Desperately Seeking a Suspicious Black Man

Desperately Seeking a Suspicious Black Man


The gun-totin’, Stand-Your-Ground far right has been declaring racism in America deader than Elvis for years now. How can there be racism, they wail, in a country that elected — twice! — a Muslim Kenyan-born Marxist — with the middle name Hussein, no less? Get real!

Enough justices on the Supreme Court agreed with this theory to let some of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of ’65 — the ones that put districts with a history of minority voter suppression under special federal scrutiny — simply die last year. That opened the floodgates for all sorts of nefarious legislation designed to keep minorities out of voting booths.

But it’s not just voting booths that some people want to keep minorities from getting into. Just ask the people of Beavercreek, Ohio, where a fierce battle to block a few lousy bus stops connecting the Beavercreek shopping center to downtown Dayton finally came to an end this week, and the buses were allowed to run. Beavercreek — 90% white — had risked losing tens of millions of dollars in federal highway funds in their years-long battle to keep the residents of Dayton — where 73% of the bus-riding population is minority — from getting in.

Which is why we though this print notice was a story from the latest Beavercreek Bugle. The notice, under the headline “Sheriff’s department looking for suspect,” read, in its entirety:

suspicious black man

Alas, it wasn’t Beavercreek that ran this notice. It was the West Virginian newspaper The Dominion Post, and this mysterious “black man” doing something “suspicious” was presumably one of Monongalia County’s 3,840 black residents.

OK, so the newspaper ran an online correction to its original notice, claiming it was an “editing error” and adding a description of the crime (credit card theft) and even three photos of the suspect.

But any close examination of some of the biggest hot-button issues of the day — stop-and-frisk, the War on Drugs, an arbitrarily applied death penalty, anything that Kenyan in the White House says he’s in favor of — reveals unequivocally that race is very much on the minds of Americans these days. Which is why we’re pretty sure that, long before that correction, dozens (if not hundreds) of good white citizens of West Virginia had inundated the Sheriff’s Department with hot tips on that mysterious black man doing suspicious things!

Now we understand that people in West Virginia haven’t had any water to drink or toilets to flush in days. So that might explain this shortage of synapses. And perhaps some residents of Monongalia would argue that this isn’t evidence of racism — this is a simple matter of people Acting Suspicious While Being Black. Shouldn’t they know better?

Well, let’s assume (generously) that the Dominion Post regrets printing this notice, and they didn’t mean to alert the entire county to be on the lookout for “a black man” doing some unnamed “suspicious activity.” Let’s also assume (generously) that the black citizens of Monongalia have it in their hearts to forgive them.

So how can the good people of Monongalia make things better?

By helping black people learn to be less suspicious, of course! What awesome ideas do you think they’ll have? Tell us!

Want to find out what people wrote in? Subscribe to the Lester & Charlie Newsletter!

Check out Lester & Charlie’s New Book!

Due to more spam than we can keep up with, we’ve disengaged the comment section that’s usually in this spot. It will be back in a couple weeks – soon as the evil Internet robots have forgotten about the codes that make it work.