Bigger Thomas is back, and he’s nastier than ever.
Actually, Bigger never went anywhere. It’s just that, from time to time, his real-world manifestations go way over the line.
Take, for instance, those three Bigger Thomases that stripped and whipped that poor brother in Newark, N.J. last summer. For purposes of this account, I’ll call them Bigger One, Bigger Two and Bigger Three.
All three have been arrested and charged; their names have been given in news reports. But there is still that matter of the presumption of innocence, even though these morons didn’t help their cause any by video recording what they did.
On July 30, according to police and news reports, Bigger One was released from prison after serving 18 months. He was in for eluding police, drug distribution and illegal weapons possession.
Some time in August Bigger One hooked up with Bigger Two and Bigger Three. They cornered a 21-year-old Newark man in an alley and forced him to strip naked.
Then Bigger One took a belt and, for a period of 90 seconds, beat the victim like the poor man was a field slave. Bigger One had the victim shout, “Doggy Dawg” and “it’s a Doggy Dawg world” during the beating.
Either Bigger Two or Bigger Three recorded this atrocity. It wasn’t until this month that somebody posted it on YouTube and WorldStarHipHop.com.
Newark cops soon got wind of the video. So did Newark Mayor Corey Booker, who was absolutely livid about what he saw.
Booker’s also fuming because, for the past six months, there have been Newark residents that knew this incident took place, knew who the perpetrators were and didn’t alert authorities.
So for six months these three Bigger Thomases – named for the menacing, murdering black thug in Richard Wright’s classic novel “Native Son” – roamed Newark’s streets, free to harm more black residents.
A while back, I wrote that black America’s obsession with ferreting out the Uncle Toms among us allowed the Bigger Thomases among us to terrorize us at will.
We revile our Uncle Toms; we seem to love our Bigger Thomases. That love is unrequited. Our Bigger Thomases do NOT love us.
If you doubt that, ask that poor kid who was publicly humiliated, stripped and whipped in Newark. (Over a $20 debt his father owed, according to some news reports.)
Ask Hadiya Pendleton’s parents. Hadiya was one of those black children slaughtered in Chicago’s violence that lasted throughout all of 2012 and has spilled over into 2013.
Ask Janay McFarlane’s parents. Or ask Janay’s sister, 14-year-old Destini Warren. When President Obama spoke about gun violence at Chicago’s Hyde Park Academy, Destini stood only a few feet behind him.
According to news reports, Destini was eager to share the experience of listening to Obama speak with Janay, who was 18. But Destini never got the chance.
Before Destini could tell Janay anything, Janay was fatally shot, another victim of Chicago’s gang violence.
No, our Bigger Thomases don’t love us one iota. But we’re always willing to go to bat for them, fretting about how many young black men there are in the nation’s prisons and jails.
Some of that angst might be justified and warranted, but not all of it. You’ll have to present quite the argument to convince me that Bigger One, if he is indeed guilty of stripping and whipping that Newark victim, was released from prison way too soon.
And, it’s worth noting, with all the talk about gun violence and gun control, that one of the things Bigger One went to prison for was the illegal possession of a weapon.
News reports haven’t mentioned what that weapon was, but if it transpires that it was indeed a handgun, then that kind of weakens arguments for more gun control laws, doesn’t it?
It should, but it won’t, at least not among black folks. Bigger Thomases continue to menace us, and we get mad at the Uncle Toms.
The Bigger Thomases shoot our young people like Hadiya Pendleton and Janay McFarlane, and we get mad at the National Rifle Association, mean ol’ Republicans and the guns.
In the meantime we wring our hands and ask ourselves when the madness that’s going on in places like Chicago and Newark and Oakland and Baltimore will end.
It’ll end when we start getting mad at the right people.