Kill Whitey I DON’T KN0W what it is, but every time I see a white guy walking toward me, I tense up. My heart starts racing, and I immediately begin to look for an escape route and a means to defend myself I kick myself for even being in this part of town after dark. Didn’t I notice the suspicious gangs of white people lurking on every street comer, drinking Starbucks and wearing their gang colors of Gap Turquoise or J. Crew Mauve? What an idiot! Now the white person is coming closer, closer—and then—whew! He walks by without harming me, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
White people scare the crap out of me. This may be hard for you to understand—considering that I am white—but then again, my color gives me a certain insight. For instance, I find myself pretty scary a lot of the time, so I know what I’m talking about. You can take my word for it: if you find yourself suddenly surrounded by white people, you better watch out. Anything can happen.
As white people, we’ve been lulled into thinking it’s safe to be around other white people. We’ve been taught since birth that it’s the people of that other color we need to fear. They’re the ones who’ll slit your throat!
Yet as I look back on my life, a strange but unmistakable pattern seems to emerge. Every person who has ever harmed me in my lifetime—the boss who fired me, the teacher who flunked me, the principal who punished me, the kid who hit me in the eye with a rock, the other kid who shot me with his BB gun, the executive who didn’t renew TVNation, the guy who was stalking me for three years, the accountant who double-paid my taxes, the drunk who smashed into me, the burglar who stole my stereo, the contractor who overcharged me, the girlfriend who left me, the next girlfriend who left even sooner, the pilot of the plane I was on who hit a truck on the runway (he probably hadn’t eaten in days), the other pilot who decided to fly through a tornado, the person in the office who stole checks from my checkbook and wrote them out to himself for a total of $16,000—every one of these individuals has been a white person! Coincidence? I think not!
I have never been attacked by a black person, never been evicted by a black person, never had my security deposit ripped off by a black landlord, never had a black landlord, never had a meeting at a Hollywood studio with a black executive in charge, never seen a black agent at the film /IV agency that used to represent me, never had a black person deny my child the college of her choice, never been puked on by a black teenager at a Motley Crue concert, never been pulled over by a black cop, never been sold a lemon by a black car salesman, never seen a black car salesman, never had a black person deny me a bank loan, never had a black person try to bury my movie, and I’ve never heard a black person say, “We’re going to eliminate ten thousand jobs here—have a nice day!”
I don’t think I’m the only white guy who can make these claims. Every mean word, every cruel act, every bit of pain and suffering in my life has had a Caucasian face attached to it.
So, um, why is it exactly that I should be afraid of black people?
I look around at the world I live in—and, folks, I hate to tell tales out of school, but it’s not the African-Americans who have made this planet such a pitiful, scary place to inhabit. Recently a headline on the front page of the Science section of the New York Times asked the question “Who Built the H-Bomb?” The article went on to discuss a dispute that has arisen between the men who claim credit for making the first bomb. Frankly, I could have cared less—because I already know the only pertinent answer: “IT WAS A WHITE GUY!” No black guy ever built or used a bomb designed to wipe out hordes of innocent people, whether in Oklahoma City, Columbine, or Hiroshima.
No, my friends, it’s always the white guy. Let’s go to the tote board:
• Who gave us the black plague? A white guy.
• Who invented PBC, PVC, PBB,and a host of chemicals that are killing us? White guys.
• Who has started every war America has been in? White men.
• Who is responsible for the programming on FOX? White men.
• Who invented the punch card ballot? A white man.
• Whose idea was it to pollute the world with the internal combustion engine? Whitey, that’s who.
• The Holocaust? That guy really gave white people a bad name (that’s why we prefer to call him a Nazi and his little helpers Germans).
• The genocide of Native Americans? White man.
• Slavery? Whitey!
• So far in 2001, American companies have laid off over 700,000 people. Who ordered the layoffs? White CEOs.
• Who keeps bumping me off the Internet? Some friggin’ white guy, and if I find him, he’s a dead white guy.
You name the problem, the disease, the human suffering, or the abject misery visited upon millions, and I’ll bet you ten bucks I can put a white face on it faster than you can name the members of ‘N Sync.
