Reminder: White Liberals Hate Living in Black Neighborhoods
Chris Hayes the liberal talking head says he's afraid of black people. By saying it, he joins the ranks of Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote a whole book about it; Jesse Jackson, who worried out loud that one of them was going to mug or murder him; Al Sharpton, who left blackville the second he had the chance; James Baldwin, who told us to love Americans and then exiled himself to France; Barack Obama, who lives in alabaster Kalorama and sent his kids to white schools; and Maxine Waters, who got so rich riling up her constituents that she was able to move away from them.
Black celebrities aside, one thing you never see a white liberal do is move into a black neighborhood. Chris Hayes won't because he's already lived near one, and he says he hated it. White liberals have a list of reasons they avoid them – not getting punched in the face again, in Chris's instance. Rate of crime. A superior level of order. Cleanliness. Proximity to the businesses they actually work at. That kind of thing. It isn't white supremacy when liberals do it, though, because they aren't considered white supremacists. They're telling you they're scared, but they're also beating their chests. They love black people. They just prefer to live anywhere but black neighborhoods.
This fact is the basis of Chris Hayes's book, A Colony in a Nation – probably one of the finest books to come out of the Black Lives Matter movement, and if not the finest, then one of the funnest (my personal favorite? We Were Eight Years in Power). It covers multiple aspects of black neighborhoods and makes you want to get away from them. Then it asks you to embrace them. How anyone could describe these war zones and then ask you to bus your kids to them is beyond my understanding, but it seems to be the gist of Black Lives Matter. Your kids might be shot, but you won't be a racist.
Chris Hayes is pretty honest about all this, and he expresses himself in bouts of self-contradiction. He says "broken windows policing" is evil right before admitting, in part, that after it, "New York went from rundown and dangerous to glossy and glamorous." He wants officers hamstrung while admitting that the process led big cities to the "biggest jump [in homicides] since 1971." He says cops are too skittish around blacks while admitting that black neighborhoods are extremely dangerous for cops. He says whites ought to be less fearful of the ghetto while telling us everyone is afraid of it. He says white people are more racist against blacks while telling us "even African Americans consistently show antiblack suspicion." He says drug crime is more devastating than KKK terrorism and then asks us to go easier on crackheads. He says white people overreact to violent crime and then says their overreactions are responsible for the safety of white neighborhoods. He curses a lack of investment, and when white people invest, he rails against gentrification.
We wish this was the end, but Chris Hayes has a true knack for treachery. He says our cities ought to be more lawless – as we are at our colleges. He says we ought to be more considerate with our criminals – as we were with Brock Turner, the rapist (yes, he really said this). He says our criminal justice system puts undue stress on families while proving that criminals put undue stress of families. He says everyone wants a nice place for his children to grow up. Then he calls it racist when police harass junkies, prostitutes, rowdy hooligans, the mentally disturbed, loiterers, panhandlers, drunks, and people yelling in the streets. He says the crime drop since The Crack Years is "one of the most stunning statistical and sociological mysteries of our time." Then he shames "white fear" for worrying that it could all reverse.
Ta-Nehisi Coates says this book is highly original, and I agree with him. The book has to be read to be believed.
There are two real highlights. The first of them deals with the riots in Ferguson. Mr. Hayes argues – convincingly, I add – that the citizens of Ferguson were taxed worse than Robin Hood and faced a list of grievances very similar to Tom Jefferson's. His equating dealers with John Hancock is a bit of a stretch, but the riots he justifies, I think, on terms most white Americans can agree about. He says the city needed money, so its leaders went to the police. He says that in 2014 alone, the police handed out 53,000 tickets in a population of 22,000. Those tickets resulted in court dates. An intentional lack of hearing times led from court dates to "failure to show up in court." A failure to show up in court resulted in more fining, and so the spiral went until the people of Ferguson, laden with taxes too heavy to bear, were forced into debt to fund well dressed oppressors. Michael Brown's death wasn't the beginning, but the last straw of their grievances.
We all know that rioting can't be the modus operandi. But we know that when the modus operandi is injustice, as Zach De La Rocha put it, the riots be the rhyme of the unheard. We did it with our Boston Tea Party. They did it for the same reasons in Ferguson. We hated writs of assistance. They currently hate searches without warrants. This part of the book should be read twice and cherished. Our black Americans, despite the awful descriptions in this book, are still our fellow Americans, and when we defend their rights, we're defending our own.
The second highlight is the end, and it involves the author in New York's Prospect Park, a place right between the black world and the white. Hayes describes it as a kind of urban paradise: a quiet and beautiful place where you can play catch and walk dogs and bring children. It's flowing with waterfalls and shaded by big trees. Some people say it's prettier than Central Park.
One day, shortly after Baltimore's riots, Hayes said he saw four black boys. They were rowdy and aggressive and looking for trouble. He saw one of them ride a bike at a man walking with his family. The boy rode right at the stroller and then, as if to threaten a collision, turned to the side at the very last second. When the man protested over the safety of his baby, the black boy, puffing out his chest, menaced him with a what'd you say? The man worried for his family, tucked his tail between his legs, and left without arguing.
Things from this point escalated quickly. The boys began menacing women. Threatening people and swearing at them. Then one of these hooligans, seeing a white man with a nice phone, ran up and snatched it out of his hands, and his friends took off with him. People standing by began to chase the boys, yelling, He stole that man's phone! while the boys laughed, riding off into the distance.
Where was Chris Hayes in all of this? Being a hero – to the black boys. "I took my phone out, held it in my hand, and considered whether to press the button."
This isn't a satisfying end to any book, but at least we can thank God Mr. Hayes isn't a racist. He loves black people. He's willing to give up anyone's phone for them and endanger anyone else's baby. He just won't live in any of their neighborhoods. He just won't protect us in any of ours.
Image: YouTube screen grab.