August 5th, 2017

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Last week I had the distinct pleasure of breaking bread with a man I consider to be, and am honored to call, my third brother, Cavana Faithwalker. Cav has been down home in Alabama for a number months and I was pumped when he let me know that he was back in Cleveland. We met at J Pistone Market where three hours flew by.

Our conversation, as it always does, ranged far and wide, and eventually came around to questions of gun control, the shootings of young black men by police and the noted absence of outrage by the National Rifle Racists Association following the acquittal of Philando Castile’s murderer. Discussing the NRA naturally took us to the events that changed the focus of that organization from one of hunting safety to the defending the Second Amendment in the name of gun manufacturers selling personal arsenals to frightened white men: the open-carry defiance of police power in Oakland California by The Black Panthers in 1966.

At one point in that discussion I said: Nothing is scarier than a nigger with a gun.

Cav’s response was a high five because he knows me and knows that I don’t use the word as a pejorative. We’re brothers.

I’ve long subscribed to the notion that we notice what we’re thinking about so when Dr. Tommy Curry’s story What is a black professor in America allowed to say? popped up two days later on The Guardian, I wasn’t surprised. Steve Kolowich begins the long-read this way:

One Thursday morning in May, Tommy J Curry walked through the offices of the philosophy department at Texas A&M University with a police officer at his side and violence on his mind. The threats had started a few days earlier. “Since you said white people need to be killed I’m in fear of my life,” one person had written via email. “The next time I see you on campus I might just have to pre-emptively defend myself you dumb fat nigger. You are done.” Curry didn’t know if that person was lurking on the university grounds. But Texas is a gun-friendly state, and Texas A&M is a gun-friendly campus, and he took the threat seriously.

Curry supports the right to bear arms. It was part of how he ended up in this situation. In 2012 he had appeared on a satellite radio show and delivered a five-minute talk on how uneasy white people are with the idea of black people talking about owning guns and using them to combat racist forces. When a recording of the talk resurfaced in May, people thought the tenured professor was telling black people to kill white people. This idea swept through conservative media and into the fever swamps of Reddit forums and racist message boards. The threats followed.

Everyone should read the piece in its entire and let me know what you think.

After I finished the piece I forwarded the link to Cav and suggested that we meet again this coming Tuesday for another round of intelligent conversation and I’d like to share your views with Cav.

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