Then, for them, there is this murky distinction between the unreal part of me which is a figment of their minds and the existence of real black Americans. They confuse us for each other – they mix and match us whenever it’s to their convenience. That I am not real sometimes escape even me and I find myself referring to the real black people as me. It’s a handy sociological tool that bridges the distinction between reality and expectancy.
This is exactly my problem: Most white people’s expectation that I would retaliate for what they have done to me, allows them to believe that I would car-jack children, shoot a powerful politician, kill a pregnant woman, or even worst. I might want to share equally in the abundance of American life. It is a fact that they anticipate a day when I will raise up to make amends that keeps my portrait at there ready in their minds. They have a collective expectation and a single image of me in their individual minds. Why else would a white women in an elevator with a rich and famous black man fear for her pocketbook? She has prefect vision, but it is not with her eyes that she observes this man. She views him through the filter of her guilt and her fear. She thinks this is an opportunity for him to even the score. The fear blinds her; she thinks he’s me – the Phantom Culprit – the one black man all white people carry around in their heads.
Now it’s only fair that I point out that when I say all white people, I don’t literally mean all white people – but only that amount which gives the statement accuracy. This means that there are some whom I’ve malign – you know how you are – I beg your pardon.
Here is how I am most often described. I have a long face with full lips, a broad nose, sinister cheek lines and menacing eyes. I am brown skinned. I am sometimes drawn wearing the knit hat that was popularized in cartoons depictions of second story men wearing black masks, carrying a long flashlight and a sack of loot. I resemble no other black man in America, yet every black man in America can be mistaken for me and many have fallen to that misfortune. It takes little effort for those who describe me to verbally transmit my facial likeness to those whose fingers reproduce my image, because I am an identical figment of their imaginations. Whether I’m tall or just a midget is not known. It isn’t known if I have all of my limbs. Menace that I am I may have four arms and thorns for fingers. And, as allusive as I’ve been, I might have wings that enable me to swiftly perform my geographical gymnastics. I find it humbling that I have not never been given a proper name, a situation that sometimes make it hard for me to grasp the reality of my existence. For the sake of this narration, lets everyone call me Leroy, no, make that Leroy the Phantom Culprit. Yes, now that has a certain ring of truth to it, Aha, you say, now you know who I am.