Somewhere mixed up in all the convoluted history that we’ve been forced to internalize, the image of the non-violent Black in the face of white hostility has still managed to survive despite all the evidence to the contrary.
For some reason—maybe because white history books have gone to painstaking lengths to downplay just how violently and angrily Blacks reacted to slavery—the image of the long-suffering Negro who’ll tolerate just about anything that’s dished out to him has managed to endure.
The Civil Rights movement probably didn’t help.
Many whites, I’m guessing, saw the use of non-violence as our only alternative as opposed to simply one strategy; the toughest to master, nonetheless.
So probably when 17 year-old Daniel Cicciaro and those three other Long Island white boys got drunk, loaded themselves into a car, and raced over to John White’s house not only to threaten the man’s wife with rape but also to demand that he send his son outside so that they could beat or whatever else they intended to do with him, they might have actually thought that the man would send him out!
What choice did he have?
One teenage funeral for young Mr. Cicciaro later, we all know better.
There had been an altercation early in the evening involving Mr. White’s son, Aaron, and Aaron had wisely vacated the site of the beef.
This being New York, the beef followed him.
Mr. White was sentenced in the aftermath of the shooting to 2-4 years in jail for manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon.
Outgoing New York governor David Paterson pardoned John White, sparking a reaction pretty much divided among racial lines.
But make no mistake: justice is never a cause for celebration.
We should always expect to see it.
And it would also be insane to be happy that Daniel Cicciaro—wrong or right—is dead.
Still, knowing my people the way I do, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that if four Black drunken hooligans had rolled up on some white man’s house, threatened to rape the man’s wife, and tried to beat up or murder the man’s son, the minute we heard that one of the four Black kids had been shot and killed, we’d be the loudest ones saying, “That’s what he gets!”