ain’t been right

I know we’ve added many names to THE list in the year that has passed since Sandra Bland did… but I ain’t been right since hers was added.  And I ain’t been blogging neither, so I’m gonna start back there although there is so much fresh heartbreak to explore.  Please don’t assume that the others didn’t get to me.  That I didn’t feel a punch in the gut when Trayvon went down, when Zimmerman went free, when the music stopped for Jordan, when Eric couldn’t breathe, a wrench in my heart when Tamir was ambushed while playing in the park, when Freddie’s spine was severed on the “joy” ride, when no on was held accountable, when Alton was pinned and gunned down, or when Diamond’s little girl witnessed that horror from just a few feet away in the backseat- just to name a few.  I did feel it.  I do.

But Sandra Bland, man.  Sandra Bland was me.  And I ain’t been right since.  Sandra Bland was me, not only in the universal sense that because separation is an illusion and everyone is me and I am everyone, but because in the most practical, earthly, human, american way Sandra Bland was me.

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I love to drive.  Which is great because I drive a LOT for work. I love to drive fast.  And safely. Those things, too, are not mutually exclusive.  I am not reckless, I just like a little speed.  I like forward motion.  I like advancing toward a goal.  My dosha is clearly Pitta and once I have direction, I am off.  0-60 in no time flat.  That’s my approach in all things really for better or worse.  The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. As a baby I ran first, then walked, then checked out the crawling thing.  I was born this way.  It’s my baseline.  Various life lessons and my kundalini yoga practice have taught me the art and joys of savoring, of taking time, of being still… but still, I love to GO.

My anger has been tempered through these practices and experiences, too.  But, seeing as I am human and anger is a natural emotion inherently woven throughout the human experience, I still get angry.  And sometimes it happens quickly.  Especially in the face of perceived injustice.  In that intersection between speed and anger is exactly where Sandra Bland and I are one.

I have been pulled over.  It seems to happen in spurts with me.  Thank God there usually are long intervals in between.  When I was a new driver I got pulled over a few times. In the suburbs.  I always smiled sweetly and played dumb and drove away with a warning.  Maybe I really was dumb, not playing at anything,  because I had no fear in those situations aside from “I hope I don’t get a ticket” and “I hope my parents don’t find out.”  That was some kind of biracial white privilege induced ignorance, I guess.  Or maybe it was the era.  In the mid-late 90s we didn’t have cell phones at the ready, social media, incessant news reels.  There were no images in my mind of police brutality.  None that seemed extremely relevant anyway.  Rodney King seemed like a terrible one off.  I’d seen black and white pictures from the 60s, heard my mother’s stories about the dogs being unleashed on the black people and any “uncolored” supporters, but as far as I knew that was then and this was now and we were living in a world where a black and a white person made me… and I was having a pretty good life so…

Fast forward to my next set of traffic stops.  Four years ago.  So much hadn’t happened yet, so I was more upset by being made late to work and any fines that would be incurred than I was afraid for my life…but I was angrier.  I’d had more experiences in the real world.  I knew my “place” in the minds of the general white public and I was easily angered by the slightest whiff of prejudice, racism, or arrogance of any kind. Full of self-righteous indignation.  And one of those traffic stops in particular reeked of all of that.  But I’m pretty smart, and I needed to get to my appointment, so I kept my cool, took the uncalled for amount violations, points on my license,  and the fines and I kept on going.

But what if I hadn’t?  What if I had questioned why I was getting three tickets for a seemingly minor offense that was innocently fueled by a navigation system that kept changing it’s mind and suddenly called on me to exit the highway immediately from the far left lane?  What if I acknowledged what was really going on?  What if I allowed my bad attitude to match the officer’s?  What if I had “talked back”?  Thank God I’ll never know, but all I can think is: Sandra Bland.  Maybe that’s what would have happened.  And maybe it would have taken my white dad too long to get from the middle of the country to the east coast to come in and humanize me and validate my right to decent treatment as he was called on to do when I was in the emergency room with a broken neck.  And maybe I would be dead.

So, I ain’t been right since Sandra Bland because Sandra Bland was me.  In the past year I have noticed that though I generally prefer to drive solo so I can chant mantras as loudly as I want and I don’t have to worry about making passengers uncomfortable with my confident driving (I live and drive in NYC for goodness sake, I have to be confident), I prefer to drive with white people in my car.  Cuz like maybe if I get pulled over they can vouch for my character, or their presence will validate my existence, or… anything… whatever will save me from whatever might happen.  Sometimes when I see police cars on the road, signs of physical distress manifest quickly.  Three months ago I got pulled over for speeding.  I was speeding.  No need for self righteous indignation there.  But the sheer terror I felt in anticipation of the experience as I was pulling onto the shoulder of the freeway…it’s as frightened as I can recall ever having been.  The self-admonition I doled out when I realized I forgot to take off the bandana I was wearing to keep the frizz down til I got to work was harsh.  I have since forgiven myself, even though I got a ticket and not a warning.