And yet when I turn on the news each night, what do I see again and again? Black men alleged to be killing, raping, mugging, stabbing, gangbanging, looting, rioting, selling drugs, pimping, ho-ing, having too many babies, dropping babies from tenement windows, fatherless, motherless, Godless, penniless. “The suspect is described as a black male ... the suspect is described as a black male ... THE SUSPECT IS DESCRIBED AS A BLACK MALE....” No matter what city I’m in, the news is always the same, the suspect always the same unidentified black male. I’m in Atlanta tonight, and I swear the police sketch of the black male suspect on TV looks just like the black male suspect I saw on the news last night in Denver and the night before in L.A. In every sketch he’s frowning, he’s menacing—and he’s wearing the same knit cap! Is it possible that it’s the same black guy committing every crime in America?
I believe we’ve become so used to this image of the black man as predator that we are forever ruined by this brainwashing, In my first film, Roger & Me, a white woman on Social Security clubs a bunny rabbit to death so that she can sell him as “meat” instead of as a pet. I wish I had a nickel for every time in the last ten years someone has come up to me and told me how “horrified” and “shocked” they were when they saw that “poor little cute bunny” bonked on the head. The scene, they say, made them physically sick. Some had to turn away or leave the theater. Many wondered why I would include such a scene. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave Roger & Me an R rating in response to that rabbit killing (which compelled 60 Minutes to do a story on the stupidity of the rating system). Teachers write me and say they have to edit that part out of the film so they won’t get in trouble for showing my movie to their students.
But less than two minutes after the bunny lady does her deed, I included footage of a scene in which the police in Flint opened fire and shot a black man who was wearing a Superman cape and holding a plastic toy gun. Not once—not ever—has anyone said to me, “I can’t believe you showed a black man being shot in your movie! How horrible! How disgusting! I couldn’t sleep for weeks.” After all, he was just a black man, not a cute, cuddly bunny. There is no outrage at showing a black man being shot on camera (least of all from the MPAA ratings board, who saw absolutely nothing wrong with that scene).
Why? Because a black man being shot is no longer shocking. Just the opposite—it’s normal, natural. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing black men killed—in the movies and on the evening news—that we now accept it as standard operating procedure. No big deal, just another dead black guy! That’s what blacks do—kill and die. Ho-hum. Pass the butter.
It’s odd that, despite the fact that most crimes are committed by whites, black faces are usually attached to what we think of as “crime.” Ask any white person who they fear might break into their home or harm them on the street, and if they’re honest, they’ll admit that the person they have in mind doesn’t look much like them. The imaginary criminal in their heads looks like Mookie or Hakim or Kareem, not little freckle-faced Jimmy.
How does the brain process a fear like this, when everything it sees says the opposite? Are white people’s brains hardwired to see one thing but believe the opposite because of race? If that’s the case, then do all white people suffer from some shared low-grade mental illness? If every time the sun was out it was nice and bright and clear, but your brain told you to stay inside because it definitely looked like a storm was brewing, well, we might encourage you to seek some professional help. Are white people who see black boogeymen around every corner any different?
Obviously, no matter how many times their fellow whites make it clear that the white man is the one to fear, it simply fails to register. Every time you turn on the TV to news of another school shooting, it’s always a white kid who’s conducting the massacre. Every time they catch a serial killer, it’s a crazy white guy. Every time a terrorist blows up a federal building, or a madman gets four hundred people to drink Kool-Aid, or a Beach Boys songwriter casts a spell causing half a dozen nymphets to murder “all the piggies” in the Hollywood Hills, you know it’s a member of the white race up to his old tricks.
So why don’t we run like hell when we see whitey coming toward us? Why don’t we ever greet the Caucasian job applicant with, “Gee, uh, I’m sorry, there aren’t any positions available right now”? Why aren’t we worried sick about our daughters marrying white guys?
And why isn’t Congress *trying to ban the scary and offensive lyrics of Johnny Cash (“I shot a man in Reno / just to watch him die”), the Dixie Chicks (“Earl had to die”), or Bruce Springsteen (“...I killed everything in my path / I can’t say that I’m sorry for the things that we done”). Why all the focus on rap lyrics? Why doesn’t the media print rap lyrics like these and tell the truth?
I sold bottles of sorrow, then chose poems and novels.
People use yo’ brain to gain. —ICE CUBE
A poor single mother on welfare ... tell me how ya did it.
African-Americans have been on the lowest rung of the economic ladder since the day they were beaten and dragged here in chains—and they have never made it off that rung, not for a single damn day. Every other immigrant group who has landed here has been able to advance from the bottom to the middle and upper levels of our society. Even Native Americans, who are among the poorest of the poor, have fewer children living in poverty than African-Americans.
