"Yes, I’ve always had a lot of trouble with people who are in favor
of some kind of pure culture because when people start talking about
purity, very often people start dying. Ethnic cleansing was an attempt
at purity. Nazism was an attempt as racial purity. The advocates of
purity seem to be quite will to rub out large numbers of people."
Salman Rushdie, Belonging & Unbelonging with Chris Hayes
acknowledgment of African American existence must first go through
whites in control of the neoliberal narrative and who, in turn,
provide the model “ideal” African Americans for other
whites to accept as authentic, legitimate, human.
thinking of Jordan Peele’s Get Out where
whites were created ideal African American—an ideal gardener,
an ideal housekeeper, an ideal companion. Why bother waiting for
policies and the political apparatus to bring about the “ideal”
race relation scenario in America.
and Travis McMichael, father and son, were proactive in sustaining
the day-to-day privileges of being white in America.
attempt on the part of people of color in the US to expose the
narrative of white supremacy, let alone its practice, is to
experience how white Americans practice a tactic of excusing,
defending, or justifying white behavior toward blacks, Indigenous,
and Latinx populations.
that individual being called out is flawed, then maybe I am too, and
then maybe most whites are too, and then maybe there is some truth to
these blacks, for example, always complaining about racism.
that can’t be admitted in our society! I
can’t be the one to admit this and stand out for ridicule!
One’s self and loved one’s can’t be implicated in
the messiness of racism. So there’s no flaw in this one
individual or this one organization.
Perhaps you misunderstood!
Latinx, and Indigenous Americans are always misunderstanding white
people. Misunderstanding what is actually happening around them.
Misunderstanding what’s happening to them.
inferior are these people!
to think they think they are free to
be human beings!
with candy or cell phones—openly!
to white women!
for help at a door of another human being! An American!
in a town and buying a home, renting an apartment where white
reside—peacefully—as law abiding citizens!
driving on American streets as if a citizen of this great nation!
dare black people be so insolent!
had just returned from the hospital where three heart-related medical
procedures were conducted, beginning in the morning and ending in the
early afternoon. Last month, in April, tests revealed an aneurysm in
my chest. So the tests on this particular Friday were part of a
follow up to determine a course of action to be taken, if any. Early
the following week, I’m to meet with a Cardio-thoracic
I returned home, I could see the local building manager through the
lobby’s glass door. She was with another woman who accepted my
application for an apartment at the building in the fall of last
year. But I had been in contact with the real estate’s
headquarters and was supposed to meet with a “regional”
the local manager approached me, I could tell by the tone of her
voice and the smile that “company” was in the house!
Normally, I wouldn’t receive an acknowledgment of my existence,
even if I stopped by the office to speak with her. If you think the
manager asked about my health, you don’t know this town n
you get my email? How about a meeting—now?
just back in. I don’t own a smart phone. And why did I need to
say any of this when it’s clear that I’m just entering
about in thirty minutes, she asks—or rather just says because
it’s her game, and she’s in control.
is the meeting that was to transpire last week. The “regional”
manager canceled due to illness—this notification I received by
email from the local manager. The following week, when I emailed
asking when a the meeting would take place, I received a curt
response, more appropriate for the 15-year old son this manager has
back at home. This is a senior complex, and I’m old enough to
be her mother.
contacted the main office “again” the email stated. I
told you I’d get back in touch with you.
didn’t and I sent an email back stating as much, to which I
received an “apology.” Sorry! Her
emails aren’t personal. It’s business. Perhaps she
remembered this. Or maybe it’s something else.
tend to walk into setups these days. This country didn’t need
the reveal of COVID-19’s targets to act any crazier toward its
I sent the second email, I informed the manager that I wouldn’t
be available on Friday because I would be at the hospital from 8:30
am to 2:00 pm. But I receive no further response. And now Friday, How
about in thirty minutes?
neighbor on the other side of my living room wall, in her fifties,
apparently has plans to harass me so as to create a greater gulf
between me and manager. She knows why the gulf exist: the town is
frightened to death of blacks, but “uppity” ones from
Chicago who see how discrimination is more the rule than exception,
for it maintains the supremacy of white rule, worse than an invasion
neither the neighbor nor the manager could explain to you how it is
that I come to represent their worst nightmare; yet, both know there
are means of getting rid of the pestilence that threatens their
existence as neighbor and position as manager. If you’ve been
black for any length of time in America, let alone lived here while
black for six decades, you know when you encounter a white person who
doesn’t recognize you as human.
was the case for me when I saw the woman assigned to manage this
property—where I have my home, where supposedly I have rights.
