Race hustling, or race baiting, is an ongoing issue that is designed to disrupt any meaningful conversation about racial inequality in this country. If you are not familiar with the terms race hustling or race baiting, you have definitely seen it on your social media feeds and in the mainstream media. Race Hustlers are people who foment and promote division and fear-mongering to exploit racial and ethnic tensions in order to advance some personal, political, ideological, financial, or other agenda. This applies towards people of all races and is not limited to one race or another. It was a popular tactic originally used by white supremacists, but has gained steam and has becoming an even bigger tool used by agitators who want to continue the idea of black oppression. As one post said, it is the anti-thesis of the works of Martin Luther King Jr and is a detriment to all the achievements made during the Civil Rights Era.
The Professional Race Hustler
You generally have two types of race hustlers, the professional and the amateur. We all know the professionals, men like Al Sharpton, Lee Merritt, Jesse Jackson, Benjamin Crump, and Shaun King. They exploit black tragedy to make money and get on TV, often leaving wreckage in their wake. The families they claim to help are left with some money in their pocket, but unable to process their grief and move beyond their loss. The damage also extends into the community where rioting and looting occurs, disproportionately impacting minority communities and businesses. There have been numerous deaths as a direct result of instigation brought on by these professional race hustlers. The good news is that people have started to wake up to these men. More black men and women, usually older and wiser, have repeatedly stated that Sharpton and Jackson do not speak for all black people and there has been a push to disassociate with them. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for civil rights attorneys to ensure that businesses and government agencies comply with the civil rights provisions under federal law, but these individuals and those like them don’t care about civil rights or the law, but rather, they care about the money that comes with it. There may have been a time where these individuals cared, and with the exception of Lee Merritt who still holds himself accountable when he is wrong, it feels like they have sold out those beliefs for fame and wealth.
But the dangers these individuals represent is huge. As a result of their efforts, false claims and accusations have greatly increased even as racial equality has improved. The false accusation of rape by Tawana Brawley that was supported by Al Sharpton ruined the lives of seven innocent men. The false Duke Lacrosse rape allegations resulted in the students being kicked out and losing their scholarships. The deaths of eight people in Freddy’s Fashion Mart as a result of a false accusation by Sharpton in New York. Riots instigated by Sharpton that resulted in hundreds of millions in damages. These individuals will take any case that can be exploited for their narrative, even if there is no evidence of any racial component to them. And as a result of their actions, real people get hurt. People have lost their jobs, their businesses, their homes and their lives. And these men profit from it.
Shaun King and Lee Merritt have repeatedly reported on false cases about black “victims” accusing Police Officers of misconduct. And while Lee Merritt has at least apologized for the cases he spoke up for, Shaun King treats himself as a victim when he speaks up erroneously. For example, the false rape allegation by a black woman who was arrested for DUI against the Texas State Trooper who arrested her. That accusation was later proven to be false by released body camera footage. Merritt apologized for his involvement, King said he was taken advantage of. But this is a major pattern of behavior that they continually perpetuate against an unsuspecting black community and the law enforcement community who protects them.
The Amateur Race Hustler
The second form of race hustler is the amateur race hustler. These individuals mainly post material on their social media accounts to incite racial division. Some are unaware that the material they are posting is false and don’t bother to attempt to verify the material before they share it themselves. And then there are those who know what they are posting is false, but do it anyway. With the popularity of Facebook and Instagram, this has become a serious problem. Inaccurate memes, false comparisons, and straight up lies being spread can be reached by millions of people in a matter of days. In fact, for weeks now, I feel like I have been on a one man war against false information and racial division. I have repeatedly posted the facts in regards to memes or misleading articles that have come across my social media posts. As a result, I have been called a racist over and over because I merely posted factual information. The fact that they refuse to accept facts or edit their posts to be more factual and instead resort to using the word racist as a weapon further proves their intent to race hustle thru their social media.
There are a few types of race hustling we can find online. One of those includes false comparisons that try to show how white people receive more favorable treatment than black people. These are usually memes or articles that try to compare to dissimilar situations and try to connect them as proof of racism. There are two examples I am going to use that I have seen this week.
