I haven’t written on this blog in a minute, but after checking my pending posts I noticed that I have some good stuff that has yet to see the light of day. So at the risk of being outdated in my material, I’m just going to post the shit and keep it moving. With that said, this post was written in July of 2016. Enjoy!
WARNING: DIS FINNA BE A LOOOOOOONG BLOG POST!
I’m going to attempt not to be all over the place with this post. It’s been a minute since I’ve even posted anything real so sorry for that, but with everything that’s going on, I don’t have time to catch y’all up on my personal life.
Let’s get on with the get on, shall we?
To give some context to what I’m about to write, here’s a video of Louis C.K. explaining historical context (the relevance of which I will expound on in a moment.)
Okay, so I am a fervent believer in karma. Whatever you put into the universe is coming back. Skrong.
And deep down inside, I think most people and societies have a sense of karma. Hence popular expressions like, “chickens coming home to roost,” “what goes around, comes around,” and, of course, the George Washington on the face of Mt. Rushmore of karmic sayings “you reap what you sow.” Yes, the last one is biblical but you don’t have to go to church to understand it.
Any who… a lot of foul stuff is going on in America and it’s all centered around race – specifically crimes committed against Black people.
But what – oh delicate, gentle reader – is new?
To prove my point, here’s a brief (and very broad) history of racial systems as it pertains to Black people in the U.S. …
1620 – 1865: Slavery
1865 – 1968: Discrimination, Lynchings, Jim Crow
1969 – Present: Diet Racism (of the de jure and de facto variety)
So, with all of this unfairness going on in history, many White Americans have always had a sense of uneasiness around Black people. For example, during slavery, slave holders had the fear that their “lazy, no-good, untrustworthy, sneaky niggers” would run away or stage a rebellion and kill all the White people. This feeling was so strong that extreme precautions were taken in order to police slaves and scare them into submission. Although this didn’t always work and slave revolts/runaways were a reality, the measures taken were effective enough to keep slavery economically viable for a few more hundred years.
After slavery was over, there were numerous lynchings and riots as well as laws and policies created in order to systematically disenfranchise Black people and keep them out of White neighborhoods. These laws were created because of hatred, but mostly because of (drum roll please) fear.
Do you see where I’m going with this… ???
It’s cool. I’ll keep going.
Despite all of the disenfranchisement-ness going on, over time Black people were able to become successful doctors, teachers, pullman porters, lawyers, journalists, morticians, janitors, pilots, I.T. people, housewives, house-husbands, dancers, beggars, criminals, veterinarians, rappers, golfers, etc., etc., etc. and the list goes on and on and on.
And although many of the laws that governed our society changed in result of the more enlightened times, the original mindset behind these policies and organizations remained in place.
Here’s an example… During slavery times Black people’s lives weren’t valued as much as White people. So if a Black person was killed, finding and convicting their murderer was not a priority. And if their murderer was White, forget about it. On the flip side, if a Black person was convicted of a crime, they were charged to the fullest extent of the law (and then some). This supported systems like penal labor which kept slavery going.
Fast forward to today. Although Black people are no longer slaves (and are considered an entire person) and the Civil Rights Act was passed (among other laws that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, age, etc.) the mindset when it comes to policing Black communities and valuing Black lives has not changed at all.
So just like in slavery times, if a Black person is killed, their murderer is going to face less prison time (if they have to serve any time, that is) than the murderer of a White person.
Sidebar: As many complaints as I’ve heard about slavery movies, I’m still a big proponent of them for the reasons that I’ve laid out above. They tell you A LOT about our present society.
I’ve laid out a lot of facts just now but I want to revisit fear and chickens coming home to roost. And I’m going to keep it really real…
As much as slavery was economically beneficial for White people, it was horrible as fuck. And no matter what historians want to tell themselves, slave masters back then knew slavery was shitty. They knew that slaves would have rather had a better life. In the back (and maybe even the front) of their minds, slave masters knew that these dark-skinned human beings that cooked, cleaned and did everything for them resented this “peculiar institution”. That’s gotta be scary. Knowing that the people you rely on the most, hate your guts and have every reason to kill you in your sleep.
