African Leadership Conference, Medgar Evers College – 4/17/1993
Hotep. As I look out into this audience this morning, I’m looking for our Fannie Lou Hamers, for our Septima Clarks, for our Rosa Parks, for our Marcus Garveys. I’m looking for our Malcolms. I’m looking for the unborn and the potential geniuses and leaders. You will see them when you look into your mirror. For there is no “they” to do it. It is only we. We are the “them” and the “they”. Culturally, we have been sitting too long this morning. So I beg your forbearance. Because we are in a strange land and we’ve wandered so long in this wilderness that we have begun to imitate and to uphold the behaviors of the oppressor.
The question and the only question for me as a person involved in working with the fragile, gentle, tender, very, very, very flexible minds of our young people is this question that comes from the poem by Margaret Burroughs. And that is the question that every young person in this auditorium is asking, and that is that question is, “What shall I tell my children who are Black?” What shall I tell them born into a world where everything lovely pure perfect fine classic is white? White lovely ruffles on Sunday dresses, long sleek white Cadillacs, fluffy white clouds and angel’s wings are white. But what shall I tell my children, fruit of my Womb, born into a world where black is evil? Witches’ brew is black, a black hen lays no eggs and a black cow gives no milk. When the stock market breaks, it’s black Monday. What shall I tell my children without a language that gives them verbalization privately, without the images and the icons to identify them with what is powerful and strong, without an understanding of the movements of resistance, without an understanding of the strategies that our Ancestors were able to put in place to bring them to a measure of sanity when all around them there was an attempt to breed insanity and self-destruction? What shall I tell my children who are Black? and when I see them on the subways and on the buses and on the street corners and in the hell holes that we call school, that is the question. Because what we have told them is not true. What we have permitted them to be exposed to is distorted.
We’re talking today about education and economic development. There are two systems of education, formal and informal. The formal organization that we call the school is an industry. It is not separate from economics. It is a seven billion dollar industry in New York (City) alone. In New York City, seven billion dollars, not counting 40 times that much for the state. So while we talk about developing an educational program that will bring our children and our people to liberation and freedom, please understand that that is not the agenda of the industry. The industry of education is propelled and grows on failure. The more children fail, the more money is generated in the industry of Education. The more children fail, the more children go into the Mental Hygiene, the Criminal Justice system and the Welfare system, three other industries. And these industries, each one is controlled by the same oppressor who brought us to these shores to develop the economics of the United States of America. We were not brought here for freedom or beauty. We were brought here for economic development.
The myth that our children have been told is that all of the people who came to America came under the same conditions, but that some got up early, stayed up late, worked harder, sacrificed, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, and therefore have gained an economic advantage. That is not true. That is a myth like Snow White, Little Tom Thumb, Hansel and Gretel, Little BO-Peep. And it should be relegated to the category of fantasy and myths and legends that have propelled the psychological damage of our people.
For you see, this land was taken away from the indigenous Americans. Nobody bought this land. And up to ten years ago, males of European background were given large tracts of land on Long Island. When you travel across the South and you look at the magnificent plantations and homes there, those people did not buy that land. It was given to them by the European government and by governments of the states. And enslaved people built that land into magnificent plantations. They built the homes. They built the furniture with their own hands. Some of that furniture still has the engraving of the genius of people of African ancestry. So one of the problems around the issue of education is that the whole psychological aura of what has made the United States of America what it is is based on a fantasy. We must begin to help our children understand that no one got up earlier or stayed up later than our people did!
We must also help them to understand very clearly that there has been an exchange in the image of the historical oppressor. He one time was visible as the plantation owner and the slave master. That oppressor comes in a different form today, but it is the same oppressor. When we begin to talk about substance abuse and prevention programs, the textbook should be Chancellor Williams’ The Destruction of the Black Civilization. For in that book, it tells our young people that drugs were brought into the community of people of color to form the disintegration of the social revolution. It was put there to keep us from sitting down at lunch counters, to keep us from getting into colleges and universities, to prevent us from having the kind of acuity of mind and body to develop a strategic plan for our freedom. And if we just told them that, it would help. What they have heard was this is the Black thing to do. This is the “in” thing. And we didn’t tell them that that was a change in the message of the oppressor.
When they begin to become involved in having children before they can be mothers and before they can be fathers because Super Fy, Shaft, no place to be somebody, and all that entertainment that evolved to suppress the notion that not only is Black beautiful, but it’s smart and powerful and creative and energetic, not just beautiful. But the media came in place to give an image of what constituted Blackness. And our children bought that image because there was a vacuum there. That is the informal educational system.
But if we remind our young girls that teen-aged pregnancy for women of African ancestry is patterned after the lack of an understanding of the fact that in the institution of chattel slavery, teen-aged girls of African ancestry were forced to have children. They had to breed by the slave master to increase the slave population and they were forced to breed with men of African ancestry without any look at the affection the depth of the relationship or the commitment. They were forced to do that to increase the slave population. And today, because they don’t know that history, they choose to become mothers when they are not emotionally prepared to mother.
The best possible prevention to teen-aged pregnancy is information and hope. The only thing we guarantee a teen-aged girl of African ancestry in the United States of America is welfare if you have a baby. We don’t guarantee them a high school diploma that has any value. We don’t guarantee them a decent job. We don’t guarantee them an opportunity to develop a relationship with a male of African ancestry. Because we’re too busy putting them in the prison system and the mental hygiene system to have an industry for European people.
There is an ineffable and irrevocable relationship between education and economics. You cannot separate them. If we would tell the young men who think that you raise your manhood ratio depending upon the number of children that you have by women for whom you have no affection, “That’s not Black. That’s an imitation of the slave master. For in this country, he is the only person who had children by women for whom they had no affection and they did not intend to be a father to those children.”
If we understand that the people who are teaching our children will not give them that lesson because that lesson would indict and damn them. That is an educational message that must come out of our culture, tradition and heritage. It cannot come from the oppressor. Because Dr. Martin Luther King, who has been marginalized and trivialized in his powerful, strong vocalization , talked about the need, before you get to the dream about the children joining hands, there are other pieces of that dream. And one of them says, I have a dream that someday the sons of former slave masters and the sons of former slaves will be able to sit down at the table of brotherhood.
Now I can identify the sons and daughters of former slaves, but he’s telling me that I have the right to identify the sons of former slave masters. That’s what he’s telling me there. But you try that. You see what happens when our scholars and our researchers begin to follow the historical accepted pattern of identification of their oppressors. That’s always been done. That’s why you have reparations. That’s why you have Marshall Plans. That’s why you rebuild Vietnam and Japan. Because you have identified who destroyed them and wherever the destruction originated from, that’s where the rebuilding begins.
But the nature of the informal educational system is that as soon as from among our people a voice rises to speak the truth about the nature of our condition to say to our children, “You did not have a level playing field. Your people didn’t come with reparation money. Your people didn’t come from a time in their history where they had scholars and historians who were available to maintain the records of their people.” You see today if you look at Yugoslavia or today if you look at any of the countries that are struggling to assert themselves, you will understand that at the present time when they are struggling for their freedom, they have bankers. They have scholars. They have doctors. They have lawyers.
When freedom came for people of African ancestry, we didn’t have a bank of scholars and bankers and lawyers and historians and teachers to help us to define who we were. We were just told “You free”, with no money, no education, no land, no transportation, no political power. Nobody else faced that. Absolutely none.
And when we now begin to swap the notion of racial and ethnic and cultural diversity for multiculturalism, what we’re saying is there is an equality of problematic understanding for every culture equally problematic. So we are very comfortable to say “Oh yes, there are the Vietnamese children and there are the children from Russian and there are the children from Japan and there are children from Yugoslavia and they must all know their culture as well as children of African ancestry.” Not so. Because there’s only one group that in these United States of America were chattel slaves. There’s only one group who, by law, lost their language, history, art, music, God-image, value system, worth. Just one.
And you cannot equate the same urgency about talking about the culture of people of African ancestry in America with a person who comes from Japan. They know where home is. They can go to the town or village that is home. They still have their language. They can speak in privacy of their language. They came in family groups and were able to perpetuate whatever residual customs enabled them to be a people. There has been no loss of language, religion, value system, sense of beauty, literature, power, strength. Hegel, Ageesis (sp), Toynbee didn’t identify those continents as never having contributed anything to civilization. Only people of African ancestry. So I cannot accept the notion of multiculturalism saying that every culture has the same need for identification and restitution.
ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ: He has embodied this and I think he has his own instincts, and he’s been acting it out as a real estate man. You know, it’s interesting for me observing Trump’s behavior every day and his, the way he’s made his money and all. He’s so much like a, and people are kind of shocked when I say this, like George Washington. You know? This real estate crook that was taking, with militias going out and surveying Indian land and then coming back and selling it, when he didn’t own it. But he’d made pieces of paper and sold it. That’s how he started that, when he was 22 years old. And he became very, very wealthy on real estate, you know. Of course, he also had slaves and a plantation, but this was his main work.
And, so these real estate men actually started the United States, because they were all into real estate, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson. Washington was the oldest and best one to develop it. And, what that did was develop capitalism, being the first, you know, the U.S. being the first capital state formed as such on Lockean principles, actually developed on real estate, which is unusual. It didn’t on the selling of land. The sacredness of the land for the settler is its value, you know? It’s to sell it, to buy it to sell it to turn it over. Because that’s how capitalism works: you have to keep turning it over. You don’t want people just to have something and just enjoy it the rest of their lives.
