10) WAZ Awards 2021 Winner Number 10. Deniers (Roy Sequoia)
It was June, just as Roy said it would be, when we finished up the Top Ten WAZ Awards for 2021. Tim and Sonny stoked up the grill, Roy wearing an Amish hat and stained apron with a picture of Elvis that said, Love Me Tender, cooked up a mess of sockeyes that Sven had caught down in Taku Inlet that morning. We settled in with Juniper Gin and tonics while Roy worked his magic at the coals, and Sven held forth about the season’s first salmon opening. Those 22 foot moon tides blowing his net and boat perpendicular down the Inlet,
“Yah we get there early you know so we got the first set off the beach, fish run upriver yust off the rocks. We’re blowing along like nobody’s business, fish start hittin’ the net, corks poppin’ up and down like crazy. And what do you know but here comes Jack Chadwick, lazy bastard was third out, in he comes like he’s gonna cork us. Sonofabitch! Ole! I says, Ole! get the deck cannon. Jack sees Ole loading the nails in her and he knows I mean business. So he’s yelling like hell at his deck hand to haul the net. The kid’s green ‘cause Jack can’t keep nobody. We see him trying to get the net in, Jack pushes him out of the way and guns it. Backs over his own net himself, winds it up in the wheel. That was it for Jack. They yust drifted off for Point Bishop. On the way in, we seen ‘em getting a tow back to town. Jack still yellin.’ Two hundred for a diver to cut the web out. Serves him right.”
Grilling fish for us is like barbeque purists down south. Perfect is good enough. We demolished what would have cost a couple hundred dollars in a restaurant and topped it off with potato salad and a tub of coleslaw. Being into the 18 hours of daylight, followed by twilight until the sun comes up again, we’d set up a table outside, plywood on saw horses, and kicked back on benches while Al and Ira tuned up on the Adirondack chairs.
Roy announced it was time for the last, “And I do mean The Last,” Black Racist Award of 2021. Which brought cheers and foot stomping. “You sure you’ve had enough, Roy?”
“Never been more sure of anything. Here we go.” He handed Ira the first clue.
Al looked at it and said, “Whoa! There’s an oldie.”
Ira scratched out 1920’s jazz tune,
“I’ll be glad when you dead you rascal you.
I’ll be glad when you dead you rascal you,
You know you done me wrong, you stole my wife and gone.
I’ll be glad when you dead you rascal you.”
I’m gonna kill you just for fun you rascal you,
gonna kill you just for fun you rascal you.
You know you think you can run, but I done went to the pawn shop and got my gun,
I’ll be glad when you dead you rascal you.
“When you laying six feet deep, no mo fried chicken will you eat,
you dog, you rascal you…”
I’ll be standing on a corner high, when they bring yo body by,
I’ll be glad when you dead you rascal you…”
Uncle Tim said. “That’s about the most racist song I ever heard.”
“Tell it to Louie Armstrong. He sang it.”
“Murder, guns, shooting, adultery?”
Roy shook his head at adultery.
Roy shook his head and handed Ira another clue.
“See the children of the earth who weep to find the table bare,
see the gentry in the country riding off to take the air.”
‘Don Quixote,’ Gene said. “Gordon Lightfoot again. 1972. I listened to that all the time.”
Roy nodded. Gene began to sing,
“See the man who tips the needle, see the man who buys and sells,
see the man who puts the collar on the ones who dare not tell.”
“See the drunkard in the tavern stemming gold to make ends meet,
see the youth in ghetto black, condemned to life upon the street…”
He sang it to the end. We looked around.
“Drugs.” “Ghetto.” “Poverty.” “Disparity.” “Black youth.” “Life on the streets.” “Shooting.” “Murder.”
Tommy said, “This is more like social statement than a person.”
Cosmo held up three fingers. “Roy’s jumping the third rail, man. Black on black crime.”
“Well, there we are.” Roy said. “That wasn’t so hard.”
“That’s a highly charged phrase, Roy,” Tim put in.
Roy recoiled, the very face of perplexed innocence. “Why, Tim?”
“A lot of people consider it racist. It’s a racist myth.”
Tim spread his arms, palms up. “You just gave half a dozen reasons why. Poverty, disparity, drugs, condemned to life on the streets, those are the causes of black on black crime.”