It’s been exactly one year since Sandra Bland.  Looking around here I think, ain’t none of us been right since because look at how much is going wrong.  But I know that isn’t true.  That doesn’t feel true.  That’s the hurt and anger and fear talking.  And I hold space for all of that within myself, within us.  And I hold space also for the love and peace that can be found when tending to the aftermath of a broken heart.  A broken heart, is an open heart.  As a collective, we are not encouraged to have open hearts.  That takes courage and awareness.  And people who are brave and awake aren’t so easily influenced or scared into buying things.  #consumerism.

But here we are, a broken hearted nation.  A nation who repeatedly has broken it’s own heart.  And things have escalated to a point where more and more of us are unable to remain ignorant. Or silent.  I’m hoping we can make the most of this opportunity to lean in and nurture our brokenness into openness into oneness.

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Anne Lamott said: “Hope is not about proving anything.  It’s about choosing to believe this one thing- that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”

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p.s. “i ain’t been right” is kind of a figure of speech.  if there is such a thing as “(al)right”, i have been it all along 🙂

 

oh happy (loving) day

I love surprising intersections of the things I love the most.  Such as Volkswagen and Loving Day.  I’m not sure if I am more passionate about any other subjects.  That may be an exaggeration, but anyway I am super into VW as well as the progression of our society toward a more loving, open way of living.  Without Loving v. Virginia it is likely that there would be no me nor so many others. This is inspiring and undeniable progress for which I am grateful.

b:w beetles

That being said, you can imagine my delight when the Volkswagen ad below hit the circuit just in time for Loving Day- commemoration of the day that the Supreme Court declared interracial marriage to be legal nation wide with their verdict in the Loving vs. Virginia case.  48 years ago.  That was basically yesterday folks.  And though we’ve come a long-ass way in the last 48 years, we still have a long-ass way to go before we’re free from the fears and limitations and separations of race.  And our addiction to perceived otherness.  Can you imagine how lovely things might be if we defaulted to perceived sameness? Le sigh ❤

So here’s the Volkswagen commercial and here’s to normalizing blackness on the road to normalizing togetherness. Baby steps.

VOLKSWAGEN USES HUMOROUS AD FEATURING YOUNG INTERRACIAL COUPLE TO MARKET ITS CARS

By 

What we regularly see depicted in the media is often what we subconsciously regard as being normal. It’s hard to deny the influence that television and movies has had on impacting the way that people of color are viewed by society. As inconsequential as it seemed when the popular television series 24 featured a black man as the president, this depiction did undoubtedly condition a segment of the public to the idea that it was not inconceivable that a black man could be the President of the United States.

Although inter-racial dating is widespread, television continues to shy away from featuring this reality. That’s why it’s interesting to see Volkswagens choosing to promote this ad. We will be watching to see if other major advertisers follow suit. As any step to normalize how black families are depicted is a welcomed development.

Richard & MIldred in checked skirt and top Loving

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Mildred and Richard Loving

(also pictured: their children Donald, Peggy, and Sidney.)

multiracial family man

I was delighted to be interviewed by comedian Alex Barnett for his Multiracial Family Man podcast. I met Alex and his wife during the Katie Couric debacle of 2014. Not only do I like them because they are cool, funny people, but they remind me of my family of origin. That doesn’t happen all that often.

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I think we had a great conversation about race, interracial relationships, and the ever evolving multiracial experience.

You can CHECK it out here:

http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/c/5/3/c53470bfd6efc2e8/MFM_-_Tiffany_Jones_revised.mp3?c_id=8514010&expiration=1425994502&hwt=0a2cd49d00972f9ce2f6ffb01e43f568

or here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/multiracial-family-man-ep./id969793342?i=337179665&mt=2

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And if you want more Alex Barnett, here’s a link to his website where you can read his blog posts and enjoy his stand-up: http://www.alexbarnettcomic.com.

the second monday of october

I was gonna let this whole Columbus Day thing slide, but listening to the holiday hype on news radio this morning irritated me into this.  Apparently my willingness to ignore it was based on my assumption that everyone else would do the same.  In all fairness, I do not know one person who celebrates or observes Columbus Day.  But hearing reports from the parade in Manhattan and seeing a few posts in various places with glowing reverence for the explorer was jarring.  It feels like irrefutable truth to me that people were living on this continent before Columbus arrived, so this whole notion of discovery is beyond absurd- it is simply incredible.  There is no credibility in that hypothesis. Zero. And yet, it’s the story that gets told as fact.  This is very bold, seeing as the lies are exposed in the most basic telling of the story.

