Listen Steve, F*** OFF, MAN!

As you might have guessed from the title, this conversation didn’t go very well.

Long-time readers will know that Ray and I have locked horns a few times. And while our first conversation was pretty feisty, we seemed to have arrived at a more productive and even friendly stage in later conversations.

Sadly, that appears to be because he’d forgotten who I was…

After reading my article on police reform, The Police Won’t Fix The Police, Ray took issue with my references to people who want to abolish the police. This is a long one, so buckle your seatbelts!

p.s. Ray enjoys misspelling words like “police” and “white people” for some reason. I left the misspellings as I found them.


Ray:

Nobody ever said to abolish the pohleece. People still don't understand the difference between defund & abolish.


Steve QJ:

I have a working theory that every sentence that begins, “nobody is saying…”, is wrong…

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/opinion/sunday/floyd-abolish-defund-police.html

https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/2021/03/18/defund-police-minneapolis-struggles-reforms-after-george-floyd/4591158001/


Abolishing the police is such a breathtakingly stupid idea that I can understand why Ray assumes that “nobody” is genuinely suggesting it. But that would be to underestimate how stupid some people are capable of being.

In fact, swept along by a wave of anti-police rhetoric after George Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis City Council actually tried to abolish their police force. The results were…predictable.

So while I wouldn’t claim that the majority of people are saying it, people definitely are saying it. And, in some cases, they’re people who have the power to make decisions.


Ray:

Okay, so, who is saying to abolish the pohleece? If you have any common sense at all, that's not even possible. Therefore, I don't understand why that was said. Defund the pohleece has been said plenty, and the right has twisted in into abolish the pohleece. That's where I heard it, and the GOP lies to put the fear factor into people. They're disengenuous and love to rile people up with a lie. Know what I mean? I bet I could find evidence of where that particular thing started, and it wasn't factual ... it was rhetoric. I'm just surprised you said it, sir.


Steve QJ:

I included two links in my comment! Both of them talking about abolishing, not defunding, the police. One an opinion piece written in the New York Times itself. The other, a quote from the mayor of Minneapolis about the disaster the city council unleashed on their city.

The thing we have to realise is that the people who say dumb shit like abolish the police are the ones giving ammunition to the right. They don't have to twist things. They just cherry pick the stupidest things that the stupidest people on the left are saying.

And by the way, even defund the police is a dumb slogan. It sounds so close to abolish the police in most people's minds that they find it just as scary and don't even listen to anything that comes next.

People have to realise that ideas only gain traction if they get support from ordinary people. Not just from the tiny percentage of activists who will take the time to investigate what you actually mean by the snappy slogan you've chosen.

Somebody in the comments here said that #policeaccountabilitynow would be a good slogan. Maybe not as snappy, but everybody can understand it and get behind it, and it can't be mistaken for #abolishthepolice.


Ray:

Oh, I definitely know how ignorant people won't look up the meaning of anything and start screaming while using other words to describe what they heard.

I definitely understand where it started, but again, I can't side with ignorant people. I guess that's why I said nobody says those things, and what I should've said is that nobody worth a hill of beans would say such a thing.

This society cannot do without the pohleece, because it would dissolve into anarchy. I don't think 'defund' was stupid. It's just being taken out of context. I'm a Roland Martin Unfiltered paid member, and we tell the truth no matter what other people think.

I'm truly a 'Black Power' kind of man, and that won't change evah. It is needed more now than ever; well, since the 1960's.


Oh, I definitely know how ignorant people won't look up the meaning of anything.

I understand the temptation to dismiss people who don’t fully inform themselves. Heck, if more people took the time to read past the headline, half the conversations I post here wouldn’t exist.

But like it or not, this is how many people operate in the 21st century. The internet has crippled our attention spans and simultaneously lured us into echo chambers where anything coming from “the other side” is mostly ignored. So if we want to persuade people of something, it’s our responsibility to be clear, not dismiss anybody who misunderstands.

