Bow Your Head and Weep

harriet tubman“If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
― Harriet Tubman

Today across this nation in Cleveland, Ferguson, St. Louis, New York, Beavercreek, Salt Lake City and countless other cities families will sit down to dinner with less to be thankful for, with an empty chair at their table and it is likely mothers and fathers will weep at the loss of their child to violence. Parents, spouses and children will bow their heads and instead of thanking whatever god they pray to, they will ask “Why”. They will weep as they find themselves bereft of their loved one and struggling to understand why the system they were told to trust did not work, why the life of their husband, father or child did not matter. Today across this nation, families will weep as they mourn the loss of their beloved and lost members to police violence.

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We are a terrible nation, a nation that turns away from entire communities, blaming them for their failure to thrive within a greater society determined to see them as always ‘less than’ and undeserving of the rights and privileges embodied by this nation’s founding documents and ‘moral’ standard. We are a tragic nation, built upon theft of land and resources, blood of innocents, indentured servitude, forced labor, rape and violence; yet we have the unmitigated gall to hold ourselves, as a nation, up as a standard of excellence. We dare to act as police and moral arbitrators, condemning violence and human rights violations across the world while within our own nation we fail to uphold the Rights and even Humanity of our own citizens.

Today, families weep and we should all be weeping with them. Those of us who do not send our children out into the world with fear in our hearts each time they leave our side, we should hang our heads that we do nothing, say nothing and enable this genocide within our borders to continue. Yes, I said it, We Enable. By our silence, through our failure to stand up and say,  ‘no more’, each timescreen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-33-18-pm we fail to demand answers for the depraved acts of murder by those tasked with defending the law and protecting citizens, WE ENABLE and WE AGREE they are in the RIGHT. Each and every time we listen to media pundits, elected officials, journalists, has been’s and never were’s such as Rudy Giuliani disparage entire communities WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE along with them for enabling the horror story of structural and institutionalized racism that has destroyed the soul of this nation and its people. It is us, as much as them that allow and enable Genocide to escalate unencumbered by Law or Justice.

I am saddened there are those in this nation who refuse to face up to the fact there truly are two nations, truly two systems of justice, two systems of opportunity, two systems for damned near everything. It is not about ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ as some would have us to believe. It is not about pulling your pants up, speaking better English, getting a job or any of the other idiotic and ignorant bile that spews forth from the lips of those who have never been at risk a day in their life simply for the skin they were born in.

Any one of us can say all day long, “I personally am not a racist”. However, the problem with that statement, so long as ‘I personally’ do nothing to actively fight against the institutionalization of racism within this country I am passively agreeing to its continuation, I am by my refusal to stand up and speak out, by my refusal to put myself in harm’s way agreeing my life, my way of life matters more.

screen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-34-05-pmTime and again, the President of this nation has been called divisive by those who hate him for only one reason, who fear him for only one reason. Time and again, the Attorney General has been called divisive for speaking out on issues of race and violence. We have had for nearly six years our first Black President, our first Black Attorney General; this combination scares the hell out of those who see their power base slipping and they are fighting hard, with ugly tactics to convince this nation these two men are the cause for the rise in violence, the rise in racist language and attitudes. Those who see these two men of calm as divisive have deceived their base and even many of us into believing a story, a fable of Black and Brown rage and danger, one that is escalating and must be controlled by occupation forces and murder. The truth is, this President and this AG have spoken infrequently and with cautious language on issues of race, they have used the Bully Pulpit rarely and with great restraint so as not to offend those who would use their words to stir the already boiling caldron of White Rage and Fear.

We are not divisive because we point out racism, whether it is police murdering or the KKK marching with police escorts while peaceful protesters are tear gassed and shot with wooden bullets. We are not divisive because we identify the documented fact a Black Man is 4 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man, a Hispanic Man is 2 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man. We are not divisive because we find it disturbing when mass killers are taken into custody alive if they are White, but Black Men and Black Children with toy guns are killed by cops. We are not divisive when we identify the difference between media coverage of college students rioting during a sporting event or festival for squash and communities rioting in response to police murdering their children without fear of reprisal. We are not divisive when we point out a wealthy White teenager walking out of a courtroom with a new syndrome, Affluenza (he is to wealthy to go to jail it might harm his delicate sensibilities or future) preventing him from going to prison after killing four people in a drunk driving joy ride, but a Black teenager is killed for jaywalking.

We must begin to stand up, to point out what is wrong with this nation and the leadership of this nation that we do not demand better. We are not divisive, what we are is challenging a system that has consistently shown itself to be Racist, unjust and weighted towards one group in this country. Either we are one nation, with one rule of law, one set of values and principles, striving toward the betterment of all citizens … lifting all boats in a rising tide; or we are a Slave State, intent on the debasement of an entire group of our citizens, the death of their next generation.

