Sunday, August 24, 2014
We hate so much in this nation to talk about slavery and yet its progeny is with us each day. And periodically, it reaches out from the grave and claims lives, wreaks havoc and reminds us who the goddamned boss is. And not just black lives are lost but the lives of those who continue to work for this most malevolent of American spirits.
The town of Ferguson is a modern-day plantation, only the chains are not made of iron but of ignorance, the slave quarters are boundaries of class, color and opportunity, the big house is the state house and the discipline is not the whip but a policeman’s bullet.
If this imagery makes you nervous or angry, then really, you’ve proven the point. Slavery ended only 148 years ago, barely two generations and yet we are so tired of talking about it. Western Union is older than that and they are sitting in the modern age right next to the 7-11 and Pizza Hut.
And why are we so tired of it? White people are ashamed that each day they live with the legacy of this sin and they seem to be pissed that they can't enjoy their wealth and superiority without people (black and white) reminding them that it is ill-gotten gain and myth respectively.
Black people are ashamed of stereotypes and the sad truth at the root of some of them. And while we desperately want to be free of this stigma, we keep asking the descendants of slave owners for permission to be released. And the answer is "Sure, be free, I don't care." And then a foot is stuck out to trip you as you walk away. And then we get up, look around as if we don't know who made us stumble and ask again.
And so we run from the legacy of slavery in words, while holding on to it in actions and sentiment, hiding behind “tradition” or “culture” while the stench of it bleeds through these thin wrappings. And this is how you end up with a racially riot-torn town with a sitting Black President.
So in this time, do not look at the people who are the loudest, look at those who say nothing, do nothing and divert their interests to diversion and pretend that nothing is going on. These are the people who continue to support the plantation; only this one enslaves everyone who wants to be free of it.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
We cry, scream yell, protest, post, tweet and argue our passion. We talk about God and quote scripture to understand why we treat each other so terribly, so often-- and so continuously.
But mostly, we wait.
We wait for someone else to do the things we know we should. We take inventory of our virtue, then count the sins of others on a separate moral spreadsheet and yet we insist that we are all in the same family of humanity.
Unarmed men and women are being killed without justification pursuant to a sin that we just plain refuse to atone for. I know it is painful but it is not an excuse; It is a fact, it is history and we can count the dead to see its reality.
We can feel time moving from dreams to miraculous innovation, taking away our icons and the innocent with equal cruelty, turning culture, love and legacy to dust, and it is painful.
And we wait.
Whitney is dead, Jordan Davis is dead, Michael Jackson is dead, Trayvon Martin, LaTasha Harlins, James and Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner... all gone in the wink of an eye-- the pull of a trigger.
They drop bombs in Gaza and we throw tear gas in Ferguson. They shoot down planes in the Ukraine and we mobilize military against private citizens. And we wait. We wait and give speeches calling for healing and all the shit we've heard a hundred times before.
Why are we always asked to heal? Why can't the murderers do some goddamned healing? I am so tired of hearing that empty rhetoric, tired of turning a hundred cheeks only to watch them all get slapped.
This is what's happening in Ferguson.
They are just tired of waiting.