I've wondered over and over again whether I was wrong for putting the blame of racism squarely at the feet of White people.
It has been suggested to me, and always by White people, that the eras of Slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, Segregation and even Racism are so far in the distant past that Black people need to be "over it" by now. What's past is past and Black people are free now to chose what they make of their lives without White interference. White people as a group are no longer responsible for racism institutional or individual.
White people are individuals who cannot be grouped together but the "Black community" and "Black leaders" on the other hand are responsible for making sure all Black people are on the same page. Got that?
However, I was helping someone work on a research paper about Emmett Till. While doing her research, she had mentioned to her grandfather what she was working on. He came back with photos of himself and Emmett Till together as young boys. They had been friends and playmates in Till's home city of Chicago. If you're not familiar with the story of Emmet Till then I suggest you brush up, here. However this really blew away the theory that all of this happened "so very long ago."
While we were researching books about lynching I came across another website entitled simply Without Sanctuary. Within it's virtual pages lies a horrendous, graphic and heartrending accounting of "post card lynching".
This website reminded me of something that I've always known but had somehow suppressed within myself and what we as a nation are trying to suppress as well:
Racism does not merely hurt feelings or magnify slights - it threatens the very existence of body and soul and ultimately humanity. It must be rooted out at all costs or we will all perish.
Black people (and Native Americans and many, many others) are justified in our anger and maybe even hatred until every single White person on this planet recognizes what they have done to all people of color for centuries. What they must also recognize is that their actions and inactions have impact today.
On such "post card lynching" had a profound impact on American race relations. Albert Hamilton was all of 8 years old when he drove a horse-drawn carriage for a living in 1912 Cordele, Ga. Accused of assaulting a White woman, Hamilton was carted off to jail. A mob dragged him from his cell, beat him severely, hanged him from a nearby tree and shot him more than 300 times.One of the reasons we cannot end the war is because White people will have to admit that right up there with WMD's and Terrorism was Racism. It was so easy to go to war against "towel heads" and "rag heads" and "sand niggers" that no one ever thought about school children or their mothers and fathers or even families. They will have to admit that they went to war against Brown people because they were Brown and their language sounds funny.
Hamilton's best friend, a 15 year old boy named Elijah Poole, watched the killing horror. Later Pool moved to Detroit and started a religious sect known as the Nation of Islam. When Pool changed his last name to Muhammed and preached that Whites were devils, he was accused of teaching hate. Nobody bothered to ask who taught (The Honorable) Elijah Muhuammad to hate. But that mob in Cordele must hav been one of his instructors, as were the postcards made after Hamilton's death. from the website Bad Subjects, article: Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, a review by Joe Lockhardt
We can only blame being propagandized by our government and Fox News just so far. Or do we have to admit that we were gullible enough to believe that everyone in Iraq was a man in a turban and robe jumping up and down in the back of a pickup truck waving a gun screaming "Death to Amerikka".
Racism in America is the true terrorism. And if this is all then we may still be able to fix this. For in racism what is feared is what we are. Human.
In that case, the only fear we have, truly is fear itself.