And when slavery was over, White people continued to give Black people hell. And because of this, they constantly feared retaliation.
And nowadays, fear of Black retaliation is not as evident but it still exists. Phrases like “race war” or “race baiting” are indicative of a fear that if anyone brings up race, it’ll make the Black people angry. Then we (Black people) will suddenly remember that this country has not been very kind to us.
As if we ever forgot.
Every Black American family – I PROMISE you – has had some negative history as regards race. And we don’t have etch-a-sketch memories. We have centuries of knowledge about racism that has been passed on through generations for our mental, physical and emotional preservation. There has been no “reset” button on our feelings just like there’s been no reset button on America’s unfair treatment toward Blacks.
There is no “bringing up the past.” The past has not passed.
My grandma (may she rest in peace) never woke up one day and declared to the family, “You know what? I’m totally over my brother’s lynching.” To be honest, she never talked about it, which goes to show you how deeply buried this pain was for her and the rest of my family. A pain that has never gone away.
And I can say with confidence that every Black family has a similar story. Some unfathomable tragedy that has happened on the basis of race, that can never be undone. That they’ve had to move on from. That is now embedded in their DNA. That is added to the heap pile of indignities and injustices never to be remedied.
So the collective American fear is that one day, these proverbial chickens will some day come home to roost. And the sleeping (Black) giant is going to wake up and retaliate for every past grievance.
I’ve heard so many people warn against conversations about racism so as not to incite a ‘race war.’ And to be honest, I don’t know if I believe in this particular boogeyman. All of the races in America are too inextricably connected for there to be a successful, clearly defined war of Black people against White people. It’s ridiculous.
But I do know that what we’re seeing in terms of protests, outrage and activism in terms of police brutality is not surprising whatsoever considering this country’s history.
Cell phone video footage has played a huge part in connecting people all over the world and shining a light on the unfairness that’s been playing out in this country for centuries.
And this, I believe, is the karma I referred to earlier. It’s the “fruitage” of what was sewn so many years ago. For years, Black people have been on the receiving end of a different kind of America. And it’s scary for us. But there’s a bigger picture. If this has been allowed to go on at all, it means that we don’t currently live in the country that many of us thought we did.
That’s a chilling thought for those who didn’t know.
Black people, of course, have been saying this for years but there’s nothing like providing visual evidence. And if a picture says a thousand words, a video says ALL THE WORDS.
Police officers having the ability to detain, beat up or kill citizens for no reason, is scary as shit no matter what color your body meat is wrapped in.
My White friends have seen these videos and they are shook as hell.
They didn’t know that this was a real thing. And now that they do, I’ve gotten a ton of messages from several of my White friends asking when’s the next “Black Lives Matter” meeting or are there any protests they can go to with me. I’m actually going to one tonight with some White friends of mine.
The gravity of the situation has finally hit. People are entertaining the for real possibility that we could be living in a police state. (I don’t know about all that). But the way things have played out over the past few centuries, crazier things have happened.
Either way, the (smart) people understand that if you give police officers this kind of power – the power to murder innocent people with impunity – then you are essentially declaring war on the citizen population.
And yes, all cops aren’t bad. But it doesn’t matter if there’s just one cop being given permission to go out and wrongfully kill people he deems scary… it’s still a problem. In a sense, Black people are canaries for the rest of this country. Race is at the center of this but it doesn’t take a genius to know that we all are affected.
So in conclusion, I think that fear of Black people starting a race war in retaliation for what’s happened to us has prohibited a very necessary conversation about race. I feel that addressing racism and all its many facets is the ONLY THING that will upgrade the United States to the status that it pretends to be at now.
Yes, acknowledging racism, the thing that many White Americans have been fighting their entire lives is the only thing that will set this country free from eating itself alive. And police being able to kill innocent people in the communities that they’re supposed to protect and serve is the very definition of eating oneself alive.