Lots of people would be open to a more transparent, accountable, and community-based approach to policing. Nobody in their right mind is open to abolishing the police. So if your slogan sounds anything like the latter, you’re going to lose a lot of people before you even start.

You can blame “ignorant people” for not taking the time to figure out what you really mean, or you can take responsibility for communicating effectively.


Steve QJ:

If you think the New York Times, with a readership in the millions isn't worth a hill of beans. Or the city council of Minneapolis, who actually tried to abolish the police until, surprise, surprise, there was a massive uptick in violent crime, aren't worth a hill of beans, I guess there's nothing I can say that will convince you.

As far as #defundthepolice beying taken out of context, it's a three word slogan. Three words. If it's *possible* to take it out of context, the problem is the slogan.


Ray:

Convince me of what? I know people are saying that shit about abolish the pohleece, but I am not worried about them. They are hillbillies, and not very bright.

A little girl got killed today while Chauvin was being charged guilty. You don't have to tell me there's a problem. Anybody who can read can see there is.

I'm still not going to worry about a bunch of idiots who have nothing better to do than swap words with each other and have a bunch of people in hysterics. I will stay the course.

I also don't trust most mainstream news sources, because they slant the narratives to ignite people. I totally live by don't believe everything you read; especially if white people wrote it.

I put my energies with people who are like-minded, not those who aren't. I could care less about them and will not waste my time trying to convince rocks to be fish. By the same token, nobody should do that with me.


I put my energies with people who are like-minded, not those who aren't.

Is there a more perfect expression of the problem with our discourse today? I mean, don’t get me wrong, we’re all drawn to like-minded people. But if we consider that a point of pride, instead of recognising the importance of exposing ourselves to differing points of view, we get, well…people like Ray.


Steve QJ:

I know people are saying that shit about abolish the pohleece

Okay fine. But you've moved from "nobody is saying that" to "I know people are saying that". That's what we were talking about here. We are in complete agreement that the people saying abolish the police are idiots. Unfortunately, they're idiots who have power over people's lives.

Not believing everything you read is definitely a smart way to live your life, but sticking with people who agree with you means you risk not seeing what's going on in the world as clearly as you might.

p.s. yeah, I saw the news about the girl literally five minutes after I saw the verdict. It was a gut punch.


Ray:

Well, I say the pohleece departments around the country have poison water in them, and it extends all the way up to Mayors hiring Police Chiefs on down.

I'm also rather disgusted that they can show great restraint when it comes to white people, but refuse to when it comes to Black people. I keep seeing it in various sectors around the country, and it's way more deeply rooted in racism than white civilians are willing to admit.

Did you see the guy who drove his truck off with an officer hanging off the door? Nobody shot at him; all other pohleece were just standing around screaming, but no shooting anybody dead. We can get shot over a parking ticket, while white people aren't shot for even bigger things they do.

Also saw another video a month ago of a white man who drove off with pohleece telling him to shut off his car. Their guns were drawn. Nobody shot at him as he drove away.

Black people aren't going to solve this problem, and for anybody trying to, they'll see what happens. They don't want to do shit, and we can't make them.


Just a few paragraphs ago, Ray talked about how he doesn’t trust most mainstream news sources because they slant narratives, and how “ignorant people” don’t take the time to inform themselves. Yet, unsurprisingly, he doesn’t apply this standard to himself.

If you only pay attention to the stories played on repeat by a race-baiting news media, it’s possible to believe that white people are never shot by police and that black people are being hunted for sport. But even if you’re not curious why there are never videos of white people (or even non-black people of colour) being shot by police, surely you can’t think that a couple of news reports give you a representative picture of the millions of police encounters that take place every year.

Black people are shot disproportionately by the police. I’m not trying to pretend there’s not a problem here. But there are many complex reasons for this, of which racial bias is only one. More importantly, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest it’s not the main one.


Steve QJ:

I hear you, but you have to remember that you’re not getting a clear picture of what’s going on. The media isn’t presenting the facts objectively. Cops kill twice as many white people as black people. Now of course, I realise that there are more than twice as many white people as black people. Black people are killed disproportionately and that’s a problem.

