The White man's greatest tool
By: Taquarius Johnson
Credit: The Heart Part 5 by Kendrick Lamar
Perception is the lens from which we experience life. Perception has a direct influence on the way your life pans out. How do you perceive the world? How does the world perceive you? Perception is a powerful tool that can be used to elevate you to heights unimaginable. Perception can also descend you into a downward spiral to a point of no return. Our society is more technologically advanced than ever before. We are also more politically radical than ever before. The power of perception has never been stronger.
Social media is the greatest worst invention of all time. It possesses the great ability to build you up and break you down. As you garner more influence, you will also generate more hate. People become more eager to see you fail. In fact, they will go out of their way to make it happen. This is a fact of life.
Haters are going to hate. You have to shake it off.
WHAT IS Culture?
Kanye West is culture. Kendrick Lamar is culture. Michael Jordan is culture. What do these people have in common? Black people have influenced American culture more than any other group. Rap is the new Rock n’ Roll, but we also invented Rock n’ Roll. White people have a bad habit of stealing black ideas, then executing those ideas without giving proper credit. Black people are so influential that white America desperately tries to undermine our contributions to the culture. This usually comes in the form of character destruction and white washing. One of the best examples of this is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Even I fell victim to believing a fabricated version of his legacy, which scarred my perception of the man. I’ve always related more to the radicalism of Malcolm X, but the education system has presented Martin Luther King as a legitimate pacifist. During the height of his activism, he was viewed as domestic terrorist. A whitewashed ideology states that under no circumstance can we fight back against the physical forces of white supremacy. Dr. King believed in nonviolence and sustained protests, but he was also very transparent about the sense of urgency and the evils of white supremacy. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail puts his radicalism on full display.
“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters … then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”
The whitewashing of Dr. King’s legacy allows for the general public to be misinformed. A misinformed public is a public that’s easier to manipulate. This is why they didn’t teach slaves how to read.
There are countless examples of character assassination throughout history. One of my favorite examples is Kanye West. Ye stands out to me for a multitude of reasons. He is easily the most influential artist of our generation, thus creating a target. Ye is also a freethinker and very outspoken, often causing controversy with his takes. Some of his most iconic lines include, "Slavery was a choice" and "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Despite large amounts of pushback, Ye has always stood firmly by his beliefs.
His public divorce with Kim Kardashian sparked an abundance of conversation. A familiar narrative was being created: “Kanye West is a crazy black man; stay away at all costs.”
The “crazy” narrative has always been a part of Ye’s life, and the Kardashians used this to their advantage in order to push an agenda. Gaslighting techniques through “paparazzi leaks” and TMZ articles were regular during the height of their drama. For example, Kanye says he doesn’t want his daughter, North, on TikTok, so the natural reaction was to create a public account for her. Another example: Kanye doesn’t want his kids to meet Kim’s boyfriend, Pete Davidson (a white male with a history of drug abuse and jokes about pedophilia), so the natural reaction was to “leak” a picture of North on his lap.
This situation really connected with me because during the same time period, I had a very similar experience with a white girl and her family [minus the kids]. Gaslighting, manipulation, and character assassination were all present, and it was a team effort. The family painted me as an ultra-violent threat to society; perpetuated by negative stereotypes that have haunted black people since the beginning of time.
I was being called a “stalker” while the dad was stalking me. The icing on top is that the replacement has a well-documented history of violent outbursts, but he’s white.
What I've learned from this situation is that as a black man, my reputation is never truly safe. I made the ignorant mistake of assuming that it was. I truly didn't believe that these people would switch on me so drastically, but it served as a learning experience, highlighting the lens of their perception. It's important for us to be weary of ulterior motives. The most evil hides behind the prettiest face.