Dear Sheriff Leon Lott,
It’s amazing that I’m using the phrase “sex with Black people” in the title of an open letter. But that’s what happens when someone with your level of power dares to use the “my employee/friend/brother-can’t-be-racist-because-he-has-an-African-American-girlfriend” excuse.
I’m still tripping that you said this out loud and in public. As if sex with Black people can honestly absolve White people from being racist. Just so we’re clear: close relations with Black people, even relations of the sexual variety, can’t cure racism.
But lets just say, hypothetically speaking, that sex with Black people could work like a lucky-anti-racism-rabbits-foot (it doesn’t). No amount of sex with Black people could ever erase the raw, racist, brutality we all see when we watch your former employee, Officer Ben Fields, toss that Black girl around like she beat his mama.
If we’re being honest, your statement was one of the most foolish “I’m not racist because _____” that I’ve heard uttered on the big screen. But your excuse was particularly problematic because 1. You were Ben Field’s boss and 2. you used his sexual relationship with a (presumably) consenting, adult Black woman to excuse his racist physical abuse of a Black girl.
Considering the history of this country, and of your state in particular (South Carolina – or South Cakkkalacky as the old folks say), that’s incredibly sick. Oh, and racist.
This isn’t the first time someone tried to say close ties to Black people worked as a magical-racism-eraser. Other versions of this foolishness include:
I’m not racist because I sat next to a Black person on Amtrak.
I’m not racist because my daughter married a Black guy.
I’m not racist because my secretary/gardener/maid is Black.
I’m not racist because my kid has Black kids in their school.
I’m not racist because I adopted a Black kid….
Other than demonstrating that racism comes in all shapes and family sizes, these comments rely on one of the most easily disproven lies about racism. This lie says that mere proximity to Black people—either in the bedroom or the boardroom—can cure anti-Black racism.
But, Sheriff Lott, American history reminds us that this is complete bull. Just look at “great” Americans like Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president. As a wealthy slave owner President T.J. had a lot of proximity with Black people. Hell, he owned tons of my ancestors.
And like Officer Fields, T.J. also loved sex with Black women—or in Jefferson’s case, Black girls. One unlucky Black girl named Sally was raped so often by President Jefferson that she bore him at least six children as a result.
Want to know how powerfully “sex with a Black person” cured Jefferson’s racism, Sheriff Lott?
Aren’t you eager to hear about how fathering Black children caused President Jefferson to eradicate racism and White supremacy from his evil heart?
Well that didn’t happen. Sex (rape) with Black people did nothing to stop Jefferson’s racism. Raping Black girls and women didn’t even motivate him to free his own kids from slavery–kids conceived by a White male racist raping a Black girl.
What’s worse is that, like Officer Fields…indeed like you… Jefferson knew what he and White America were doing was evil. As he said:
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism [a cruel & oppressive use of power]. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.”
Despite knowing that his soul would likely rot in hell for the evil in which he participated, despite forcing sex on countless numbers of Black women and girls, despite parenting Black children, the power of his White privilege was so intoxicating that Thomas Jefferson kept right on slaving away.
Lets make this perfectly clear: having sex with Black people doesn’t mean you’re not racist. (Sometimes it actually proves you are.)
So Sheriff Lott, the reality is that Ben Fields’ Black girlfriend doesn’t cure ole Benny’s racist views of Black people. Just like Thomas Jefferson’s sex with Black people, fathering Black kids and admitted White guilt, did nothing to prevent him from continuing to enjoy the privileges that came from owning enslaved Black people.
But what’s worse is that by declaring Benny boy free of racism because of who he sleeps with, you showed that not only are you culturally incompetent but that your lack of understanding of how racism works renders you unfit for your position—and likely contributes to the hostile racial policing of Black students in your jurisdiction.
Your employees come into contact with Black kids everyday. So your simplistic and foolish “my cops can’t be racist because…” shows that as their leader, your ignorance is a contributing factor to the hostile environment that allows racist, out of control cops like Benny to thrive under your “leadership.”
There’s not a single circumstance under which a Black cop could do what Benny did to a White student. Not one. You know that. I know that. But most importantly cops like Benny know it.
But those cops rely on your willingness as Sheriff, and the willingness of other officials in your department, to use bullshit excuses that let you look the other way when Black kids are abused. It’s just too bad that your sleeping-with-Black–people-lucky-rabbits-foot couldn’t block the cameras from showing us what was happening right in front of you.
You’re partially responsible for cops like Benny, Sheriff Lott. So I hope the next person to lose their job from all of this is you.
Afro State of Mind
P.S. Also? You need to drop those charges against those students. Just stop this foolishness already. But in case you don’t, I hope all my readers call and demand that you do:
5623 Two Notch Rd, Columbia, SC 29223
Looking for more thoughts from an Afro State of Mind? Check out my book Afro State of Mind: Memories of a Nappy Headed Black Girl now available on Amazon.com in paper back or available here for e-book download! And if you want to stay connected follow me on Twitter, or Instagram “like” Afro State of Mind on Facebook or catch up on my latest Youtube videos!