Until Next Time

Patrick Crusius

I stopped watching the news on Saturday once the number of fatalities had been confirmed.

Twenty.

Twenty lives senselessly taken with such casual cruelty. Lives deemed by a lone white gunman as having no value.

And I felt compelled to write and post something, anything as a blogger who had actually been out shopping on El Paso’s westside with my mother and sister, while a gunman was using bullets to pass judgment on innocent Walmart shoppers on the east side of town.

But I wanted to go deeper than the newfound grief that unites us all in this tragic moment, beyond offering well worn sentiments of “thoughts and prayers” as these horrific events have become all too commonplace for America to boast of any kind of greatness.

Past or present.

That debating gun rights versus gun control has not prevented white men from carrying out the deadliest mass killings in American history. And that unarmed black men will still be treated as the greater threat to public safety in this country.

Security heightened. Purses gripped tighter. Police called…

Because it’s a fact that America was founded on the violence of white supremacist. White man violence is the official form of violence preferred by our American system of justice. And it continues to be endlessly celebrated in Hollywood beginning with DW Griffith’s racist feature film Birth Of A Nation (1915).

(*side note* For more information on white supremacy and white man violence please read American History and the near eradication of Indigenous populations, American slavery, or just look to the man who currently sits in the Oval Office and ask yourself how he got there.)

And in MAGA-land, Patrick Crusius–the “alleged” gunman–who is believed to have written a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto was able to equip himself with an assault rifle, travel over 600 miles to go on a killing spree targeting Latinx people in order to defend against some perceived threat to white supremacy.

So the conversation then becomes an issue of gun violence (and for some unknown reason black on black crime in Chicago) but not really about the toxic ideology of white supremacy. (Though President Trump has condemned white supremacy. But whatever.) And that’s because white supremacy and white privilege go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

Which, I think, is a real fear for a lot of white Americans. Losing their white privilege.

Because Patrick Crusius in their minds is John Wayne playing the lead role in an old John Ford western defending an all-white wagon train against a “savage” Indian attack. Patrick Crusius is America unapologetically celebrating its brutally violent and bloody history and the blatant hypocrisy of its racist founding fathers year after year. And Crusius himself is a racist piece of shit who came to the city where I live to unleash his deadly hatred on a race of people because they are not white.

But, worst of all, Patrick Crusius is not alone.

So, until next time.

(*UPDATE* The death toll has now risen to 22. This blog post will continue to be updated as needed.)

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Linda Fairstein needs to GTFOHWTBS!

Linda Fairstein  | AP Photo/ Scribner/Sigrid Estrada

After watching Ava DuVernay’s limited streaming series When They See Us on Netflix, I must admit my blood was boiling. I. Was. Pissed. I was pissed at the NYPD and law enforcement in general. I was pissed at our so-called system of justice. I was pissed at the media. But I was mostly pissed at Linda Fairstein, portrayed with such convincing, single-minded tenacity by Felicity Huffman. A performance that speaks not only to America’s racist history of lynch mob, tiki-torch injustice but to the present “stand your ground” killing of unarmed African Americans at high rates by police.

And, unfortunately, the bodycount continues.

Linda Fairstein was a former New York City prosecutor and former head of Manhattan’s sex crimes unit. In 1989, she oversaw the prosecution, the wrongful convictions of five teenage boys–Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam dubbed the Central Park Five–who confessed to the brutal rape of a white woman, an investment banker, Trisha Meili, among other charges.

Since the release of the critically acclaimed series on May 31, 2019, Linda Fairstein has attempted to clap back with an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. Her guilty-until-proven-not-innocent opine of the now exonerated five reveals a pettiness that does nothing to support her claim that the series somehow “defames” her. She comes across as salty, butt-hurt, and overly critical–splitting hairs in what she believes to be inaccuracies in Queen Ava’s brilliant exposé–a powerful indictment of America’s criminal justice system.

But we as black people know all too well that that train is never late. The trolling by Linda Fairstein was expected especially after the backlash ignited by the most watched Netflix drama since its debut. Fairstein “stepped down” from her positions at two nonprofit organizations and as a member on the board of trustees at her alma mater–Vassar College. She was also dropped by her Hollywood literary agency, ICM, and her long time publisher, Dutton, because…well…karma is what it is.

Besides, Queen Ava is a filmmaker, an artist, and a black woman who definitely knows how to tell a story about racism and injustice in America. In her skillful retelling of the Central Park Jogger case, DuVernay manages to humanize the five falsely accused black and brown teenage boys. And supplies them with the very thing that they were denied on that fateful night on April 19, 1989–the presumption of innocence.

A legal concept Linda Fairstein is obviously not familiar with. It’s as if Fairstein doesn’t believe it’s possible that black and brown teenage boys can feel helpless, vulnerable, intimidated, much less coerced by law enforcement into confessing to a crime they didn’t commit. Which made me question her own humanity.

