James Blake Slammed And Arrested For…Smiling While Black? Being Lightskinned While Black? » VSB

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James Blake Slammed And Arrested For…Smiling While Black? Being Lightskinned While Black?

After hearing the news about James Blake — the retired tennis star who was tackled, cuffed, arrested, and detained by five police officers as he waited for a car to take him to the U.S. Open — three things immediately came to mind:

1. James Blake is a Harvard grad, a former superstar athlete, and a guy who could very easily be the featured model in a Gucci ad on the inside front cover of Esquire. He was also waiting for a car outside of the upscale Grand Hyatt hotel in Manhattan. He is, literally, the perfect Black man. And by “perfect Black man” I mean “the least arrestable Black man possible, standing in the least arrestable position possible.” And this shit still happened to him. Which reiterates the point that, if you’re Black and in America, something like this happening to you is unpreventable. That doesn’t mean it definitely will happen to you. Just that there’s absolutely nothing you can do — no degrees you can earn, no mundane car you can drive, no title you can achieve, no place you can live, no non-Black man/woman you can marry — that will enable you to prevent it yourself. If it doesn’t happen…it just didn’t happen. But it has nothing to do with you. Just chance.

2. The guy they were actually looking for is a suspect in a credit card fraud investigation. But let’s say they found the right guy. That still seems excessive, doesn’t it? I won’t pretend to have any experience with or real knowledge of the law, but do you really need to kick slam and jump a guy suspected of credit card fraud?

3. We’re running out of choices for arrested for ***fill in the blank*** while Black. Driving, standing, walking, smoking, talking, being a Harvard professor with a cane, running, jogging, sleeping, waiting for a bus, playing basketball at the YMCA, and being on a wine train with your book club while Black are just a few that have already been used in the recent past. Now, we have to add “smiling while Black” and “being a handsome lightskinned Black guy while Black” to the list.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Jennifer

    Expletive. That’s all I got.

    • tgtaggie

      I think the correct term is f*ck the police.

      • Steve Jaewook Sul

        FUCK them.

      • Jennifer

        That’s the song on your heart, bruh. Sing it!

  • Devin Middleton

    See, ya’ll don’t even understand. They knew he was gonna go cheer on Serena. White people are starting to figure out that we get stronger when other black people cheer for us i.e. graduation ceremonies. The government is catching on, taking out the fans one by one. Stay woke.

  • CrayolaGirl

    The MFer that tackled him first didn’t crack his lips to say anything afterwards. Not sorry or my bad. Nothing.

    I can imagine what James Blake is feeling.

    • tgtaggie

      If I was Blake, I wouldn’t stop until he didnt have a job.

      • CrayolaGirl

        For. Real.

      • Julie Mango TheGladiator Staff

        This officer has been NYPD for four years and has had FIVE excessive force complaints in the past year!!!

  • “In practically every group of Negroes of which I found myself a part, somebody was sure to say in one fashion or another:

    ‘I’d almost be willing to quit the fight for better education for our people for five or ten years, if I could have some sort of assurance that all of these cracker whites would get a sound education. That way, the cruelty and ignorance and gullibility would be educated out of them and they’d forget their hatred and intolerance of the Negro.’

    Your more cynical, educated Negro has a sort of kindly contempt for most of the white race in the South. In business contacts he is accustomed to outsmarting the white – in cultural contacts he can’t help realizing that quite frequently he is the superior of the white man he’s dealing with.”

    – Ray Sprigle


  • skinnynow

    “If it doesn’t happen…it just didn’t happen. But it has nothing to do with you. Just chance.”

    Truer words were never spoken. That’s the effed up part about all of this: it has both nothing and everything to do with being you. You can’t escape being black. A person’s irrational fear of that blackness is also inescapable. They can either accept something they cannot change, or act out in fear. All you can do is a) hope it doesn’t happen to you or b) hope there’s a camera nearby taping all this when it does.

    • disqus_Pm8NERy8fg

      C. Hope you’re famous enough that people take you seriously when you tell them it happened.

      • kareemsota

        …and that’s what’s up. Telling white folk it happened to you and having them believe it are two separate things.

  • Andsheiswinning FightillweWin

    Let’s just sum it all up and say arrested for #livingwhileblack

    • miss t-lee

      This is it.

    • HJ


    • Homer Alonzo La Rue

      Wouldn’t put it past them to arrest a dead black guy tho. They did afterall handcuff Walter Scott.

