in 1968, America’s national anthem was being played at
the Olympics in Mexico City John
Carlos and Tommy Smith,
victorious African-American athletes, raised
their black-gloved clenched fists protesting
the suppression of
the rights of African
America” hollered “unpatriotic”.
Colin Kaepernick knelt as the national anthem was
being played, in support of the struggle for civil rights and
justice for Black Americans; “white
America” hollored and is still
Black men are being shot by American men
and women hired to “serve and to protect”
and “Black Lives Matters”- owing to these atrocities - is
born; true to past form, “white
America” hollers “un-patriotic”
and “All lives matter”.
In America today, collective
and thunderous “white voices” are being raised and
hurled, via social and national media, in demonization, anger,
and defiance at all those who dare to protest
against racism and economic injustice. Clearly, systemic racism in
America is alive and well!
in the 1960’s Nina Simone in her iconic rendition of
“Mississippi Goddamn” condeming Southern racism and
reflecting the anger and grief it fomented in her and on Black people
angrily asked the nation “Can’t you see it… can’t
you feel it … it’s all in the air….? “
Taken by her grief and exasperated, she continued, “Can’t
take this pressure no longer … Somebody say a prayer.”
people have been awaiting an answer to their/our grief. Apparentlly,
no one said a prayer. Nothing much seems to have changed!
over 400 years the voices of the “white european”
population of this nation has either been “essentially”
silent on the issue of their “collective responsibility”
and/or have been stoically and steadfastly
unresponsive and unmoved by the implication of the question and
thus, in a state of perpetual deniability;
most often they offer platitudes of “plausable”
deniability of their individual involvement
in the tragic and
abhorrent enslavement of Africans. Also,
for the concomitant dehumanization process which ensued therefrom.
Their historical social mantra, in my view, has been, “
Get over it! …That was yesterday... This is today!... We are
all Americans!… Let’s move on!”
self assurance? What arrogance? What
unmitigated and shameless gall?
Truthfully, one should not be surprised! … Theirs’
is a well known strategy and an old tactic. It was once used by the
German people, after W.W. II, to deny and absolve
themselves from being accused of complicity in the
attempted extermination of six million Jews.
So, why would it not be employed by white
America? In reality, at least to me, such behaviour is but another
immoral form of the old non-thinking “super patriotic”
clamor practiced by the ignorant: “My country right or wrong…
my country”. If one replaces “country” with “white
people” the analogy is clear.
the response of some who will attempt to
deny the objectivity of the above
statements by suggesting that in comparing
what was done in Hitler’s Germany to what has
and is being been done in America I am ipso facto accusing the
American nation of “genocide”;
thus, therefore, I am being “unpatriotic”. Again,
another sleight of hand pseudo-intelectual maneuver, to provide a
“spin” -- a pathetic attempt at evasion and misdirection
by those who at all cost must deny responsibility of their collective
that in mind I will attempt to put that Ill
conceived argument to rest.
was done in Germany WAS indeed attemped genocide
by Hitler with, in general, the tacit support of
the German people – the purposefull EXTERMINATION of a
people by another, with the designed intention to “ethnically
cleanse” and “purify” the nation.
same has NOT been and is NOT the case in America!
The overt national attempt has never been extermination! And why not?
Free Black labor was an essential and indispensable vehicle for the
development and growth of industrial America. Genocide would have
American historical reality, in my view, is much
different and can be divided into
three (3) phases though not always
necessarily distinct. Succinctly:
– the placing of Africans in bondage and servitude to white
America originally conceived to be in perpetuity and designed to
derive material and social benefit from their labor and service. (A
fundamental difference from extermination)
– the forceful dehumanization and transformation of Africans
into beasts of burden by the use of force BOTH physical (whiplash,
branding irons etc.) AND psychological (the use of terror, legal and
illegal —fear of maiming and death)
AND CONTROL – the use of the nation’s institutions
(educational, religious, social and military/police); its
structural and societal ordinances to guarantee that Africans and
their offspring peacefully adhere to the position imposed upon them
by the racially superior people of the nation.
