It is February 28 and we are at the end of Black History Month. Tomorrow, we return to the ouroboros of white history and I would advise my friends and acquaintances to be cognizant of that much. Eleven months out of the year is what we spend celebrating the inconspicuous and ubiquitous nature of whiteness in culture, history, and our social formation.
Your awareness of that is, in and of itself, already a step toward ending racial supremacy, namely, white supremacy in the world. Let us not turn a blind eye to color-blind racism nor the prevalence of Whiteness (capital W) attempting to control who our heroes are and who our villains were, well knowing that the line between hero and villain wavers between triumph and defeat.
The only reason we consider our historical heroes, namely, our founding fathers as heroes, is because they won a war, not a single war or battle, not a named war that took place in one particular location. No. They won a race war when crossing the Atlantic, a war won for the thirteen colonies; a war won over the indigenous people of the land; a war won over competing imperial malefactors seeking gold, land, and prosperity; a war won over religious and denominational exclusivity; and lastly, and most lasting, a war won over racial superiority.
We risk a great deal of disservice to our fellow countrymen, namely, those of color who have lingered and toiled under oppression and terror in a land of democracy, freedom, and liberty, if we did not share their side of the story in American history, not just on February, but every month of the year. It was on their backs that the foundation of the nation was laid. It was their work that built the White House, the United States Capitol, Southern aristocracy, and Northern fiscal flexibility and international influence.
Black Americans have fought in every single war America has dipped its feet into, from the Revolutionary War to the recent war against terror. Black bodies have often spilled blood for a nation that saw them as either property or criminals. A uniform and service serving for little more than an opportunity to get away from slavery on the field or terror at home. Neither granting them resolute equality.
Black bodies built this nation and Black bodies are buried under it, usually, in unmarked graves.
America has a responsibility to its historically most industrious workforce, who, at the multiple chances for insurrection, violence, overthrow, insurgency, mutiny, genocide, and mass killings, seldom acted upon these liberating actions; actions they learned from white American founding fathers. The select few uprisings that did take place were suppressed with utmost prejudice and the ensuring collateral damage wiping out scores of innocent bystanders and honest family men, women, and children.
Black uprisings were seen as Black uprisings, not as revolutionary acts working toward freedom.
It is this same group of people who, under continuous assault, defamation, decimation, exploitation, humiliation, and insurmountable dehumanization, fought for their liberty, freedom, equity, and for a piece of that Constitutional pie and liberal American ideals with intellectual prowess, industriousness, humility, faith, and humanity for equal footing and equal rights.
No group is owed more than Black Americans because no other group has endured more ostracism from white Europeans, white Americans, indigenous groups who were forced to hate Black skin, Latin Americans, Irish, Dutch, French, and Italian immigrants who assimilated to the American way of life by their shared disdain of Black skin, and lastly, under manipulation and brainwashing (whitewashing) Black people who were taught to hate their Blackness.
Reparations are still in the talks and I hope that descendants of slaves and descendants of people who were displaced, robbed of work and income, refused housing opportunities via the G.I. Bill, terrorized by white neighbors when they moved westward or north from the Deep South, and murdered by white locals before and after the Civil War, before and after World War I, before and after World War II, before and after the Vietnam War, before and after Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.s’ assassination, before and after Rodney King’s filmed torture at the hands of police officers, before and after those same officers were acquitted, before and after the innumerable police brutality cases, before and after the innumerable and unlawful and unnecessary killings of Black Americans on American soil at the hands of police officers.
There is a debt over America today that will not be paid, it cannot be paid in gold, diamonds, or dollars. Hell. Bitcoin, at its zenith, won’t cut it either.
But Americans will work toward this debts extinction, more so white Americans will work to reduce this debt by becoming aware of white history and its legacy on American identity. Once there, once aware, eyes opened, soul quickened, and empathy amplified, will we see endemic and systemic cultural changes that will allow us to elevate American heroes who stood for the freedom of all Americans; not just the ones who stood for the betterment of white Americans.
We will see statues of tyrants and monsters relocated to museums, where they belong, and in books, where we will learn about them. Their memory is ever real and ever-present in our conscience, however, far from the public eye.
