I have officially reached the breaking point. I knew I had gotten there when I told a Swedish woman that white people just need to leave us the f*** alone if they can’t find it within themselves to treat Black people humanely and with some common, human decency. There was no imploring for discourse, no intellectual opining on the matter…there was only a simple request to treat me and my race like we are human or get the f*** on. Get the hell out of our way. Stop being so meddlesome and destructive. It’s not that difficult.
The reasons for my ire were not this particular woman’s fault. I was simply left stunned by the obliviousness of her questions and her lack of introspection. That, and she just happened to catch me at the wrong moment – because I am SO tired, y’all. So, so tired. I am 400 years (and counting) tired. I know that many of you feel this fatigue too. You share the burden of this oppressive weight, the confusion of being set on a winding path built in an unfamiliar labyrinth, the blinding, splitting headache that comes when all your senses are assaulted at once. I am tired of whitness and white supremacy. Like Baldwin, I want to flee and escape it just so my children and I can breathe. The funny thing about white supremacy is that it has an uncanny way of following you like a bad stench. It flourishes like poisonous fungus under the right conditions.
Through Black eyes, this is what Blackness looks like when it comes into contact with white supremacy.
But white eyes can look at the SAME set of circumstances and see something completely different.
What then is the motivation to change your conduct if you’re white and everything looks/seems/appears to be okay with the world…with the world YOU created with your ships, (broken) treaties, policies and societies you built and administrated over? There IS none. And that is why white people have never asked for or craved Black forgiveness and yet somehow, we continue to give it.
Last week’s shooting in Charleston was my tipping point where the policy of preemptive Black forgiveness is concerned. Conservatives, Right Wing pundits and Christian Negropeans have labelled it an “attack on religious freedom”. Only cowards and those in a stupor believe that Dylann Roof’s vicious massacre of 9 Black people – in a church – was motivated by anything other than his racial hatred. Churches have long been targets for racial warfare. It’s the one place where Black people have gathered in numbers to acquire strength, to seek spiritual guidance, to go to the feet of our Father to console ourselves in the midst of centuries of grief. The relationship between Black folk and the church and the message of salvation manifests in a way that is unique to US. It has been a refuge and a sanctum for our people literally and figuratively. To burn, bomb and shoot up a Black church sends a powerful message. It is an attempt to desecrate the Black spirit. There is no mistaking that this Confederate flag waving, Rhodesia patch wearing terrorist was well researched in the heinous act he executed.
And yet, this is an act that Black people continue to forgive. Blacks in America – and globally – have pardoned unspeakably cruel acts and policies spawned by whiteness and white supremacy. Much of what Black people suffer today is as a result of this dogma. White supremacy thrives because of it. As usual, it comes down to a misinterpretation or ignorance about history and the Bible. Christianity and Christian doctrines are the defaults that Black people in America operate under. It’s a consequence of our forced migration to and enslavement on these shores. Somewhere along the line, the message of ‘forgiveness’ was drilled into us. My husband disagrees. He thinks it’s a West African trait, rather than a Christian one. He points to Ghanaians and our knee-jerk fa ma Nyame (trans: give it to God) reaction to anything that gets too hard to comprehend or combat. Whatever the origins, it’s now gone too far and we need to pull it back. It hasn’t helped us. In 500 years, forgiveness in advance has yet to save us or change outcomes.
In the face of whiteness and white supremacist outbreaks of police brutality, public executions, unfair housing policies, failing schools, blocked access to healthcare even while our bodies continued to be used to test and experiment for drugs, Black people are admonished to remain “peaceful” and to “forgive”. That is because that is what German Jesus and MLK would want us to do.
When Jesus hung on the cross, his body sodden with sweat, battered and whipped and drenched in blood, his decree to the people who had broken and chastised him were not that HE had forgiven them. He looked to the heavens and appealed to the Father to forgive them “for they know not what they do.” Absolution was in God’s hands to give. It was in His power to do so. But Christ had to ASK Him for it on our behalf. In the interim, we now have the opportunity to turn from OUR wicked ways and receive salvation. Forgiveness is a two way street, not a Boy Scout derby track.
When has whiteness and white supremacy been given the opportunity to turn from their wicked ways? They have never been taken the initiative or interest in doing so, because whenever there is offense or pain caused, Black forgiveness and dismissal of those transgressions is assumed. It is assumed that we will not retaliate. It is assumed that we will endure. It is assumed that we will get along and get by…until the next crime against our humanity. This cycle is on repeat.
Now, when it comes to MLK, his legacy, methods and message have been bleached down so that they are barely recognizable. Whiteness in his era did not hate MLK with the vehemence that they did because he was not a threat to the pro-white establishment. The only difference between him and Malcolm X is that in our generation, he proves a much more palatable and digestible figure for the quest for racial equality; the ONLY reason being that Malcolm X is and forever will remain un-bleachable. MLK , the non-violent movement and forgiveness have been hijacked by white supremacy in order to keep us docile.
Luvvie wrote a piece about Black forgiveness that captures everything else I want to say about the matter. She was right on point with her analysis of the way things are as they stand. Please make time to read her post. It’s not long at all. At the end of the day, the ball is in whiteness’ court. By “whiteness”, I mean those nice white folks who may have never had a slave trading ancestor, but who benefit directly from that trade. I mean those expats in Africa who collect four times more salary than their African counterparts for doing the same job with the same (or better) qualifications. I mean those people who think they are saving the world from danger because they are married to or sleep with Black men. You have not dismantled any systems that work in your benefit and to our detriment. You are simply participating in them with rose colored glasses.
Finally, I saw this on FB this morning as I was preparing to write this.
Jonathan Byrd gets it. This is the kind of interrogation and introspection we need from the white establishment, not the habitual and accepted course of monitoring and mitigating Black reaction to continued oppression.