So I think there’s so much in our culture that really is available to a fascist kind of formation. It doesn’t have to be that way, but because it’s so dependent on the idea of “anyone can make it”, you know, that “the playing field is level”, “not everyone’s equal, but they have equal opportunity” and that’s always been a lie, but it’s never more so than now, you know, with the income inequality that has to somehow be maintained.
ABBY MARTIN : In a way, Trump is kind of the perfect manifestation of what America really represents, from being the top landlord to the reality star obsession, to this language that we’re talking about, Roxanne. It’s all predicated on deep-rooted white supremacist settler colonial mentality.
ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ: We’re back at the beginning. We’re back to the beginning.
ABBY MARTIN : Let’s go back because history’s gun culture is based on the Second Amendment, right? The Second Amendment is right to bear arms, to have a well-regulated militia. What does that mean? I mean talk about, first of all talk about America’s gun culture and why the Second Amendment was in the Bill of Rights.
ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ: Yeah, gun culture already existed when the United States became independent. In the colonies, Virginia and Massachusetts Bay were the big colonies in the early 16th century. And in the 1620s, even in the 20s and 30s, 40s, they made gun laws, it’s interesting, they made gun laws in those colonies that every settler male had to have a firearm and a certain amount, they actually had amounts, like so many pounds of gunpowder and so many bullets to load. And, they were not to leave their house without their weapons or be in any public place, including church, without their firearms. And this was in the 1600s. They had no other enemy than the Indians whose land they had taken who were still on their periphery and they were wanting to take more of that land. So this is purely made, this Second Amendment, this is so this was practiced throughout, the requirement kind of morphed into a right.
There was you know this sense that the only way to take land away from people who are resisting, who were on it and resisting, is by counterinsurgency. By, you know, what counterinsurgency is is not fighting soldiers but killing civilians, burning their crops, burning their villages, cutting off their roads, their ability to move, raping and maiming, and, you know, the highest level of violence is possible to drive people out those who are survived this mayhem. And armies they couldn’t, they actually weren’t big enough. They couldn’t get enough, the idea of getting enough soldiers to do what individual settlers could do by their own desire, not being required or conscripted, but their desire to take that land, because once they took it, it was theirs.
ABBY MARTIN: So gun rights were never for all Americans?
ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ: They weren’t. They were for a purpose. They’re autonomous settlers organizing themselves with a clear purpose to take land and get rich. So that’s the dance, you know, of the of the government then. They somehow wanted to put some restrictions, and, yet they didn’t want to. They knew they would still need the settlers because they already had this perspective of going to the Pacific Ocean. You know, they had the maps already mapped out in the Northwest Ordinance. So I think the Second Amendment was simply a validation of what already existed, these militias that already existed and the slave patrols that already existed.
It’s like you don’t give that up, you know, that sense of being a settler and having those rights. That’s really what white nationalism is: it’s the settler’s right for priority. And they talk in terms of welcoming, you know, proper immigrants, but they’re always the other. Unless they can culturally come to be the settler, have that mentality. You know, there are all these books on how this or that group became white. How Jews became white, how Italians became white, how the Irish became white, but it’s really how they became settlers. The more they can express that white nationalism and be with it, the more likely they are to be kind of accepted in it. And that’s a process going on now and so it’s really available to anyone and still call it white nationalism but it still, it can take other people in now. It’s not just white people.
ABBY MARTIN: So there’s this revered history of militias in general. I mean there’s even high school mascots of militia people across this country, but you’re talking about the real history of what these militias did. I wanted you to expand on that and also how did they manifest into organizations like the KKK?
ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ: So in the colonial and in the colonies like the Massachusetts Bay Colony the, these vicious militias who would, you know, go and burn the crops and burn the storage places for food. And, these were all farmers, native people East of the Mississippi, they were all farmers. They were, you know, out in the woods hunting. They had villages and everything, so they were very vulnerable to (attack). When they got to the Plains, is a different thing, you know, people who were herdsmen or were nomadic and not so easy to burn there, because they could move fast. They could change places.
But East of the Mississippi was just like Ireland, you know, just farmers and villages to burn down. So they really used those same methods. So that was from 1607 to Independence, 1785. That’s a long period of time that they formed these things. But you could have a good understanding how they worked as slave patrols. I mean a very vivid clear line. And, they worked this way with Native people too, but people know less about that history. But the militias that were slave patrols in the South were textbook militias. They were not paid. They’re voluntary militias. They’re not the same as Constables, you know, what we call police now, to police the white population. They were purely for, you know, to inspect any stray black person, especially a stray black young man. And this tells you what, you know, how the police connection today is assumed to be a fugitive, a runaway, unless they can prove otherwise.
During the Cotton Kingdom, they would post all over, even all over the North, “any escaped slave” that. And, with the Dred Scott decision, every citizen, every white citizen, had the obligation to turn that person in. So, in a way, they made everyone a part of the slave patrols, as the whole culture was revolved around controlling the enslaved Africans.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: What’s your name ?
Valencia: Hi, I’m Valencia.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: And where are we at?
Valencia: We are at Sojourners land, which is the 3 acres of our land movement, our attempt to be engaged with the land in a way that doesn’t involve ownership, in a way that involves coming and doing stewardship and building our own tiny homes on wheels. So that we are housed while we learn how to be free, rather than coming here with the need of housing. And just a place to like, we try to make our little homes sustainable so that then all the effects of capitalism that keep us moving away from stewarding the land and engaging with these very violent forces of having to earn money just so you can come back and fall asleep in somebody’s rented property. We own the land from a bank, but it’s held in stewardship so that anybody can come and build their tiny home who is committed to the liberation of themselves and the land. by, you know, like… Yeah, it’s a way of being more than just a physical space. But we do need the infrastructure on the physical space so that the people, again, can come, but that’s why the whole idea of the tiny homes…
Can you show us a tiny home on wheels?
Yeah, this is my tiny home on wheels which I built and, um, I built while I was in Maine and I built it while I was looking for land because I said, you know, I had this, like, crisis you know inside of myself that just like, I couldn’t keep moving and being on other people’s land and pushed into spaces and kept moved all the time while my ancestors needed some place to be still. And I said well, what is it that I need? And you know, it’s like a home on wheels until we can find land to, you know, to ground with. And you know, space to not be in other people’s spaces composting my traumas around my orgasmic lack of autonomy. So I had to find safe space in other people’s things where maybe there would be, um, people imposing their needs on my, like, body just because I needed housing, right? So, this is, like, autonomous space, and I call my tiny home the OSS, which stands for the Orgasmic Safe Space…
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: Ok.
Because there’s a place that I can like do that composting and, uh, still be able to steward the land, you know?
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: I see all these solar panels…
Yeah. Uh, this is my newest solar system, which is a 300-watt system, which I haven’t set up yet, but I just got some of my comrades who came from Ida, Work Hard, to just move these pallets to help me, you know, be able to set up the panels myself. ‘Cause I know all the rigamarole of that.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: Ok.
And these are the batteries that once I get my solar system set up will, you know, be charged. That’s why I needed the pallets moved, ‘cause I’m building just basically a solar shed. I just need to get my batteries, ‘cause you know where the batteries were?
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: Huh?
They were inside my house.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: Oh, wow.
And that was like off-gassing and stuff, and I was just like, I need to get these batteries out of my house
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: Right, so that they can empower the tiny home.
Yeah, and. I need a shed, but I didn’t have physical energy or even time to do it.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: Ok.
But my tiny home usually has, um, there’s a stove, like a camp stove there so I have the ability to cook, but it’s hot!
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia: Yeah.
You know where my camp stove is now? It’s in my tent. Because I couldn’t even look at it, it’s so damn hot in here…
‘Cause I have this metal roof, and it feels hot, you know. And I built this house, and it’s still unfinished obviously, but it provides me shelter and safe space. It doesn’t leak. There’s no mold.
You made the floor and everything, huh?
Oh, absolutely, and I have actually all of the documentation of me doing that…
…which because also I don’t have time here I haven’t even had time to sit and, like, edit on a Windows movie maker…
…what I’m doing here. So I have all of this.
And I’ve been documenting since first nail, first screw, first everything…
…every movement, you know. So this is the OSS…
Ok. Here comes Leroy down the side.
…built in Maine as you can see, ‘cause my trailer still has the Maine uh… So built in a Maine winter, so this is some resilience, and built with an ancestral calling…
…and because I don’t have a…
A shed yet.
…a basic shed for my thing I have to keep this covered.
Over here is my lovely outhouse.
I really love this place. It is a composting shitter, oh that I left open apparently.
You know, sometimes I do that, but it doesn’t have anything in it because I always cover it with cedar coverings…
…but I usually close it because the critters like to…I once came in and found dung beetles who had turned my poop into like perfect little, like looked like meatballs. And it was just like ok!
I think I’ll be putting the top on.
The lid on. Wow, I just wanna point out to all the Homefullness Poor Magazine folk that this compost toilet is similar to the one at Standing Rock, and what she has is just the woodchips…
Yeah that’s it. And how often do you dump the, and where do you dump the poo or the pee or the whatever?
…that’s beneath has…
Just a bucket, look, just a bucket…
it’s a composting system.
Yup and it doesn’t smell, by the way, guys.