The first is comparing the arrest of Nikolas Cruz and Dylann Roof who were taken alive without issue and the deaths of black subjects which people try to use to show racial disparities in how police interact with suspects. Sometimes, you will see a claim about how the Police even took Dylann Roof to Burger King after committing mass murder. The meme varies as they compare the two killers to different black subjects. Regardless, no matter how they put together the meme, the comparison is false. Nikolas Cruz and Dylann Roof did murder a large number of people and the Police did take them alive, but that was because they surrendered without resisting the Officers. In other words, they complied with the Officers orders and were arrested without fighting or resisting and causing an incident. And Roof did get Burger King, but they did not take him there. While being interrogated, he was being held at a precinct and not in a jail. And since they didn’t serve food there, the Detectives brought him food from the closest fast food restaurant for two reasons: to keep him cooperative and to prevent there from being any claims of civil rights violations by refusing him food. As for the cases they are compared to, there is no similarity. In this example, they used Tamir Rice who pointed a fake gun at an Officer who arrived on scene to investigate a report of a kid pointing guns at people. Sandra Bland committed suicide in a jail cell. Eric Garner died of a heart attack as a result of physically fighting Police Officers lawfully conducting an arrest. Freddie Gray died from a neck injury while in the back of a transport van. Philando Castile told the cop who pulled him over that he had a gun and then reached for his waistband after being told not. Castile was under the influence of drugs at the time. None of those cases are comparable to the peaceful surrender by both Cruz and Roof.
Another false comparison that has hit my feeds lately was a comparison between a white teenager accused of murdering her newborn baby and a black pregnant woman charged in the death of her baby because she got shot in a fight she instigated. These cases are not comparable because they are comparing two different stages of two different cases in different places with different circumstances.
The first case involves a white teenager in Ohio named Brooke Richardson who was arrested and charged with the death of her infant child. She was also charged with abusing a corpse because she buried the child after it was born instead of notifying the authorities. Richardson claimed the baby was stillborn and that she buried the child because she didn’t know what else to do. She was prosecuted and her case went to trial where she was found not guilty for the death of her child. The prosecution was unable to provide proof the baby was not stillborn and could not prove the death was a murder. Richardson was convicted of abusing a corpse.
The second case involved Marshae Jones who was five months pregnant when she confronted and started a fight with another woman, Ebony Jemison, over the father of her child. Jones attacked Jemison who pulled out a firearm and shot Jones in self defense. Jemison was also arrested, but a grand jury declined to indict her as she was defending herself. The Police determined that a pregnant woman, who is responsible for the safety of her unborn child, that instigates a violent fight and ends up being shot in self defense is culpable for the child’s death. However, unlike the Richardson case, Jones charges were dropped and she was not even prosecuted.
The circumstances of the cases were different, the white girl teenager actually went to trial and the black woman’s charges were dropped. But the implication that there was some sort of racial injustice here is false. Richardson was charged, tried and convicted of the charges that could have been proven. Jones charges were dropped even though she is culpable of the death of her child.
Fake Hate Crimes
Another tactic used by race hustlers is the spreading of fake or alleged hate crimes without any evidence. There have been a few of these cases being passed around this week and I am going to highlight three of them. In these cases, a tragedy is exploited as proof of racism even when all the evidence says there was no racism involved. The three cases that have hit my feed this week are two suicides and an accident. In all three cases, there was no evidence of foul play and that the ultimate conclusion is that their deaths were either self inflicted or accidental.
This tragedy occurred in 2013 and was the result of an unfortunate accident. Kendrick Johnson was in his gym class and after the class ended, he went to retrieve his shoes that had fallen into the center of a large rolled up gym mat. Kendrick had gotten on top of the mat and attempted to reach his shoes from inside the mat. He slipped into the center of the mat and was unable to get out. He fell head first and died of asphyxiation. He was not missing his organs, no footage was missing (though some had the wrong time stamps), and the investigation ruled that his death was an accident.
Footage from the cameras showed no one else enter that area except Johnson, the video was reviewed by multiple experts that ruled the footage was not tampered with, the case was investigated by multiple agencies, there was no evidence of foul play and no evidence connecting anyone with the death. Kendrick’s family has been unable to let go of their sons death and have sued over 38 different people. They have lost every single case and now owe hundreds of thousands in legal fees and counter judgments. As for the two white teenagers, they were brothers and their father was an FBI Agent. They were also never suspects and were accused by Ebony Magazine who they successfully sued for libel. Their oldest son was on a bus to a wrestling match and their youngest son was confirmed to have been in class at the other end of the school at the time. Kendrick’s death was ruled over and over as an accident. Yet, seven years later, race hustlers are using this boys tragic death to continue racial division.
The next fake hate crime comes from the death of four black people who were found hanging from trees. These articles are being posted with the implication that they were lynched, as if the hate crimes of the early 20th century have returned. But race hustlers either do not do their research or they don’t care if these are fake. The first of four cases didn’t even occur in the US. It happened in South Africa. Tshegofatso Pule was murdered by a black man named Mzikayise Malephane in South Africa who stabbed her and then hung her from a tree. This case is neither a racist lynching nor is it an American issue.
The next case involves the death of Malcolm Harsch who was found hanging from a tree in Victorville. Though people are trying to put this off as a lynching and proof of hate crimes, his family has admitted he committed suicide which was supported by witness statements, forensics, and video surveillance. There was no hate crime here regardless of what people try to imply.