      • Aye Bee

        So then simply #arrestedwhileblack

      • Janet

        Recently, the NYPD did try to arrest a dead Black man. They went to his widow’s home numerous times looking for him and she kept telling them that her husband died a decade ago.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          She had to resort to putting his death certificate on her door and it still didn’t stop them from harassing her.

          • MysteryMeat

            Jesus christ thats just wrong on so many levels man

          • Julie Mango TheGladiator Staff

            And she was only awarded 10K for the years of harassment


      Being deliciously fine and amazing while #waitingforfilthytoshowupwhileblack

  • MysteryMeat

    The part that always gets me about these incidents? Someone, somewhere, is coming up with reasons as to why it was perfectly okay to slam this dude or the ground, for nothing, because cops are heros and are always right. Even when they are dead wrong.

    The ish is retarded.

    • I remember back when Ferguson was popping off, I was arguing with a cop on Facebook. He made the argument to me that the Tilden Projects in Brooklyn are scary, and I couldn’t possibly know the horrors of the area. Since he knew my White HS classmate (who was a cop herself), he assumed that I had never been there.

      I told him I’d been there plenty of times, and even dated a few women in there. (Of course, that was a dumb decision, but that’s another story.)

      He seemed shocked that a middle class Black person actually knew what the projects were like. These cops are clueless to the world, and they’re going to take us with them.

      • MysteryMeat

        Man listen, Ive had to debunk the “but your one of the good ones” thing so many times with coworkers and friends.

        • Epsilonicus

          “but your one of the good ones”

          One of the quickest ways to lose your teeth if you say that to me.

          • MysteryMeat

            man listen… I got into a bar fight once in undergrad because some 25/20 came at me like that. I swear i saw red

      • Lol smh. I remember listening to a radio show with Patrice Oneal and a couple white guys, and they pretty much admitted anything above 100th street, they start feeling frightened that they might get robbed or killed.

        I remember in NYC a couple months ago, there was a story out in the news where people were asking the commissioner about having more black representatives in the police force. He responded that a lot of black people had applied but apparently too many of them had criminal records…

        I was like, “This SonofABitch!” How many people you know, who are about that outlaw life are trying to become 5-O? Even he knows the end goal is to create a permanent underclass, where even the people who want to follow that middle class American script, can’t, because they’re living in semi-police states.

      • Julie Mango TheGladiator Staff

        Tilden is one of the scary projects (my projects were considered corny back in the day), but like the cop assumed you knew nothing about project life I have had to get some people together when they talk shyt about the PJ’s.

        And Tilden can’t be all bad-Ber’Nadette Stanis (Thelma from “Good Times”) and Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Randolph grew up there.

      • Tiffany Holman

        You just said a mouthful. Many cops are scared, they react off of preconceived notions rather than training.

    • Like I said below thread, this is a religion.

      One of the geniuses about America and it’s relationship with Religion is the ability to create Religions out of thin air. Because America is rooted in religious freedom, many people have always understood that if you want to pursue a belief system, but don’t want to have to argue and defend it with logic and reason, what you can do is to convert into a religion, whether you declare it to be the case or not, is besides the point.

      Once it’s a religion, it’s bulletproof from criticism, even when contradiction and hypocrisy are blatantly obvious, kind of like how in the South, with the whole Kim Davis situation, you’ll hear a whole bunch of people say that they hate Islam because it is Theocratic and Authoritarian, in reality, their own actions show they favor theocracy and authoritarianism, as long as it’s the right kind of course (their branding of Christianity)

      Policing is a religion in America, and in that religion, anybody a cop messes with is a criminal, unless it is proven to be otherwise, even if they kill the man or woman, and they can then no longer defend themselves. And police believe in this religion too, and act the same in the execution of their jobs, which is why they can do what they did with James Blake, without even having the slightest of doubts, that this could explode in their face.

      • Charles Johnson

        http://on.msnbc.com/1EIZrlV melissa harris perry talked about this on her show, but in the context of the continued effort to discredit the BLM

      • MysteryMeat

        I love when you comment.

      • Rico

        Belief is the defect of Mind …

  • Royale W. Cheese

    A sincere plug for a technology that I think will end this type of BS. Please vote for the Five-O app so that police behavior (good and dangerous) can be reported by the community. The team has less than 9 days left: https://innovatingjustice.com/en/#!/projects/five-0-promoting-partnership-policing

  • kareemsota

    I just need the links to each of the ***fill in the blank*** items, cuz receipts.

  • Be careful out there.
    “Thinking While Black. ” is next.

    • Val

      “He looked like he was thinking about committing a crime so we shot him.”

      Unfortunately I can see that happening.