Red is for poop…
…and white is for cover material so I generally… and I also put my tissue in here because the mice love to eat your tissue…
…and shred it, and like use it whatever so it’s a good place to put your tissue, and I have cover material–awesome if you’re like in a poop situation further on the land and you want to access that, the bucket system around here is red for poop and white for cover material and they’re …after we do that poop we have this lovely humanure composting pile that Rose made as their contribution to the shit thing. So we are composting our own shit to make sure like that in a year, or two years time this like turns into fertilizer. When you come over here, there’s no smell, there’s no anything like that.
Again the red were for the poop, it’s already been emptied. It does take a little bit longer for wet wipes to dissolve but they do. They do. Yeah.
And you can get the flushable ones and they are more thing, but this usually just looks like nothing but just soil. And that’s all poop.
I mean, composted now.
Wow, so you can actually just bury it?
No, it’s not burying it, it’s a Humanure composting bin.
Oh, and so what do you do to make that happen?
You see how those, uh, this uh thing? Well at the first part you kinda like dig to kinda like make a berm or like make just something so that… Uh a sponge! You dig to make a whole thing first then you put in your straw, um, things on that so that you kinda like have a little bit of a thing like so there’s a little sponge.
So the certain material you put in and the material eats the poo is what you’re saying or it dissolves?
Oh no, this is Humanure 101 which I have a book about it… the uh, this is some Jim Jenkins Humanure composting and this pile has been used by, like, people who compost their poop like my friend whose house I built where I built my house at in Maine. They have been composting their poop in this way for thirty years. And, like, you know and they built their own house…
…like their family homestead there in Maine.
So you’re saying you can use it for farming?
Oh, yes! After…
Well first of all, a lot of people, for safety, they would never put it immediately even after like two years which is safe…
…on, um,vegetable plants things that are immediately going [?], but it’s perfect…
…for like anything in your orchard, it’s like rich soil but for people who are a little like microbe thing, you can like go through it yourself with the materials and see there’s nothing there but some soil, right? And…
…like the residual of like whatever wet wipe, but there’s nothing.
What’s this one up here, this other house?
Oh, that’s the house that came with the space and we are not exactly happy it’s [???]
Oh, there was a house on the space. Oh, ok.
It was a 1950’s motor home thing that, uh…
Just was here…
Well, it’s because it was full of black mold…
…you know, we didn’t want to put anybody’s health in jeopardy by putting them in there or even trying to demolish it without, like, learning more, so we’ve just kind of been listening and then like, what are we gonna do with the materials and like…
…considering this being our first earth conscious engagement with the land, what are we going to do? How we gonna…? So you know, it’s been like, a little bit…
…of an overwhelming eh but we do use it, we do use it. For a while, it’s beautiful, we used it for storage…
…and for a while before we had this deck…
…and that was our only over, uh, covered kitchen, right?
Nobody was in my house and we didn’t have anything.
We had nothing else covered…
…or, uh, community kitchen…
…and there were 3 or 4 of us on the land at one time…
…and we were all using using, you know….
How long have you been here?
On this land? On these 3 acres?
Or in the whole community?
On these 3 acres, hmm… I think it was a year anniversary after my mom’s passing.
That’s how I remember it.
So it’s been a minute.
Like. So what’s that, four years, something like that?
By the time I was finally able to move my house here, it was done it was like we got it, you know? Because like I said, I built it in Maine, and I didn’t, yeah…
And so you did buy it with a bank loan, a mortgage?
Absolutely not. That was not–our intention was to fully liberate the land so that we could have interaction where the people could come and not have to have rent at least be our primary fucking concern.
Our primary concern was like…
Just like us.
…are you wanting to steward the land?
I want to share some of the ways I’ve been living lightly. And composting my personal and ancestral wounds with the only being that seems to have the capacity to deal with the trauma that I’m carrying, that’s Mother Earth.
And I say I am on a liberation journey and anybody who agrees with that and is willing to compost their ancestral alchemy energy, um, they come to me, and it’s like all kinds of people. Young people, old people, people of all colors and shades, but it’s definitely intentional on Afro-indigenous, Descendants of Chattel Slavery, and First Nations of Turtle Island who are engaged. We want our intersection of repair of our indigeneity from the colonization, like that is what we’re doing…
…we are doing this work of, um…
Beautiful. It’s repairing actually.
…saying you’re not in the picture colonizer cause you can’t help us heal…
…’cause your interests are your ancestral interests are served by that so unless you can be of service to us…
…then you’re nothing but a repetition of your ancestral, uh, energies, because they don’t know how to do it. They just, how can they know what their ancestors never passed on to them?
They don’t have in their genetic and epigenetic and energetic memory. Those are all the things that we do have, so I’m like, no, this land is not about somebody owning it as much as it’s about us learning how to liberate our land for care and steward…
Not that we are liberators, the land actually liberates us.
We recognize that but…
…we know that we gotta liberate it at least from the fuckin’ chains of the banksters.
That’s right. That’s right. You heard it, family. This is liberated land and our beautiful sister, Valencia, is doing it right here, and before I run out of battery, I just wanna say that, um, there’s a magical sound here that is the sound of silence, but are the cacophony of nature as I would call it. So much. So much medicine right here. It just feels–I just feel light. So I just wanna thank you Valencia for your beautiful work.
You are so welcome.
So much love. Thank you.
Dr. Robin DiAngelo: All systems of oppression are highly adaptive, and they can adapt to challenges and incorporate them . They can allow for exceptions. And, I think the most effective adaptation of the system of racism to the challenges of the Civil Rights Movement was to reduce a “racist” to a very simple formula: A racist is an individual— always an individual, not a system, who consciously does not like people based on race, must be conscious, and who intentionally seeks to be mean to them. Individual, conscious, intent. And if that is my definition of a racist, then your suggestion that anything I’ve said or done is racist or has a racist impact, I’m going to hear that as: “You just said I was a bad person, you just put me over there in that category.” And most of my bias anyway is unconscious. So I’m not intending. I’m not aware. So now, I’m going to need to defend my moral character, and I will. And we’ve all seen it.
It seems to be virtually impossible, based on that definition, for the average White person to look deeply at their socialization, to look at the inevitability of internalizing racist biases, developing racist patterns, and having investments in the system of racism, which is pretty comfortable for us and serves us really well. I think that definition of a racist, that either/or, what I call the “good/bad binary”, is the root of virtually all White defensiveness on this topic. Because it makes it virtually impossible to talk to the average White person about the inevitable absorption of a racist worldview that we get by being, literally swimming, in racist water.
So let me connect that to myself: As a result of being raised as a White person in this society, I have a racist worldview. I have deep racist biases. I have developed racist patterns, and I have investments in the system of racism because it’s served me really well. It’s comfortable. It’s helped me overcome the barriers that I do face. And I also have an investment in not seeing any of that for what it would suggest to me about my identity and what it would require of me. Right? I didn’t choose any of that. I don’t feel guilty about it. It is an inevitable result of being raised in this society in which racism is the bedrock. The question of guilt comes in what I am doing about that?
While we who are White tend to be fragile in that it doesn’t take much to upset us around race, the impact of our response is not fragile at all. It’s a kind of weaponized defensiveness, weaponized hurt feelings. It functions really really effectively to repel the challenge. As a white person, I move through the world racially comfortable virtually 24/7. It is exceptional for me to be outside of my racial comfort zone. And most of my life I’ve been warned not to go outside of my racial comfort zone. And so on the rare occasion when I am uncomfortable racially, it’s a kind of throwing off of my racial equilibrium. And I need to get back into that. And so I will do whatever it takes to repel the challenge and get back into it.
And in that way, I think White fragility functions as a kind of White racial bullying, to be frank. We make it so miserable for people of color to talk to us about our inevitable and often unaware racist patterns that we cannot help develop from being socialized into a culture in which racism is the bedrock and the foundation. We make it so miserable for them to talk to us about it that most of the time they don’t, right? You have to understand that most people of color who are working or living in primarily White environments take home way more daily slights and hurts and insult than they bother talking to us about because their experience is: They’re going to risk more punishment. They’re going to lose the relationship. They’re going to have their experience minimized, explained away. They’re going to cause the person to feel attacked or hurt. And in that way, White fragility functions as a kind of everyday White racial control. None of that has to be intentional or conscious, but that is how it functions.
And it’s actually incredibly liberating and trans-formative to start from the premise of: “Of course I’ve internalized all of this” and then I can stop defending, deflecting, denying, hoping you won’t notice, minimizing, explaining. And, I can just let go of that and get to work.
And there’s a question that’s never failed me in my efforts to unpack “How do we pull this off? How do so many of us who are White, individually, feel so free of racism, and yet we live in a society that is so profoundly separate and unequal by race? And the question that’s never failed me is not, “Is this true or is this false? Is this right or is this wrong?”, but “How does it function? How do these narratives I that I tell, how do they function?” When I tell you, “Well, I’m just an individual. Why can’t we all just be individuals?” When I tell you , “I was taught to treat everyone the same.” When I tell you, “But it’s focusing on race that divides us.” When I tell you, “But I have lots of friends of color!” Those narratives have not changed our outcomes, and they function to take race off the table and to exempt the person from any further engagement. And in doing that, they function to protect the current racial hierarchy and the White position within it. It doesn’t have to be what I’m intending to do but it is the impact of those narratives.
Empire Files with Abby Martin on Telesur English
Throughout it’s history, America’s leaders have echoed the mantra that it is the beacon of freedom and equality, that its actions abroad are based on democracy and morality, and that it’s the greatest country on Earth. America’s actions, we’ve been told, have been for the greater good, that it’s citizens are in this together, united under the banner of one nation under God. But history tells a different story.
