Black America's Denial
Fear is found at the very base of the soul of black folks. Like the roots of a mighty oak, fear holds us up and destroys us at the same time. Through slavery, reconstruction, the black belt, civil rights and yes, even today, fear guides our every move, be they good or bad. The fear of rejection, ridicule, poverty, and death at the hands of the majority, the fear we hold to our breast and feed like our newborn children.
Birthed in slavery and cultivated over the decades by both Whites and Blacks the fear that lives deep down within us, molds us on every level. The fear of slavery that caused us to risk life and limb to reach freedom is the same fear that caused the slave to tell master the direction we ran. The motivating fear of being controlled that encouraged people like Marcus Garvey to start the Nationalist movement is the same fear that caused blacks to assist in his destruction. It is the fear of maltreatment that finds Assata Shakur exiled to Cuba, the same fear that has Bill Cosby afraid to speak on the prison industrial complex when addressing black plight. It was the fear of being called ignorant that created such prestigious institutions like Morehouse College, and the same fear of social ignorance that caused Morehouse to refuse to bestow upon Atlanta’s greatest child (MLK) a degree of honor. It was the fear of destruction that caused millions to receive Malcolm X, the same fear that caused them to exterminate him.
Fear is our greatest strength and our most destructive burden. It lifts us to greater levels of achievement at the same time as it lowers us to depths beyond our reason. Fear of poverty makes a rapper dance a jig, wear gold teeth, and play the role of Sambo then tell us it’s OK because they are only expressing their life experiences. Bullshit…Their life experience is based in institutionalized racism but we rarely hear them speak on it. Our young men are killing themselves in the streets out of fear and we cannot find a way to turn the tide because adults share yet refuse to admit that they suffer the same fear. Black men devalue Black women and Black women devalue Black men out of the fear of being chastised for being with a person of another race. We fear nationalism because we know that the White population also fears it. Nationalism is racist, unless you are Italian, Jewish, Greek, Asian, or Hispanic, then it’s just the way you live out the American dream. Oh yes, we also fear the White population of this country. Afraid to speak the truth of a country built of prejudices, prejudices that often put us at the back of the line, prejudices that see us as guilty until proven innocent.
Black fear is the greatest driving force in our culture from both a positive and negative perspective. The problem is that the majority of us refuse to acknowledge that such fear even exists. We pretend that the uncomfortable feeling we get talking about racism around Whites is derived from our desire to be politically correct. We make out that prison sentences for non violent crimes given to black boys are justified, even though they are not extended to Whites. We mumble under our breath and walk around with a chip on our shoulder about every incident that can be remotely called racist, but we claim to see no color. We pretend that slavery is history and that it has no affect on us today, then we turn around and beat our children like slaves, using the lash of a belt instead of the lash of a whip.
I can no longer for the sake of my people pretend that we are not a scared lot. It is only by admitting this simple fact that we can take control of our fear and utilize it to our benefit. Admit your fears and you control your fears, ignore them and they control you.
I leave you with the following quote from my favorite racist:
“The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people – a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people.”
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