What I find when I investigate my agitated response to a silly parade is that it speaks to a larger issue.  That even when the truth is right before our eyes, it’s easy to be lulled by the institutional illusion that has been handed down as historical fact.  It’s easy to just accept what we’re told even when it contradicts what we know and/or feel to be true.  Maybe that’s the price of the American Dream.  You have to adhere and become blind to so much bullshit while chasing it, that once you get there (if you get there) you’re likely to have lost touch with your inner compass along the way.  In Tiffany-speak “inner compass” = your authentic self, your divinity, your soul.

However, although, and all at the same time… What happened, happened.  We are where we are.  And there is a perfection in that.  There is beauty in it somewhere. There is probably beauty in it everywhere. The great Amy Grant wrote “In the year of 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue had he landed on India’s shore you might never have come to knock on my door.”  So, like, everything has been leading up to this perfect(ly imperfect) moment. I see now that the true source of my upset is not about what actually happened, but is connected to the deceptions that led to the delusions that keep us from genuinely knowing ourselves and each other.  Of course there is a racial component to this topic.  The things that happened then are still happening now in varying degrees. Patterns are repeated.  History is repeated.  We each have a responsibility to wake up out of those cycles.  To un-become who the world has taught us to be, so we can be who we really are.  This requires being able to discern the difference between what the world has taught us and what is true.

From The Oatmeal:

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Click here for the rest of the comic which inspired Seattle to rename Columbus Day Indigenous People’s Day.  Yes, Seattle!  Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, and South Dakota so not observe Columbus Day. Xo to them!

 

From Instagram:

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And from that time when I wasn’t blogging, but was saving all of these articles about things I would blog about when I started blogging again:

 

Finally, a Perfect Term for When White People “Discover” Things

By Aisha Harris

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At some point in their adolescence, most people will come to learn that the oft-taught grade school tidbit that Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas is, at best, a significant stretching of the truth. They’ll also soon realize that Columbus’ claim to fame is only one example in a long historical pattern of white people taking credit for uncovering “new” things that actually existed long before they were aware of them.

And so it’s only logical that someone would put two and two together and finally coin the perfect term for this infuriating habit: “Columbusing.” The folks at College Humor have created a great video to help you understand the exact way to employ it—so the next time someone credits Miley Cyrus for twerking, you’ll be ready.

whatever happened to

the KKK?  I mean I know they still have rally’s and such, but to me that seems more similar to a Civil War reenactment than a gathering to further a cause.  As if they’re remembering the good old days when they had an influence.

So what happened to put the torches out?  Did skinheads take over?  Neo-nazis?  White Supremacists?  Are those simply politically correct terms for the KKK these days?  Not exactly.  Apparently the Klan got caught, convicted, and executed.  Once.  And the one time that happened, they backed off.

The legacy lives on however.  Maybe if the hoods and cloaks hadn’t been hidden away we wouldn’t be so shocked by the actions of Dunn and Zimmerman.  Or by the juries who could not bring themselves to name those actions murder.

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Here’s the case that supposedly stopped the Klan.  According to the internet, there are some who didn’t get that memo.  Seems as though we’ve taken a few steps back, unfortunately.  In this post-racial age, we don’t get convictions.

 Henry Hays and James Knowles were arrested.  Hays, convicted, was incarcerated in the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Alabama, while on death row. He was executed in the electric chair on June 6, 1997. The Associated Press reported that Hays was Alabama’s first execution for a white-on-black crime since 1913. Hays was also the only KKK member to be executed for the murder of an African-American during the 20th century. U.S. District Court Judge W. Brevard Hand sentenced Knowles, then 21 years of age, to a life sentence.  He avoided the death penalty by testifying against Hays at trial.

Donald v. United Klans of America

Popular Name:

Michael Donald Lynching Case

Shutting down the notorious United Klans
Nineteen-year-old Michael Donald was on his way to the store in 1981 when two members of the United Klans of America abducted him, beat him, cut his throat and hung his body from a tree on a residential street in Mobile, Ala.

