Unless you’re a Twitter enthusiast or someone who happens to catch some of the most obscure news, the recent Tariq Nasheed scandal likely passed you by. Nasheed is an American movie producer and Twitter activist/social commentator. Interestingly, he describes himself as the “World’s #1 Race Baiter,” and sees himself as an opponent and activist against white supremacy and racism towards the Black community. However, one of his latest claims of racism created a Twitter backlash so large that he briefly became a Top 20 trending topic on the platform.
He posted a video of a distressed Holiday Inn employee as the videographer, a Black customer who is not Nasheed, harasses the employee. The customer was apparently upset about a mistake in the reservation system which he is attempting to get fixed. The employee for whatever reason seems to be unable to do this. Whether that’s because of a genuine inability to manipulate the system in such a way, or an individual difficulty managing the system, is irrelevant. It is, however, important that the customer continues to follow him after he has communicated that he has mental health difficulties and that he’s going to presumably need some time to work.
It gets to the point that the employee becomes so distressed that he proceeds to repeatedly smash his head into the computer monitor, eventually breaking down in tears, and attempting to leave the area. The customer continues to film and follows the man while continuing to essentially mock him.
Nasheed posted the video under the pretense that the employee was being racist by reacting like that towards a Black man scolding him for a mistake. Additionally, he also claims that employee called the customer the “N” word prior to the start of the video. The employee, on the other hand, also claims that the customer called him a homosexual slur and that he wasn’t particularly offended since he is “a raging homosexual.” Whether or not either claim is true is unknown, since we don’t particularly have evidence for either in the video.
As someone who has watched the video, it’s rather difficult to see any situation, racial slur or not, where the employee is not the victim here. There’s a point where our sense of compassion and empathy towards others should take center stage — and I’d say the point where a person, whether you’re in a conflict with them or not, begins to hurt themselves, is visibly sobbing and is not currently mentally or emotionally well should be that point. Based on the raucous discussion that Nasheed raised, it seems that most people, Black or not, are in agreement with this and recognize that there’s such a thing as just being a bad person no matter the race.
Where I think the problem lies is that there are people, predominantly Black, who are on Nasheed’s side, believing that the employee was being racist in his reaction and that the customer did the right thing. Additionally, they also believe anyone who comes to the defense of the employee is a racist if not a white supremacist. The very idea that there are people who are able to coherently believe this is astonishing to me, surprising but not unexpected with the rise of Black Entitlement in the U.S.
To clarify, when I say Black Entitlement, I don’t speak of Black Privilege, which I still consider to be a joke. Black Entitlement, as it’s used here, is meant to represent the rising conception in Black America that Blacks are deserving of some special treatments and indeed privileges, that they believe can’t be afforded to others. It simply doesn’t rise to the ranks of pure privilege, because at the end of the day, Blacks in America cannot do what they want, say want they want, look how they want or act as they please in a society where all those things are figuratively and quite literally policed. However, the fact that Black Americans feel they have certain pockets of the world in which they hold some special positions is indisputable.
I think of the astonishingly common phrase that “Black people can’t be racist,” which I find to be a surprisingly accepted falsehood, both within the Black community and the collective political left. The idea seems to stem from the fact that Blacks cannot be systemically racist in a society where they ultimately have no power and remain marginalized communities, and where they are ultimately discriminated against by systems of power. However, being systematically racist is very different from being individually racist, and Blacks are as prone to it as any other race. The idea that racism can only be systemic is absurd, principally because the very fact that systemic racism must be qualified with the word “systemic” is a prime indicator that racism on its own is not as such.
If racism by definition was systemic, by that logic there would not exist racist individuals; instead there could only be people who work for and people who support systems of racism.
If that were the case I wouldn’t be hearing individuals being called racist every other day. However, if we agree that all individuals have the capacity to say, and do racist things, then by what stream of logic do we reach the conclusion that Black people cannot be racist? Is the saying “all white people are racist” not equally a racialized generalization as “all Black people are criminals?” The simple fact is that they are generalizations. They are both very different from acknowledging the facts that “all white people, like all people, have the potential to be racist,” and “all black people, like all people, have the potential to be criminals.” They assert negative generalizations as a characteristic of a singular race.
This trend towards believing that Blacks are immune from certain negative characteristics or qualifications is what I believe to be the primary contributor to a rise in the defense of negative actions and words of Black Americans. People are beginning to believe that Black America is above that. The simple fact is that we’re not, and it’s time that we recognize that.