An Open Letter to Uncle Ruckus
Y’all know how I’m capital “P” Petty, right? Well, this weekend has shown me that I can reach new levels of Pettiness. Yesterday after I confronted a high school classmate who was trying to use Cannon Hinnant’s murder as a cry for attention, I decided I was indeed capital “P” Petty enough to tag him in my response. I have since dubbed that the Tag and Drag. Well, it definitely got a response. Not only did he come huffing and puffing onto my page, but he brought his friend Karen along to spread her All Lives Matter sunshine. When one of my friends called her out on using that line, she informed him that she couldn’t possibly be racist, because her boyfriend’s black (and he also doesn’t support Black Lives Matter-SHOCKER.) This led me to make another post that said: You can date a black person and still be racist. There’s a huge difference between loving black cock and black people.
As with all things on the internet, it didn’t take long for a troll to come from under his virtual bridge. I really have no clue who this person is, or how he found my page. All I do know is that he’s a black Trump supporter with a white girlfriend. Given those facts, I’m just gonna call him Uncle Ruckus. For those of you who don’t know The Boondocks, Uncle Ruckus is a black man who hates black people. Given my interactions with him to this point, I would say that the nickname is quite apropos. This was Uncle’s opening salvo. Please note how NOTHING in his post addresses the topic of my post.
My time to jump in. For all you BLM thumpers. If black lives really matter, why are we killing each other like it’s a sport and hunting season is wide open? Why are so many parents burying their innocent child who was caught in the cross fire of thugs. If black lives matter, why is it when a black child tries to improve him or herself in school, they’re bullied, ridiculed and told they’re acting white. They’re treated like second class citizens while some clown who is good in sports is treated like god. In their neighborhoods, they are ignored while drug dealers, sports players and gang bangers are heroes. Speaking of drug dealers, why aren’t they being ran out of black neighborhoods instead of being allowed to sell their poison to our people. Then you have those who refuse to apply themselves in school for fear of being singled out. Once they get out in the real world, they want to blame everyone else saying how they’re oppressed. What about white people who are just as poor and live in the ghetto? Everyone is calling for reparations. Are they going to ask Africa for reparations since there those who would capture and sell other blacks into slavery? Next, why is it that the black community continues to support the party of slavery. Every four years, they come into the black community, promising all these good things. Then we vote them in office with that being the last time you’ll see them in the community until the next election time comes around. We need to stop with this victim mentality and blaming our problems on other races. The only thing oppressing us is our own self!!! Right now, the black community is being played really hard by the democrats. The rioting and looting is being allowed as long as you stay out of the elected officials neighborhoods. Start rioting and looting there and see how fast they shut everything down. Sorry for the long post but, I wanted to get that off my chest. I have so much more to say but this post is already long enough.
As you can see, Uncle had a lot on his chest…and somehow, none of it addressed my actual post, but nevermind. After addressing the fact that his whole rant was nothing but one big strawman argument wrapped up in whataboutism, with factual errors on top, he countered that I was not engaging his arguments. Not only that, he had the audacity to suggest that I COULDN’T counter them. Once again, let’s all remember that I am capital “P” petty, so of course I can’t resist a challenge like that. I immediately started composing my Mazel Tov cocktail for my dear Uncle. Then his ass got impatient and had the nerve to start rushing me. Not only that, but he decided he was gonna try to be slick and shady. I only took that as more inspiration to snatch his everlasting soul. When I finished, my reply was six pages long. I copied and pasted it into the comments box, only to find that it was more than the 8,000 characters that were allowed. That failure only further inspired me. I decided to write an open letter to my Uncle and to share it with the world. Like I said, capital “P” Petty. And to prove it, he’s getting the Tag and Drag too. Enjoy!
Dear Uncle Ruckus,
I have to say that I was shocked to hear from you today. After all, I thought you had been disinvited from the Cookout years ago. I heard that you couldn’t play Spades to save your life, but since I don’t know you like that, I’m not gonna judge. I am rather confused about all the things you had to say, since none of them were related to the conversation that was being had in the moment. Are you okay? Are you eating enough? Taking your meds? I ask because I care. Also, because I care, I’m going to address the issues you brought up. Since you had so much on your mind, I have taken the liberty of numbering them and going point by point.
1. Black on black crime- This is a favorite of whataboutists such as yourself. It claims that black people are specifically violent towards their own. It neglects the fact that 86% of violent crime against white people is committed by other white people, yet you never hear anyone complain about white on white crime. Nobody claims that white people are their own worst enemy. Why? Because it doesn’t follow the desired narrative of black criminality. Have a seat, Uncle.
