Sunday, March 13, 2016

This is American History That We Must Own

A social media friend posted this photo along with a caption:
"This is American history that we must own."
My response:
I don't know if you were talking to me, to Black people or to white people You are right. I do own it, and also believe that we should never make this mistake again!
To send this lone Black girl to face the white humiliation and terror was a mistake and much of our wounded-ness - identity confusion, need to be where white people are, need to be approved by them, and our lack of confidence in our own - selves and creations - comes from this.
Zora Neale Hurston opposed it. She was ahead of her time, though she wasn't alone.
To be sure, Dorothy Counts was brave, powerful, and smart. We can laud that, and I do. Afiya Madzimoyo, my wife, played a similar role in Alabama. I laud her bravery too.
As a Black man, I say that we (Black men, particularly) should have been there to face them down and give her a sense of OUR protection. If we couldn't protect her, then it wasn't time for her to be there.
As your photo makes abundantly, clear, it wasn't just individual vs. individual, it was her against an entire system - only the tip of which were the ugly faces that we see in that photo. It should have been a negotiated group to group association - with clear conditions and protections. The NAACP thought otherwise, and we unwisely followed suit.
The Maori people of New Zealand did it better. They negotiated that even in job or school interviews, the clan could come and even speak for the person being considered. Upon being chosen, they would bring the Sister (or Brother) to the white racist institution and say, we are lending you her, if you mistreat her, we will come and get her. If she had a grievance, the entire clan would come to back her and/or to speak for her. Group power to group power. Individual vs. institution/group can only lead to delusional progress that hides the inevitable surrender.
Currently, we're paying for this "progress." Students of today are more terrified than angry or determined to challenge oppression than at anytime in our history - even when were were being lynched!
We - their parents - have showed them the Jedi mind trick of how to hide our pathological anxiety from ourselves as "apathy, boredom," "ignorance" "self blame," or even as " the price that we have to pay for progress."
A group of my students who were aware of the cultural racism and identity theft in the recently released "Gods of Egypt," still said: "That's going to be a good movie, I want to see it." They have been seasoned to ignore the abuse for the thrill of the familiar, and for vicariously- experience power even as their own is being stripped away.
We have "seasoned" our own children.
We, their parents, wait for white people to come to their collective senses when they see one more police brutality video that makes it plain who is at fault. We are waiting until they've had their fill of our blood.
We seek to appeal to the white intellect and conscience as if their was ours.
We swallow another "16 Bullets," another "Hands up, Don't Shoot," another "I Can't Breathe" like we swallowed their jeering insults and even brutality to integrate the schools.
The psychic terror was instilled. Our hopes smoothed the way. It slowly mutated into surrender.
By way of delusion we're not aware of the mutation. Instead, we came to kiss the oppressor's knife that was cutting us as the sword that knighted us. It seemed cleansing - riding us of tainted ways or tainted blood - paving the way for "harmony," and a new day (a thin veil for their acceptance, or their fill).
Our delusional "morality" called us to accept those who terrorized us as "competent and legitimate" authority. This same morality still calls us to forgive them their abuse and even their killing of us.
We seek their approval (proximity, hair, skin, morals, values, desires, worldviews, docility, rationalization, etc.), not for survival of an immediate threat. Instead the integration-born delusion convinces us that it's the "right thing," or the "best thing" to do.

It is the doorway to being the "better person," to spiritual ascension, and salvation, right?

This happened on my generation's watch.
Often when I'm in front of younger Black people, I apologize for me and my age group for participating and/or allowing this surrender disguised as progress. "This happened on our watch," I say, and I promise them to forever work to right this wrong.
So, the same breathe that allows me to celebrate Sistah Counts, pains me to facilitate our recovery, and to never let this mistake happen again.

(C) Copyright 2016 Wekesa O. Madzimoyo All rights reserved.