When we think of empire, we think of ruthless civilizations like Rome where an emperor class reigns supreme over the masses, brazenly conquering and enslaving their neighbors. But these feudal remnants linger still today and despite the trappings the core system of empire remains.
As colonialism advanced, empires swallowed up the last indigenous lands. Most egregiously at the Berlin conference in 1884, European superpowers sat down at a negotiating table and divided up Africa for themselves, eviscerating the last bastion of autonomy on the continent.
But as empires expanded their appetite grew bigger than the planet. The feeding frenzy came to a head in 1914 when the rulers of competing empires led 17 million people like cattle to the slaughter. In the midst of the global massacre, empires continued to re-draw the world for themselves. Under the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, the U.K. and France drew their own borders in the Middle East, deciding the fate of millions and showing how arbitrary borders really are.
Their unquenchable thirst for power and profit led the empires to clash again barely 20 years later with unspeakable horrors claiming the lives of 16 million human beings, culminating with the most catastrophic weapon the world has ever seen. The use of the atomic bomb against the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a defining act of terror that cemented America’s standing as military supreme.
And from then on, it cast its shadow as the new reigning Empire. The centers of the world’s powers were left decimated, except one, and the victor built a new order under its hegemony. A club of Empires formed in its aftermath united against a common enemy, self-determination.
In 1949, the US, Canada and ten European states formed NATO insisting it was a defensive alliance. Yet NATO has carried out a strategy of containment through countless wars of aggression.
“For Saddam Hussein possession of the world’s most deadly weapons is the ultimate trump card, the one he must hold to fulfill his ambition” –Colin Powell as Secretary of State
Organizations like the UN give the facade of civilized diplomacy and legality, but time and again it’s shown that military might trumps morality. The U.S. routinely breaks international laws and treaties with no repercussions from the international body. And when it needs UN backing for illegal wars, well it just bullies its members for endorsement.
Intervention after intervention, this growing Empire has subverted the democratic processes of dozens of countries, undermined people the world over and installed countless dictators loyal to its will. War after war, it has swallowed up or attempted to destroy any land that is not capitulated to its demands. Even within their own borders, in cases where its own people dissented, the Empire deployed the military against them.
Incidentally, every intervention seems to follow a similar trend. In Latin America alone the US military has intervened 56 times to determine the destiny of other nations. But let’s just look at three examples:
In 1944, revolution in Guatemala overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Jorge Ubico and elected Juan José Arévalo in the first free elections. But his progressive reforms offended the United Fruit Company and other corporation’s rule of the island. So after bombing Guatemala City, President Truman authorized the overthrow Arevalo’s democratically elected successor, Jacobo Árbenz in 1952. The brutal display marked the beginning of a 36-year civil war ruled by U.S.- backed dictators and death squads where 200,000 Guatemalans were killed.
In the Dominican Republic, the people democratically elected Juan Bosch to power in 1962 after being ruled by a U.S.-trained dictator for 31 years, whose reign is considered one of the bloodiest in all of the Americas. Just one year later, Bosch was overthrown by a U.S.-supported fascist military coup. But growing resistance led President Johnson to deploy more than 22,000 troops to the D.R. in 1965, killing three-thousand people and enabling the military occupation to continue for decades.
Then there’s Chile, where the U.S. spent six million dollars to undermine leftist leader Salvador Allende before he was even elected in 1970. A mass movement of people backing Allende’s progressive reforms terrified the establishment. So a bloody CIA coup ensued followed by a 17- year military dictatorship by the notoriously heinous Pinochet, who carried out a reign of terror, torturing 28,000, executing 2,279 and leaving countless disappeared.
The U.S. rarely leaves any country it intervenes in. Now there’s an estimated 800 military bases around the world spanning 63 countries, officially. An absurd 179 exist in Germany alone. Yet the number is over 70 when you count anywhere with a sizable troop presence or combat operations. And, broadening the definition to any U.S. troop presence encompasses virtually every country on Earth.
Mother Earth, Isabelle Knockwood- Ceremony in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia to remove Cornwallis statue
Ceremony of removing Cornwallis, July 15th 2017
My Indian name is Mother Earth, and my colonial name is Isabelle Knockwood. I’m from the Shubanacadie band. It’s an honor for me to be here, and do the opening ceremony. I realize we come from different directions. Four different directions. Four different places. Many many cultures. And we have our own spiritual beliefs systems that we brought with us today. I want to tell you that opening this ceremony I’m going to be doing this morning is a direct teaching of my mother. And in no way does it conflict with anybody’s beliefs. You are not required to believe anything, or accept anything I say. Just know that I’m here with a good heart.
And that I want you to know that the purpose of this ceremony is to ground us in the present. Because we bring our history. And our history in Nova Scotia regarding this man is ugly. And it’s especially ugly for Mi’kmaq people.
But I want you to understand also, you are on unceded land. This land, Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaq territory, was never sold and was never given up. Never ceded or surrendered. All we had was stone tools, stone spears, and when the Europeans and Asians and other races came here, all we had to defend ourselves was stone tools. You had the weapons, and you had liquor. You brought the whiskey. We didn’t have alcohol. And those are the two things that did us in. We had nothing, we had nothing, but we’re still here and we still didn’t surrender! We never surrendered anything. We have nothing today, but we’re still here.
My ceremony is going to be facing in the four directions. I start off in the East, because we are Wabanakies. Wabanaki comes from the word Wejkwapeniaq. Wejkwapeniaq means the “coming of the white light”. The white light at dawn. That’s when we are used to start our day, at dawn. And our people used to pray to the dawn. To greet the dawn. That’s why I’m going to pray to the East. Then I’m going to face South, and do a certain prayer for that way, then the West and the North. I’ll walk around here.
Just a little teaching, I’ll explain so you know what I’m doing. When we face East, we ask for things that are mental, intellectual, our dreams, our visions, our goals. And what’s our goal for today. You decide what your goal is for today, when I ask the spirits. When I face South, I’m going to ask the creator to bless our emotions. Because there is a lot of anger, and a lot of conflict associated with this statue and with this man, and with the war crimes. That’s for the South. We’re going to replace all our anger with love and understanding and tolerance. Then we face the West, and that’s where we ask for spirit guides. We’re going to ask for guidance on ways of how to help each other. How to understand each other. When we face West. When we face North, we’re going to thank for materializing all our wishes and all our visions and all our dreams. When we face North. And then the ceremony will be over.
So we’ll start.
Oh, Great spirit of the East, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe. To this park in Halifax, K’jipuktuk. To clear our minds. Clear our minds. Remove distractions. So you be able to see your goal in life clearly. And you will know what to do with your life. With the rest of your life.
Now we’re going to face South.
Great spirit of the South, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe, to this ceremony at this park in Halifax. To remove all our negative feelings. All our anger. All our frustration. To replace it with tolerance, understanding and love for each other.
It’s a tough one to let go of, because we are all victims of war. No matter where we came from. We’re all victims of war. Some of us think we won, some of us think we lost (laughs). We’re all losers in war, and were all winners in peace. (crowd cheers)
Great spirit of the West, send us spirit guides and helpers. And spirits guide can be Ancestors. Could be animals. Could be birds. Could be people. You could be each other’s guides. In this journey that we have to do. We’re on the Earth together. We have no choice. We’re here. We might as well get along. (crowd laughs and cheers) People have spirit guides, animals for spirit guides, eagles, thunderbirds. Great animals, lions, wolves, bears. My spirit guide is a chipmunk. (crowd laughs) Talks a lot. That’s my spirit guide. Each of you has a spirit guide. Could be your ancestors. And our ancestors, when they first met each other, our ancestors, they were glad to see each other. It’s when the politicians and the missionaries and the traders and the capitalists and the others. When they all started making rules and politics and putting us on reservations and whatever, that’s where we started to fight each other. And now, enough. (crowd: “enough!”)
Great spirit of the North, I summon thee from the far corners of the universe, to this ceremony in Halifax. At the park at – is this a “Cornwallis Park”? (laughs) Cornwallis Park. (crowd: “we have to change that too”) Tonight when the sun goes down, the day will be over. And that’s when our – when we face North, that’s when everything materializes. Everything we thought about today, or we wished for, or had visions or dreams about, today, it all materializes when we face North. And at the end of the day, when we put down our tobacco, at the end of the day, we will thank the Creator for the day. And we will put our deeds, our good deeds and our good thoughts on the altar. And we’ll tell the Creator, “This is what I did with this day that you gave me. Thank you”.
I’ll send all my blessings to everyone:
I ask the Creator to clear your minds, so that you are able to see your goal in life clearly. And you will know what to do.
I ask the Creator to take all the burdens from your shoulders that are not yours. And have strength to do your own. When you carry somebody else’s burden, you are enabling them. You help them, you teach them what to do, but don’t do their work for them. Just do your own.
I ask the Creator to remove all your anger . All your frustration. And replace it with love and understanding for each other. Fill our hearts with understanding and tolerance for each other, so that our words will be pure and perfect and loving. And true.
I ask the Creator to guide – bless your hands! Bless your hands, so that you’d be able to do the work that you were created to do. Bless your hands.
And I ask the Creator to remove all sicknesses from your body. All your worries and fears, and give them back to Mother Earth.
I ask the Creator to protect your backs. So that you will not be – adversely affected by things that are being said and done behind your backs. Especially politics and what the government plans. What happened here (points to statue). We had no input in that. I don’t think we the people had input in that. Things like that, that happened in history, things have planned behind closed doors. By generals and military guys. We ask the Creator to protect our backs from that, and protect each other’s backs too.