The next case is that of the death of Robert Fuller who was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale California. His family has claimed he did not commit suicide, however, there was no evidence of foul play. In fact, the forensics, local video, and the autopsy have all shown that he was alone and committed suicide on his own. There were no signs of defensive wounds and there was no signs of a struggle. The ME had already determined it was a suicide, but in order to placate the family, they are withholding their final determination until they get back the final toxicology screening. However, barring a large trace of something capable of completely incapacitating a adult man, his death will officially be ruled a suicide. Unfortunately, the Fuller family is dealing with something many families of suicide victims deal with, including my own: denial. Denial and a little guilt because its hard to believe we didn’t see the signs of a loved one in distress. We think we know our family and friends and we hope we would know they are in trouble mentally. But when we fail to see the signs, we don’t want to believe it. Sometimes the evidence is too overwhelming to ignore, sometimes its not enough and people deny the truth. One of the arguments we hear is that Fuller wouldn’t hang himself, because black people wouldn’t do that. This makes no sense. A person who has decided to end their life isn’t going to look at their options and say “no, hanging is too racist.” In fact, according to the American Association of Suicidology and the CDC, 29.9% of all black suicides is by hanging.
The last hanging case in Manhattan was of a black man named Dominique Alexander. He was found hanging in a park and was ruled a suicide by the ME at the time. The police are performing an investigation to placate the families, but, again, barring some extenuating and unexpected circumstance, his death will be ruled a suicide.
Nothing in any of these cases is proof of any wrongdoing, including racially influenced hate crimes. But that hasn’t stopped the online race hustlers to share these cases with the implication that there are racially motivated hate crimes and that the lives of black people are being hunted.
The enemy of race hustlers are facts. Their power comes from the fact that people are not intelligent enough to recognize false information, too naive to challenge it or too lazy to research it. And if more people would stop for a moment and say “Hold up, that doesn’t sound right” and actually do the research on their own, they wouldn’t pass along so much false information. And when they cannot find incidents to exploit with false information, they end up making it up knowing that people will like it, share it, comment on it, but won’t verify it.
There have been no real cases of lynching reported in the US. There have been no groups of Police Officers arrested or fired for their participation in a hate group. This claim provides no sources for their information. Its a plainly false accusation that is designed solely to create division. The Anti-Defamation League, who monitors white supremacist organizations, say there are approximately 15 KKK groups with less than 3000 members nationwide. There are a total of 148 white supremacist organizations across the US as a whole. They are responsible for about 7,000 crimes a year, and about 40 deaths. While these numbers are bad, they do not compare to the 33,000 street gangs with the 1.4 million members, mostly minority, and the 3,000 or more murders a year they cause. Posts like these are trying to present a danger to the public that doesn’t exist based on racial motivations that are not there.
And what reason would anyone have to write and then share such a comment? There is no reason except to fuel the fires of division between the black community and law enforcement. This is unfortunate because a conversation on racial equality is needed. People need to be aware that the efforts of the civil rights movement, and the sacrifices of heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr. were not made in vain. But as long as race hustlers are out there furthering the division, there can never be an honest, fact filled conversation on how we can improve race relations in this country.
How Do We Deal with Race Hustlers?
So how do we deal with people who only wish to further the racial divide? First, regardless of who you are, when you see something that may be questionable, do your research. Questionable material will be anything that is clearly one sided and that perfectly fits into any narrative of the person sharing it. Use legitimate and verifiable sources which has the least amount of bias as possibly. Stick with university studies, government reports, think tanks, or anything that is peer reviewed. Using the media could also be acceptable, just be aware of the organizations political bias. Avoid using personal blogs or websites which push an agenda which happens to match the information they provide. An honest source will include information that doesn’t fully align with their beliefs. They focus more on neutrality than proving their narrative.
Second, when you see something wrong, call it out. Being silent is just as guilty as doing it yourself because you are allowing the lies to continue. When these people continue to spread lies and hate, it does nothing but cause more harm. They are the people Michael Caine was talking about in The Dark Knight. These are the people who only want to watch the world burn. They absolve themselves of any responsibility. When people get hurt because of their hateful rhetoric, they take no accountability of their words. When businesses are looted, burned and destroyed, they wash their hands of it.
Third, be prepared for the attacks. They have weaponized words to silence people who oppose them. If you are white, you will be called a racist for presenting facts or for disproving their lies. If you are black, you are a sell out or an uncle Tom. Its a form of intimidation that they use because people are afraid of being labeled a racists, especially in this environment. But if you let fear keep you silent, then you have allowed those who believe in hatred and division control the conversation. The result is anarchy.
We live in a scary world, and speaking out is even more dangerous now than ever. But if you stay honest, speak the truth and be willing to listen to opposing ideals, we can send a message louder than those who cause the havoc and chaos that is burning our streets. We have to be better, because they represent the worst of society. We can never be united and no one can ever be equal if those who divide us are louder than we are.