"First of all, the European reigns; he has already lost but doesn't realize it; he does not yet know that the "natives" are "false natives." He has to make them suffer, he claims, in order to destroy or repress the evil they have inside them; after three generations, their treacherous instincts will be stamped out. What instincts? Those that drive the slaves to massacre their masters? How come he cannot recognize his own cruelty now turned against him? How come he can't see his own savagery as a colonist in the savagery of these oppressed peasants who have absorbed it through every pore and for which they can find no cure? The answer is simple: this arrogant individual, whose power of authority and fear of losing it has gone to his head, has difficulty remembering he was once a man; he thinks he is a whip or a gun; he is convinced that the domestication of the "inferior races" is obtained by governing their reflexes. He disregards the human memory, the indelible reminders; and then above all, there is this that perhaps he never new: we only become what we are by radically negating deep down what others have done to us. Three generations? As early as the second, hardly had the sons opened their eyes than they saw their fathers being beaten. In psychiatric terms, they were "traumatized." For life. But these constant acts of repeated aggression, far from forcing them into submission, plunge them into an intolerable contradiction, which sooner or later the European will have to pay for."
(Excerpt from Jean-Paul Sartre's preface toFrantz Fanon's, The Wretched of the Earth)
I'm sure the title of this post is unsettling for those of you who don't like having your "certainties disturbed" (I could almost SEE the practitioners of the endlessly annoying "respectability politics" clutching their pearls as I wrote it). However, like Baldwin, Sartre and Fanon in his, The Wretched of the Earth above (whenever you have the time, please DO read this very important liberation handbook at the link. Thank you so much Warrior Publications for making it available!) -- it is exactly what I believe.
Since time immemorial we've suffered and died (and continue to do both) at the hands of these jack-booted thugs. Sometimes pleading, sometimes demanding, sometimes helpless -- we keep asking them, hoping they'll just treat us, "Others" with the dignity and respect every human being deserves. We've marched, we've tried to conform, some of us have sold out, we've berated one another and we've even gone to historically Black churches (on Father's Day no less) denigrating us (simply, IMHO, to assuage our own sense of loss) -- all to no avail.
All of this, Family is the definition of insanity! We keep doing the same damned things over and over again and expecting different results. Aren't you tired?? I sure as hell am!!
I've purposely not written about the murder of Michel Brown until now because quite frankly, I've been overwhelmed -- by so many things. Though I've briefly mentioned standing in solidarity with all those beautiful, young people who humbled me with their resolve as they gathered in his name for over 100 days and counting in Ferguson -- I needed to wait. Wait, until I wasn't so overwhelmed by all that's been going on personally this past, almost year and a half; wait, to see if the white supremacists would get a damned clue and prove me wrong for a change (even though I never expected they would) -- I just needed to wait.
Eerily, I was on the road to Florida to see the husband last Sunday for our 34th wedding anniversary (two years ago, I didn't think we'd be here, but that's another story), alternately listening to BBC and CBC Radio. Switching between each, around 7 p.m. or so, they both began reporting that the Ferguson grand jury had made a decision -- but it wouldn't be announced for a couple hours (more damned game-playin', I thought to myself). My youngest called to check on me as he always does when I'm road-trippin' right after that. I told him to turn on his TV and keep me posted about what was happening because I couldn't' see it, but knew, "those mofos are gonna let Darren Wilson go free."
I say eerily because, in February of this year, after having put the house in the "Belly of the Beast" up for sale, the husband and I had two trips to make: a house-hunting trip to Florida for him, and a meeting on the 15th with the builder in South Carolina for me (more on that later). We went to Florida first, because the day of the builder meeting coincided with the dedication of the Denmark Vesey Monument in Hampton Park in Charleston and I had to be there for deeply felt personal reasons (more on that later too). Staying in a hotel as we checked out some places, we were also following the Jordan Davis case in Jacksonville, intermittently watching TV and listening to the radio -- constantly asking each other as we checked, "Got a verdict yet?"
We headed to South Carolina on the 14th, and shortly after our meeting, we heard the verdict -- Guilty! While not totally what he deserved, he'll be in prison long enough to really know -- that shit he did was foul as hell.