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Today, families gather to give thanks far too many of those families will instead shed tears of anger even fury at the loss of a loved one to violence at the hands of police.

Where does it end?

We must begin to stand up, to scream our demands for change. We must begin to silence those who turn away and refuse to see what is before them; we must demand those who are tasked with protecting our citizens; we must demand those who are elected to office high or low, perform their tasks to the benefit of all citizens not just those who can pay for their services; we must stand up and demand journalists, pundits and others tasked with delivering information become fair, balanced and perform their tasks with integrity and ethical standards or be taken off the air, a return to the standards of old is necessary to raise this nation out of the mire of ignorance we have fallen into.

It is time to rise up out of our apathy. It is time for us to bow our heads and weep with the families who will gather today with an empty chair at their tables. It is past time for us to demand a change to this failed experiment that is the two-nation system of have and have not, divided by the color of our skin and the privilege those of us born with the fortune circumstance of White skin have not earned.

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It is time to acknowledge we have a problem and it is not the criminality of the Black Community it is the Criminality of a nation built on privilege, brutality, greed, violence and a desire to retain what was never earned but stolen.

It is about fixing what is broken in this nation no matter the cost.

Comments

  1. Val. This was beautifully done. Thank you. I also think the essay by the football player is on point. Sin is simply the definition of a “hardened heart,” an “arrogant mind,” “willful ignorance,” or a “soul lacking humanity.” When your relatives can’t see their racism it is because they probably see racism as men in white hoods lynching black people or someone calling a black person the “N” word. They rightfully disdain those things and think they are “sinless” because they don’t participate in them. But the sin is the arrogance of not seeing the bigotry on a deeper level of heartless policies and politicians they support or simply a blindness to the suffering of others. It takes an epiphany to wake up from that type of ignorance (sin) to empathize with others. It takes some type of salvation to hit us up side our head and give us that wake-up call to change our way of thinking and feeling. Some people never surrender their heart to let it happen.

    • Thank you E. This one it hurt.

      I think I call BS on B Watson’s post in part because he pushed some of the blame for the murder of Michael Brown, back on Michael instead of where it belonged, on Darren Wilson. This is at least how it felt. It felt like he was deflecting, blaming everything and everyone else except the killer cop for the death of an 18 year old boy child. Then when he was done doing that, he called the Gospel in.

      E, I know many people subscribe to Christianity. Some do so on Sunday’s and others, are real true Christian, with real faith, compassion and a real walk with their God. But we don’t all. I hear what you are saying, I do. But I don’t believe in ‘sin’, not in the way he was talking about it.

      As for my family, oh I understand them. I love them and I ‘get’ them. I have an agreement with them at this point. ‘Do not talk to me about politics, sociology, race, religion, guns, sex, abortion, domestic abuse, rape, violence’. In some cases you are to ignorant to enter into these discussions, in other cases you will never be in the position to experience these things so your input is irrelevant. Thus I shut down all discussions, we can talk about football, books other things that are non-controversial.

      • THAT I didn’t like one bit, Val! I pushed back hard and fast on the football player’s post also. Just when I thought he was going somewhere with it, I was like “really, dude? Because folk don’t or might not believe in Jesus? It’s because of sin that we have these problems? #TakeTwoSeats Would it make him feel better if he found out Darren Wilson was a professed Christian? I mean where does that leave us? And heaven forbid you should be Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or otherwise? Guess, you asking for it then, huh? smh

        This holiday season is among the most difficult. I think about privilege more. I consider when I’ve been wrong about the bullshit contrived “black-on-black” crime discussion (how once I fell for the bait – I know better now. The data doesn’t support such a thing, at least not in the way that people attempting to shirk race would like to have us believe). I think instead about the empty chairs at dinner tables, and how mothers and fathers and siblings are managing their grief. I think about whether they have lost their faith, and how they make it through the most everyday of experiences – like cooking for three instead of four. I don’t think about spending a single dime – in fact, I haven’t done any Christmas shopping – on any business who will treat me like shit, hate me in private, and dehumanize all of us in public through their complicity and non-action. My heart is heavy, but I feel remarkably courageous in my truth-telling. I have nothing to lose. At the end of the day, my legacy will be able to withstand time because my integrity will not be compromised. I am expected to be a voice for the voiceless, stand up for folk who can’t stand up for themselves, and dislodge hate where I find it.

        So, when people say “what do you think about all the protests?” in an attempt to exonerate themselves from the problem, I begin by telling them “they are significant, both the protests and the people”; only from this vantage point can we proceed. If I sense you are dehumanizing folk or blaming the victim in any way, shape, or form, and you can’t for one minute envision yourself in some momma’s or daddy’s shoes, then we have absolutely NOTHING to discuss. Bigots, be gone.

