It’s time to get uncomfortable and confront racism, white America. #IAmNotMikeBrown

August 29, 2014   |   Alissa Kokkins

Is His Life Worth More Than Mine #HandsUp

Alissa Kokkins | The Anti-Media

I am a racist. Not a white hood and robe wearing KKK racist. Nor a shaved head, swastika loving, Dr. Martens with red laces, neo-Nazi racist. I am a woman who walks through this world living the white experience of power/privilege plus prejudice, racist.

Confronting the internalized racism embedded in my soul as a mostly white American has not been easy, comfortable or enjoyable. It has been a long arduous road filled with denial, pain, disappointment, self-critique, education, self-hatred, shame, deconstruction and growth. To this day, oppressive language and actions stumble out my being no matter how hard I try or aware I believe I am. It is the unavoidable reality of the white experience in a white supremacist society. Even in this very piece, there will undoubtedly be something overlooked, phrased wrong, over simplified and so on – that reveals the racism that comes with bearing the preferred skin pigmentation of our empire. This is one of many symptoms of my individual racism and white privilege.

Whether I like it or not (which I don’t), I have to accept the fact that I am racist if I want to end racism. All white people do. Racism being bred into us via our environment, media and culture is not right and will never be. But it is the reality of the white supremacist society we were born into. And for those who don’t want another Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Trayvon Martin, John Crawford III or any of the too many names to list people of color murdered, to die, you too have to accept this. Because the only society where their murders would be deemed unacceptable by the people at large is a not post-racial, but a post-racism America.

The deconstruction of structural racism and white privilege is a never-ending onion that forever peels back to reveal itself. Even now as I write this a few miles from Ferguson, MO, I am still discovering racism embedded in me. A couple of weeks ago when I was asked to help organize a hands up march in Los Angeles for Ezell Ford, Omar Abrego, Mike Brown and all victims of killer cops, I almost said no. Why? I generally avoided organizing against racist, killer cops. Not just because the gravity of dealing with senseless death hurts my heart in ways that cannot be verbalized, but also because my white skin is the exception, not the rule, in this struggle. Instead, I primarily left organizers of color to do the tough job that I did not want to take on.

Another layer of the onion unravels; I was not doing what I could do because I did not have to. Or so I thought. Although I nor anyone in my blood family lives in fear of being shot while unarmed like Ezell, Omar and Mike, the reality is, white people and especially white allies are an important component in the struggle to end racism. It is through our actions, silence, apathy, cognitive dissonance and complacency that white supremacy is upheld.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
― Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is white people who slowly kill people of color every time we do not call out racist actions, comments, jokes, and microaggressions. Especially, when there is a chance to do so in the place they are most prevalent: all white spaces. A space that actually presents an opportunity for real talk with fellow white people about the racism we individually and collectively perpetrate. With flaws and bizarre questions on display, this is the safest space for white people to get uncomfortable and confront racism in without causing further harm to those who experience racism every day. Not to be confused with denying racism when the subject of racism is brought up in non-all white spaces; that behavior is racist. But by calling out and discussing racism, the only place white people can go in that moment is one step closer to the vaccine that will forever rid this world of the racist disease permeating out of our white bodies.

Seemingly a small thing, this is where racism starts. It is how racism slowly etched itself into our culture and first became ingrained into once untainted white beings. And when you stack the thousands of racist incidents happening this very moment, they are like an army of needles pricking the skin of people of color. Each prick dehumanizing entire races. In ten minutes, a thousand more pricks. By the end of the month, a million small holes are inflicted. Until, that little prick you silently let pass by adds up to so much pain that tear gas is flying down the burning streets of Ferguson and cries to put an end to racism in America are sounding around the world.

The ongoing stereotyping and dehumanization of people of color that structural racism perpetrates is what informs institutional racism. The deadly combination of which is what allowed Ezell Ford, Mike Brown and Omar Abrego to die not once but twice. After being physically murdered, the three mens’ characters were then assassinated by police and the mainstream media. Ferguson police portrayed Mike Brown as a cigar thief despite the store never calling the police while many media outlets still continue to explore if Brown has gang affiliations. As if any of this justifies his murder.

Police claim that the coroner’s report says that Omar Abrego, who died after being beaten by police for ten minutes as seen in this video, was “combative and confused with acute cocaine intoxication” and driving an Amtrak truck even though “he did not work there.” After Ezell Ford was shot in the back three times while unarmed, LAPD released a statement after the killing, stating: “It is unknown if the suspect has any gang affiliations.” If it is unknown, then why is this included in LAPD’s statement? It is unknown if Ford liked cheese on a burger, but I don’t see that mentioned.

