“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict, it has been impressed upon me that now in order to survive, I must live in fear for my own safety and that of my family, particularly my son. There has been an outpouring of advice and commentary on the verdict from Black tv pundits, religious, political and social leaders, social media and the AfroSphere. Most shrouded in anger. Some in astonishment. Few provide a rational strategy/plan. All are based on a foundation of fear.
This fear is understandable. The history of people of African descent in the Americas is one founded on fear. This fear was born, nurtured and nourished by the terror of those with white skins against all others. The “curse” of our black skin is what makes us identifiable and justifiable to be the recipients of this terror, whether in our original homeland of Africa, or as captives/citizens in the Americas… or wherever we may be in this world.
This terror has always been more readily unleashed with a fury against those with black skins who resist or even question those with white skins. It matters not if this resistance (or questioning) is real or perceived. It matters not if it is by deed, appearance or by even a look in our eyes. It is not tolerated because it signifies that we no longer fear. It is not tolerated because like any virus, it has the potential to become an uncontrollable epidemic. The antidote is terror. Pursuit, capture, beatings, humiliation, rape, imprisonment, dismemberment, lynchings, murder, etc. Our history is full of these terrorist acts by those with white skins against those with black skins who show any hint of resistance. The message is that of the Borg: “Resistance Is Futile.”
Trayvon Martin is just another victim of this terror. As far as George Zimmerman, his lawyers, the prosecution, the judge, as well as the all white jury are concerned, he did commit a crime. He resisted. He fought back. They have implied legal precedence. On March 6th 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision regarding the Dred Scott vs. Sanford case, which clearly stated that all blacks were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The Zimmerman verdict confirmed and re-enforced this ruling for the 21st century. Hence once more, the triumph of terrorism.
The desired effect: once again those with black skins are engulfed with fear. We are paralyzed and made irrational by this fear. I’ve been bombarded by messages by those with black skins that I’m to be afraid. I’m to fear the white man. I’m to fear the black man. I’m to fear the police. I’m to fear for my life. I’m to fear for my son’s life. I’m to fear how he dresses. I’m to fear where we go. I’m to fear walking down the street in my neighbourhood. I’m to fear all things real and imagined.
I read a Facebook post where a young black man praises his mother for raising him in a climate of fear for his own safety. He states: “And I say that to say that as scary as people think black males are, black males are conditioned to be ten times more afraid of everyone else. We’re conditioned to be afraid of going to certain parts of the country, afraid of people with certain political view, afraid of police officers, and sometimes even afraid of other black and latino males. The most sickening thing about this whole trial has been the deliberate campaign to rob Trayvon of his right to be afraid. I know I would have been.”
I saw this video with Melissa Harris-Perry where she tells viewers how she felt “relief” at her ultrasound when she found out she was giving birth to a daughter instead of a son. We even fear our own unborn black men.
What we fear, we hate. What we hate, we destroy. We fear… we hate… we destroy ourselves. Mission Accomplished.
Regardless, I do understand this fear. I don’t criticize nor condemn those who find some comfort, some solace and peace of mind… in a false sense of security. We all have a paramount desire for ourselves and our love ones to be safe. The terror is relentless. It confronts us every waking and sleeping hour… everywhere in society… blatantly and subtly.
However, I don’t have this fear… and I’m not raising my son and daughter to have this fear. I will be raising them to be aware of how those with white skins perceive their black skins and therefore be wary of them. I will as well provide them with the tools to make life affirming decisions. But to fear those with white skins… NO! To fear their black skins… NO! To fear other people with black skins… NO! I will teach them that it’s not resistance which is futile… it’s to be a fear-filled and docile negro. For this will not save you. It will only make it easier for them to take your life, for they have already killed your spirit.
I know there are those with black skins who will see me as a bad father. That I’m not being practical for the safety and security of my kids. That I should impart upon them, for their own survival, the words of the beaten and broken slave Kunta Kinte: “toby be good nigga fo’ masa”.
I am guilty as charged… for I will teach them the words of William Shakespeare: “a coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
So I’ll charge them to resist when you must… and know the costs.
Repost inspired by this commentary from Sis. Carolyn Moon:
“The difference that I’m noticing more now and it’s a perception which I’m sure can be debated but there is this extreme animus towards the various countries on the continent of Africa and their historical role in promoting the triangularity of the slave trade that culminated in a diaspora seriously adrift. We’ve encountered at times, a dismissive or condescending attitude towards American blacks by those who were born and reared in the various countries on the continent. This became painfully apparent when the dialogue about describing ourselves as ‘African-Americans’ became the topic on various blogs and if that is truly an accurate description. There seems to be a grace and forgiveness for those who provided a market (Europeans & western whites) for the selling and purchasing of human beings and also promoting one of the most virulent and devastating forms of slavery that the world has ever witnessed.”
Powerful commentary by Nigerian writer, poet, playwright and 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka, on Africa’s role in the slave trade and it’s consequences. These are 2 must read articles posted in the online magazine theRoot:
Submission from Sis. Ana
The Story of St Josephine Bakhita, a remarkable woman born in Sudan who was kidnapped by slavers. Despite slavery, rejection, the loss and separation from her family, discrimination and hardship, she kept the faith and retained her dignity as a human being. She is considered by many as the Universal Sister and was canonized by the Catholic Church. There is a movie made about her by the Italian movie industry entitled “Santa Bakhita”.