        (Forgive me if I’ve repeated myself. It’s late. Can’t sleep. Late coffee.)

        • That also is my position. I will not have the discussion with anyone who cannot see the pain for what it is, does not understand the significance of the protests, or makes any effort to blame the victim of these horrible and tragic events. My only response, each and every time, “so you would be fine if your son was a suspect and was gunned down by the police without arrest, mirranda or trial?” The answer is always the same, of course.

          Do not even get me started on the Black-on-Black crime issue. I only respond with what about White-on-White crime. Which by the way is higher and in which the offenders on average the offenders are prosecuted far less often and if they are prosecuted, serve far shorter sentences. Grrrr.

          There are truly days, it is hard to come from a position of love.

    • Nice, yet I call bullshit. Good for him, yet I call bullshit. How about all of those who do not subscribe to the Gospel according to the Bible re-written by the Europeans after the fact with only that portion that lifts up slavery, subjugation of women and rape? How about all of us who don’t ‘buy’ sin? I certainly don’t believe Jesus was a blond haired, blue eyed white man, don’t think all the angles in heaven are White.

      So nice, but I call Bullshit.

  2. I have spent a lot of time this weekend scrolling through Ferguson and BlackoutBlackFriday tweets. Some reflect astonishingly blatant racism; others, a friendlier looking racism that’s still lethal for all the reasons you write here. I’ve been mulling over the totality of them and wondering how (white) people can not see institutional/structural racism when its evidence–we’re talking, really clear indicators, not anecdotal narrative–is so profound. I just keep coming to that it benefits us to not see it, to see only the world as we’ve been able to experience it by seeking out only those second hand accounts that support our limited views, because we have that luxury.

    Another aspect of this I’ve been puzzling over is linked, in a way, to what I wrote yesterday. Some white people are casually dismissive of accounts of brutalization and loss, even that documented on camera/video camera or witnessed by many. That felt like an expression of racism to me, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. Today I realized it’s because that very dismissiveness–“oh, that just them fighting their silly fight”–reflects us-versus-them thinking. It’s not “we are all people,” but “they are a different kind of people.” They make up struggles and fight against those struggles, which are not real. They (who are different from us, fundamentally) don’t see objective truth the way we (not-them) do. The fact of not speaking out, of quietly bypassing those incensed by needless recurrent loss, reflects this divide, as people sort those around them out as “other” or “same.”

    My premise is we are all same. If a huge portion of the population decries the way they have been mistreated, my assumption is not that they are all crazy or deluded. My assumption is that we have a situation that needs to be rectified, particularly when data not filtered through eyes of wishful thinking supports that.

    But how to make those invested in not seeing see? How? How do we answer people who say “but what’s the solution?!” in a chiding way in a way that makes them understand that their really listening is the solution. If they really listened, if they really heard, change would follow the revelation of unsustainable, systemic hatred.

    • On a lighter note …
      Li’l D came up as I finished typing the above and said, “Whoa, that’s a long sentence!” Time to explain paragraphs now. 🙂

    • It starts I think with changing the way people view the world around them. That which is ‘uncomfortable’ must still be seen. I have family who will say to me, ‘I am not a racist’ in one breath and it is true, on a very fundamental and personal level they are not and yet they cannot truly claim this because they support racist policy and structural / institutional racism and do not see racism within our society for exactly what it is. When I point this out to them, as much as I love them, they are offended and will fight me for their right to cling to their beliefs no matter how very wrong they are. Yet, on a very personal level, they are not prejudice only supporting racism. They do not understand why this is wrong.

      We change it, one step at a time. One piece at a time. We change it by demanding change. I don’t know how else.

  3. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say I’m ashamed to be an American.

  4. Reblogged this on Blissfully Single and commented:
    Today I cannot help but think about the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, and the children of those whose lives have been lost to guns. I cannot imagine what it must be like celebrating a holiday that supposed to be about being thankful, when you have an empty chair at the table. And try as I might, there is no way I can truly understand the difficulties people whose skin is not white live with every single day of their lives. I pray that someday, someday while I’m still alive to rejoice in it, that our nation changes and progresses.

  5. “It is time to acknowledge we have a problem and it is not the criminality of the Black Community it is the Criminality of a nation built on privilege, brutality, greed, violence and a desire to retain what was never earned but stolen.”

    So eloquent. Thank you. It is long past time.

  6. Reblogged this on oljimmyt.

  7. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing this with us. It does hit its mark. TY … reblog!!! So true …

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    “Today, families weep and we should all be weeping with them.” ….. I weep with them. I weep for the present and I weep for the future!!

  9. Reblogged this on MrMilitantNegro™ and commented:
    One of your best post. Thank you for doing this. Great Minds.

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