I have been quiet in the wake of continued turmoil in this country. Some of my reluctance centered around the fact that I deal with so many slights on a daily basis, that I didn’t want the flood to burst through without some kind of hedge to protect me during the onslaught. So many of my fair flavored friends reached out to me to ask what was going on? What could they do? Did I think they were racist? Because they weren’t, of course and surely, I knew that. The problem is that, for some, I didn’t know THAT. They were (and are) living as undercover egalitarians. You know, people who say that everyone should be treated equally and fairly with the same rights, but, while advocating that its’ egregious to put two puppies in the same crate, silently sanction the crowding of Hispanic children in cages. Similarly, they tout the entitlement of penguins and seals to have the right to live on their nesting grounds, but, are vitriolically incensed when you say that Black farmers should have remuneration for all the land that was taken by White plantation owners.
This is not to say that there aren’t White citizens who are appalled at the violence directed against Black and Brown Americans. Standing at our side during this time is appreciated. But, this is not a fad that should go out of style like last years’ fashions.
What is so tragically sad is that Black Americans have for centuries waited for their White compatriots (dare I say daddies) to stand up and insist that humans of color be treated humanly. Historians seem to blithely forget that the ancestors of Black Americans were truly free before they landed on this continent in 1619, debarking from slave ships in Virginia.
Black Americans have been in this country for 401 years. Longer than the Irish, the Italians, Asians, Germans, Chinese, and many of those who came from England. Whites may have been the founding fathers of the constitution, but, it was Black people who lived and died in the establishing of the country’s’ infrastructure foundation. We built your houses even as we were relegated to shacks, we raised and cooked your food even as we were starved to death, we cleaned and washed your clothes and were forced to wear as covering the sacks from which your food was stored. And we were sex toys for your husbands and sons, sometimes long before we were done playing with corn cob dolls.
In 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation said we were free. What exactly did that free get Blacks in this country? We are only free to be robbed of life and liberty without fair trials and representation. We are only free to be shot down in the street while jogging or forced down in the street with a knee on our necks until we can’t breathe. We are free to watch our babies be terrified of gestapo Police tactics and not be able to assure them as parents that we can ever protect them. We are free to die disproportionately from diseases and viruses that other races survive because they have access to excellent health care in their own communities.
Free-ish. Well, free-ish is like alive-ish. Not really one or the other. On a ventilator or struggling for breath because of a chokehold. And, I have to tell you that when you have been holding your breath for 155 years, you are tired.
And, tired is a dangerous place to be. We don’t want what you have. We only want the opportunity to get our own, to see our sons and daughters achieve their fullest potential and to live free-ly.