I ask the creator to protect your footsteps. And keep you out of harm’s way. Stay in the present. This ceremony is not in any way conflicts with any of your religions, but just stay in the present for today. Focusing on what we’re going to do today. Msit No’kmaq. Means “all my relations”. We are all related. We are all related. Msit No’kmaq.
Crowd member: “Huge support from Palestine!” (Crowd cheers)
White Lady: …you don’t think that anything he’s doing is helping the situation?
Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail: Excuse me, did I just hear you correctly? “how can he be blamed for that”?
Excuse me. Don’t speak to us that way.
– Stop, right now. You do not speak to us that way. We are human beings, and the way you speak to us is
JWI: – not acceptable. Stop it. Stop it right now! Step out. We don’t want to hear from you. You don’t speak to us like that.
WL: “It’s a simple question, can I have an answer?”
JWI: And this is the problem, the way you communicated. You need to stop.
[WL continues to argue]
(in Cree) Stop, I want you to stop being disrespectful to us. You have been doing this for a long time now, you are good at being disrespectful to us, together you people. It has been like this for a long time now.
You’re a guest here, and you don’t even know how to speak to us. You don’t even recognize the tone in your voice, in your delivery. You’re done. You’re done. Next question
White Man: I will re-ask the same question…
JWI: You better be respectful.
WM: I’m totally being respectful, I’m asking if Justin Trudeau has improved the situation…..
JWI: We have a holistic genocide happening here.
– Don’t speak on behalf of Julie.
Julie: I can speak for myself.
JWI: And I can speak for myself. You know what, White people, you’ve had your voice heard for 524 years. 524 years you’ve been visible, White lady! You’ve been visible. Look how fast your White man comes and steps up for you. Where is everybody else to come step up for us? I have a right for my voice, I’m still fighting for my voice and my visibility.
WM: We asked a question…
JWI: And I am telling you, I am telling you, right now, there has been 524 years of holistic genocide on Turtle Island. We are the ones that are dying. It’s not you that is dying.
And as far as “how Justin Trudeau is doing”? One of the things that we need to keep in mind is we are asking the UN to help us at charges of genocide, a war against humanity, war crimes and a crime of aggression, be laid. Because your Liberal Party was also responsible. Every party – your every governance that has been in power. There’s been a war conflict of Indian Residential School, 60 Indian day Scoop, and a million of damn Scoops. None of your governments have clean hands. All of your governments have blood on their hands. None of you are different. You haven’t changed! Because you haven’t started your healing journeys.
The moment we have our voice and our backbone you want to shut us down. And you think, you’re privileged to disrespect us, the moment we tell you because of your colonial mindset and your colonial way of being, your white privilege, your white fragility – you can’t take our truth! Look how many people came to bat for you, White lady. And you’re a guest here. Without us you’d be homeless. This is over.
Transcript coming soon!
The Heritage of Slavery (1968)
w/ Fannie Lou Hamer & Lerone Bennett, Jr.
News documentary from 1968 hosted by George Foster, exploring the legacy of oppression that remains over 100 years after the abolition of that peculiar institution. In Part 1, Foster visits Charleston, SC and speaks with both descendants of slaves and slave owners. The cameras capture a sermon by Rev. Henry Butler of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church (where Denmark Vesey planned an unsuccessful slave revolt in 1822 and Dylan Roof would later kill 9 church members in 2015). In Part 2, the cameras go to Mississippi to speak with former sharecroppers and political activist FANNIE LOU HAMER. In the final segment, we travel to Chicago, where Prof. JAMES TURNER and activist CALVIN LOCKRIDGE educate young people about revolution. Ebony Magazine editor and historian LERONE BENNETT offers a poignant analogy to describe the times we are in today. From http://www.archive.org Assumed to be in the Public Domain.
Charleston, South Carolina has a beautiful harbor, and an historic one. The Civil War began here with the shelling of Fort Sumter, and even before his fleet was beaten back at the harbor entrance by American revolutionary troops. But there is another history here, and it has its own kind of troops, two boatloads of them once starved themselves to death at this harbor rather than enter Charleston. Another 40,000 of them were rushed through this port in one three-year period, so they could go to work in America, for nothing.
They were Africans. But, in this country, they were taught to look at themselves another way, as slaves. Charleston is one of America’s oldest cities. Much of the city is lovely, and much of its loveliness is the product of slave labor. But Charleston, like the rest of America, learned very early that, if it was going to have slaves, it had better sleep with a gun under its pillow.
Like other immigrants to America, the slaves were huddled masses. But, unlike the others, what Blacks were huddled against was America itself. Often they rebelled . Quite often.
Partly in order to deal with inside agitators, Charleston put walls and fences all over the place. It turned out, that if you bought a slave, you may have bought yourself an insurrectionist.
Today, all over America, there are still echoes of the noises made when one race tries to subjugate another. We will explore the heritage of slavery and the roots of Black rebellion.
Twenty Africans were landed in America in 1619, one year before the Mayflower. By 1860, there were four million Black men, women and children, the private property of White America. The New World meant possession to the White man. It meant dispossession to the Black man. Slavery was an attitude as much as a condition, and attitudes, like land, can be inherited
On the plantation outside Charleston where his family has lived for eight generations, since 1672, Norwood Hasty was asked if he thinks slavery was immoral.
No, no. I don’t, because when a slave came from Africa, he couldn’t speak the language, he was totally untrained to do any any job at all that would fit in with the civilization. Someone had to take care of him, someone had to take care of him 24 hours a day, and it’s pretty hard to do that unless you owned a person. So I think slavery just had to be in those early days.
Mr. Hasty, what was life like in those early days?
As far as the Colored people were concerned, I feel that they were a good bit happier than they are now. They had less in the way of material things. but I can remember back in the twenties, when I was a small boy, they were always singing at their work, had a great sense of humor. Now today they just don’t seem to care much about that as they used to. And I think they have lost their sense of it somewhat, which I deplore.
What do you think are the differences between the races?
I think there’s a refusal to accept responsibility. I think there’s a lack of motivation. I’ve tried here to promote people to foreman, superintendents, but they just refused to do it. They just don’t want the responsibility. They don’t worry likely the White man. If they have troubles, they go to sleep and wake up the next morning, that trouble is over.
Is it possible that White people have something to do with the lack of ability for Blacks to assimilate into this culture?
Absolutely. White man has certainly been prejudiced and, to quite an extent, unfair. But customs die awful hard. it takes takes a long time. and everyone knew years ago that the nigger would have to be given equality. but in the South, knowing Nigras as we think we do, we realized it would take time. it has been compared to straightening teeth, you can’t do it with a hammer. White people’s attitudes will change in time. I’m a lot more liberal than I was five years ago, and I know I’ll be a lot more liberal five years from now. And I think almost everyone else is in that category.
What has tended to make you more liberal?
The realization that the Negra is a human being like anyone else.
Mr. Hasty, what did you think we were before you began to think of us as human beings?
Well, in a way, we thought of ya’ll mostly as a very superior pet, something, or rather, someone we had to take care of. Because we had to do so much of their thinking for them. We had to do almost everything for them, except living their own lives. Anything outside, we had to do for them.
If masters did the thinking for slaves, it is not recorded who did the thinking for masters. Most Southerners didn’t even own slaves, but they became victims of the glamour surrounding big plantations. Today there is talk of equality in the future. But it is the romance of the unequal past that still infatuates and torments much of Charleston. For Blacks, that past is a little thin on romance.
It is true that in a home like this one, Scarlett O’Hara might have lived. And, a home like this might have contained an overseer like Simon Legree. But it is an absolute certainty that ,if I had been around in those days, I would have lived right here. And that, for an increasing number of Black Americans today, is what American history is all about.
The process of slavery began in Africa. The slave trade was very rewarding. New Englanders made quick fortunes and African profiteers, who were not exactly soul brothers, sometimes helped them. A Black captive was marched overland to the west coast of Africa where a molten branding iron gave him a new instant identity. It was found that if you strip a man of his culture, prevent him from learning a new one, and separate him from his family, it does not take him too long to start feeling like a commodity.
The West’s naval architects competed to design slave ships where more men could be packed into less space. Gustavus Vassa was a slave who later bought his freedom. A reading from his diary recalls his abduction in 1756:
The sight of the ship filled me with terror when I was carried on board. I was put down into the decks. and there, with the loathsomeness of the stench and crying together, I became so sick and loathe that I was not able to eat. Two of the White men offered me eatables, and on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, while the other flogged me severely. The closeness of the place and the heat added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us . The air soon became unfit for respiration from a variety of loathsome smells and brought on a sickness among the slaves of which many died. The shrieks of the women and the groans of the dying rendered a scene of horror almost unbelievable.
When they reached America, slaves found auction blocks waiting for them. Any slave could be sold at anytime. Slave markets were very effective socially. They broke up the Black family. But even if you were a commodity, you remembered the last time you saw your mother. A slave described his own sale in 1858:
My brothers and sisters were bid off first, while my mother, paralyzed by grief, held me by the hand. Her turn came and she was bought by Isaac Riley. Then I was offered to the assembly of purchases. My mother pushed through the crowd to the spot where Riley was standing. She fell at his feet, entreating him to buy her baby as well as herself and spare her one child at least. Will it, can it be believed, that this man was capable of disengaging himself from her with such violent blows and kicks as to reduce her to creeping out of his reach? I was then five years old.
