The Cost of Escapism

So many people like to characterize black people as lazy, criminal, manipulative, ignorant, ….and so much more …but I doubt any other ethnic group in this nation could have endured what black people have endured.

While Americans are up in arms about terrorism, those same Americans have never really acknowledged that America has practiced terrorism against black people for literally hundreds of years. Just yesterday I was reading about how white people in the South resented black men who came home from war. They came home empowered; the war made them realize they didn’t have to take racism and its resultant discrimination. One soldier (and there are many stories about how black soldiers were treated when they got finished with their tours of duty) was Isaac Woodard. He was a sergeant, and was on a Greyhound Bus, traveling from Georgia to North Carolina. He had to go to the bathroom and asked the driver, who was white, if he would make a stop for the same. The driver got angry and I don’t think he stopped. What he DID do, however, was notify his “boys.” At the next stop, the bud was met by a group of whites, including the Chief of Police, Linwood Shull. The angry white men dragged Woodard off the bus and beat him nearly to death. In the midst of the fight one of his eyes was gouged out by a nightstick of one of the officers who was participating. Woodward was then taken to jail. He was blind for the rest of his life. (http://www.blackpast.org/aah/woodard-isaac-1919-1992).

And he was a member of the beloved military; he had gone to defend his country. Normally, that gives you iconic status …but only if you were white.

When you read and study the treatment of blacks in this country, it is nothing short of remarkable that blacks have continued to stand, to push through, and to succeed. The War on Drugs has its own political history and purposes; one of its goals was to continue to control black people and it has by resulting in so many blacks being incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes that America can now boast of incarcerating more people than any other modern industrial country in the world, but not even mass incarceration has stopped black people from pushing against this Goliath called racism, while protestors stand on the sidelines and say that those who talk about racism and what it does is a fantasy, unreal, and no longer an issue.

I doubt, again, that any other ethnic group could have withstood the discrimination, the hatred, the terrorism, that America has practiced against black people. I doubt that any other ethnic group could even hold together the scores of mothers and fathers whose children have been murdered by whites, many under the rubric and with the participation of law enforcement, and stayed sane. America’s racism has helped people dehumanize black people to the point that it seems they cannot imagine that a black mother’s pain is just as deep as is that of a white mother. Does anyone grieve for the mothers, fathers and family members of Michael Brown? Trayvon Martin? Rekia Boyd? Jordan Davis? Did anyone grieve a mother’s grief when, during slavery, babies were snatched from their mothers’ arms as the mothers were taken off to work for a white person?  Does anyone think about how the accumulation of grieving mothers and family has ultimately affected this country? Are the parents of slain black children as worthy of support and care as are the parents of slain white children? Black people have endured all of that …and the fact that in this country, there is and has not been, justice for black people.  I doubt that any other ethnic group could hold people together who have lived with the realization that not even the “justice system” was there to protect them; in fact, the justice system seemed to be just one of the tools used to oppress them.

Don’t…talk about how African-Americans have a scarcity of moral fiber when in fact those fibers have been pulled to the breaking point consistently, seemingly wanting to force a break. Don’t …talk about black people being lazy when it is documented that white employers have historically discriminated against blacks as they have sought work, even saying, during the Great Depression and after the Dust Bowl (and probably other times) that “niggers ought not apply for work until every white man has a job.” Don’t …talk about how little black kids cannot read and blame it on a lack of intellect when it has been a strategy to create ghettos to keep blacks separated and then a tendency to ignore the schools in those ghettos, forcing little black children into dilapidated buildings, some with no air and/or inadequate heat, used books, and the worst teachers…

Don’t.

Black families have been teaching their children how to survive in this, our land, which is at the same time, a strange land. This land we built, giving hours of back-breaking labor, made to work from “can’t see to can’t see,” doesn’t want us and doesn’t know what to do with us. This country will not own its racist history and therefore will not and cannot see the harm that racism has done. America has immersed itself in a sea of escapism and denial, and because of that, our racism, our peculiar disease, is worse than it ever was. There is no post-racial America. The claim is ridiculous. One cannot be “post” anything unless and until an initial action has taken place. One is only “post-surgery” after the initial, needed surgery has been performed. There has been no surgery to excise America’s racist tumor; it has metastasized and is killing our country, bit by bit.

If ever there was a place that needs peace and reconciliation hearings and subsequent healing actions, it is the United States.

Too much to write today. But it will come. It will come.

A candid observation …

What is a Racist?

Donald Sterling swears in interviews that he is not a racist.

His estranged wife says the same, as does the young woman who was heard talking with him in those now infamous tapes where Sterling said he didn’t want her to bring blacks to “his” basketball games, among other things.

He said in an interview with Anderson Cooper that he made a mistake, that it was the first time in 35 years he’d said such things.

Why does that sound like a crock?

Everyone knows by now that Sterling refused to rent property to black and brown Americans, saying disparaging things about them. He said that Hispanics “smoke, drink and just hang around the property,” and that blacks “smell and attract vermin.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/05/12/donald-sterling-apologizes-for-racist-comments-blames-woman-for-baiting-him/?tid=hp_mm)

What is amazing is that Sterling and others say Sterling is not a racist. If that is the case, what is a racist? Is everyone who says racist things racist, or are they just ignorant, insensitive and bigoted?

A definition of  bigotry is ” intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.”  Another definition of a bigot is one who is stubbornly intolerant against any belief that is different from his (her) own.

Racism, though, goes a little deeper. A definition of racism says that racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. That definition also says that racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. (https://www.google.com/search?q=definition+of+racism&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb)

In other words, racism includes the belief that one race is superior to another …and a racist has the power to discriminate against a group or individual in a way that exercises power over that group or person. Racism includes the belief that one race is supreme…and that it has the right to oppress another group or individual based on the belief in that supremacy.

Can we say that we are all bigots on some level? Probably. But racism implies systemically provided and sanctioned power to oppress another group of people. From the beginning of this nation, even in the writing of our Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution, racism has been a bedfellow.

If Sterling isn’t a racist, I don’t know what a racist is. Kareem Abdul Jabbar said last week that more people believe in ghosts than believe in racism. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/04/kareem-abdul-jabbar_n_5263235.html) White people don’t want to “own up” to the fact that racist exists, that it is an American problem which goes largely unchecked and ignored. Americans seem to want to wish racism away. It is too ugly to face…

And yet it exists.

Donald Sterling is a racist. He believes in the supremacy of the white race, and he has the economic means and power to keep other races “in their place.”

He’s not the only one. He’s just one who got caught.

A candid observation …