I call them stabs of white supremacy. These are the things that myself and other People of Color must deal with living and working in a society created by and for white people. The little stabs of white supremacy are dangerous because we live with them on an everyday basis.
So, I have to be ready for these stabs at any moment… like even a baseball game.
The problem of white supremacy is based upon the idea that black people are inferior and less than human. This logic is a part of all sorts of theological and social spaces existing in the psyche of people throughout this stolen land.
I decided to go to a Seattle Mariners baseball game. This is not unusual because I love sports and attend games in many US American cities. But I have rarely gone to a baseball game by myself which I did this time. I bought a decent ticket, got some snacks, and went to my seat. Like everyone else, I showed my ticket to the usher who waived me on into my section.
You may be able to guess what happens next.
No more than about 10 minutes, another usher comes over and asked if he can see my ticket. I remind him that the usher just a few feet away just checked my ticket upon entry into the section. He just responded with, “yeah but I need to see it.” So I showed him my ticket.
Now pay close attention to his next words that justify his actions distrupting me from the game I have rightfully paid to get into. “These are good seats, so we want to make sure that you belong here.”
There is too much here to unpack. I knew I wanted to respond because I watched him, he did not go to anyone else in my section. He just went back to his post and stood. At the time I was the only black person in my section though a few came a little later.
It was a reminder of the little ways that supremacy plays out – the double checking that I belong. I was reminded again of the mistrust, the little stabs, that consistency break down my humanity. These include going to shop at the market and noticing the same person behind me in every aisle that I am in obviously working undercover security. The preference white patrons get when both of us are waiting at a counter and the employee shows up without asking, ‘who was here first.’ Nine out of ten times the white person is helped first despite not knowing the order of our arrival. Consistently and persistently as people of color we are not listened to when we bring experience or expertise into a room. I face the checking and double checking of my ID. I see the surprise on the faces of people when I sit on my front porch in Portland, Oregon. I deal with the gall of white strangers who over and over hit me with, “can I help you” to check if I belong in a certain place.
These little stabs of supremacy break down that humanity of Black People and People of Color. It is built into supremist logic and behavior that a Black person is dangerous, a criminal, and doesn’t belong.
Furthermore, the logic dictates that white people have the permission, duty, and obligation to constantly question a Black person any time they see it as necessary. White people feel justified in asking a Black person at any point in time where we belong, how we belong, and what we are doing. They are justified in check me, setting me straight, or making sure we are “on the straight and narrow.”
A white person with white supremist logic has this belief and they live it out in any place at any time. This sort of power is too much and threatens the wellbeing of People of Color.
By Leroy Barber