Slaves were sold at several markets in Charleston, and one of them has been meticulously preserved for visitors. Recently, a bi-racial committee was formed, and it has worked hard to build a new link between Whites and Blacks. Very little of what American cities have come to think of as racial turmoil has occurred in Charleston. But underneath the graciousness, old relationships are often found intact. Descendants of slaves work for descendants of slave owners.
Mrs. Lionel Leg retains the tone of a past she cherishes.
Mrs. Lionel Leg:
So Daisy was my little playmate, my maid, my friend, and the daughter of old Catherine, who was a cook that we adored. So all those years we played together and everyone was happy. We never heard of all these things we hear about today. And there were nearly a hundred, enormous rice plantation with many animals around, and a beautiful old house and about a hundred Colored people there. But we loved them. They were our friends, and then it’s no disgrace to say they’re like children. When we say they are like children, it’s because they are like happy children, some of them, because they like to sit in the sun rather than work hard, and they’d rather play than work.
If you could, would you paint a picture for us of what it was like on the plantation in your early days.
Mrs. Lionel Leg:
It was a lovely happy time, living in open spaces with many lovely Colored people and animals and flowers and fields. My father had everything thoroughbred, from the pigs, horses, the dogs and the people had to be thoroughbred.
And we would get into a buggy with him and drive to the plantation from what we call the pine land, where we lived. And we would spend, every Saturday this was, we would spend the day, and old Fortune, I can see him now, he would give us dinner. And we would have a heavenly time. And old April, he was the dairyman, that’s all he did, all he did was to skim the cream off of these great big boards of clabber and put them in the wooden churn and churn this marvelous fresh butter. That was April’s job. He didn’t do anything else, but love us and and skim the cream.
Mrs. Ruby Cornwell: (Retired Charleston School Teacher)
The Southern White man just loves to say that ,”Oh our Negros are happy. They like it, they like the way things are. If other people would just leave them alone, there wouldn’t be any problem”. And, some, I think, really believe it. And I think that’s one thing, perhaps, has sort of thrown them off balance, when all of a sudden their Negros just weren’t behaving the way they thought they ought to behave. You were just a doormat, and that’s where the good relations came in. As long as you’re a doormat, we have wonderful relations.
They just felt that, until recently, relations between Negroes and White were just so very good, just wonderful relations. It’s outside agitators. And, yet, it never occurs to them that they were good on whose terms, on their terms.
Those terms have been dictated by a White aristocracy that has ruled the South for almost 300 years. The aristocrats said slavery was one of mankind’s noblest inventions. But, it was a nobility often maintained by violence. If a slave got beaten enough, some of the milk of human kindness was likely to drain out of him.
The master got mad at me, and he buckled me down across a barrel, and whipped me until he cut the blood out of me. It felt like I would die, but he owned us, body and soul, and there wasn’t anything we could do about it. When the master died, we were called in to look at his coffin. We all marched by him slowly, and I just happened to look up and caught my sister’s eye, and we both just naturally laughed. Why not? We were glad he was dead.
Slaves began running away in the sixteen-hundreds, but the principal method of escape wasn’t formed until the eighteen-hundreds. It was called the Underground Railroad, though the journey was usually on foot. Harriet Tubman, the railroad’s outstanding conductor, would walk innocently past a plantation singing “Steal away to Jesus”, and the slaves would literally steal away, to Philadelphia or Boston.
Wherever there was slavery, there was also resistance. The revolutionary movement among Blacks began long before the “Spirit of ’76”. Until 1800, slavery was legal in the North. New York City had a massive slave insurrection in 1712. There were at least 250 recorded slave revolts in America. The most effective insurrection was led by Nat Turner in Virginia in 1831. Turner and his fellow revolutionaries killed 60 White people before they themselves were captured and executed by state and federal troops. The South was terrified. Owners decided they had better be protected from their property. Slave laws became more severe.
In 1850, Congress lent the South a hand by passing the Fugitive Slave Law, allowing Southerners to come North to reclaim their Runaways. But resistance had its own momentum too. It was articulated fiercely and with finality in the famous appeal by David Walker, a free Black man living in the North.
I ask one question here. Can our condition be any worse? Had you not rather be killed than to be a slave to a tyrant who takes the life of your mother, wife and dear little children? I speak Americans for your own good. We must and shall be free in spite of you! You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery, but God will deliver us from under you. And woe, woe will it be unto you, if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting. Throw away your fears and prejudices, and we will love you more than we do now hate you. What a happy country this will be if the Whites will only listen.
On the site of an old church in Charleston, the most daring of all slave revolts was planned by a freed slave named Denmark Vesey. With nine-thousand supporters, Vesey intended to capture the entire city of Charleston. But. he was betrayed by a house slave.
The Reverend Henry Butler inspires his congregation to be proud that slavery was met by insurrection.
Rev. Henry Butler:
So Denmark Vesey, an anti-slavery leader, 1767, 1822. He was an insurrectionist, so they tell me. He organized an unsuccessful slave revolt here in Charleston, South Carolina. He and 34 other Negro conspirators, so they call them, were hanged. But it was here, on this spot, in a little old wooden structure downstairs that Denmark Vesey planned his insurrection. And then, as now, some of the people could not keep a secret. And I can sympathize because our forefathers were taught not to keep anything secret from the master, and there was a servant who told the master of Denmark Vesey’s insurrection and of his plan. And, of course the plan was broken up, and then South Carolina passed a law closing all (our) schools and daring Negroes to be caught reading. And this place was closed.
When we think of those that were hanged, those that were persecuted, those that were killed, those that have had hoses and water poured on them, those who have had bloodhounds on their trails, those that have been mistreated and, in the midst of of it all, somehow they stood up, because they had a spiritual backbone that called them to look beyond the temporary things of life. If we are to move in this new day, we cannot have backbones like a jellyfish. What is man? Man is a part of God! Each man is a thought of God. Each man is entitled to be recognized. And, we trust that in the future we do not have to do what our fathers had to do, but if necessary, we have to do what has to be done!
Doing what he thinks must be done in Charleston is what Bill Saunders, a Black activist, worries about. He finds the past too close for comfort. Although it is more than 100 years since the end of legal slavery in America, Saunders believes too many Whites act like masters, and too many Blacks feel like slaves.
Old slave master and slave conditions that existed, hundred, 200 years ago, are still here in Charleston. We as Black people were brought into this country for slave labor, and we have worked as slaves from the time that were brought into this country until the present time. I’m fighting so hard for Black survival, because I believe that this country is getting to the place that they don’t need that labor anymore. And, since they don’t need that labor anymore, they don’t need Black people anymore.
The has past taught me that I got to do something to survive here, and I feel like a lot of us will have to start adjusting exactly how we feel about the situation. We really got nothing to lose, really. We ain’t got no jobs to lose, we ain’t got no business to lose. The only thing we have got to lose are our lives, and the man been taking that any time he want it.
The thing that I am saying, that I’m preaching, that instead of going to jail for the man all the time, for nothing, if you gonna go to jail, go to jail for something. Have yourself a plan and make something, when you do go to jail. this is the just the type of program, you’ve got to, you got to. The thing that we don’t have, we don’t have no program to go to the man and say “”This is what we want”.
I did a lot of things in my past that I’m guilty of . First, my parents were Black and then I was born Black. You’re not guilty you know of no crime at all except for being Black. The White man is my oppressor. He’s the one that
controls the jail. He controls the hospital. He controls the army, he controls the Navy, controls everything, and he’s the man and I have to fight. White America got to wake up and realize and listen and understand that not only Black folk got to make sacrifices, but White folks gonna have to start making sacrifices, some sacrifices to make this country what it’s supposed to be. Other than that, there’s not gon’ be no country.
Every man, woman and child in Mississippi can rationalize how they have always been friends to the Colored man. All of a sudden, they wake up here one morning and are told that what the way they’ve operated for the last hundred years is wrong. This is a hard thing to just tell a man that he’s spent his life doing something wrong. He doesn’t have to believe it. And, then all of a sudden, we’re some kind of demon. If you if you live in Mississippi and run a cotton plantation, you”re supposed to be some kind of demon. This is the national image of cotton plantation operator in the Mississippi Delta.
Humphreys McGee owns a 25-hundred acre plantation in the Mississippi Delta. His mother’s family has been in the state for seven generations. And, on his father’s side, the McGees moved the Delta from South Carolina. Charleston was the elegant capital of Southern culture in the 19th century. Mississippi was the frontier. Attitudes hardened early. The old way of life has endured in Mississippi longer than anywhere else. Whites and Blacks in the Delta look at he past from different angles, but it is a shared past.
See the Civil War’s over, and regardless of the evils of slavery, these people understood each other. It was not some sort of medieval torture for a person to be a tenant farmer on a plantation. And, I don’t know anybody that is ashamed of the system the way it worked. It’s an impossible system to return to. With that mechanical cotton-picker, one man can do what 150 men had been doing. This was the crown and blow to this system. Everything is geared to machinery. And where I used to have 83 families on the plantation, I have 15 boys working machine operators. But I will say, that the system we had was a system that, on the surface, developed a very outgoing happy group of people. They’re old people now, but these are the people that that I grew up thinking I knew.
Mr. and Mrs. Haywood Jenkins:
I work hard and she work hard. (Show’l did.)