Atop that, when Ford’s mourning cousin, Ceebo Tha Rapper put out a music video titled “Fuck tha Police” to honor and call for justice for Ezell, LAPD put out a citywide alert that accused the rapper of using the video to call for revenge and made accusations of gang affiliations. In the wake of his cousin’s death, Ceebo was then paraded and shamed by the press. The music video is seemingly mild compared to the songs white artists, such as MDC’s Millions of Dead Cops, have made without causing citywide alerts or public shaming. Hear more about this from Ceebo himself in this exclusive interview.

With claims that all three men are guilty, police then proceeded to withhold the autopsy reports and names of the officers who killed not one, but all three men. To this day, the autopsy reports and names of the killers of Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego have not been released. However, last night, Jasmine Cannick, one of ESSENCE Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World, leaked the names of the two cops who she claims killed Ezell Ford. Unarmed killings, withholding of evidence, and desecration of the dead, inflicted on the THREE families whose loved ones were killed by police, would never, EVER, be accepted in this country if these men had been white. Never. Let alone all occurring within the same two weeks. Travesties all made possible by racism. 

“We need to come together and stop fighting each other because you’re African American, or Latino. Police are doing this to Latinos and African Americans, they aren’t doing this to white people.” 

–  Yanelly Abrego, Sister of Omar Abrego

Does this mean you need to organize a hands up rally to end racism? No. Even I am still critiquing and deconstructing my own position on playing the roll of organizer. Especially, since I, like many white people there, put my hands up and chanted: “Hands Up! Don’t shoot!” Ignoring a quiet voice in my head that said, “White people should be screaming ‘hands up’, while people of color put their hands up and chant back ‘don’t shoot’.” Which is a more accurate representation of the dynamics of our society. Similar to #IAmNotTrayvonMartin, various critiques and social media posts are now emerging about how uncomfortable people are seeing white people put their hands up, chanting the final words of Michael Brown. Why? Because white people are not and have never been Michael Brown.

Time and time again, I have heard from people in St. Louis that what is most needed and desired from white allies is not the organization of rallies (although attendance is appreciated), but for white people to confront racism in their selves, families, and communities. Of course, this is uncomfortable and takes courage. But it is not half as frightening as the realities portrayed in the video below that people of color must live as an “other” in America.

Compared to experiencing racism, confronting racism is a walk on the beach with a slight chill and hazy sunset. A walk that gets easier the more you do it and with the more company you have along the way.

White people have allowed white supremacy to reign supreme in America; and it is our job to smash racism. Not the duty of people of color who suffer the consequences of our individual and collective negligence. Racism in America begins and ends with white people. An ending white people have owed to those who suffer from the epidemic that is racism for four hundred plus years.

A better world eagerly waits for the final dawn of this racist society; a beautiful world where freedom and liberation are not just words, but a tangible reality for every single humyn being we walk amongst. But to walk upon her untainted surface, white people must embark together on a fight that requires many small steps. Small steps that will become jumps and leaps the more we confront personal and collective racism.

White people have an opportunity to stand on the right side of history. If we do it now, forty years from now our children will be able to live in a post-racism America. A society that I cannot fabricate in my mind because this one is so mired with oppression that the public execution of men of color without consequence has become the new normal. Like an addict fighting for sobriety, the first step to ending racism is admitting there is a problem. If you are ready to do it, pull up your bootstraps and let’s get uncomfortable, white people. Ready? Say it with me, “Hi, my name is ___________ and I am a racist.”

See? That wasn’t so bad. Now go out and change the world.

To find out more about you can do to end racism, please continue to educate yourself and your white peers about racism and the true history of society. If you would like to show monetary love, please donate to the memorial fund for Ezell Ford.

Ezell Ford RIP
This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alissa Kokkins and TheAntiMedia.org

Author: Alissa Kokkins

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50 Comments

  1. Alissa, speak for yourself. I am a white male who grew up around all ethnic groups and by far am not racist. I few everybody the same. Although there has been white supremacy in our country for WAY too long, there is also other races that are prejudice against other races. It's not just some whites being prejudice and ignorant, it's others as well! I agree, we shouldn't judge anyone by the color of their skin, but by their words and actions. We are all brothers and sisters. It's more citizens against law (police and politicians) than anything else.