Supposedly. She reserved for me that same glance that is never direct
because she is always busy, too busy to look at me. To look at me for
any length of time might mean she’ll note an older woman, like
her mother, perhaps. A human being. But that wouldn’t do. She
had already stopped by my apartment when she first took over the
position of manager, and she saw the books, artwork, plants, cat,
the meeting, nine months after I started renting here, she and the
“regional” manager are forced to look at me.
little one, go ahead, tell us your story…
when I commence to do so, the manager interrupts to speak on behalf
of the neighbor who is “absent” but “present”
in that she’s defended, as she was to be defended from the
beginning. Wasn’t this the goal of this meeting?
neighbor is given the benefit of the doubt. “Noise” is
just regular living-in-a-building noise. Nothing out of the ordinary.
began then to bring to the table, another tenant, the one I was
defending, the one I stood up for some months back when my neighbor
could be heard by others even at a distance, stomping for all she was
can’t do that! _____ isn’t complaining! She’s not
here! She did make a complaint!
tenant, of course, complained about the stomping above her head
before any else mentioned it to management. And yet, here at this
meeting, this never happened!
I see where this is going.
are the one complaining!
you are the one…
we are talking about tormenting someone. Upstairs, in my home. But
here too. Here too.
were neighbors who thought the noise was coming from my apartment. I
would have no reason to pound on walls. I haven’t lost it—yet!
Neither would it benefit me at 127 pounds (that’s hard to
maintain, mind you, with cancer) decide, without shoes, to stomp over
the physically disabled man below me. Yet, he recalls hearing a
“bowling ball” over his head! Perhaps I fell too! The
neighbor on the other side of my living room wall is a hefty woman.
Pounding on my wall.
daughter of a neighbor on the other side of me, would roll her eyes
and seem upset to run into me in the hallway or elevator (before
COVID-19). When I questioned her, she spoke of “the noise.”
The Pounding. I would imagine that once this neighbor on the other
side of my living room wall started just throwing whatever at it, it
would have reverberated in the next apartment. The insulation leaves
much to be desired and the floors are bare as are the hallways.
then, it had been several weeks since this neighbor arrived in the
building in December.
People who know me, I
used this phrase in explaining myself to the women at the meeting.
The second time, I was interrupted again my the local manager.
me, by why do you keep referring to “people who know me”?
I see where she wants me to believe this to be the case.
mention any other tenant. And outside of the two of us in this room,
no one else knows you exist!
to believe I’m absolutely alone in the world. What a smug smile
on her face.
glance at the “regional” manager, a little older than the
manager, seated to my right. But I was unable to read anything other
that remotely suggests she’s listening with an open mind to my
local manager, however, was on a row.
a set up. Both will inform the corporate folks at headquarters that
she’s definitely not one we want in our building, our
how can you experience anything when in fact no
one else does! No white person here in this community experiences
what you claim to be happening to you!
wasn’t uttered, but it was as audible as any shout blacks have
heard in our history in America, “n____r go home!” Both
white women didn’t need to understand why even, yet both held
up signs I could read, “whites only.”
don’t belong! You aren’t wanted here!
in broad daylight. And why not?
can and we do, and have always, worked on all fronts: At home and in
the streets, we can and do gun down a black man jogging in board
daylight and get away with it for 70 days. Even with a video! We just
go home with our guns!
home, we can and we do use whatever means to make life a living hell
for those blacks and Latinx living as if human in homes and
apartments near us.
can and we do take care of our own, our home, what belongs to us—by
taking care that you and your kind remain under control or are
eliminated from being a threat to our personal and financial
the food, she says. She’s all prepared. The food this neighbor
left at her door was from a woman distributing food as charity…
I say. This isn’t true. I explain how the neighbor, very early
on, when asked to stop stomping and pounding, delivered food to the
woman below her and to me. I received something that was frozen, that
might have been rice and beans. But frozen. In a bag that looked
questionable. I discarded whatever it was in the trash. On two other
occasions, I received food. Once a bag of greens left over night on
my doormat and another time a cabbage, browning, without a bag, also
left on my doormat.
her game is to defend the one “absent” but very
“present.” The one who’s name is never mentioned.