Mrs. Haywood Jenkins:
I work hard, hard, hard. I get out, get up at four-clock and get my breakfast done., just at the dawn of day, I go to the field and be pick cotton.
Mr. and Mrs. Haywood Jenkins of Sharkey County Mississippi have, between them, picked cotton for over a century.
Mrs. Haywood Jenkins:
The boss man came along and he says, “Mary Jane”, and I say, “Suh?”, and he says, “I say, when you wash?” I say, “I washed last night”. And he say, “I don’t want you to do that no mo’. That’s my agent, you know.” He says, “Every Friday morning or Friday evening, you wash. And let all the children stay there with you ’til you get through. And, when you get through, then ya’ll can go back to the field and work” Now the agents was mean, some of ’em, some of ’em was mean. They wanted to whoop the Colored people. And that kind of White man come along and he says “Haywood, you ain’t in the field, yet!” Hay just had started the plowing, he said, “Yeah, I just now got to eat my dinner.” He say, “Gotdamnit, you ain’t doing a gotdamn thing! Gotdamnit, I oughta take this damn stick at frail the hell outcha.” Hay say “If you frail the hell outta me, gotdamnit ,I’m gone flail the hell outta you.!”
It make me feel bad, if we was under him, how mean he was to treat us like that.
In the frontier days, slaves begged not to be sent to Mississippi, where the work was almost as harsh as the overseers. Resistance was often subtle, but seldom absent. A runaway slave said that each so-called happy song was a testimony against slavery and a prayer for deliverance.
This system in its best sense was based on noblesse oblige by the land owner. But I don’t have 83 families anymore that I feel like I’m the daddy of. I do not expect to ever have this relationship with the younger generation, the children of these men. They are oriented entirely differently. They grew up in the Fifties. They’re a conscious of the change in the status quo. They’re fairly confused about what their position is. They don’t want to be subservient.
Young Black Man in Mississippi:
From what I saw my mother and father and my brothers do, while I was growing up, I feel that I don’t want my kids growing up in a world like this. Because I know some days I saw my mother slaving from six in the morning in a hot sun, hundred-degree weather, from pulling a hoe in a field from six until night, with about a hour’s break between all this time. My father doing labor that machines wouldn’t be made to do, hardly. The labor was that bad. And, I feel that if we’ve been working this long and we can’t even own the shirts on our backs, I feel that we have to take some drastic steps, some drastic steps, to make something happen, to make a change come about. Because Mississippi is going to either have to change or there can be no more Mississippi. And we have to do this by any means possible. Through our parents, we’ve earned Mississippi. It’s no question about it, brother. I mean, if my mother got out there and sweated from morning until night and you tell me I don’t own anything she sweated on! How can that be! How can it be?!
The White man does not want to give over his institutions. And that’s what people fear will happen. Give up control, who wants to give up control? You just don’t want to turn over the reins of everything, and give up control. Who wants to give up control?
(Okay guys get in the car . Let’s go.)
So White supremacy is, undoubtedly, a feeling that White people have all over the world. Of course, how the Black man and the White man would live together has been the paramount concern of people ever since the Mississippi Valley was settled, especially when the greatest number was the Black people. The problem is that I don’t need the men I used to need.
Humphreys McGee can run his plantation with machines now, and the government takes care of surplus cotton. That leaves surplus people and no one does anything about them. They cluster in shanty towns like this one in Cleveland, Mississippi, and they wait for something, almost anything, to happen.
First as slaves and then as tenants and sharecroppers, Black Mississippians turned the Delta swamps into the richest plantation soil in the world. Now the soil and the crops no longer need the people. the mechanical cotton-picker, an instrument of agricultural efficiency, became also an instrument of history.
In many Mississippi counties, Blacks have always been in the majority, which means Whites have had a problem. If you’ve got the land and the money but not the numbers ,its natural, as Humphreys McGee says, to want control.
In Mississippi, White control has made the past hard to distinguish from the present. More than anyone else, the spirit of resistance to this control has been Fannie Lou Hamer. At the 1964 Democratic convention, Mrs. Hamer was a leader of the attempt to unseat the regular Democratic delegation from Mississippi.
Fannie Lou Hamer:
Mississippi is still a very rough place. No, people is not just walking up like they used to do in the past, walking out and you know shooting a man down, or getting, maybe, two or three-hundred, people carrying ya out and lynchin’ ya, but it’s in a more subtle way. You know, they let you starve to death, not give you jobs. These are some of the things that’s happening right now in Mississippi.
You see Mississippi is not actually Mississippi’s problem. Mississippi is America’s problem. Because if America wanted to do something about what has been going on in Mississippi, it could have stopped by now. It wouldn’t have been, in the past few years, 40, between 40 and 50 churches bombed and burned. You see, this lead me to say, you know, all of the burning and bombing that was done to us and the houses, nobody never said too much about that, and nothing was done, but let something be burned, you know, by a Black man, and then my God! You see the flag is its drenched with our blood. Because, you see, so many of our Ancestors was killed because we have never accepted slavery. We’ve had to live under it, but we’ve never wanted it!
So we know that this flag is drenched with our blood, so what the young people are saying now “Give us a chance to be young men, respected as a man, as we know this country was built on the Black backs of Black people across this country. And, if we don’t have it, you ain’t gonna have it either, cause we gone tear it up,” that’s what they’re saying, and people ought to understand that. I don’t see why they don’t understand it. They know what they’ve done to us. All across this country, they know what they’ve done to us. This country is desperately sick and man is on the critical list. I really don’t know where we go from here.
Where many Black Mississippians are going is North. Over 400,000 since 1950. What is finally
breaking up the old relationships in Mississippi is not enlightenment nor revolt nor the Civil Rights Movement. It’s just machines, and when the machines came, many of the Blacks had to go.
What the past all adds up to, is the present. Chicago is the present for as many as 1,000 Black immigrants each month. The railroad isn’t underground anymore, but the objective is still the same. Nobody seems to migrate anywhere without some combination of hope and bewilderment. After 300 years, the huddled masses are still looking for what eluded them in the South, jobs, freedom, a different way of life.
But the migration itself has created tensions and the polarization of attitudes.
White Chicago Man:
Well bigotry means that you believe in the creator cultural stem of life, a way of life. And this I do believe in. I believe that we have communities here, that we’ve developed in our country, that we have to protect. And I believe a community way of life has been developed for 75 years, and I don’t believe it should be broken up. And, I think that this is the way we’ll have to fight for it, from now on in. It’s going to be a community life versus those that want to come into it. And that’s gonna be rough. And, if this means racism, its going to practiced on both sides.
You’re a practicing bigot, then?
Middle-aged White Man in Chicago:
I’m practicing bigot. I believe in my way of life.
Young Black Man in Chicago:
As far as I’m concerned, things are getting worse in America. I haven’t seen where America have did anything for Black people. What have American did ? You give a few Negros with a higher position a higher job. That’s still not helping the grassroot. I’m in the grassroots. My lil’ brothers ,around here, are in the grassroots. My sister is living in the grassroots. She still living in the grassroots. As a young Black man, I feel that I have a obligation to my race of people, not to no other race, no other nationality, just to Black people.
The South Side of Chicago is not a nice place to visit and it isn’t easy to live there either. The situation is not new. Over 100 years ago, a brilliant Black abolitionist, Frederick Douglas, escaped from slavery to come North. Douglas found that Black people were already being crowded into large urban slums. Today, eighty-five percent of Chicago’s Black population live in ghettos.
What the Black man who leaves the South faces when he comes to Chicago is described by the Midwest Director for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, John McKnight.
In the South, he knows who the “man” is. The “man” is up there on a hill, in the the big white house. When he comes to a city like Chicago, its’ much harder to determine who that “man” is, such a complex society. It’s a different man who controls the house, from the man who controls the job, from the man who controls the welfare, from the man who controls the hospital, from the man who controls the school, I think what’s happening is that he quickly comes to the conclusion that the man is all the White men. Not being able to discern his specific captor, he decides that all people with White faces are his captors. And, to the degree that all White people are engaged in supporting the systems of separation and racist institutions that we have in the North, that judgment is basically accurate.
How do these institutions function in a racial way?
When we develop any kind of a system that, by definition, excludes people who are poor, inner-city, limited- education people, we are saying “Black” on them. We might as well put the sign back up, because it’s the same thing. Same bag.
The problem that we have in White America is that most White people when they hear about White racism almost most White people say, “ Man, that’s not me. I never discriminate against anybody, never did.” And in their
sense of what discrimination means, or what racism is, they may be right. But, they sit residing in a system from which they take full benefit, a system that defines them in, and and defines Black people out.
We are going to have to face the fact that we are not a community. A community is where a lot of people develop mutually beneficial relationships with each other. And, our racist institutions and the political boundaries of our cities define Black people out of the community.
White people who sit in their suburban homes and watch a television programs and hear about all of these laws that are being passed. Many of them are beginning to wonder, “What is it with those Colored people on there? Why are they so upset, all this wonderful stuff we’re doing for them.” But, we aren’t focusing on the Black man living on the block. He lives in a in a in a two-flat on that block ,and he knows what the circumstance on that block was 10 years ago. And, he knows what it is today. And, he, too, has heard about all of those programs and laws being passed. But the hard fact of the matter is that things are not changing for him.
It’s no wonder that the White population and the Black population are pitted against each other, when the Black man knows that the change is not coming, and the White man thinks that major efforts are being undertaken, when they are not. So I don’t think anybody should be surprised when one sees the Black people in open attack on the system. Because, I suspect that they don’t see that there is any other realistic alternative.