Bennett, African American author of “The Shaping of America”
explains just how this process was used:
can use diametrically opposed methods to accomplish the same end. He
can forcibly deny the Oppressed Education , thereby limiting their
social and economic possibilities, or he can forcibly “educate”
the oppressed, thereby giving them his values and making them
instruments for his purpose.”
would strongly suggest that the increasing contemporary call for
“law and order” could be viewed as a contemporary
extension of this phase—keeping the oppressed in their places.)
the anticipated accusations and
attacks I expect from the “priviliged” can perhaps
be removed from theIr unlimited arsenal of
defense and denials! I am not certain that
me quickly add before I am purposefully misinterpreted to justify or,
for their purposes, give credence to views like
those expressed by Congressman Robert Pittinger (R.NC), who said of
the protesters in Charlotte “ they hate white people because we
are successful and they are not”. (He has since apologized).
that mind-set it is clear that it behooves me to unequivocally
and unapologetically state to all those who may choose to mis-read
this piece that : “ I DO NOT HATE WHITE PEOPLE OR HOLD ANY
ANIMOUS TOWARDS THEM!.” One cannot
erase history one can only try to change its course.
am also convinced that one cannot
change human behaviour with hate. Hate consumes and destroys the soul
and the human spirit.
It is never a redemptive force!
(Here I have paraphrased Dr. King.)
let me also add : Logically, my personal
exculpation does not ipso facto mean that
what I have said regarding “not hating white people”
should be taken at face value. Only my present and future
behaviour AND, of course, time, in the long run,
will substantiate my assertion. In addition, not hating “white
people” – and I truthfully do
not -- does not, in any way or form,
again, collectively speaking, exhonorate
“white” America of their responsability
or exorcise the demons of institutional and
collective racism from their psyche and
from the nation --- its existential
original sin. Neither does it
solve or reduce the stench of its
existing contemporary racist practices.
Had this been so the
nation, as a “just nation and exceptional” would not
still be carrying the spurs in its uterus.
question of whether or not “Black Lives Matters” would
today be mute and not submerged and subsumed within the universal
proposition that ALL LIVES MATTER – an undeniable truth-- and
JUSTICE would be the law of the land!
physical and psychological shackles imposed on Africans by this
nation and kept in place by its well oiled
and organized social machinery – a SYSTEM of “institutional
racism” that gave birth to much of what the nation has defined
as “deviant” and “antisocial” by African
people, is an almost, objectively speaking, an undeniable truism;
one that is, to me, irrefutable by anyone seriously
desirous of truth.
me to remind readers that Dr. Joy DeGruy, a
reknown Social Scientist and Researcher, has theoretically
described this socially unacceptable
behavior as the result of a “Post Enslavement Traumatic
Syndrome Disorder” affecting segments of Black America.)
spite of the above, it would be irrational and
immoral for me to “hate white people” especially in light
of the history of the involvement of so many young and old courageous
“white” people who sacrificed and placed their lives and
limbs in jeopardy in pursuit of justice for African people and for
the America of which Dr. King spoke--- namely a “Beloved
CommunitY.” However, they are the exceptions… people
whose hearts were touched by the Creator!
spite of this, white America, (to be kind),
seemingly suffering from an acute collective ethnic malaise of
“selective amnesia”, have vigorously
persisted in attempting
to suggest to Black America and themselves
that they – the “priviliged class” -- are NOT
responsible for the nation’s problems of race and justice.