Angry that an interracial jury had failed to convict another black man for killing a white police officer in Birmingham, the Klansmen selected Michael Donald at random and lynched him to intimidate and threaten other blacks. On the same evening, other Klan members burned a cross on the Mobile County courthouse lawn.

The two Klansmen who carried out the ritualistic killing were eventually arrested and convicted. Convinced that the Klan itself should be held responsible for the lynching, Center attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald vs. United Klans. In 1987, the Center won an historic $7 million verdict against the men involved in the lynching.

The verdict marked the end of the United Klans, the same group that had beaten the Freedom Riders in 1961, murdered civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in 1965, and bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.

The group was forced to turn over its headquarters to Beulah Mae Donald, and two additional Klansmen were convicted of criminal charges.

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19 again

Basically, I never want to hear about post-racial America again.  And I hope no one is left wondering why I would spend so much time and energy talking about race since things “are so much better.”  Because they aren’t.  We’ve just gotten comfortable pretending that they are.

Today would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Jordan Davis.

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I don’t know what else to say about it right now.

This lady did:

How Keeping Our Sons Safe Makes It OK for Whites to Be Racists

BY: 

The Jordan Davis case led some parents to give their kids “the talk.” But doing so absolves white people of their responsibility to unlearn stereotypes that scare them.

The slaying of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by a white man who didn’t appreciate his taste in music had some black people scrambling to give black boys “the talk” about how not to scare white people into shooting them…a lot of black parents who love their children are probably repeating it. I understand it.

But I don’t like it.

I don’t like it because as practical as it is, it inadvertently feeds the notion that black youths, and black males in particular, ought to capitulate to racist whites in order not to suffer at their hands.

And any white man who believes that black kids ought to turn down their music because he doesn’t like it, even if they are only sharing the same parking lot for a few minutes, isn’t seeking respect.

He’s expecting submission.

Any white store owner, or night watchman, who expects a black youth to take off his hood because it scares him, even though that black youth has no plans to do anything scary, isn’t asking for respect but for his irrational fears to be coddled.

Most of all, I don’t like it because we’ve been through this before.

In the 2002 book Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South, Charles Gratton recalled his mother’s instructions when she sent him to the grocery store. She told him, “If you pass any white people on your way, get off the sidewalk. Give them the sidewalk. Don’t challenge white people.”

Similarly, many black people who grew up during Jim Crow times remember being told not to look white people in the eye and to avoid doing things that might get them hurt or killed for being defiant or, as they would say back then, uppity.

A refusal to turn down music or take off a hoodie could translate into being uppity for whites like Dunn, who believe that black youths—who, like many of their white counterparts, are grappling with awkwardness and immaturity—owe it to them to suppress their attitude.

They don’t.

I get that it’s important to give black youths the advice they need to be able to live to fight another day, as Guns and others are doing. But we cannot forget the importance of fighting conditions, such as Florida’s “Stand your ground” law, that feed the idea that whites like Dunn can get away with fatally shooting a black youth like Jordan because he and his friends didn’t comply with their request.

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Jordan Davis’ friends

We cannot forget, because something is horribly wrong when, more than a half-century after legal segregation ended, when we have a black man sitting in the Oval Office, Jim Crow-era instructions are being revived to protect black youths. These instructions have little to do with young black people being respectful to white strangers and everything to do with them being submissive to whites—with black youths giving white strangers permission to cling to fears about blackness by not being so, well, black.

And when we make black youths solely responsible for not frightening white people with their music or their style of dress or their swagger, we absolve white people of their responsibility to unlearn the stereotypes that are scaring them.

Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy, The Butler) did too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL5awaQNNQE

drunk history or re: mary ellen pleasant

Apparently three years have flown by since I first learned of and blogged about Mary Ellen Pleasant.  Whoa.

Anyway, I was truly delighted to come across this Drunk History segment on a Sunday afternoon #sharing.  I love that some funny creative knew of the story and decided to give it life as an inebriated tale.  The piece is actually longer, but this is all I could find on youtube.  If you have Comedy Central and On Demand you can find the entire tale in the “San Francisco” episode.  Highly recommended.

“Where was I at historic-al-ly?”

😂

oakland county?