James Turner, an instructor in Political Sociology at Northwestern University, also teaches a summer study group, What Black Patriotism Means to Him. Denmark Vesey, the insurrectionist of Charleston, is Turner’s lesson for the
What Denmark Vesey did in Charleston, South Carolina is very much related to Detroit and to Watts and to Newark. It is very much related to Black men saying, “Tanks be damned! I’ll have my freedom!” The price of freedom is not cheap. Denmark Vesey was very mindful of this. So, it’s very important for us, the lessons of Denmark Vesey. A lot of us like to think that the effective thing is to whop the man, to get up and blow our whole game to him. That somehow the revolution will come through oratory. The unique thing about Vesey is that he was a quiet man, which is oft the mark of determination.
Study Group Participant: (How come this was’t taught in our schools? )
I think that this is a very good question. Why it is that Denmark Vesey doesn’t stand beside Patrick Henry. Because they’ve never wanted us to come to the kind of position and the state of mind that those of us, who have gathered around this table, have come. Because Denmark Vesey released in his time, as he has done for us now, a whole force of Black resistance and struggle. We have not been able to talk about, because they’re nameless and faceless, the thousands of Black people who fought in a more quiet way.
Those Black women, who, consigned to cook in the kitchens of the slave master, who ground-up glass to very fine bits, and put it in the master’s soup. And, then asked the master, “What’s the matter, boss? You seem like you’re not well.” And, the White man was tricked by his own notion that our people were just silly as he bled internally to death.
As well as the brothers in the field who set fire to the cotton. The brothers who set fire to the cotton when the master came with his whip and said, “Boy what’s going on?”
“I don’t know master. Somethings a’taken place strange”. And brother went on to burn more cotton. Black people have resisted. We have determined here today that we are going to free our people.
Denmark Vesey is alive. Denmark Vesey is alive and among the brothers today in Oakland, California with the Black Panthers. Denmark Vesey’s a young Black man named Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton in Oakland, California. Denmark Vesey is personified by another courageous Black brother named H. Rap Brown. Denmark Vesey is the guiding life that inspires and gives incentive to brother Stokely Carmichael. Denmark, Denmark Vesey was the father of brother Malcolm X. Denmark Vesey walks the streets of the Black community today. He is in the minds and the bosoms of young Black men, who stride now with pride and dignity in the Black community, who say that they will no longer reside in the hell of the ghetto, but will struggle to transform their plight to a community. They will do it, or die trying.
Calvin Lockridge :
There is a fever of revolution in America. And it’s a Black revolution. The only thing that is hanging us up, that we must clear, we must sit down and continue to analyze and discuss what our particular role will be in the revolution.
Calvin Lockridge, a young ghetto leader, moves his training group toward confrontation with a system he
finds oppressive. For Lockridge, the heritage of slavery is insurrection.
Calvin Lockridge :
We talk about it all revolutions are lead by a hard-core disciplined group. I think this is where we have to start. We have to start organizing that hard-core disciplined group of people. And, then we pyramid ourselves. Then we move, we move the masses of people, around an issue, when we’re ready to move.
Masculine Group member (speaker 1):
You have to have your own communications.
Calvin Lockridge :
Well this is how the rebellions during slavery was able to move to action. It’s because of the fact that we have members of the revolution, or the rebellion, who would move and communicate through the Black grapevine, because you never knew how many people were actually involved, because it meant death if you were ever found out.
Feminine Group Member:
A lot of Negros, they might have thought they were given a chance but they weren’t. There is going to have to be some bloodshed in the revolution somewhere.
Masculine Group Member (speaker 1) :
I think that Black people have always had justification for insurrection, rebellion, revolution, whatever word you want to call it. You’re talking about guerrilla warfare.
You’re saying we should start the preparing to guerrilla warfare?
Masculine Group Member (speaker 2):
Guerrilla warfare is extreme, and I don’t I don’t know of any Black person around who has done any type training
to prepare himself for guerrilla warfare.
Masculine Group Member (speaker 3):
If one prepares himself for guerrilla warfare, that you wouldn’t know. I would hope no one would know. Guerrilla warfare is not the training in the use of weapons. It’s a training in the use of the mind.
It’s a revolution going on. Anyone who doesn’t join in, who is in the way, you treat him as a traitor or a spy. If he doesn’t sympathize with you, can’t help you. You have to treat him like a traitor or a spy and that means you kill him.
It’s an American Revolution. It’s happening here on the American soil. And a Black and White are caught up in the revolution, but Blacks the spearhead of the revolution.
Neither James Turner nor Calvin Lockridge could win any elections today. So far, they represent only a minority of a minority. Yet their potential constituency can be found on any sidewalk, in any slum. Among youth and among Black opinion-makers, even a minority is many thousands. The question posed by increasing Black activism is will White America respond before the few become the many.
Chicago is 30% Black, but less than 1% of the city’s businesses are owned by Black people. This is hardly a revelation that economic bondage produces social revolutionaries. The future may not work, but if you’re Black, neither did the past .
The pressures that bring about rebellion are defined by the Senior Editor of Ebony magazine, historian, Lerone Bennett.
Men fight when they reach the wall, not because victory is sure, but because their manhood demands that they
that they act in this way. And, therefore, I’m not at all sure what is the proper measure of success when you’re talking about a rebellion of an oppressed people. one might almost say that it is normal for an oppressed people to revolt, and is abnormal, really, for them to accept the oppression which is forced upon them. Any oppressed people, when they revolt, revolt really in the ultimate sense, even in the name of their oppressors. Because they’ are re-establishing a reciprocity between man and man, and re-establishing the bonds of humanity which must govern men if they are to live together in a the common climate.
I just ask you to visualize a room, you know where all the goodies of the world, all the material goodies of the world. And there are people in that room, and all of those people are White. And the door to that room is locked. And, that room is in a building with a hall. And, in that hall, are people. and all those people are Black. Black people have been standing in that hall more than 200 years knocking on that door and they’ve been saying, “please let us in. you know we want to be with you. we want to be like you. we love you.” And that door is never opened.
One of the men in the hall say you know what I think I’ll do so I think I will go outside get me a brick
throw it through the window and take some of my things out of that window, because he’s never going to open the front door. And, another man in the hall says that “No , I tell you what I’m going to do. What I’m going to do, I’m going outside and going under the house and I’m taking a match and burning the whole house up and everything in it, including me. And a third man says, “Wait brothers, you know, it might become necessary to do that, but it
has not become necessary, yet. See, the problem is we’ve been standing here for 200 years knocking on that door and he hasn’t opened the door because we haven’t been speaking his language. His mother tongue is power. And, that perhaps, if we take all of toothpicks of power and put them together and create a whole huge battering ram, then the door will open one way or another. I think history has arranged it that ,eventually, America would have to face itself through Black people, or go under. And I deeply believe that this is the point we occupy now in time.
A suburb of Chicago, July fourth, this year. If you’re White, try to think Black. For 200 years, Black’s have watched White parades roll by. For most Americans, the past itself has been White. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are the champions of American independence, but they were also slaveholders. Patrick Henry wanted liberty or death, just like Denmark Vesey and the young men in the ghettos today, but Patrick Henry was also a slaveholder.
Freedom, like history, is not supposed to have a color, but when America institutionalizes freedom and history, all of the symbols are White. Black America is still waiting for the parade to open its ranks and let in Frederick Douglass, Denmark Vesey, Malcolm X and other heroes of a Black fight for freedom.
Frederick Douglass, escaped slave, was once invited to celebrate July fourth with White people. He told them, “This fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice. I must mourn.”
When White people celebrate Black heroes as Black people have celebrated Washington and Jefferson the battle for the past will be over. And when the past belongs to everyone, so will the present. Most Black people still don’t want to wreck this parade. They want to join it.
In the heritage of slavery, there are plenty of heroes, just like in any other tragedy. Deep in the wasteland of Chicago’s Southside, embedded like an emerald in an ashcan, is an immaculate wonder called the Wall of Respect. Black artists painted Black heroes. On this wall, men and women willing to liberate themselves, in Malcolm X’s words, “by any means necessary.” They are individuals who will either have respect or will die trying to get it, and some of them have.
It’s a long way and a lot of years from the slave market in Charleston to the Wall of Respect in Chicago, but neither distance nor time has yet entirely separated the Black man from bondage. No one needs to inflame the Black race against these realities. The fire of rebellion started burning a long time ago. but these travels in Black America
have shown is that White racism created the need for Black power, just as slavery bred insurrection.
If a country can be a collective, now in America is mad at each other right now. We Blacks and Whites are
plotting separate courses with great skill and cunning. You can’t have oppression without rebellion, and you can’t have either in a country that belongs to all its people.
But Black Americans are telling White Americans today is that this land is ours too. plaintiff question the slaves used to ask am I not a man and a brother has been replaced by an affirmation that a challenge I am a man and a brother. Black men are saying and if you don’t think so then this country isn’t big enough for both of us.
This is George Foster at the Wall of Respect.
“The global interest in this conflict is not a contemporary phenomenon. The Middle East, as we know it, was created by western imperialism, specifically by Britain and France, which divided the region into protectorates after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. France took over what would become Syria and Lebanon. Britain took the future Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. Many of those countries gained independence during and after World War II, only to see themselves become pawns of the U.S. or the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. Our involvement in the Middle East is nothing new. But the question remains, are we going to war? ” ~ Melissa Harris-Perry