But it’s understood, she is to receive all the respect in the
to the neighbor below the neighbor her, this woman has set her stereo
system to bass and using, high frequency, is practicing torture. Day
high frequency. And this older woman began to demonstrate to me what
I had been experiencing then and what continues to this day: The head
pressure and earaches. The chest pains. Stabling pains and earaches
that cause me to have difficulty seeing to read or work at my
would never has mentioned this practice of violence. As a black
woman, I would risk being discredited as a writer or thinker.
a white woman telling me what is happening; and yet, I’m not to
mention this at this meeting because I’m not to mention this
so the behavior continues as the mindset is unchanged. In fact, the
mindset of white supremacy has scored a victory.
stage is set. I’ve not been a good little negro, and, in any
Foucault’s world of punishment and discipline, work on my
“soul” isn’t possible, coercion isn’t effect.
I’m resistant to docility. Above all, control isn’t
misunderstand this: Perhaps you should buy a home! Finally, the voice
of the “regional” manager.
cleansing on this micro level is hard to prove. Worse, I don’t
have proof, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some time from now,
maybe years, the reveal is that this practice of torture as a
substitute for burning black Americans out of their homes and
neighborhoods and towns, isn’t more wide spread that just in
small and mid-size towns in Wisconsin. And such practices are with
the full knowledge of managers and landlords.
starts, deliberately so, as audio stomping above a tenant and
pounding on my walls, ends as tactics of stealth warfare. And where
is my defense?
is America where cruelty is systemic. Whatever electronic devises are
used to “get rid” of unwanted neighbors will come under
scrutiny just as are the number of guns, AR15s stockpiled in homes of
American citizens who have no problems coming out on the street to
display their anger while tooting these weapons.
I sit between the white women who defend themselves, their menfolk,
their children, the entire structure of white supremacy. Women who
would have gleefully stuck out their foot to trip an enslaved woman
as she passed by back then on those plantations.
their tasks is no less enjoyable.
for the “regional” manager. I spoke to the ally tenant I
wasn’t to mention. Of course, she said she complained as late
as that morning. But I didn’t speak with the “regional”
manager, she said. You spoke to a leasing agent. And she mentioned
the name of the actual regional manager, a woman I’m familiar
with, if for not other reason, she was the first representative from
the real estate I met. The agent who approved my leasing application.
woman is the local manager’s boss, said my neighbor.
Americans wonder why COVID-19 seeks out the black and Latinx and
Indigenous people in America.
taking this opportunity to tell this story, I do so to expose, once
again, a pattern of behavior on the part of average white Americans,
a pattern of behavior supported by the notion that their existence is
proof of racial purity. Their existence is the ideal existence for
all of humanity.
can’t believe, sometimes, that this is 2020, and I have to
write such a ridiculous statement as the one I have written above.
But it is 2020, and I’m writing about reaching out to others
involved in similar situations by virtue of being black in American.
I’m writing to expose how experiencing the indifference of real
estate associations and law enforcement and other racial justice
community agencies, in specific is also to expose what racism looks
like behind the walls of homes and apartment dwellings when blacks
are targeted for discrimination.
and Latinx tenants have no right which white America is bound to
practice of racism at this micro level leads to invisible roads
traveled by blacks and Latinx Americans moving from one place to
another, seeking to re-coup, once again, the financial burden on
moving in search of a home within a country whose white population
since the conquest of this land from the Indigenous people believe
themselves entitled to all and any right—and that includes the
right not to live with the impure. If nothing else, the pattern of
this practice makes it a viable way for average white Americans (as
neighbors, real estate management, law enforcement, or community and
social justice advocates) to maintain white supremacy—without
engaging the corporate gun power of Lockheed Martin or Raytheon.
no mistake, this is a continuum of a mindset that recognizes only one
way to organize humanity and that is the dichotomy between those who
control and punish and those who are made docile and silenced. Ripe,
in other words, for the practice of ethnic cleansing—without