Societaly, they “ Just Blame The Victims.“ How ludicrous
and obscene! How disingenuos!
find it morally difficult to comprehend the behavioral denials of a
people who constantly and unabashedly proclaim their morality to the
world while eschewing, for example, the struggles in which “Black
Lives Matter” are engaged. Yes, all lives—ALL lives--
morally matters, but, if BLACK LIVES have been historically excluded
from the “ALL” in the nation, --as it has been—and
from the above proposition by “white people”, then Black
people, as Malcolm preached, must, “by any means necessary”,
vouchsafe its inclusion in the “ALL” of the major
premise. I offer the following as an “aide- de-memoir for those
who may want to contend that in America “Black Lives” has
denial of the full humanity of Africans (“3/5ths of a man”)
through the plethora of violence i.e. (lynchings, segregation,
jim-crowism, the limitations placed on education, access to justice
and economic viability and now the random shooting of unarmed young
Black men) heaped upon the enslaved speaks for itself and are self
evident truths of the exclusion from the ALL and the culpability and
ultimate responsability, collectively speaking, of a nation whose
wealth and priviliges were derived from the sweat and blood of
enslaved Africans and has been inherited by their great and
Baldwin in his much celebrated book “The Fire Next Time”
(1963) clinically addresses the issue of the dehumanization of Black
people by the country that enslaved them. He writes: “
The crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen and for
which neither I , nor time nor history will ever forgive them, is
that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of
lives and do not know it or want to know it. But it is not
permissible that the authors of such destruction should also be
innocent. It is the innocence that constitutes the crime.”
was not alone in his poignant and acerbic assesment of the country.
His was but another voice in the long history of Black resentment and
opposition to the conditions imposed upon them indicating a clear
comprehension of the inhuman functional space they occupied within
the structure of the nation.
not as unforgiven as Baldwin but equally cutting and explicit in his
criticism Frederick Douglass in 1852 , speaking to abolitionists in
Rochester N.Y., rhetorically asked “What to the Negro is your
4th of July?; answering his own question he added : “…
a day that reveals to him …the gross injustice and cruelty to
which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham:
your boasted liberty an unholy license ; your national greatness,
swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless;
your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence. Your shouts
of liberty and equality, hollow mockery! Your prayers and hymns, your
sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and
solemnity are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and
hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace
a nation of savages. …”
remarks, I underscore, were made in 1852! Has Justice Ginsberg read
that text? It would seem not! Had she, her visceral reaction to
Kaepernick et.al. might have been different.
this the year 2016 a growing number of African Americans are asking
similar questions, for example, of the National anthem and the flag.
What do they really mean? Granted the shackles are absent, so too
are the visible scars of the flesh ripping whiplash and many of the
other indications of the enslavement of yesterday but the state of
the Black race in a nation of affluence and alleged “justice”
and “morality” remains essentially the same.
fact that an African American was elected president has not
fundamentally altered the conditions of Blacks, Brown, and Red people
– all people of color. Why not? Because a nation of powerful
white people, have politically opposed it… His Presidency
threatened their perception of self and hubris. White males, in
general, continue to view themselves as the center of the universe!
Fanon, the African-Martinican/French psychiatrist, in his book
“Black Skins White Masks” wrote:
a fact: white men consider
superior to Black men.
another fact: Black men
prove to white men at all
richness of their
the equal value of their
Gaye once sang “Change is gonna come.” Sadly, for the
nation, “ it ain’t come yet.” This too is a fact!
... Perhaps the major domestic dilemma confronting facing
contemporary America… there is an ever growing sentiment
across the nation of “NO JUSTICE NO PEACE.”
my perspective “white” America must “man-up”
in the same manner that Pope Francis did when he gave his “mea
culpas” for “crimes” committed by his Church
against the people of Latin America. He humbly begged forgiveness and
began on a mission to atone for the sins of his Church. So too must
white America. She cannot continue to deny her prime culpability in
the enslavement of a people and continue to function as if Africans
-- still suffering from her initial actions -- swam to these shores,
placed chains around their ankles and
necks, changed their names, volunteered to work the fields and mines
for free and gave white men permission to bed their women. Not on
your cotton picking life!
have, if you will, attempted to diagnose the root cause of what, if
left pragmatically unattended, could be a contributing factor in the
demise of America. Hyperbole? I think not! I do not believe that
white America really fathoms the depth of anger, resentment and rage,
harbored and kept in check by African Americans. If they did, they
could not remain silent. This is not a nation of fools!
poet Langston Hughes in his “Lenox Avenue Mural” asked
happens to a dream deferred?
it dry up
a raisin in the Sun?
fester like a sore
And then run?