      • Even worse…I can see it now:
        “He’s Black. He’s bound to do something sooner or later, grip his azz up.”

        • Val

          That’s Stop and Frisk.

          • Epsilonicus


      • Historically, there was a lynching that was justified by “conspiracy to commit assault accessory to conspiracy to commit r@pe”. What it meant in English was that a Black guy made a wrong turn in a house and found himself in a room alone with three White women. I think that takes the cake for all time lynching justifications.


      I almost got arrested for telling a woman not to put dog dropping bags on my lawn. She called the police on me for *Talking to her like that*. I went outside to get in my car to pick up the kids and all the cops were out there, guns drawn, saying that I attacked a woman, she called the police on me and they said I was trying to run away by getting in the car.

      • “Black annnnnd uppity. ”
        That’s a felony, lol.

        • FILTHIER

          The only thing that saved me is that my special needs daughter screams alot, (alot of times out of glee) so the same female cop that comes to the house everytime someone calls was there. She was also the only one who didn’t have her gun drawn. She recognized me a *a good, respectable negro*.

          • HJ

            That’s horrible that she would call the cops on you after SHE was putting dog dropping bags on your lawn. What nerve. I’m curious how it ended and whether the police actually told her to stop littering on your property? I know that’s wishful thinking that it ended like that. What nerve!

            • FILTHIER

              Well she did the *Stop trying to grab my gun!* thing……..she told the cops she was trying to pick up bags of c***p on my lawn because she knew I had kids, and she wanted to help me….and that I opened my door, and in a rage started throwing c***p at her. Mind you, I have no dog, so I am not sure where c***p would come from. I sat and watched out my window as she looked left, then looked right, then placed the bag on my lawn, I was not mistaken. I had been finding these little bags on my lawn everyday prior so I was basically waiting to catch this person. The male cop said it was her word against mine and he wanted to take me in for assault. The female cop asked the woman if she wanted to file a report, but the woman said *I just want her to apologize to me for talking to me like that.* I said *I am not going to apologize because you’re ashamed you got caught putting c***p on my lawn*. Then, the woman started to express how she deserved to be treated with respect and I needed to know my place……and immediately the female cop just told me to go get my kids.

              • HJ

                People who think like her always LOVE us to “be in our place”.. What irks me is that she tried to deflect from basically littering your lawn and still wanted you to be nice after she did something wrong. The fact that the cops were only trying to hear her side of the story is ridiculous. Glad you got it on video. Even then we know sometimes they deny what’s right in front of them. All I can say is Karma will come back to bite her one day….

              • Julie Mango TheGladiator Staff

                And of course you received no apology from the cops nor the woman either.

                Please tell me that liar doesn’t walk in front of your house anymore?

              • Tiffany Holman

                Reminds me if the pregnant woman arrested at school for nothing. A lady called the police and exaggerated. When the cops showed up, they basically sided with white lady without even really taking the time out to hear both sides.

              • Shakespeare’sMuse

                When she said I assaulted her, it would have been true because I would’ve punched her in the throat for littering my property that I own like she had a right to do so then having the gall to wait her pasty behind by my car so she *can attempt* to confront me for calling her lying a$$ out.
                Lord, I’m so sick of them I don’t know to do

              • fxd8424

                If she had said I need to know my place, I would have been arrested.

            • FILTHIER

              I made sure to get it on video. Her fake reasoning was, she puts the p**p there and comes back around and gets it when she feels like it. https://www.facebook.com/WeavemasterTW/videos/vob.100001247608886/908201305898114/?type=2&theater

              • HJ

                Good for you! Hopefully she won’t bother you anymore.

              • dadumdee

                Yo, I just watched this. Was she armed? There’s no doubt in my mind that had you done that same ‘finger to the head maybe it’s a gun gesture’ that she did, you would have been arrested and charged with threatening her.

      • Chic Noir

        We need personal body cams sis.

        • FILTHIER

          That is such a good idea.

        • HJ

          We need a being Black app on our iphones … One click and everything is recorded and uploaded to social media.. Can’t hide the truth..

          • miga

            The ACLU actually has an app like this. You press record and once it stops it will immediately get sent to them. I think you can also turn on the location function as well, and see where other people in your neighborhood are filming cops so you can help bear witness if you’re nearby

            • HJ

              Both wonderful and yet sad that this app even had to be created!

        • dadumdee

          District Attorney James Crow III, Esq. says that your video evidence, although disturbing, does not provide sufficient evidence to bring forth charges.

      • Instagram SuperModel

        Excuse me?! Damn, sorry that happened to you.

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