2. You speak of how black children don’t apply themselves in school. You made the mistake of bringing this up to a black man who graduated in the top 10% of his high school class, got a teaching scholarship to undergrad, and also achieved a master’s degree. I think the issue of schools is a very important one. It’s also very important to note that schools are funded by property taxes. Thanks to redlining, the public schools with the largest percentage of black students are in poor communities, and therefore more likely to be poorly funded. This leads to more overcrowded classrooms and less individual attention to students. The answer to this has routinely been harsher discipline. This leads inevitably to more missed days, lower overall achievement, and a higher dropout rate. This in turn leads to a higher crime rate, and the now-infamous school to prison pipeline. So, Uncle, if you have the problem with black on black crime that you claim to, you should be advocating for better school funding, because quality education is a crime deterrent. If you REALLY want to reduce crime, advocate for free higher education, or at the very minimum, college that doesn’t automatically saddle students with a lifetime of debt.
3. You also brought up how intelligent black children are ostracized and accused of acting white. I agree with you that this happens, because I have experienced it my entire life. I also noticed that you neglected to mention how white people perpetuate this mentality. In my high school, my 9th grade science teacher would proudly tell the class how I was a white boy in a black boy’s body. I also had the highest grade in the class. Coincidence? I think not.
That also brings up the question of how blackness is defined. If you listen to what people are speaking of when they talk about acting black, talking black, or being black inside, they are usually referring to a lack of education. You might wonder, Uncle, why this is the case. Allow me to clarify. It’s because that is how they are programmed to think of black people. It’s how we are all programmed. EVERYTHING in our society, from education to entertainment is part of that programming. In history classes, we are taught that black people have done nothing of value in America, other than Martin Luther King. Our history of accomplishments hidden, leaving both black and white students believing that there are no great black minds. They are not taught about W.E.B. Du Bois and the Talented Tenth. Without exposure to Phyllis Wheatley and Maya Angelou in their literature classes, they don’t know about our poets. They don’t learn about Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston and mistakenly assume that we have no authors. Lacking the knowledge of Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin, they falsely underestimate the power of the black intellect. The omission of these great minds does a horrible disservice to everyone.
On the entertainment front, more often than not, black people are portrayed as either criminals, rappers, athletes, or the help. Don’t believe me? Name five black Oscar winners who got their statue for playing something other than a slave, a servant, a musician, an athlete, an addict, or a criminal. Hard to do, right? Let me make it even harder for you. Of the people you named, how many of their stories didn’t involve a white savior? How many did you get? I’m gonna go ahead and guess that it wasn’t many. Now consider the fact that the Oscars have been around since 1929. How’s that for shaping a narrative?
In addition to all this, I can add my own personal experience as an actor. When I did a theme park show for Nickelodeon, my director was constantly pushing me to be more “edgy and urban”. In case you don’t speak Dog Whistle, Uncle, that is how a racist says “act blacker” without actually saying the words. Once I got to New York, this racism only got worse. When I got arrested on Law & Order: CI, I falsely took that as an achievement. It was more accurately a harbinger of things to come. Because I was large and black, I was constantly getting called in for pimps, convicts, and drug dealers. I spent a lot of time on sets threatening and harassing people. One of the most insulting instances was when I was called in as a prison guard but ended up being cast as the prisoner. The final straw for me was a Filipino soap opera, where I was one of two black people on the set. The only other black person played my counterpart in the scene, and his name was Thug #1. Guess what my character’s name was? In the scene in question, the two of us were sexually harassing a woman on the street, and the situation was getting dangerously close to rape, when the hero comes in. At the end of the day I went home, feeling dirty. I had to ask myself what I was contributing to, and I didn’t like the answer.
You might not think that any of this is a big deal, but consider this: American movies and television are watched by people all over the world, and it’s bound to have an effect. Case in point, a few weeks ago, I was working at a German summer camp. A lot of the kids at the camp were from small villages and had never actually met a black person before. One kid asked where I grew up. Before I could respond, another kid answered, “The ghetto”. Given his lack of exposure to black people, where do you think he got that? Narrative, Uncle, plain and simple.
4. You also brought up drugs, Uncle, and I’m glad you did. Did you know that studies have shown that black people and white people use drugs at the same rate, but black people are overwhelmingly jailed more often for it? I find it interesting that you keep harping on things that happen in all communities, but never mention any group other than black people. Shall we unpack what’s behind that? Nevermind. I wouldn’t want to do your shrink’s work for him.