Does it stink like
crust and sugar over --
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
thought of an ensuing racial explosion in America is totally
terrifying and unacceptable. However, to deny that possibility in
today’s America is to be disingenuous. I speak not of winners
or losers or its rationality. In every war there are “winners
and losers.” This would just be another. The operative word is
“possibility.” There is no reasonable manner in which to
negate the continued existence of Black rage. I was taught that an
“exploding” volcano is much more devastating and
destructive than an “erupting” one. The “differed
dream” is also present.
when police officers in Baltimore who were acquitted of all charges
in the death of Freddy Gray, Charles M. Blow, an op-ed columnist
for the New York Times wrote that on learning of the verdict he was
“incandescent with rage.” So too was I! Fortunately for
me, and I believe also for Mr. Blow, we did not explode; instead our
tablets and voices became our weapons of choice. At my age—82,
I cannot and would not shoulder an AR-50. Even if I could, I would
Drs. William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs in their seminal work “Black
Rage” published in 1968 – after the Black revolt of the
era —explained the existing rage the wrote:
people continue to revolt against laws and customs that are deadly
and humiliating. The voice of Black America has been heard in the
explosions of Watts, Newark, and Detroit. Aggression leap from wounds
inflicted and ambitions spiked. It grows out of oppression and
capricious cruelty… People bear all they can and, if required,
bear even more. But if they are Black, in present-day America, they
have been asked to shoulder too much. They have had all they can
stand. They will be harried no more. Turning from their tormentors,
they are filled with rage.”
the shooting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, for
example, an overt expression of that rage? Were the alleged
perpetrators subconsciously pursuing Claude Mckay’s , the
Jamaican poet’s, exhortation :
we must die – let it not be like hogs
and penned to an inglorious
round us bark the mad and
Making their mock at
Oh Kinsmen we must meet
Though far outnumbered
let us show
Like men we will face
Pressed to the wall,
the shooters have more than they could stand? Only they and God
incensed “White people” and folks like me—filled
with rage but abhorring violence and revenge-- will, in unison, decry
and deplore the assassination of the officers but, alas, for
different reasons. White people and the officers are members of the
priviliged class and as such the officers who perished –
innocent as they were--, were defending the status quo which,
ironically, included the lives of the oppressed class. They were
mourned by white people for paying the supreme price for doing what
was expected of them. Therein lies the insanity of the nation’s
continued trekking on the road of racism, avarice and greed.
folks like myself also mourn the loss of the officers --they were
fellow human beings --as we mourn the loss of the unarmed Africans
who have died at the hands of their “protectors”. I am
cognizant however, that white people, in generality, do not share my
pain. Instead we hear from them questions as to the motivations of
the unarmed victims. The collective “innocence” of
“white people” somehow always seems to surface.
again it is Baldwin who makes the critical diagnosis. He writes:
people, cannot, in generality,
taken as models as how to live.
Rather, the white man
himself, is in
some need of new
will release him from
place him, once again, in fruitful
communion with his own
as we listen to the trumpets of Donald J. Trump and his Legion of
“trumpeters” who boisterously proclaim that the country
is divided but offer no healing balm or comforting salve… only
more toxins and venom, their seems to be little hope of moving
forward unscathingly. Sadly, “We”, as a nation -- to
paraphrase the poet Robert Frost in speaking of himself-- still “have
miles to go before we sleep”-- especially in a bed of justice
and peace . That too is another uncomfortable truism, which I
believe, we face. Pessimism? Perhaps! I want to be wrong! I ask
however, that you listen to the cacophony of the “Trumpeters”
and the persistent silence of the lambs.