We know much about a nation by the statues it chooses to erect and which it chooses to relocate or demolish.
And rest assured, iconoclasm isn’t the goal, moving forward. Iconoclasts are often replaced by younger enthusiasts with the same goals. But we shouldn’t reduce ourselves to our current state of iconophilia, favoring people who were more monsters than they were human. Their presence, their monuments, their obelisks are a reminder that we refuse to confront them for what they were, what they are, and what they signal to those who seek to destroy the fabric of a diverse and integral American society.
Once this cultural awakening and transformation are enacted, we will see statues of enslavers and treacherous rebels eradicated from the public eye and replaced by statues of true American heroes like King, Truth, Garrison, Turner, Douglass, X, Morrison, Tubman, Bennaker, Cone, Bell, B.T. Washington, du Bois, and more.
And not that American history and cultural understanding ought to be Black majoritarian in effect but that it portrays American ideals and American resilience in the face of unimaginable tyranny and despair, conquering not through the violence and savagery their white American counterparts used to expand westward on land and upward in wealth but through bravery, fortitude, love, kindness, and faith.
We can learn more about what it means to be an American when we better understand what it feels like to be a Black American.
I will share a snippet of a story written by the now infamous but truly magnanimous lawyer, clergyman, spiritual, author, and inventor of the often misunderstood Critical Race Theory, professor Derrick Bell.
He penned a short story called Space Traders. Very few people know about this story because its thesis is triggering to a white American audience, and I believe this trigger was intentional on the part of professor Bell when he wrote it.
In Space Traders, a super-advanced alien society descends from space and graces the shores of America with their intergalactic ships, with all sorts of treasures, technological advancements, and benevolent gifts they intend on bestowing on planet Earth through America.
The catch, however, is that the alien race wants every single African American in trade for the goods. White Americans then rush to question the ethical and moral implications of this trade, on whether it is good, bad, questionable, etc. Here is a part of that same story.
“Those mammoth vessels carried within their holds treasure of which the United States was in most desperate need: gold, to bail out the almost bankrupt federal, state, and local governments; special chemicals capable of unpolluting the environment, which was becoming daily more toxic, and restoring it to the pristine state it had been before Western explorers set foot on it; and a totally safe nuclear engine and fuel, to relieve the nation’s all-but-depleted supply of fossil fuel. In return, the visitors wanted only one thing – and that was to take back to their home star all the African Americans who lived in the United States.
The jaw of every one of the welcoming officials dropped, not a word of the many speeches they had prepared suitable for the occasion. As the Americans stood in stupefied silence, the visitors’ leader emphasized that the proposed trade was for the Americans freely to accept or not, that no force would be used. Neither then nor subsequently did the leader or any other of the visitors, whom anchorpersons on that evening’s news shows immediately labeled the “Space Traders,” reveal why they wanted only black people or what plans they had for them should the United States be prepared to part with that or any other group of its citizens. The leader only reiterated to his still-dumbfounded audience that, in exchange for the treasure they had brought, they wanted to take away every American categorized as black on birth certificate or other official identification. The Space Traders said they would wait sixteen days for a response to their offer.”
In eventuality, white Americans opted to trade their fellow Black citizens for that treasure trove of wealth and stability. They voted against their countrymen of color, favoring financial stability over moral and ethical integrity in the face of tremendous woes.
America, or rather, white America, has a history of and current deference for, and this is cultural, societal, and systemic, a continual willingness to throw Black Americans to the curb to accomplish national and international goals that benefit elite white Americans.
And if posited with an opportunity where Black Americans are granted not only access to financial means by which to accomplish not only social but also financial equity with white Americans, the same white Americans in positions of political, financial, and social power will sooner shipwreck America as a whole than see the day in which all racial groups in the country are, by intent and desire, equal.
Black History Month is not a steeple of pride. It is a reminder of sin. A corporate and national sin that allowed for Whiteness to burden Caucasians with the fallacy of racial superiority and minorities with the burden of supposed racial inferiority.
One day, I pray, our children will celebrate American history and what will come to their mind, involuntarily so, will be an array of colored faces, hand in hand, combating white supremacy in all of its spheres.
Off to white history month(s) we go…
Featured Image by Inatimi Nathus.