About two hours or so after his first call, the youngest checked in on me again as the BBC cut to Ferguson. Listening to McCullouch's long, drawn out, bullshit spiel on the radio, I already knew -- Darren Wilson had gotten away with murder. When the phone rang in the car, he didn't have to say anything. I said, "Baby, I told you." I listened, as he angrily vented about the unfairness of it all, then -- I just let loose (suffice it to say, not only was it past warm, it was vitriolic and quite profane). After letting me unload, he said, "Calm down, Mom. Pay attention to the road. Call me when you get to Dad's and -- take it easy on Dad, he didn't kill Mike Brown" (Little did he know I was also listening to reports on the Tamir Rice killing in Ohio during the trip as well -- and it sure was gonna make that, "take it easy on Dad" thing, a Herculean task!).
Nervous energy abounding, we both burst out laughing at the same time because he knows us as well as we know ourselves and he knew I was pissed. He knew I'd unload on his society-identified white Daddy as soon as I got there. I said, "Okay, I love you madly, Man," -- and I kept driving the 20 or so minutes until I got there.
And he was dead-on. Not only was I feeling that familiar "quiet riot" roiling deep in my belly -- I was seething. Talking aloud to myself as I pulled in and parked, I said, "When in the hell are we going to see that none of this shit will ever change until we make them feel what we feel??!! My head was so filled with all that had gone on before and since.
Shortly after closing on the house the end of May, I was assaulted by the death of yet another Black young man in June -- in what we used to call Bayside Manor. Yes, it was then, and still is -- the "projects" (with a new, and white-folk-acceptable-name til they gentrify it and probably turn them into condos or something like everything else) -- but damn!! This time though, it was one of our own -- a "Black in Blue," protected by a system, led by the same white man who'd been mayor when I left home at 18 -- 40 years ago!
When I was a more of an integrationist, I was always, more or less, a "joiner" (ΔΣϴ, NAACP, US Navy, Teaching Tolerance, BCCLT, blah, blah, blah). But, as I continue working to decolonize my mind -- I know today, I ain't none of them (that didn't, however, stop the president of the local NAACP chapter at home, from trying to recruit me when I attended the meeting concerning the murder and the three missing minutes from the surveillance tape finally released by the Charleston PD). The tape showed the time the off-duty, CPD cop working private security encountered Denzel Curnell, then a three-minute blank, then the time he was dead, in front of the officer's car. I felt so f*ed up about the "insanity" of it all, I had to say something -- and I did (beginning at the 21:52 click).
Charleston used to be a city with a "Black Majority" when I was growing up -- not any more. As one of my favorite commenters, "king of trouble" noted, on another of my favorite commenters, "jefe's" guest post, Anacostia over at Abagond's -- the city has slowly and methodically been, and to date, is successfully -- BLEACHED (and it breaks my damned heart).
Considering this child, IMO had been murdered, the attendees at the meeting were way less than I'd expected (and not even a march was planned or executed). I told my brother later, "It doesn't matter if the killer was Black -- by day he wore blue and was automatically protected by that! -- and no response?!" He said, "Welcome home, Deb, welcome home."
When the pupples and I walked in, the husband was watching CNN. I said, "Hey, how you doin' -- I'm NOT in a good damned mood." He said, "I know, I talked to Alan. already." As I sat down and watched Ferguson on fire, my first words were, "Dammit! Go burn down their shit, not ours!! Then I realized, the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy's plan had always been to just LET it burn (plenty cops armed at the ready for protesters, but no fire trucks, no ambulances -- nothin' in the hood. Wasn't their shit -- Oh well!).
And when the powers that be trotted out their Sambo/Quimbo puppet to yet again give his presidential words of wisdom, I was really through (yes Family, do re-read Harriet Beecher-Stowe's, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" -- now I understand how we've been focusing on the wrong Negro all this time. It was Sambo and Quimbo to whom we should've been paying attention)!! Family, this man is "skin-folk, not kinfolk." He's no more our people than any of the white supremacists who've bought and paid for him. As I listened to his voice, all I could think of was dear, old Maxine saying:
Family, I'm pretty full about all this (as well as those other things I mentioned above). I just had to let some of it out right now. I do plan to write more later, so please bear with me. Most importantly though, never forget this:
“Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity”My young Bothers and Sisters holding' it down in Ferguson still -- again, I'm so damned proud of YOU!
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
- Enough Is Enough
- No Indictment for Darren Wilson, No Justice for Black Lives
- Chronicle of a Riot Foretold
- As a white mother, I fear for my black son
- Despite Blacks Killed By Cops Here, Ferguson Reaction Unlikely
- Gaps remain in the Denzel Curnell suicide narrative
- Denzel Curnell case: Read the full SLED report