You probably thought things had gotten better for blacks in this country. I mean, after all, considering all the advances we’ve made eliminating racism in our society, one would think our black citizens might have seen their standard of living rise. A survey published in the Washington Post in July 2001 showed that 40 to 60 percent of white people thought the average black person had it as good or better than the average white person.
Think again. According to a study conducted by the economists Richard Vedder, Lowell Gallaway, and David C. Clingaman, the average income for a black American is 61 percent less per year than the average white income. That is the same percentage difference as it was in 1880! Not a damn thing has changed in more than 120 years.
Want more proof? Consider the following:
• About 20 percent of young black men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four are neither in school nor working—compared with only 9 percent of young white men. Despite the “economic boom” of the nineties, this percentage has not fallen substantially over the last ten years.
• In 1993, white households had invested nearly three times as much in stocks and mutual funds and/or IRA and Keogh accounts as black households. Since then, the stock market has more than doubled its value.
• Black heart attack patients are far less likely than whites to undergo cardiac catheterization, a common and potentially lifesaving procedure, regardless of the race of their doctors. Black and white doctors together referred white patients for catheterization about 40 percent more often than black patients.
• Whites are five times more likely than blacks to receive emergency clot-busting treatment for stroke.
• Black women are four times more likely than white women to die while giving birth.
• Black levels of unemployment have been roughly twice those of whites since 1954.
Does this make anyone angry besides me and the Reverend Farrakhan? To what do African-Americans owe this treatment, considering that they are responsible for so little of the suffering our society faces? Why are they the ones who are being punished? Damned if I know.
So how have we white people been able to get away with this without all ending up like Reginald Denny? (The white truck driver who was dragged from his rig and beaten nearly to death by blacks during the LA riots in 1992.)
Caucasian ingenuity! You see, we used to be real dumb. Like idiots, we wore our racism on our sleeve. We did really obvious things, like putting up signs on rest room doors that said WHITES ONLY. Over a drinking fountain we’d hang a sign that said COLOREDS. We made black people sit at the back of the bus. We prevented them from attending our schools or living in our neighborhoods. They got the crappiest jobs (those advertised for NEGROES ONLY), and we made it clear that if you weren’t white you were going to be paid a lower wage.
Well, this overt, over-the-top segregation got us into a heap of trouble. A bunch of uppity lawyers went to court—citing, of all things, our very own Constitution! They pointed out that the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t allow for anyone to be treated differently because of their race.
Eventually, after a long procession of court losses, demonstrations, and riots, we got the message: if we didn’t wise up, we were going to have to start sharing some of the pie. We learned an important lesson: if you’re going to be a successful racist, better find a way to do it with a smile on your face!
So white people got smart and took down the signs, stopped lynching black men who might have stopped on the street to talk with our women, passed a bunch of civil-rights laws, and ceased saying words like nigger in public. We even got magnanimous enough to say, Sure, you can even live here in our neighborhood; your kids can go to our kids’ school. “Why the hell not? We were just leaving anyway. We smiled, gave black America a pat on the back—and then ran like the devil to the suburbs. Now we get to have things just the way we always used to have them in the cities. When we walk out to pick up the paper in the morning, we look one way down the street and see white people; look the other way, and guess what?—more white people!
At work, we whites still get the plum jobs, double the pay, and a seat in the front of the bus to happiness and success. Look back down the aisle, though, and you’ll see the blacks sitting where they’ve always been, picking up after us, waiting on us, serving us from behind the counter.
In order to create a cover for this continued discrimination, we hold “diversity seminars” at our workplaces and appoint “urban relations” people to help us “connect with the community.” When we advertise for a job opening we gleefully include the words “An Equal Opportunity Employer.” It feels so good—and it’s good for a chuckle, ‘cause we know there’s no way in hell a black guy’s going to get the job. Only 4 percent of the African-American population have a graduate degree (compared with 9 percent of whites and 15 percent of Asian-Americans). We’ve rigged the system from birth, guaranteeing that black people will go to the worst public schools, thus preventing them from admission to the best colleges, and paving their way to a fulfilling life making our lattés, servicing our BMWs, and picking up our trash. Oh, sure, a few slip by—but they pay an extra tariff for the privilege: the black doctor driving his BMW gets pulled over continually by the cops; the black Broadway actress can’t get a cab after the standing ovation; the black broker is the first to be laid off because of “seniority.”