But when is the last time you saw a story about an unarmed white person being killed by a police officer? Can you name even one? Most people can’t.

I think we’d do better if we stopped looking at police brutality and incompetence as a “black” problem and started looking at it as just a problem. Everybody should be mad about the rate at which cops kill civilians and get away with it. The more this is painted as a black vs white issue, the less weight there is behind the movement to fix it.


Ray:

I think we’d do better if we stopped looking at police brutality and incompetence as a “black” problem and started looking at it as just a problem.

I cannot do that when I still suffer from PTSD from being victimized by this very thing. Yes, I got the shit beat out of me by pohleece for no reason, then thrown in jail and lied about to cover their asses from breaking and entering into my apartment.


I know we’ve already covered a lot of ground, but if you cast your mind back, you’ll remember that my article was called “The Police Won’t Fix The Police”. The whole point was that behaviour like Ray describes here needs to stop. Not just because of the immediate harm it does, but because of the anger and fear it foments.

We can argue about whether a single incident should be generalised outward to a wider pattern of behaviour, but it’s always going to be different when that single incident happened to you or somebody you care about.

Expecting people to think rationally under those circumstances is a big ask. Which is why it’s so important that we figure out ways to stop those circumstances from occurring.


Steve QJ:

Fair enough. I can understand how this would make you feel that way obviously. It’s infuriating. And the fact that they can lie and get away with it is why it happens.


Ray:

Yes sir, yes sir. They lied on a local TV station, too, when confronted about what they did to me. Tried to make me look like I deserved it. REALLY? Mannnnn, I can't tell you how that made me feel. Then the judge kept spitting at me and saying I hadn't learned my lesson. WHAT LESSON? Ohhhhh, the lesson that you believe their lies over what really happened. Ummmmmkay. I would scream at my probation officer that those pigs are the ones who needed anger management.

Mr. Steve, it makes me kind of sick just thinking about all that again. But, all the brutality going on triggers it, and that's why I can't be objective.

Thanks for getting that part.


Ray is an extremist and a bigot, and it’s perfectly valid (and occasionally fun), to talk about how harmful that is. But extremists don’t form in a vacuum.

Ray is also a human being who lived through an extremely racist time and was horribly mistreated, likely on a regular basis. That environment produces people who will inevitably be hurt and angry.

The reason I try so hard to be patient with him (even though I strongly suspect he’s not giving an unbiased account of his story) is that I know I’m asking him to do something unreasonable. Something that anybody would struggle to do. I’m asking him to let go of anger that he has every right to feel, to bring us closer to a world that he may well not live to see.


Ray:

My point WAS that they don't kill unarmed white people, and they practice great restraint. Still, though, I will not put less weight behind it when the reality is the weight is behind them killing us among a great many other things they do when stopping us in the streets. They do NOT talk to white people the way they do us ... simple traffic stops that escalate because the person they stopped is Black.

Dangit, I keep hitting something on my keyboard that resets my comments. Anyway, I don't much care what is going on with the #'s on the other side when they don't seethe with hatred towards white criminals, traffic stops, etc. I can only cape for what's happening with our people, and I won't water it down to ease it upon them like it isn't as grave as it is towards us.

Again, I think you keep trying to soothe them, and I'm not trying to do that at all. No way, Jose!


Steve QJ:

They do NOT talk to white people the way they do us ... simple traffic stops that escalate because the person they stopped is Black.

Yeah, this is true. It's well documented that police are more verbally aggressive with black people. But they do kill unarmed white people. Look up Tony Timpa for one of the most outrageous cases I've heard about.

He was a mentally ill young man, off his meds. He wasn't violent. He called the police HIMSELF, because he was afraid. He was restrained by the time the police arrived on the scene. They knelt on his back for 13 minutes and cracked jokes while he told them they were going to kill him. Stories like these just don't make the news.