5. You brought up poor white people, too. Thanks for that, Uncle. Let’s talk about poor white people. There are more of them now than ever before in America. You see, poor white people are just as much a victim of a rigged system as poor black people, but the rich realized long ago that if they gave poor white people a way to feel superior to someone, that they would cling to that and continue being cogs in the system of their own destruction. Case in point, welfare programs, or as you call them, handouts. You, like a lot of people, seem to believe that the welfare program is just for black people who sit around and don’t work. Let me adjust your vision, Uncle. As of 2016, 32% of foodstamp recipients were white, and 25% were black. Your big mistake, however, is the thought that most welfare recipients don’t work. Most households that receive government assistance are headed by a working adult. Why do they need help, you ask? Simple: Late Stage Capitalism.
That’s right, Uncle. Over the last decade, we have introduced the phrase “working poor” into the American lexicon. It’s disgusting that those two words now go together, but that’s the world in which we live. Allow me to paint a picture for you: You’re out of work and looking for a job, so you go to your local Walmart and apply. They ask if you have any conflicts in you schedule, because they can’t hire you if you do. You say no, and you get the job. They hire you at minimum wage and give you a schedule of thirty-one hours a week. See, it has to be thirty-one hours, because if it was more than that, then you would be a full-time employee and they would have to *gasp* offer benefits. So, you go to work, and you work your thirty-one hours of minimum wage, which comes out to $224.75 BEFORE taxes. You realize that you can’t live on that alone. You can barely pay your rent with that. But before you can start the search for another job to supplement your income, you receive your schedule for the next week, which is completely different from this week’s schedule. Now you see why they wanted you to have no conflicts. You don’t have a set schedule. That drastically reduces your options for second jobs. Uber isn’t really an option, because you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere. What do you do?
I present this particular picture to you, Uncle, for a couple of reasons: First, because Walmart is the number one employer in America. They have 1.5 million employees, and many of them have this same struggle. Second, this is a story that I have witnessed with my own eyes. At one point, I worked for Walmart for about six months, and this was the situation of many of my coworkers. Actually, those were the lucky ones. Some of them got no more than eighteen hours per week. Everyone that I knew there either lived with family or received some form of public assistance. On top of that, they all spent their welfare checks at Walmart, because they could use their employee discounts. The Walton family is the richest family in America, but they don’t pay a living wage, and the citizens of the US are subsidizing their profits as they double dip from the system. As with many things, you are mad at the wrong people. Demonizing poor people for being poor helps nobody. The only way to help the working poor is to force the corporations to carry their own weight by paying a living wage.
In fairness to Walmart, they did raise the minimum wage in a lot of their stores to $12 earlier this year, so that is a step in the right direction. I will also say that I in no way believe this was some grand display of corporate largesse. They have a long history of poor employee relations, and in the current age where public perception is king, my jaded eye can only see this as a PR move. That said, good. If the public pressure keeps up, they might finally see fairly compensating ALL their employees as good business.
You present poverty as some hole that you can just dig your way out of, when the problem is so much deeper than that. While the government is measuring America’s financial health by the stock market and the number of jobs created, the American reality is much different. Those jobs numbers are meaningless, because most of the jobs that are being created only pay minimum wage. And while the minimum wage has been the same since 2009, the cost of pretty much everything has skyrocketed over the last decade. According to the last census, about 19 million Americans are working more than one job, in order to make ends meet. All of this was before COVID wiped out entire industries and left millions out of work. Now we’re on the verge of a national eviction crisis where 30 million people are facing eviction. Are you going to say that they’re playing the victim too, Uncle?
6. Like most whataboutists, you brought up reparations. Actually, since you used reparations and African slave traders in the same thought, you have earned a whataboutism gold star. Bravo, Uncle Ruckus, bravo! Let’s first address your Africa comment, since it is a favorite of white racists and their apologists: SO THE FUCK WHAT?!?!?! Nothing that Africans did or did not do has any bearing on the racist caste system upon which AmeriKKKa was created. Even if they were offering buy-1-get-1-free coupons, a group of self-proclaimed Christians should know that buying other human beings is wrong. NEXT! Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk reparations. Did you know that a lot of reparations were already paid? They were paid to the slaveowners, and not the people who actually did the work. That’s right, Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Emancipation Act, which paid every Washington slaveowner $300 per slave freed. While this was the only federal payment of this kind, there were several more made by various states and localities. If you add to this the acts of racial terror inflicted on affluent black areas like Black Wall Street, the destruction by the state of successful black neighborhoods like Seneca Village (currently Central Park), state sanctioned practices like redlining that greatly diminished black families’ ability to accrue familial wealth (real estate is the most common means of passing down familial wealth,) the fact that black soldiers were purposely omitted from portions of the GI Bill, which jumpstarted the American middle class, the case for reparations is more than made. Once again, have a seat, Uncle.
