we all have heard..if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck it's a duck. An educated black man who rightfully owns a weapon and is a law abiding functioning person of society, who betters the world we live in is not what we're discussing. We're discussing a man who was in illegal possession of a weapon and using it in a menacing manner. Who went on further to resist arrest. I highly doubt that yourself or any of the other black American citizens my husband and myself associate with would ever find themselves in a similar predicament as such. If the man we are talking about were white I would feel the exact same way as I do. Don't put yourself in a position to appear to be causing a problem and you won't have a problem! Black white brown yellow green or red. If it looks like someone who is going to harm others and it's resisting arrest. Do what you need to do to get your job as a police officer done. Don't tell me that if you were in public with your children and wife and saw a man..any man...regardless of his skin color..wielding a gun threatening to shoot someone that you wouldn't pray that a police officer would shoot or detain that person before he had a chance to harm your wife or children.
    As for you being a n****r...no one made mention of that word in that post. It's not word my husband says and is not a part of our vocabulary in our household and I won't dignify you with a comment for something that is clearly a chip on your own shoulder.

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    In reply to Nicole Luisi:

    You are wasting your breath so to speak. Brian thinks that only black people have been subjected to questionable stops by cops. I was stopped in Barrington with no probable cause and no explanation. My crime? A ten year old car in a cul de sac. Driving as white trash I guess. Probably would happen in Northbrook too. Don't expect a reply. You are wrong due to skin color it seems. Just shut up and admit you and your husband are racist.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Did the cop shoot you? You seem to be still alive to berate others about it.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Richard is correct about one thing: I don't respond to comments anymore. And I'm not happy about it frankly. Much for the same reason I don't post, life gets in the way. I'll try to get better about that. Thanks again Richard (I think?!) for commenting.

    One day we'll find something we agree upon. That topic is out there, somewhere..... maybe.....

  • In reply to Brian C. Thomas:

    I agree with you and have said to other chicagonow bloggers, such as Michael Ciric, that as long as tronc does not pay you, and you have your own job and personal life, you don't owe the commenters anything. I want to engage the blogger and the commenters, but if it doesn't happen, so be it. But I certainly don't think that you have any obligation to respond to (as Still Ronnie puts it) trolls who somehow take offense that someone of your heritage is successful enough to live in Northbrook. That seems to be all that chef hit and run and Richard bring to this or any other chicagonow table.

  • In reply to Nicole Luisi:

    You actually just proved the point more while trying to back peddle. The meme is wrong because it generalizes a whole group. You can try to tell us that it wasn't directed towards blacks but in light of recent events - it would be hard to convince anyone.
    And Richard - having a cop ask you what you are doing creeping around a cul de sac - is not the same thing but nice try.

  • In reply to Go me:

    On your last point, what Richard described was sufficient suspicion of casing out the neighborhood for a burglary to justify a police stop.

    But basically a self-centered right winger, who has demonstrated frequently on chicagonow.com, including above, that he has something against mixed race people, wouldn't understand that.

  • In reply to Nicole Luisi:

    Nicole, I appreciate your comment.

    I keep going back to the meme and ask if its offensive. Do you think its offensive?

    Although Richard doesn't acknowledge this and tries to liken me to pre-Mecca Malcolm X, I'm biracial as my mother is white (Italian and German). My mother's influence colors my opinions-- perhaps more than my father's at times.

    But, my life experience also colors my opinion.

    When I initially saw the meme, I looked at it long and hard. I showed it to my wife and showed it to a neighbor. We went 3 for 3-- it is offensive.

    I found it offensive. Maybe you and Richard don't, I don't know. But Go Me sufficient explained why I would find it offensive. It takes me out of "law abiding functioning person" and into a suspect group (armed in a stolen car) because of the color of my skin.

    Which leads me to another point: Just because I dress a certain way or act a certain way, doesn't make me any more law abiding that the large majority of black and brown people out there. Ultimately, we're talking about a few bad apples. And when saying that, I'm not trying to minimize the impact of the bad apples-- they impact me a whole lot more than you because I'm the one lumped in with them. But the problem is that an entire race becomes suspect-- and that's what the meme says.

    In law, we talk about making a prima facie case, which basically means "at first glance." The way we use it is that if one side makes a case toward a proposition, its up to the other side to rebut it. Unfortunately, when I walk down the street, some people put me in a suspect class because of the color of my skin. And then, I have to rebut that presumption by proving otherwise. It doesn't happen all day everyday-- but it happens. The meme is proof of that. And that is exactly what it does. It says I didn't target you because of the color of your black skin, but get out of your stolen car and hand over the gun and prove otherwise. Translation: Criminal black man in car that I pulled over, get out and prove to me that you're not a criminal.

    That's what the meme says. Whether or not your husband is a racist, the person I knew 25 years ago certainly wasn't. But that doesn't mean the meme is not offensive. And that doesn't mean we can't have a discussion on whether it is offensive and why. Personally, I was appalled someone would feel comfortable putting that on FB (which I find to be more true the more I'm on FB). I'm tired of it. So I shined a light on it with my FB post and this post.

    Now whether or not I'm a n****r, I use words to make points. I certainly don't identify myself with that word. And I can assure you, there's no chip on my shoulder. I don't go out all day every day seeking confrontation; quite the opposite. But I am going to start calling attention to things that are offensive and then allow people to come to their own conclusions.

    Thanks again for caring enough to comment. My best to you, Ken and your family.

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    In reply to Brian C. Thomas:

    Brian, don't feel the trolls.lol
    Those of us who are intellectually, emotionally and morally in touch with the real world know what they are all about and, we are better human beings than they even claim to be.

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    In reply to Nicole Luisi:

    Reading all of your excuses and other drivel was akin to hearing a bagpipe concert.
    After all, they also operate on wind and the sound is repulsive to music lovers.
    You played bait & switch to justify your and your husbands RACIST attitues.
    These attitudes were made even more evident by the way you attempted to0 excuse all of the bigotry in the two of you.
    When you made this clearly incoorect statement:
    "We're discussing a man who was in illegal possession of a weapon and using it in a menacing manner. ", while it IS true that a convicted felon cannot legally possess a gun, IT WAS IN HIS POCKET.
    As for the MURDER victim, Philando Castile, he was reaching for his ID.
    You and those types who are like you NEED to have the black person be a thug, a crinimal, a felon and/or etc to justify your racism, bigotry and hate.
    I am a Caucasian man, a USN veteran, born in Chicago and am neither a racist, a bigot or a hater.
    Therefore, unlike you and your kind, I do not have to invent any self serving BS.
    Your entire post is repulsive and WRONG.

  • I was wondering why Gene Wilder was here. However, the appropriate Gene Wilder is not Willy Wonka, but the deputy sheriff in Rock Ridge, where they were passing on "the sheriff is a nig--".

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