have learned to abhor violence in all of its forms whether it be by
individuals or by the State. Where once, as a young man, I subscribed
to the notion that “Power comes from the barrel of a gun”
and to the exigencies of wars of “National Liberation”
and walked with the “Little Red Book” in my back pocket;
age has endowed me with a modicum of wisdom. I am now committed to
the philosophy of non-violence as the ultimate instrument for social,
political and economic transformation. Violence begets violence. It
constitutes an unending, anti-human, vicious cycle. Humanity must
condemn violence in all its forms… including the death penalty
and all wars.
transformation I envision will only occur when those who believe in
Justice and Peace together demand it. President Obama recently said
“ Change happens typically not because somebody on high decides
it is going to happen, but rather at the grassroots level when enough
people come together that the force the system to change. “
Obama echoed Frederick Douglass who told us that “Power
concedes nothing without a demand… it never has and it never
will.” Demands need not be violent. Ask Ghandi. Ask Dr. King.
Violence dehumanizes the perpetrators and the victim.
a corollary to the above, In my view, it is hypocritical for
religious institutions to support a violation of their commandments
under the guise of praying for the soul and giving comfort to the
soon to be executed then watching as he breaths his or her last!
They too are conscious participants in an act of violence.
Similarly, It is equally hypocritical and morally indefensible –
my view—for a Justice of the U.S, Supreme Court -- the
nation’s highest arbiter of Justice for “ALL” its
people -- to publically describe as “dumb” an action
which , constitutionally, is neither prohibited or illegal simply
because the chosen method of protestation is percieved as an insult
to the sensibilities of SOME members of the nation; especially by the
perpetrators of the act being protested.
is much more insulting for me that a member of an ethnic group that
suffered so much would decry peaceful and legitimate protestations in
defense of a flag or a anthem. For me, it is always, “people
position expressed by the jurist describes the profundity of the
fault lines in the nation. It is more so when one considers the
nature of the grievance and it’s seemingly interminable
Kaepernick’s--the lighting rod for the Justices’
vitriolic commentary-- was quoted in the NY Times responding to the
criticism of his as “DUMB”. Hopefully It will compel a
revisiting by the judge of her comments. He said:
“As I was reading
different articles, I came across one that was talking about
scientific discussion of pathology and how white critique on Black
protests has always been used to try to delegitimize it by calling
it “idiotic, dumb, moronic or stupid,” things of that
nature hoping to sidestep the real issue.”
the time of this writing the Judge had not yet apologized for her
comments. Since then she has by stating:
aware of the incident or its
purpose, my comments
dismissive an harsh.
should have declined to respond.”
my commitment to the sanctity of life, and my fear and repulsion of
the possibility that the rising tide of Blacks rage long repressed
within the souls of Black folks, and the increasing level of white
fear. may one day, in the not too distant future, God forbid, break
the dam that has repressed both rage and fear. Conscious of this dire
possibility I believe, without being “messianic”, that it
is my moral responsibility to offer a non-violent potentially
preventative curative prescription… if that is at all still
possible. Why the question? Because I am not certain if the bulls are
still in their stalls.
the opening paragraphs of his historic speech deploring the war in
Vietnam in which he voiced his opposition of it, Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. reminded those congregated at the
hallowed halls of Riverside church of the opening
statement in the letter of invitation sent by the “Concerned
Clergy and Laity”. “There
comes a time when silence is betrayal…” On
that night -- April 4th 1967--
Dr. King refused to be silent any longer.