“I don’t recall saying they aren’t, Tim. I do say, though, that it’s a mistake to conflate cause and effect. I leave that to rich race hustlers. Charged topic, my foot. They don’t want to talk about it because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Denying black on black violence benefits no one, least of all the people most affected by it. The ones in black neighborhoods. We’ve gone down this road before. Race hustlers will say it on TV but you’ll never seen a hustler go up to a black family that’s wiping their kids’ brains off the car seat after a drive-by telling them there’s no such thing as black on black violence. Doesn’t happen. When I read that black people kill more black people every year than all the black troops who died in Vietnam…”
“Where’d you read that?” Sonny wanted to know.
“Ebony magazine. August, 1979. Special edition titled—are you ready?—“Black on Black Crime.”
“That was 42 years ago, Roy.”
“I know. And it’s worse today. In 2021 more than half and again as many—closer to twice as many— black people got killed by other black people in America as black troops who died in Vietnam.”
“Damn.” Sonny said.
“Denying black on black crimes is like denying Global Warming. We’ve got an ice field bigger than Rhode Island right outside this town. 42 major glaciers. All melting. A lot of people consider Global Warming a charged statement. They’re ‘dribbling shit,’ as they say in New Zealand. ”
Look how many big cities in America were shooting galleries in 2021. Philidelphia-562 murders and 1,800 wounded. Chicago over 800 murders, Baltimore 337 murders… It’s edifying to look up how many of them have black majority populations. Most. And most of the dead were black.”
Uncle Tim raised his hand, “A lot of what you call black on black crime is because of ‘white flight’ from cities. If mostly black people are left behind, there’ll be more black on black crime.”
Roy thought about it and said, “It seems to me, if 50 people are in a bar, half-went home at 9 p.m., a murder happened at 2 a.m., you can’t blame the people who left and went home to bed. A question might be, when white people left cities like Baltimore, they went somewhere; Maine, North Dakota, Texas… Did white on white crime spike in places they went? If it did, I never heard about it.
“Even in white majority cities black people are far more likely to get killed by other black people than white people are likely to get killed by other white people. St. Louis is a white majority city where black residents are ten times more likely to be murdered than white residents, and almost all the black victims are murdered by other black people—mostly young black men—St. Louis is a melting ice field. Nothing ‘charged’ about it.”
“Yup.” Roy nodded. “Past five year average murder rates by race in St. Louis are: Black 144 per 100,000. White 14 per 100,000, Hispanic 14 per 100,000, and Asian 5 per 100,000.”
Tim asked, “Roy, how come you don’t talk about white on white crime?”
“’Cause it pales by comparison.” Sonny put in.
Roy ignored him and said,
“For starters: I’ve never, ever hear anyone call white on white crime a ‘charged topic’. Or a ‘myth.’ Some race hustlers call black on black crime a myth. It’s not. It’s reality, same as black on black crime.
For two: I don’t hear white murderers blame black society when they kill other white people.
For three: Blacks: commit more than half the murders in this country and there’s about five times more whites than blacks. Murders went up 30 percent between 2019 and 2020. Black murderers and black victims, are increasing at the same time white murderers and white victims are going down.”
For four: I never heard ‘White Lives Matter’ used as an excuse for looting and trashing whole cities.
For five: I haven’t seen mobs of white people running into stores doing smash and grabs, smashing up fast food restaurants, attacking workers, because they aren’t happy with the French fries, or just for the hell of it. Haven’t seen businesses and restaurants leaving white neighborhoods because of shoplifters and vandals.
“That’s probably good enough, man.” Cosmo said.
“Okay,” Roy conceeded. “One last point. Way more black people consider violent crime a primary issue in the elections than white people do. Not the race hustlers. The regular people. Which makes sense since their families are the ones getting killed.”
“Well, Roy what do you think should happen?”
“Have a vote.” Roy said. “Never said I could solve it. Just saying black on black crime is racist. Do the perpetrators target a particular race? Yup. Is there a whole belief system built around not talking about it? Yup. Especially in the media. Does it cost the public billions a year? Yup. Is it terrible for black people who live in high crime neighborhoods? Yup. Is it WAZ Black Racist of 2021 material? Yup, I say. Yupperoo. How ‘bout you.”
“I’m going to have to agree with that. AYE” Tony said.
Heads nodded all around. “AYE” except Tim, who insisted to the end that it was all so much more complex than old white guys could fathom. Maybe we’re just the Dunning-Kruger mob but it doesn’t seem all that complex to us. When black people kill black people, we call that black on black violence. If a lot of people don’t want to hear it, a thing we all agree on is Will Durant who said, “We must all respect one another’s delusions.”
And with that, we at the Woodshed Autonomous Zone close the chapter on black racism and move on to timber framing, splitting wood, and putting up food for next winter.