Touchy, touchy and very cute, Mr. Crawford.

Perhaps, the third reading of this essay will draw your attention to the last sentence of the next to the last paragraph where I address your contention that somehow this essay suggests white people should change their skin color.

“Your skin will still be white but will not have more value or less value than any skin color on the planet.”

When I was growing up we had a lot of dogs around the farm. My grandaddy often said, “A hit dog will holler.” It appears to me that you have internalized the ideas in this essay to only apply personally to you.

In times like these, my granny would often counter, “If the shoes don’t fit, don’t wear them.”

Moreover, this essay makes clear that the white supremacy ethos is a state of mind, that does not mind denigrating Black people. In the main, it does not castigate white people. It does call white people to account for centuries upon centuries of privilege based upon skin color.

I could be wrong, but I think I am right. For far too long, we have looked for Black people to solve the problem of racism, i. e., your suggestion that I revisit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I now believe this is an impossibility. Black people did not create the problem and the solution does not belong to them. I suggest a novel approach to fix racism: White people must tackle this problem.

But whites cannot solve the problem if they cannot accept criticism and find fault in their mental approach to people with skin color different than their own. This essay is clear and unambiguous. Yet you have made several generalized assumptions about what is written in it. Could it be that the skin color of the writer factors into these assumptions which are not supported by the words in the essay, like the fact that your contention that this essay demands white people to change their skin color when it clearly states otherwise?

Additionally, a careful reading of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail may be instructive. Martin (and I call him Martin because my neighbor Rev. C. T. Vivian, a trusted aide of King’s, whom I consult frequently, calls him Martin during our conversations) was writing to white clergymen who thought he was going too far in his campaign for equality. Martin was not writing to Black clergymen or Black people. He was calling upon white people to be accountable for the bad apples who shared their skin color. I am not saying that Gov. Northam is a bad apple, but I am saying that people who find some sense of pleasure in dressing in Blackface and as Klansmen are bad apples; and as Michael Jackson once sang, “One bad apple will spoil the whole darn bunch.”

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Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at haroldmichaelharvey.com

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