I'm not trying to soothe anybody, I'm trying to present facts as clearly and accurately as I can to start conversations about a way forward. Anger is a perfectly good first step, believe me, it's impossible to read the things I read as I do my research and not get angry, but it doesn't solve problems.


Ray:

Okay, one case among how many about us each year? Do you really want to water down the statistics or tell the truth? I wouldn't call 1 terribly impressive, compared to what they've been doing to us for over 400 years.

Say, aren't you the one where we stand on the opposite end of all these issues? Man, I will never be into appeasing white folks for the sake of getting them to listen or do anything. I'm beyond that.

There are quite a few people who agree with my methodology of dealing with what's really happening here, and I just won't coddle white people into doing anything. I just won't. For me it's a waste of time.

Again, I was responding to the content, and barely even saw who I was talking to. I first saw the publication after I started responding to things. Then I saw your name. LOL


Steve QJ:

Okay, one case among how many about us each year?

You're not listening. This is one case which was so egregious that it made it onto the news in a limited way. There are many others (again, there are actually twice as many), but it's hard to find them because the news doesn't pick them up.

This isn't a "boo-hoo for white people", it's a "holy shit, the police are out there killing civilians and getting away with it". Let's not make this a partisan issue. Let's focus in on it so we can stop it. If it makes you feel better you can accuse me of "appeasing white folks", but that's not what I'm doing.

And yes, it's me. I always chuckle to myself when I see your name in my comment notifications. I'm never sure if I'm in trouble or not.😂


I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been accused of trying to “appease” white people or Trump supporters or “the right” or God knows who else. It’s so sad that some people see anything less than “rabid attack mode” as pandering.

Though, of course, the accusation isn’t usually meant to do anything more than get under your skin. An attempt to make you feel that if you aren’t being as unreasonable as the person you’re talking to, then you’re the one with the problem.

This kind of tactic would have been super effective against me when I was seven.


Ray:

You assume too much, fella. You assume I am left or right, when I have no party affilitation. Now what? This is a racist issue in my book, which isn't partisan.

The way I will stop it is make sure I don't fall victim to it again. If I do, I guess I'll have to die shooting my way out of it.

I know the pohleece are out of control, but I'll never look at everybody as equal, as long as WE aren't equal. My loyalties are with my people, no other kind of person in this country.

As I've told you before, I only have so much energy for this shit, because I am an elder and tired. I won't spend it running around in your direction, when it doesn't suit me or my beliefs at all.

My memory isn't as good as it used to be, so if I don't see YOU for a minute, I may not even remember who I'm talking to. I comment to a great many things, across many different genres of articles, so I will forget. The way you're coming at me sparked my memory, not your name. LOL


This is the second conversation where Ray has accused me of “coming at him”. The only explanation I can see is that this is how he interprets disagreement of any sort. After all, if you surround yourself with people who nod along to everything you say, disagreement, however reasonable and well-formulated, feels like an attack.


Steve QJ:

You assume too much, fella. You assume I am left or right, when I have no party affilitation.

No, I'm not assuming that. You're right though, clumsily worded. When I said partisan I meant black vs white. Police brutality is an issue that affects everybody. I don't think framing it as a "black" problem helps black people. In fact, I think it harms us.

I think we actually agree on a fair amount. At least, I believe that we both want black people to thrive. But I think the reason we end up not seeing eye to eye is that we massively disagree on whether white people are all the same.

p.s. The way I'm coming at you? How am I coming at you?


Ray:

But I think the reason we end up not seeing eye to eye is that we massively disagree on whether white people are all the same.

I never said they were all the same. I actually have white friends, Steve. SURPRISE, RIGHT? SMFH

My white friends understand exactly where I'm coming from and thank me for my bold approach to not letting them MF's off the hook. The good ones don't defend themselves; they don't say stupid shit to me; they listen, listen, listen. They don't dare argue with me, Steve. They know I am right. They have watched me for over 6 decades, and they know the truth in what I've experienced, seen, and say. I own a Pro-Black nonprofit, and they understand why. Amazing to me that a Black man can't see the intelligence in what I'm saying. But, then again, you are young and those white friends of mine are my age.