We whites really deserve some kind of genius award for this. We talk the talk of inclusion, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. King, we frown upon racist jokes; thanks to that rat bastard Mark Fuhrnan blowing our cover, we’ve even coined a new term—“the N-word”—to replace the real Nigger McCoy. Trust me, you’ll NEVER catch any of us saying that word out loud—not these days, no-sir-ree-bob! The only time it’s acceptable is when we’re singing along with a rap song—and boy, do we suddenly love to rap!
We never fail to drop a mention of “my friend—he’s black...” We give money to the United Negro College Fund, recognize Black History Month, and make sure we put our lone black employee up at the front reception desk so we can say things like “See—we don’t discriminate! We hire black people.”
Yes, we are a very crafty, cagey race—and damn if we haven’t gotten away with it!
We’re also very adept at learning—and lifting—from black culture. We co-opt it, put it through a white blender, and make it ours. Benny Goodman did it, Elvis did it, Lenny Bruce did it. Motown created a whole new sound, and then was seduced to move to L.A., where it withdrew and made way for the Great White Pop Stars. Eminem admits he owes a lot to Dr. Dre, Tupac, and Public Enemy. The Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync are indebted to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, and the Jackson Five.
Blacks invent it, we appropriate it. Comedy, dance, fashion, language—we love the way black people express themselves, whether it’s talking about giving your girlfriend “props” for a tasty dinner, or hanging out with your “peeps,” or trying your darndest to “Be Like Mike.” Of course the operative word there is like, because no matter how many millions he makes, to be Mike would mean spending an awful lot of time pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Professional sports (other than hockey) has been dominated by African-Americans for the past three decades. We’ve been very generous in turning over all that hard work and training and exertion to young black men, because let’s face it, it’s more fun to sit in your La-Z-Boy eating chips and dip and watching them chase that ball. If we need exercise, we can always work up a sweat calling in to sports talk radio to whine about how “overpaid” those athletes are. Seeing black people end up with so much money just kind of makes us feel ... uneasy.
Where are the rest of the black-skinned people these days, the ones who don’t shoot hoop or wait on us? Working in film and television, I rarely see them. When I leave New York to go to Los Angeles for a few days to work and meet with people in the business, and from the plane I fly out on to the hotel I’m staying at, to my visit at the old talent agency, to the executives I meet, to the drinks I must have with a producer in Santa Monica, and then the dinner I enjoy with friends in West Hollywood—I can go days and never encounter a single African-American unless it’s someone to whom I’m handing a tip. How can that happen? To pass the time, I now play a game with myself, trying to clock how long it will be before I spot a black man or woman who isn’t wearing a uniform or sitting at a receptionist’s desk (they do the Negro-at the-reception-desk trick in L.A., too). During my last three trips to Los Angeles the clock never stopped: the black head count was zero. That I could exist for days at a time in the second largest city in America and encounter only whites, Asians, and Hispanics but no blacks at all—now THAT’s an incredible feat, testimony to the strength of our commitment to be a segregated society. Think of how much energy has to go into something like this, so that I don’t have to be troubled by any black people! How did the white people out there keep the one million black citizens of Los Angeles county hidden from my view? Sheer, unadulterated genius!
I know it’s easy to pick on L.A. You can have the hear-no-black people, see-no-black-people experience in most parts of America. And it’s not just the TV and film world. I’d be surprised if any black hands have touched the manuscript of this book since it left my office (other than to messenger it to the publisher across town).
For once I’d love to see a black person in the seat next to me at a Knicks game—or within twenty rows of me in any direction (players and Spike Lee excluded). For once I’d like to walk onto an airplane and see it filled with only black passengers instead of a bunch of complaining white jerks who feel a sense of entitlement in demanding that I give up my lap so they can put their seat in it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a self-hating Caucasian. It’s not the white skin color of others that gives me the creeps. What galls me is that my fellow white people have become so conniving they’ve figured out a way to turn black people into white people! When I first heard Clarence Thomas speak I thought, “For crying out loud, don’t white people have enough people already?” Now the airwaves are filled with blacks who are trotted out to push the white agenda. I am stumped as to where the networks dig these individuals up. They speak out against affirmative action, even though many of them got into college thanks to affirmative action. They blast welfare mothers, even though that’s who their own mother was, struggling for years in poverty so her son could grow up to debase her and her kind. They speak out against homosexuals, even though AIDS has devastated black gay men more than any other group. They despise Jesse Jackson, even though he spent years being arrested and risking his life so they would have the freedom to sit down in any restaurant and order lunch, let alone voice any opinion they wished. I’m not saying that black America must speak with one political voice; I’m just repulsed by the venom some of these “conservatives” spew.