While the blame-stream media at the time led the way by assigning guilt in the press well before their trial began, a certain real-estate mogul by the name of Donald Trump took out full page attack ads–including the names, phone numbers, and addresses of the five Harlem youths–with a hefty price tag totaling $85,000 in some of New York’s major newspapers calling for their executions.

Donald J Trump is now the 45th POTUS. Yeah…just let that sink in for a minute.

But what really pisses me off about Linda Fairstein is that she will never be held legally accountable for her actions in a court of law.

But, whatever. This is America, afterall.

And a lot of what has happened to Linda Fairstein so far is performative outrage, social justice chic like white women wearing pink pussyhats showing faux solidarity with the #metoo movement who still voted for the self-professed pussy-grabber-in-chief. Which is how I know the system will not change in my lifetime.

Queen Ava said it best, “She [Fairstein] is part of a system that’s not broken, it was built to be this way.”

Remember, the South may have surrendered the Civil War but they were never really punished…or defeated.

Some thoughts on Black Panther

This past Friday I arrived alone at Sunland Park Mall’s cinema and bistro an hour early before the afternoon showing of Marvel’s highly anticipated Black Panther movie because I wasn’t sure if it would be sold out. Turns out, there was no need for concern, as I paid the $5.40 admission and made my way to an empty theater choosing a seat centrally located and near the front in row C.

Soon, I heard the light chatter of other moviegoers as they started to trickle in from outside where a country was still reeling from yet another recent school shooting. But minutes before their arrival, a young white male, maybe in his late teens, wearing a t-shirt with a large Batman logo on the front sat several seats to my left in the same row.

Perhaps, he was trying to get a reaction by openly supporting the caped crusader. Or maybe he was unaware that Marvel has been wiping the floor with DC even with the box office success of Wonder Woman. I didn’t know and I didn’t ask. Then I thought that maybe he was waiting to see how many more Black people would show up before he went full-on James Holmes. Which, I think, is not out of the realm of possibility these days.

I, myself, was proudly sporting a Marvel Secret Wars graphic tee displaying the comic book cover of that particular issue on the front. And I and possibly-James-Holmes-part-two sat in row C alone with no one in front of us for the duration of the movie inside a theater that was nowhere near packed.

But after the movie was over I was disappointed and, no, not because of the film. I was disappointed because when I stood up to leave as the lights came back on I turned around to see that there were no Black faces in the theater other than my own. And it wasn’t just that. It was that we had just finished watching a phenomenal, history-making movie that managed to only produce a few laughs and some giggling from those in attendance.

I guess, I just really wanted them to see what I saw–Blackness being represented in such a positive light on the silver screen. I was overjoyed and swelling with pride watching people who looked like me, like my family members and friends inhabiting leadership roles that required intelligence, strength, wisdom, discipline, who were more than capable of governing a technologically advanced civilization that is Wakanda. There were so many moments where I just wanted to stand up and clap, shout out my appreciation. But I restrained myself not willing to disrupt the masterpiece that was unfolding before my eyes.

Because it’s not so much what I was watching but it was about what I didn’t see. Absent were the “magical negroes” sacrificing their own happiness for the good of the “White savior”. There were none of the well-worn slavery narratives as though we need reminding of America’s criminal history where the culprits who legalized our suffering, unpaid servitude, and dehumanization were never punished.

Black Panther put Black humanity on full display performing at its uniquely powerful best and also, tragically flawed worst. It was Black humanity with its varying shades of beauty moving gracefully, fighting skillfully, strutting with supreme confidence. It was Black humanity with all of its angry, vengeful, misguided hatred, and blinded by its own inhumanity. But most of all, Black Panther is a movie about Black humanity that demands equity, not just equality and not only from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but the real world at large.

A world that still considers us the threat when we occupy White spaces. And a country that continues to criminalize our very existence and incarcerates us at extremely high rates even when the majority of the mass killings in the United States are committed by White males, even when the overwhelming evidence of the majority of historical violence and bloodshed inflicted on non-Whites speaks to the contrary. Because America would rather believe that we are more like Killmonger than T’Challa.

So, do I believe the movie Black Panther will change America’s negative perception of Black people? Judging by the audience member’s reaction on Friday, no. Not anytime soon, anyway. Because most non-Blacks in America have been conditioned for years to view us through a White supremacists lens which is often reinforced by media bias. They’ll never understand why this movie is so important to African Americans. Instead, there are those like the Roaming Millennial and Ben Shapiro who believe we should’ve been culturally satisfied with movies like Catwoman with Halle Berry and Blade with Wesley Snipes.

To them, I leave a video from my favorite rap group of all time. The “prophets of rage”, Public Enemy’s Burn Hollywood Burn.