I have lived the life of privilege and poverty. They know I am well-rounded, well educated, well cultured, well traveled, and that I don't speak nonsense or out of my ass. They understand they're walking around with a cloak over their eyes, are white privileged and they can opt out of our experiences any time. And, THEY DO. In that regard, they are all the same and don't take responsibility for what they have created in this country. THEY KNOW!

We didn't create the word 'race', 'racism', or 'systemic racism'. They did, and we cannot dismantle it. For me, it's time for me to sit back and watch them very carefully, but I will not be nice about anything. That's not my style. I am direct, bold, and I don't give a fuck what people think. Especially ones I do not know. Even for ones I do know, my Boomers know why I don't give a shit ... neither do they. At our age, you will understand.


As you’ve probably noticed, I let a lot of things slide in these conversations. It’s simply not productive (or time-efficient) to point out every inaccuracy or question every assumption or, in Ray’s case, challenge every generalisation about “wypipo”. I’ll usually ignore hyperbole or bragging and even flat-out nonsense on occasion.

But catching Ray using the “I have ‘…’ friends” defence to stave off an accusation of racism, was too much fun to pass up.


Steve QJ:

😂Some of your best friends are white people huh?😉

All jokes aside though, the way you talk about "wypipo", yes, it's a surprise. And I'll say this; if somebody "doesn't dare argue with you", they're not your friend.

I don't doubt that there are many things you're right about, in those cases there would be no reason to argue. But unless you seriously believe that you're right about EVERYTHING, then disagreement isn't a bad thing. It's a sign that people care.

I've met plenty of those white people who listen, listen, listen. They nod thoughtfully along with everything I say. Then another black person comes along, says the exact opposite to what I said, and they listen, listen, listen, and nod along to that too. That's not solidarity. It's just ass covering.


As with many of the problems with racial discourse today, I blame Robin DiAngelo for this phenomenon. Many white liberals today have absorbed the idea that they need to perform penance for the colour of their skin. That they have no right to an opinion about race. That “lived experience” is the only path to knowledge.

All of this is nonsense. But more importantly, it’s a way of checking out.

I’d take a white person who was willing to disagree with me about race (presuming they’d made at least some effort to know what they were talking about) over one who always deferred to me, every single time. First, because (shock, horror) I might be the one who’s missing something. And second, because people only argue when they care.

It’s easy to smile and nod when an issue doesn’t really matter to you. When all you want is a pat on the head for being a “good ally” or to move on to other, less controversial topics. But if you care, if you’ve done your research, and somebody says something you believe is untrue, of course you’ll argue. Even if just to better understand.


Ray:

I didn't say 'best' friends ... I said friends and they come from my childhood, AA, even here on Medium, and in other places. You are a wypipo ass-kisser, and that I am not.

When it comes to racism, yes ... they know nothing. They don't experience it. Listen Steve, FUCK OFF, MAN! The more I chat with you, the dumber I think you are.


Well, there we have it. Ray blocked me after this response, so this is probably the last we’ll be hearing from him.

And as much as I’m able to get it, I get it. The black people who reply to my articles in the terms that Ray does are almost exclusively older. They’ve lived through racism that anybody who isn’t both black and over 60 simply can’t imagine. Moving past that is hard.

It also doesn’t help that I’m a humanist…sorry, I mean a “wypipo ass-kisser”, which means that I’ll never be willing or able to get behind his “Black Power” rhetoric, any more than I’d get behind rhetoric about “White Power” (though thankfully, I’m in good company on that front). If Ray surrounds himself with people who never challenge him when he talks like that, he will, as I mentioned before, see any disagreement as an attack.

But disagreement is an essential part of figuring this mess out. Before we can understand each other we need to talk to each other. We need to have conversations where, inevitably, we won’t always agree. I’m sad to have lost the chance to have these conversations with Ray. But I look forward to continuing to have them.