“Democracy is a proposal (rarely realised) about decision-making; it has little to do with election campaigns. Its promise is that political decisions be made after, and in the light of, consultation with the governed. This is dependent upon the governed being adequately informed about the issues in question, and upon the decision makers having the capacity and will to listen and take account of what they have heard. Democracy should not be confused with the “freedom” of binary choices, the publication of opinion polls or the crowding of people into statistics. These are its pretense. Today the fundamental decisions, which effect the unnecessary pain increasingly suffered across the planet, have been and are taken unilaterally without any open consultation or participation.” ~ John Berger
I. Dance, reconstrueism [rek-kun-stroó-ism], dance!
My impulse used to be to dismiss it. But nearly six years after returning here to my hometown of Detroit after my decade living in Miami, it has become more and more difficult to go on living and working in a post modern, post industrial, casebook ‘capitalist endtime’ city like Detroit, ignoring the hyper-reality and the hype of American rust belt era gentrification and post gentrification; to go on ignoring the post industrial situation: the poverty, loss, and disintegration in weird concert with the outlandishly enthusiastic, intrusive media junkets that spin across the dance floor in disco mode even though the music is a mournful dirge.
While local Detroit’s news media have steadfastly ignored for two decades now the steadily growing din of community protest and outrage, the gulf between politicians and the governed, between the suburbs and the city, between the haves and the never-will-haves again, between official public media and real life has grown into an ocean; and the two continents are drifting. Citizen outrage over both a political establishment’s and media establishment’s practice of treating community voices and groups as if they were invisible, is as the feeble complaints of Hebrews in the work pits of ancient Egypt, cutting stones for pyramids they will never see the end of. The same newspapers, radio broadcasts, and so-called ‘alternative’ media that have steadfastly ignored post-civil rights, post-nationalist, and post mass culture complaints of racism and abandonment lodged by the mostly Black, mostly poor populace, are peculiarly attentive now to the interests, ideologies, and the dogmas of the forces of Republican triumphalism. They are likewise quick to lick the hand of the interests of ‘urban renovation’ politics, and of what I call ‘settler chic’.
‘Settlers’– the slowly increasing trickle of returnees from suburbs, and new arrivals from other cities (of which I was one, six years ago) are a new dispensation, but all these forces and interests make up ‘the media junket’: journalism at its worst. Nothing covered by American Journalism, or rather, nothing that is blipped, blurbed, byted, and blurted, is presented with adequate depth, meaning, or critical content. The two major city newspapers, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, cover the city either sensationally through a blanket fascination with crime and petty corruption (as opposed to deeper, more far-reaching corporate corruption), or else in so diffident a way (emphasis upon what Miami cultural critic Dr. James Nadell sarcastically calls ‘that local media life-giving, all important, precious sports coverage’) that all the city’s greater complexity is flattened out into purely entertaining, descriptive, lurid and titillating ‘copy’ for creation of a salable commodity by a media that abhor political, economic, cultural, and ethnic diversity and legitimacy. Thus, the rot, the collapse, the poverty, the slow
disintegration of a city center and of its neighborhoods, is the daily commodity that turns the profit motive. With a few human interest and ‘poor folk make good’ stories sprinkled in for plausible deniability’s sake, pathos, suffering, and rot are the papers’ real bread and butter, and crime is the spice. News is wrapped like liver and sold slightly bloody with little meaningful, ongoing attention to the past and its economic and political causality. In Detroit, ‘if it bleeds, it leads’, and that motto controls the daily fare (‘crime reporting’ being a perfect avatar for it all) of TV, radio, and print journalism. It’s a corporate standard, a nationally pervasive style of media coverage of cities that is shallow in focus, stereotyped, smug, and presumptuous–not just because it leaves citizens uninformed, which it does, but because it leaves citizens altogether: it has fled us; or it floats above our heads, unconcerned with our real, material lives as it arbitrarily selects what it chooses to spill down upon us–information as scat. If this is what has become of ‘the watchdog of democracy’ then Detroit has what is more accurately described as a cadaver dog of complacency. The media, conglomerated by Gannett (newspapers), Clear Channel (radio and satellite access), and New Times Corp (‘alternative publication weeklies), and their subsidiaries, have long ago broken democracy’s leash, to root through the details of the dead, the unburied casualties, with no concern for or memory of democracy as John Berger defines it, and even less concern for democracy’s discontents (sudden gun battles at police precincts notwithstanding).
Lately in fact, a characteristic of inappropriate playfulness, even of exuberance, is being displayed by the current incarnation of those junkets ridden by suburban settlers touring the inner city, assessing property values, and planning renovation. These excursions are peopled by ‘creative class’ types [see Richard Florida further down this page]. The tone of their safaris has veered, nauseatingly, over toward the extreme of what some call ‘ruins porn’ (a growing fascination, nationally, with American cities’ shattered, disintegrating architecture and that dying architectures ‘antique’ quality; fascination with the even more fetishistic practice of doing ecstatic and politically mute photographic ‘studies’ of urban wreckage shots offered as aesthetic objects and as visual commodities).
The corporate ghouls–the land developers, real estate vampires, expensive condo prospectors, and strip mall developers, are only some of the many junketeers who have for years now been descending upon modern dying cities. However, when a city that has lost its industrial basis and its economic base begins to die, and also happens to have a high percentage of people-of-color, of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Arabs, or members of the working poor, the ghouls are double in number and strength, and even more easily can they buy access, authority, and fiat from easily bought-off, corruptible local public and elected officials who fail to protect constituents from these revelers at The Ball. Their claim, the caption that scrolls across their faces calls them ‘rescuers’ of dying urban space. Continue reading »
Submission from educator, writer and AfroSpear Googlegroup blogger José Luis Vilson
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