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  2. cough cough BULLSHIT…….this is the moronic idiocracy way to CONTINUE and enable racism

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  3. Someone kick that white guy in the face please.

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  4. Your the most ill-informed person i have ever had the displeasure of reading, your article is close minded and your opinion is garbage, i refuse to apologize for my skin color. I grew up in the big city and was picked on because i was a "white boy" but you expect me to accept thats my fault and im supposed to feel sorry ? Fuck you.

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  5. the person that wrote this article is speaking for themselves, and proving that they are a fucking idiot. if you are white, you do not have to be racist anymore than if you are black you have to be racist or brown or whatthefuck ever. this is the most rediculous thing ive read in a long time.

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  6. If a white person grows up homeless and a black person grows up in the suburbs does the white person still have privilege? Is it fair that if they both apply for a college the assumption will be that the white kid had it easy while the black kid must have had to work harder for what he has? Lets stop labeling people based on their race. To label a white privileged is to say they didn't work for what they have, that is as bad as saying a black person is somehow less capable of taking care of themselves. Lying by saying the is white privilege is another way white people trick black people into staying in the ghetto by telling them the deck is stacked against them. Democrats have been suppressing blacks for 150yrs, first by saying they were worth less and should be slaves, then by saying they weren't capable of learning so shouldn't have a vote, then by saying they weren't good enough so they shouldn't get paid the same, finally they struck a tactic that worked, they convinced them that the deck was stacked too far against them so why should they try. The party hasn't changed just the means of achieving their goal. They have been in charge for 6yrs now, are you better off yet?

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  7. You're NEVER going to remove racism, people are going to hate whatever they want, hamas vs Israel are examples. By forcing people, you just create more issues, like we see with police on people forcing law. The world is imperfect, there are differences and opinions and governments that will do anything to keep attention off their own actions. But if all colors just realize, there is white mans blood in many people who cal them African American, and if those who think they're black, but actually brown, go to Africa claiming to be black/african, they would probably be called out on it and laughed at as Africans would know they arent black. I wrote it in a more easily understood statement followed by a Chris Rock video. ENJOY: "I'm going to help Chris Rock out here.. I agree 100% with what he is saying.. and with one thing added.. the lighter your skin, the more WHITE you have in you.. Unless you're straight from Africa, you arent black.. your BROWN.. somewhere in that family tree you got injected with whiteman blood.. so enjoy.. you're one of us.. in blood.. with an awesome built in tan, now lets work on your lifestyle.. and with that, let me introduce you to Chris Rock.. a couple videos to teach you to find that white man blood within you.. Look around.. your friends.. how much white do you SEE or HEAR in them? More or less then you? Is it the shade of white? their attitude, personality, lifestyle or their disrespect toward you and others that you notice in that shade of white? If you visited AFRICA and tried to act black, they'd look at you and point out what I am saying.. you arent AFRICAN or BLACK. http://youtu.be/f3PJF0YE-x4 "

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  8. "I am a racist. Not a white hood and robe wearing KKK racist. Nor a shaved head, swastika loving, Dr. Martens with red laces, neo-Nazi racist. I am a woman who walks through this world living the white experience of power/privilege plus prejudice, racist."

    So…. are you a "racist" because you hate non whites because of whatever horse shit reasons racists hate other races for? Or… are you saying that because you are white and "have" the "white experience" and "power and privileges" of being white you are racist by default even though you dont "hate" non whites?

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  9. BUAHAHAHAHAH . What a JOKE ! There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with you and SHAME on you for helping to keep the racial propaganda machine alive . You and people like you are the reason racism is still so prevalent , and in MANY areas reverse racism is far more obvious and blatant than your "typical" racism. You people stirringthis crap up and forcing these lies is why there is so much revers racism because the young minorities are being MADE to feel like they should be mad and that they ARE being slighted . This is encouraging a pattern of tit for tat that will keep escalating until more life is taken ! you are a SICK and TWISTED person if you write or believe any of the garbage drivel that has been written in this trash article . just sickening !

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  10. I'll definitely admit that I am racist, but don't stop reading there. I find racism in many people, but they just hate skin color. I hate ignorance in every race. A black man is different than a nigga and both are exremely different than a nigger. Don't own up to your races' stereotype and we will be cool!

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  11. Your racism keeps it alive every time you use the word, If you use the word, you are racist! Now stop fighting or leave our land.

