When a Black Man Yearns to be the Worst White Man

Illustration for article titled When a Black Man Yearns to be the Worst White Man
Screenshot: ABC News

I’m reminded this afternoon, when rewatching Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s goofy speech at the Republican National Convention, of Pinocchio. And of Icarus. And of Antonio Salieri. And of Tom Ripley. And of the Chrysler 300. And of so many other people and places and things—fictional and as real as tree bark—that have pined to be things that they will never be.

Advertisement

And this afternoon, I pity this man, who is the same man who refuses—and who will continue to refuse, as long as he’s alive—to charge the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor. I have never been more curious about anything than I am, today, about what must exist inside a Black man who’d see Mitch McConnell—a man so vile and graceless and ugly that the sun will decide to shine brighter the day he dies—and wish to be him. Not closer to him. Or more like him. But him.

White supremacy, of course, is a fog that obscures vision; that asphyxiates freedom; that extinguishes taste; that disassembles skin; that fractures bones; that murders people. It is also as mundane as a glass of water, and this rote and irrepressible smallness are what allows it to lurk and infect. There’s no American whose body hasn’t been invaded and made sick by it. The luckiest of us have been able to find it in and on us and begin the lifelong extraction process. The unluckiest—the Black people like Daniel Cameron—embrace it. Savor it. Pine for it. Allow themselves to be ensconced by it. And I wonder what happened to him to make him so unlucky. Was he destined for soullessness—was he born bone empty—or was there an act or thought that cursed him to it? A hug he didn’t receive. A parent who didn’t care? A dap that didn’t snap? What made this Black man want and wish and work to be the worst white man?

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

ionithus
Mr Boomman

I haven’t seen not ONE black republican male who has a decent barber. Hairlines are always fucked up. I don’t care if it’s damn near center mass at the top of their head, it’s always super crooked. Do they even have black barbers? Or do they go to Supercuts? Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a spot on the south side of town where I live where a couple of white dudes know how to cut black folk hair. They’re good with them clippers. Just saying just in case they only deal with “certain folk” cut from a certain cloth cutting their hair.