7. Since this is such a popular untruth with the racist crowd, let’s talk about the Party of Slavery and the Party of Lincoln. Of all the ignorance that you have spouted, this could quite possibly be the most ignorant. I say this, because even the most surface internet search could rebut this claim. But since I am teacher, I will begrudgingly continue to teach. However, since I am not getting paid, I’m just gonna give ya the Cliffs Notes version. If you want a detailed account, feel free to educate yourself. There are plenty of resources available.
Yes, the Democratic Party was in favor of slavery. Yes, Lincoln’s Republican Party was in favor of abolition. So far, you are right. Fast forward to 1948, and the question of integration enters the political fray. That’s when the Dixiecrats came on the scene. They were a group of segregationist democrats, hellbent on maintaining the racist status quo. They even ran a candidate, Strom Thurmond, for president. (Side note: They are also the ones that brought the confederate flag back into the mainstream, so all those “heritage” claims are bullshit.) After their failed coup, some of the Dixiecrats went back to the Democratic Party, and some joined the Republican Party. Fast forward again to the 1960s, when civil rights were even more of a hot-button issue. That’s when Kennedy’s New Frontier and LBJ’s Great Society happened. Faced with the fact that their party was embracing an end to the Jim Crow era, a lot of Dixiecrats abandoned the Democratic Party during this time. Some followed noted segregationist Charles Wallace to the short-lived American Independent Party and others, like Thurmond, went to the Republican Party, which welcomed them with open arms. Fast forward through the decades, and you can see how the Republican Party has capitalized on that racism to appease this faction of their membership. Their decades of dog whistles and weaponizing race have led us to the current moment and the current occupant of the White House, who has traded dog whistles for just screaming his racism out loud for anyone to hear. However, none of this has stopped them from trotting out the old Party of Lincoln line for anyone who is naïve or foolish enough to fall for it.
That said, I’m not saying the Democrats are any real prize, either. Honestly, some of my most racist experiences have been with well-meaning white liberals. After all, it was the Democrats that gave us the dog whistle “superpredators”. The sad fact of the matter is that the lesser of two evils is still less evil. Being the pragmatist that I am, when I look around in 2020 and see that all the folks walking around with swastikas while wearing KKK robes are on the Republican side, that’s all the motivation I need to vote Democrat.
8. The most troubling thing, Uncle, is that you seem to have conflated the act of calling out and addressing racist systems with playing the victim. You are out in these internet streets Herman Caining all over yourself, and I have no idea why. What I can tell you is that systemic racism is real, and it is pervasive. You say that the only thing that is oppressing us is ourselves. Underfunding our schools is not something we’re doing to ourselves. When schools neglect to teach our history, that is not something we are doing to ourselves. Gerrymandering is not something we are doing to ourselves. Voter suppression is not something we are doing to ourselves. Racial profiling is not something we are doing to ourselves. Police brutality is not something that we are doing to ourselves. Oppression is real, and it’s a real problem. The American education system needs to be reformed. The American criminal justice system needs to be reformed from the ground up, as does the American political system. I will also tell you that there are a lot of us who are calling these systems out, educating people, and working towards change. Whether you like it or not, change is coming. Either get on the bus or get out of the way, because the days of happy darkies staying silent and hiding behind a smile are over.
9. Lastly, dear Uncle, I would just like to know how we got here. Seriously. My post basically stated that having sex with a black person doesn’t mean you’re not racist. It had NOTHING to do with anything you posted. (However, Strom Thurmond, of the aforementioned Dixiecrat Party, has a black daughter, thus proving my initial point most beautifully. Thanks for that.)
Nobody on my thread mentioned Black Lives Matter before you. I don’t know you well enough to diagnose you, but based on what you have shown me, I will say this: Stockholm Syndrome is a real thing, and you seem to be suffering from a chronic case. Now’s a good moment for you to take a good look inside and find out what self-hating demon of yours felt so touched by my statement that you were so compelled to go on all of these tangents. Maybe it comes down to your questions about your white girlfriend. Who can say? Before you go getting your manties in a wad, this is not me hating on interracial relationships. I have had more than a few, and I can say from first-hand experience that just because someone loves one black person, it doesn’t suddenly make them incapable of racism. America is a country founded on racism, and that racism has only become more entrenched over the years. As black people in that environment, we have to weed out those anti-black sentiments that we have been taught, because we are also not immune to being racist. I’m doing the work to fight racism, both in myself and in the world around me. My question to you, Uncle Ruckus, is what are you doing?
In closing, my dear Uncle Ruckus, I would like to say that I hope you find peace for whatever seems to be troubling your spirit. I hope you find the self-love that your words seem to lack. Most of all, I hope you understand that this is an excellent time for the two of us to end our brief acquaintance. But if you do decide to further engage, please understand that I can get capital “P” Pettier. This is what I do for fun, and I’m only getting warmed up.
Loving you to Della Reese’s Pieces,