The recent massacre of nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, led me to a night of recalling as many of the atrocities that white people have committed against African Americans as I could. I did this because I wondered how much more black Americans can take of this seasonal slaughter. I won’t list the ones I came up with here because there are all well-known, suffice it to say, as an old slave once said “They did everything to us but eat us.” I came away from my musings on tragedy dumbfounded that we have not since the time of slavery attempted to mount any kind of mass armed rebellion to protect ourselves from their brutality.
Whites often accuse us of having chips on our shoulders, but who among the knowledgeable white population will not admit that had what have befallen black Americans happened to them, they would not have chips on their shoulders, but machine guns? Who among the white informed would disagree that the American African people has suffered long and unanswered wrongs brutal and mocking without yet offering an appropriate organized confrontational response as they would and have done?
The ordeal of slavery was so brutal that only the strongest belief in a merciful deity could have brought slaves through it. These slaves passed that unwavering trust in God on generation after generation and when they were allowed to read and write, they developed a theology around that strong religious confection. Tenets of this theology were a staunch belief that God would reward our suffering in the here-after, that God would hold us up according to measure of our faith, and the important one – the power of forgiveness.
If we are able to forgive our enemies our capacity for love increases and we become better persons; better even more than our oppressors. This power of forgiveness is what was witness at the bond hearing of the confessed murder Dylann Roof last week when to a person the family members of the victims in the church massacre told the accused that they forgive him for killing their loved ones.
Astonishing what our ancestors have passed on to us, but this ability to forgive makes us targets of hatred even as it makes us better humans. We have forgiven so such; just in the last three years the black community has been under siege all absorbed by our unwavering faith.
I’m wondering how much more of this we will undergo before we seek remedies outside of faith.
All the while there are too many whites who are aware of the mistreatment of Africans in America, but are silent in their response to the racism they see and because of that they would view a violent revolt as an unwarranted.
Then there are, regrettably, some white folks who sincerely deny that there are any mistreatments of black Americans. Some of this ignorance is ruse to prevent remedy, but the rest is largely fueled by Conservative talk radio and the FOX News talking heads who feed the doubts of the white people who watch and listen to them. These people would only think that we were biting the hand that feeds us should we revolt.
And then there are old white people like the group that forms at the tables in the sitting room at the YMCA I go to. They gather there every morning to reinforce each other’s invented fears that they are losing ground to a trifling and undeserving black and Hispanic population, and they mourn for their grandchildren in this new America. These old folks would see a black rebellion as a needless overreaction to petty abuse by a people who are now allowed to drink from any fountain, sit anywhere on a public bus, eat in any restaurant, and work civil service jobs.
Then among the heedless white population are the white people I see in Walmart with their (EBT) food stamp cards buying the prescribed items with a gum chewing grandeur that endorses their political stupidity; they vote for the same politicians who work to deny them this help and much more. They vote for these regressive politicians because these politicians belong to the same political party as their parents and send them subliminal messages that they will hold them up above the violent urban blacks and the slow witted southern blacks in jobs, housing, and schools. These whites would see a black rebellion a surprising act of ungratefulness.
Lastly there are the hundreds of white militias that keep Walmart out of ammo who would welcome a black rebellion to put into use all the weekend practice in the woods they have gone through since President Obama took their country away from them. Dylann Roof’s ideology comes from the latter group. He like many white supremacists wanted to start a race war as a means to solving the racial problem black Americans pose for them. With hundreds of white armed militias and militarized police forces, the complete genocide of black America would be an easily accomplished task.
Still, they have a history that compels rebellion; they lynched thousands of us over the years, even hundreds of the victorious New Negro soldiers who came home from World War One looking to live in a more accommodating America were lynched in their U.S. military uniforms. We marched and protested in response.
The May 31/ June 1, 1921, white attack on the black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also known as Black Wall Street, the wealthiest black community in the United States, resulted in the area being burned to the ground with numinous loss of lives. 30 or so World War One veterans armed themselves and were ready to defend the black community but they were convinced that the proper authorities would handle the situation. Why did these racist beasts even bomb a black church killing four little black girls without arousing sufficient anger in the black community to undergo armed retribution?
They jail and kill our leaders; their policemen shoot us down in the streets all with impunity. And now a young white boy, perhaps instructed by that history, but surely well-versed in the Confederate flag as a symbolism of hatred and encouraged by the recent reluctance of the judicial system to hold George Zimmerman and police officers accountable for their violent acts against black people and the bias circus on FOX News and elsewhere enters into our consciousness as the latest evil to confront our faith.
I am at a loss to fathom where the depth of our great patience ends; I only know that it will be their intractability towards violence that will lead to the point of our overload – the point when the burden becomes so unbearable to black America that it questions its faith…or does it explode?[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1451662467]