To do so would be betrayal!
with emotion he proceeded to articulate to the world within and
beyond that “ magnificent house of worship” the reason
for his presence at the pulpit. I paraphrase:
“it is a time to
break silence for all those who
believe that “the moral arc of the
universe is tilted towards justice”. He
broke his silence . Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. practiced
what he preached. He “would study
war no more!” White America should study racism and Injustice
have no personal illusions of who I am, real or imagined, nor do I
remotely pretend to have either the spiritual, moral, or physical
attributes of Dr. King. Men and women like
he are few. They are called by the Creator to iluminate our lives
with universal existential truths. I have not been so chosen!
Nonetheless, given the crisis I foresee, feel and sense for “it’s
all in the air” - trepidatingly - I hasten to call upon “white
America” to break it’s historical silence; to raise, in a
harmonious chorus of concerned human beings its collective voice in
unison against the Anti-black, anti-poor bigotry, and the
injustices, the avarice, and the greed which has Impregnated and
continues to permeate the entire fabric of the nation. Some may query
“Why white people and not “BLACK folks too?” My
answer is straight forward. “White people” have been the
enslavers; the possesors of the power and control of the nation. THEY
ARE THE ONES WHO DETERMINE THE ULTIMATE DIRECTION OF AMERICA.
my view, for white people today to repeat to Black America, what LBJ
said to those who were protesting the war in Vietnam, would be
tantamount to a non committment to the radical exorcism that we so
desperately need. It would be another attempt at denying
responsibility as was president Johnson’s. His was, in my
view, a ruse to include the “Anti-war and the “Freedom
Now” demonstrators in a dialogue with his administration aimed
at defusing the existing anger that consumed the nation.
quoted the prophet Isiah by reading ”Come let us reason
together… though your sins be red as scarlett … they
shall be white as snow …”
he did not read the entire lesson. It reads: “ ... if you are
willing and obedient you will eat the good things of the land…
but if you resist and rebel you will be devoured by the sword”
(Isiah 1:18 – 20). Then, as today, the key required
ingredients are “obedience” and “non rebellion or
resistance. Shades of Trump’s center piece in race relations …
LAW AND ORDER. Whose “law?” Whose “order?”
is my contention that The responsibility of morally fumigating of
America rests with folks. Black folks must see that they do or we
will ALL perish.
is a decisive juncture in a nations quest for greatness which, if not
taken, propels that nation into an abyss of darkness and self
destruction. In my view this is that moment. White America must
I see it, there is not much light at the head of the tunel.
segment of white America -- those who truly adhere to the sacred
principles of Justce, of Peace, of Equality, of Love of humankind,
and who, in my judgment, are morally obligated to save the nation
from itself must now, without any equivocation, step front and center
and break their silence as Dr. King did.
In unison, they must raise their voices bellowing for the world to
hear… “Racism and Injustice in All of its forms is
UNAMERICAN and MUST AND WILL BE ERADICATED … SO HELP US GOD!
alone however; will not suffice! Their MUST be CONSCIOUS ACTION FOR
CHANGE…. WHITE AMERICA MUST STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH “BLACK
People ” that is, if they sincerely believe that “ALL”
lives matter. One symbolic way of so doing could be that on Sunday,
November 6th ---the day before Black Solidarity Day (November 7th)
every church sermon state as its major theme That WHITE America
stands in Solidarity with BLACK America ; Church bells, at an agreed
upon time, nationally, should ring or chime announcing the beginning
of the collective battle to end racism ; to make the national anthem,
the flag, and the Constitution be what they ought to be.
white people must pressure the nation to follow the example of
Georgetown University’s compensatory action towards its sold
slaves and to accept the United Nations recommendation on
REPARATIONS. This would be an unequivocal indication of its
committment to a new America. The continued use of the difficult
question of how reparations should be provided and administered—a
maneuver to disregard the recommendation -- will not suffice. Human
beings were able to reach the moon and return ergo human beings can
device a pragmatic and viable solution to the existing difficulty.
America must say to the world through its deeds that there will be
heretofore….but ONE America. America must confront the face it
sees in the mirror!
Perhaps! Impossible? I think not. Considering the alternative, I am
hopeful that “white” America gives it a try!