I’d have thought this story straight out of (august)Osage County.  But, nope.  This story comes from the county that I come from.  Oakland County, MI.  Honestly though…and on second thought… that’s no surprise…

Excuse me while I get real with myself for a minute… I think I just stumbled upon some version of reality that I concocted where I, an inherently integrated person, grew up in segregated communities, and in this version of reality of mine, even though I was usually the only “black” person wherever I was, those “conditions” never mattered.  Also, in this reality I like to believe that everyone was free of prejudice and just happened to live somewhere where almost everyone looked like them. As if it were a coincidence.  But that is not true.  Those conditions were a strategically planned.  Generations before.  Of course there were and are exceptions, like me, but I must admit that there is a palpable sense of “us vs. them” in Oakland County.  And by “us vs. them” I mean white vs. black. The funny thing is there’s that age old adage about the savage (see entire debate here)…

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Why are black people savages?

Click on an option to vote

  •  They just are
  •  They can’t help it
  •  Jungle syndrome

…and I gotta say when I watched The Butler and saw what the Freedom Riders went through, I thought which group played the role of savage there?  Or, Emmitt Till.  Did the 14 year old child behave in an undomesticated way, or was it the grown men who hunted him down?  This dogma, this ideology that we just kind of accept and play by the rules of…well, it’s just so twisted.  It is detrimental to all.  It is not in line with the Divine.  That’s really all I know to say about it right now.

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Jackson Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-in

Oh yeah, the article…I have much love for Oakland County (and many of it’s residents), btw. And I thank it for lending itself to my racial discourse.  In so many ways.

Michigan GOP official: ‘Herd all the Indians’ to Detroit, build a fence and throw in corn

By David Edwards
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:44 EST

A Republican county official in Michigan is in hot water after making racial comments about Detroit, including the idea that the city should be turned into a detention center for “all the Indians.”

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In a recent interview for a profile by The New Yorker titled “Drop Dead, Detroit!” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson admitted, “Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough sh*t.”

Patterson recalled telling his children to “get in and get out” if they needed to go to Detroit.

“And, before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here. You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking,” he said.

Patterson also proposed a fix to Detroit’s financial problems: Turn the city into a reservation for Native Americans.

“I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.’”

After Detroit officials and activists reacted with outrage, Patterson’s office released a statement accusing The New Yorker of having an “agenda.”

“It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed County Executive Patterson,” the statement said. “She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region.”

Activists with Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network had planned a news conference on Tuesday to call for Patterson to apologize.

National Action Network’s Michigan chapter president Rev. Charles Williams II said that the comments were “repulsive” because they were an insult to the city’s African-American population and “a direct slight to the American Indians who occupied the land before Detroit was Detroit, and Oakland County.”

In recent years, Patterson has also come under fire for comparing Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger to Hitler and for suggesting that Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano kill himself.

cherokee prayer whole human family

and the most dangerous negro award goes to…

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Every January, Martin Luther King, Jr. is universally honored as a national hero who preached a peaceful fight against racial injustice. This saintly image is quite a departure from the kind of attacks the reverend endured over his lifetime. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover famously called King “the most dangerous Negro” and “the most notorious liar in the country” while keeping him under close surveillance. Over the years, Dr. King’s more controversial edges have been smoothed over, burying his more radical teachings….

Read More of the  4 Ways Martin Luther King Was More Radical Than You Thought

I mean, that is quite an accomplishment, MLK.  The most dangerous negro!? Everyone knows all negroes are dangerous, so…

Why else would it be socially acceptable to make post-game interview commentary like these comments below?  Admitedly, the anger unleashed in Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman’s post-win interview falls into the category of unsavory.  But must we wonder why he might be so sensitive?  I know haters gone hate and all, but you try to let comments like these roll off your back. It’s not for the faint of heart and could understandably lead to a kind of hypervigilance pertaining to perceived disrespect.  I highly doubt this is the first time Mr. Sherman has been on the receiving end of jabs such as these.  Even without an angry interview as catalyst.  This happened yesterday. So very post-racial…note #noracismintended.

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Lol don’t mess with Richard Sherman, he will go bananas. Guys a fricken jungle monkey.

— Zack Grenon (@g_g_g_grenon71) January 20, 2014

Richard Sherman’s an ignorant ape

— GC (@TropicanaCEO_15) January 20, 2014

Someone put Richard Sherman in an animal hospital because he is a fucking gorilla #noracismintented

— Michael Mortellito (@mmortellito) January 20, 2014

Richard Sherman is a nigger, fuck that.

— Rob Falotico (@Robadob561) January 20, 2014

Richard Sherman deserves to get shot in the fucking head. Disrespectful nigger.

— Adam Costello (@AdamCostello128) January 20, 2014

Richard Sherman is a straight irrogant nigger. Manning is going to rip him apart

— Christian Parafati (@C_parafati_one3) January 20, 2014

You can read many more comments like this HERE

hatepotate

Happy Most Dangerous Negro Day to you!