Someone pissed me off this morning (from another comment thread, share this if you wish):
They aren’t killing the Carltons.
What a blind joke of a statement. As if the problem here is not enough black people act “Carlton” enough to avoid getting shot by police.
Since I’ve been compared more than once to that character, how about I let you in on what that means?
Being a Carlton means I had an almost pathological awareness of not just my actions, but the appearance of my actions. From the way I dress, to the words I choose, to ensuring I go above and beyond in public to assure anyone around me I’m not a fucking predator about to steal, kill, or rape them, most of my personality and interactions with people who don’t know me involve appearing as wholesome as possible. It means not using a fucking reusable shopping bag to hold my stuff when I go shopping, because I don’t want anyone to get the idea I may be shoplifting. It means having a whole list of daily behaviors no one white I’ve ever met thinks a moment about without discussion, because they are not under the same kind of social constraints.
Hanging out with black friends growing up, it meant getting asked why I was trying to be white. Hanging out with white friends growing up, it meant mostly making sure they stayed out of trouble. They didn’t feel the same restrictions I felt, and I learned quickly from the few times bad things almost went down that the hammer would drop quicker and harder on me than it would on them.
Being a Carlton means having to explain to my wife as we plan to have a baby why we have to raise that child to be more concerned and aware of how people perceive them than their mother has to.
Being a Carlton meant I spent four years in college earning a degree in law enforcement, and another five as a cop, because being a normal citizen wasn’t good enough. You throw statistics out about black violent crime and call them facts, but you don’t say anything about the complicated issues that go into that number. You say the black community needs to get it together, that these people are at fault for making the police shoot them. You spout symptoms, but want no discussion of causality. You are doing the same stuff you accuse the BLM movement of doing.
So the solution is everyone should be a god damned Carlton. Go back and watch that show. Look past the comic relief and the dancing, and you’ll see a character repressing so much of himself because he knows to even live a normal life he will be held to a higher standard than others around him, and I’m not talking about the other black people.
The next time you get it in your mind it’s as easy for black people to live regular lives and to be seen as law-abiding contributing citizens, think back to this conversation. With all of our social changes, affirmative action, whatever; on my worst day I’ve still had to watch myself and my actions more than my white peers, the entire time pushing against being one of the statistics you have pointed out. Being a Carlton is not an easy button, and it’s not something I would wish upon people or make a social goal for others. It’s a state of being you’ll never know, and will never have to experience.