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  12. I am not admitting I am racist towards race, creed, color. I am beyond the physical manifestations and representations of human beings. I am at the point where knowledge and influence is all there is. I am at the highest ascension of frequency, which is purple. The color of the Universe. Connected to nature/universe. I have no room left for petty physical difference. My only enemy is negative influence, and a lack of or illusions of knowledge. I expect you all to be as well. This is the age of information, not petty physical and material valueing or devaluing. Learn your roles as humanity. Change is coming, whether you have the knowledge or not. Mother natute yearns for change. Change is through difference. Difference is the literal key to advancement for the human race. It has been proven already through the cycles of nature that dividing from difference, racism, and religion are all man made. Take a look at the food chain, then look outside of the food chain. They are tolerant of eachother, yet we.. the "advanced" are not? You majority and masses have a few long strides before you get to where my mind is. Not to sound egotistical, because I care not for me. I am as unimportant as the rest of you. I just correlate and understand. All are capable of knowin/understanding. Use philosophy. Dissect the world and reality as I have.

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  13. Wow after reading this complete worthless slop, I am def against this site, and will work to bring it down.

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  14. If you had any sence of the definitions of the words, bias, impartial, unobjective or phrases like critical thinking or guilty till proven innocent, then wouldn't even be able to ask such a stupid question like that. Your question shows that you think officer Wilson isn't a human being and thus not worthy of the right to defend his own life.
    Mike Brown punched officer Wilson in face and tried to take his gun. At that point he was required to try and apprehend Brown, with lethal force if necessary. At that point Brown proved himself not only to be guilty of a felony but a violet felon as well.
    I know you don't like the idea of a policeman being considered a human being but that's to bad. The rest of us are humans and understand that officer Wilson is a human being and was in a fight for his own life and thankfully he was able to save himself.
    So the answer to your uninformed, childish, simple minded question is… At least one you dumbass!
    Got anymore stupid questions child genius?

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  15. "our land" the fuck you talking about son? this is every Americans land. Black white ghetto or not, they're part of our country and our citizens get that shit straight bro.

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  16. You know? what I can say with truth and conviction that I am NOT a racist! But I am bingeing to becoming a Hater with all the so called famous and not so famous people like the ones in the media and many others and so called reverends that just jump to the chance to make a name for themselves in the name of peace like now Thugs is the new word and mr Sharpton is come up with a plan and the prosecutor of Baltimore, who has no clue what is going on. All this makes me mad peace my royal ass if peace was wanted we would have it already. I have nothing more to say on this except a lot of good people of all races have lost there lives ,for nothing yea that's right NOTHING! the good Lord has a reason for everything But I will Never be part of racism not in my lifetime and I am 64 Born in the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn and now reside in Alabama. And this I can promos you is some thing that will never happen Including my children I raised them better like my parents raised me. Thank you for your time for reading this and on closing you have my word. I am what is known as an equal opportunity asshole if you hurt me or my family I will seek out revenge no mater what color you are.

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  17. You know? what I can say with truth and conviction that I am NOT a racist! But I am bingeing to becoming a Hater with all the so called famous and not so famous people like the ones in the media and many others and so called reverends that just jump to the chance to make a name for themselves in the name of peace like now Thugs is the new word and mr Sharpton is come up with a plan and the prosecutor of Baltimore, who has no clue what is going on. All this makes me mad peace my royal ass if peace was wanted we would have it already. I have nothing more to say on this except a lot of good people of all races have lost there lives ,for nothing yea that's right NOTHING! the good Lord has a reason for everything But I will Never be part of racism not in my lifetime and I am 64 Born in the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn and now reside in Alabama. And this I can promos you is some thing that will never happen Including my children I raised them better like my parents raised me. Thank you for your time for reading this and on closing you have my word. I am what is known as an equal opportunity asshole if you hurt me or my family I will seek out revenge no mater what color you are.

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  18. I find racism in myself and i hate it. It's easy to slide back into the us vs them thing. As humans we segregate, like attracts like. It's something we need to fight. I'm sad so many bigots come here to tare us down. They will be seen as the monsters they are in the future just like we see slave owners as monsters today.

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  19. Morgan O'Brien-Bledsoe i'm just so tired of the hate the betrayal the crime, the murders were all in the same country can't we work to improve our country? the hate needs to stop were all Americans were all humans, I know were different but we need to understand one another without attacking one another, this country will be destroyed from the inside if hate like this continues. black white yellow green it does not matter! come together my brothers and sisters.