It’s the saddest thing to watch, this Uncle Tom porn. How much are these freaks being paid? I wonder, when the red fight on the camera goes off, does Bill O’Reilly or Chris Matthews or Tucke r Carlson ever say to these sellouts, “Hey, there’s a house next to mine for sale—you oughta move in!” or “Hey, my sister’s single now, and so are you—how ‘bout it?” I don’t know, maybe they do. Maybe O’Reilly will have me over for Kwanzaa this December.
I wonder how long we’ll have to live with the legacy of slavery. That’s right. I brought it up. SLAVERY. You can almost hear the groans of white America whenever you bring up the fact that we still suffer from the impact of a government-approved and supported slave system.
Well, I’m sorry, but the roots of most of our social ills can be traced straight back to this sick chapter of our history. African Americans never got a chance to have the same fair start the rest of us got. Their families were willfully destroyed. Their language and culture and religion were stripped from them. Their poverty was institutionalized so that our cotton could get picked, our wars could be fought, our convenience stores could remain open all night. The America we’ve come to know would never have come to pass if not for the millions of slaves who built it and created its booming economy—and for the millions of their descendants who do the same dirty work for whites today.
“Mike, Why are you bringing up slavery? No black person living today was ever a slave. I didn’t enslave anyone. Why don’t you quit blaming all this on some past injustice, and make them take responsibility for their own actions?”
Well, it’s not like we’re talking ancient Rome here, folks. My grandfather was born just three years after the Civil War.
That’s right, my grandfather. My great-uncle was born before the Civil War. And I’m only in my forties. Sure, people in my family seem to marry late and have their babies even later, but the truth remains: I’m just two generations from slave times. That, my friends, is NOT a “long time ago.” In the vast breadth of human history, it was only yesterday. Until we realize that, and accept that we do have a responsibility to correct an immoral act that still has repercussions today, we will never remove the single greatest stain on the soul of our country.
The day after the L.A. riots began in 1992, when the mayhem had spread into the white neighborhoods near Beverly Hills and Hollywood, white people went into urgent survival mode. Thousands who live in the hills above Los Angeles fled. Thousands more stayed and brought out their guns. It appeared as if the racial Armageddon many had feared was upon us.
I was working out of a Warner Bros. office in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Word was passed throughout the building that everyone was to evacuate and head for home by 1:00 P.M. It was feared that blacks in New York might catch “riot fever” and go berserk. At 1:00 PM. I went out on the street, and what I saw I believe (and hope) I may never see again—tens of thousands of white people running down the sidewalks to get the next commuter train or bus out of town. It was like a scene from The Day of the Locust, wall-to-wall humans in a collective panic, moving as one, in fear for their lives.
Within half an hour, the streets were deserted. Empty. It was eerie, creepy. New York City, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week—and it looked like five A.M. on a Sunday morning.
I walked home to my neighborhood. Not really concerned about anything other than the fact that my pen had run out of ink, I stopped by the stationery store across the street from my apartment. It was one of the few businesses still open (most had closed and shuttered their windows). I picked up a couple of pens and some paper and went up to the counter to pay. There, at the cash register, stood the elderly owner—with a baseball bat on the counter in front of him. I asked him what the bat was for.
“Just in case,” he replied, eyes darting around to see what was happening outside on the street.
“Just in case of what?” I asked.
“You know, in case they decide to riot here.”
He wasn’t referring to L.A. rioters hopping on a plane and bringing their Molotovs here to toss around the Big Apple. What he had in mind—like everyone who was running to catch the last train home to the white suburbs—was the fact that our race problem has never really been solved, and that black America was harboring a lot of pent-up anger over the incredible disparity between the lives of blacks and whites in this country. That bat on the counter spoke volumes about the one basic unspoken fear all whites have: that, sooner or later, the blacks are going to rise up and get their revenge. We are all sitting on a racial tinderbox, and we know we better be ready when the victims of our greed come calling.
Well, hey, why wait for that to happen? Do you really want to let it get to that point? Wouldn’t you rather fix the problem than have to flee for your life as your house burns behind you? I know I would!
So I’ve put together some easy-to-follow survival tips that might help save your honky ass. Sooner or later—you know it and I know it—there are going to be millions of Rodney Kings knocking on your door, and this time they aren’t going to be the ones taking the beating.
If we are unwilling to take serious action to correct our race problem, chances are we’ll all end up having to live in a gated neighborhood, armed with semiautomatic weapons and a private security force. Now what fan is that?