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  20. This is pure white guilt. Im sorry but I'm not going to apologize.For what? a bunch of zinaphobic bigoted southern slave drivers inslaved a portion of there race? Its been over a hundred years its not anyone's fault anymore there all dead and gone now. Not my fault not your fault look at what happend to the Jews and the Chinese and even to other White's. The libaral media is instigating a lot of bullshit Ferguson and Baltimore are two good examples. You can take your white guilt hate mongering libaral media propaganda and shove it up your greedy gluten free asses.

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  21. Xenophobic* enslaved* their* you're* liberal* Maybe learn to spell before forming political opinions.

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  22. Ben Crook study up on logic, because yours is fallacious. You are attacking him personally to discredit his opinion, which is called an ad hominem.

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  23. What is this bitch smoking! It goes both ways lady! Now try to find a black person defending whites, you won't stupid!

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  24. What is this bitch smoking! It goes both ways lady! Now try to find a black person defending whites, you won't stupid!

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  25. Blacks arnt racist…ok. I grew up in Russia was adopted by a US couple as a kid. U know how much shit I get for being Russian… And guess what… A lot of it comes from black people. I have had service refused to me, stared at, questioned balcked at. Called a warmonger and oh ya my favorite commi. A lot of this comes from blacks, so don't tell me they arnt racist.

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  26. The problem is not about race. There are a great many problems. Each individuals particular set of problems are made up of a great many contributing factors, which include but are not limited to where you live, how much money you or your immediate family have at your disposal, your character, your actions, your honesty, your open-mindedness, your willingness ect ect ect……..
    To many times it has been proven that , regardless of race, human beings can rise above any adversity and achieve success with dignity.

    My life changed when I took responsibility for myself instead of blaming the world around me and the people in it for my problems and my situation. I have many black, brown, red, yellow and tan friends who feel the exact same way as I do. They do not want nor do they need any special treatment or recognition. They don't want white people or any other people to feel sorry for them or give them any kind of special treatment. They just want to be valued for what they do and not how they look.

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  27. "To this day, oppressive language and actions stumble out my being no matter how hard I try or aware I believe I am."

    No shit?

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  28. This is such a pile of horseshit. Unquestioned assumptions do not take the place of critical thinking… Uttering the phrase, "all white people", followed by whatever, IS ITSELF RACIST.
    I am not an institution, nor am I created, molded or commanded by an institution. I am simply white. Get the fuck off my ass about it, you goddamn culture warriors…

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  29. This is such a pile of horseshit. Unquestioned assumptions do not take the place of critical thinking… Uttering the phrase, "all white people", followed by whatever, IS ITSELF RACIST.
    I am not an institution, nor am I created, molded or commanded by an institution. I am simply white. Get the fuck off my ass about it, you goddamn culture warriors…

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  30. At the time of birth, all people are 100% equal, it is the world/adults who destroys the child's mind to be evil, hate, kill, for that the child knows nothing of this until it see's the world around them and see's this is how we are to be.

    No human is birthed into this world with hate or greed and or any other destructive thoughts, the human naturally grows and learns from the environment that it is in.

    All of us are taught division and division is what we live by.

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  31. When silly people argue over trivialities like characterizations in stead of focusing on the real issues then there is little …hope for resolve.

    The only way Humans can ever solve any problems in this world is to first acknowledge the fact that they are suffering from a mental illness disorder of the mind. No sane human being spends 500 + years plotting amongst themselves and their descendants in how to massacre people who have done them no harm, and so everyone can call it normality. No sane person wastes time moving people around the world to create chaos, and then invents Racism & Fascism and profess to be in their right mind. These people can not be described as ignorant, but mentally & insanely ill.
    We can not live by myths and fantasies and expect to find reality, as long as people live by the false concepts which we cannot solve these mysteries and this is why we can not find peace and harmony in life, we are for ever lost in the arrogance of a mind set who refuse to acknowledge the facts of reality that the rest of humanity is as important too, the problems we face in the world is we pretend the mistakes of the past must be ignored, how can we correct them?

    "We have to acknowledge nothing has changed."

    The reason we have no change the descendants of the problems we have today, are the people who is implementing laws which is based on injustice and criminality. One can not use poison as treatment to create solutions of a global mental problem, IF HATRED CREATES ONLY DESTRUCTION, and then hatred is a poison of the mind, and a poisoned mind can only produce more poisoned minds.

    It's time to seek a cure people…

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  32. More white people are killed in America by police then any other race..yet the black race do more crime???Y'all betty got talent learning to read stats other then what kind of shoes go with your saggy ass pants.

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