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Ok, I keep hearing over and over that the country is more divided than ever, usually in the context of blaming former President Obama for recognizing that he was black or Trump for attacking minorities.  But, let’s be honest here, the country has always been divided.  At no time in its relatively short history has it ever been a united nation where equality ruled.  Its very foundation is built on human suffering and taking advantage of others.  The truth is, Black, Negro, African-American peoples have been fighting for Human Rights in the United States since stepping off slave ships in the 1600s.

Amazingly, in 2017, Black, Negro, African-American peoples are still dealing with racial barriers in a country they have built and occupied since their enslavement.  Why on earth would anybody, from those individuals who are newly arriving in the US to others whose oppression wasn’t as visible or continuous, believe that their specific issues will be or should be dealt with first?

It is obvious that other races of people now experiencing unfair treatment as guests in the US are either convinced that Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans are satisfied and lazy or else are totally unaware of 400 years of their own mistreatment.

And now, instead of assisting Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans with their obvious and continuous fight for basic human rights, these other, now targeted groups/races of people either jumped on the bandwagon with the oppressor of Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans or pretend that they don’t notice the racial disparities that exist in the country that they chose to inhabit.

Perhaps if they had joined the ongoing struggle of the Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans, when it was only against Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans, maybe they would have avoided their starring role as criminal targets today.

They never considered that Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans didn’t come here willingly like they did.  They never considered that the very structure of America demands that someone be a permanent servant class.  They never considered that, even if they came in search of a better life than what they received in their homelands, they at least knew where they came from.  They also decided where they were going.  Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans are called African but, if they were dropped off in the continent of Africa, they wouldn’t know where to go.  Truth is, Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans are more familiar with the US than they will ever be with the continent they are labeled by.  And even here, they have never been welcome outside of the plantation.

So now, Hispanics, Muslims, individuals of Middle Eastern descent now find themselves the target of unfair treatment.  Now they are the bad guys!  They are the immigrants being targeted.  According to white America, if a wall is built keeping them out, crime in the US will diminish.  Like never before, US citizens fear being injured if they are allowed to stay or even worse if they are deported.

And now that they are the targets, they expect Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans to come to their aid and speak out on their behalf?

Have you noticed that no one is discussing building a wall in order to block Italians from entering the US?  No one suggests that all the criminal behavior, murders, racketeering at the hand of known Mafioso’s might be impacted.  We will never know.  That’s because they are welcomed.  In fact, all white skinned immigrants are welcomed into the United States without restriction.

Did the new arrivals totally miss that the US refuses to even acknowledge that racism is still very much alive?  They didn’t see that the country would rather address Women’s issues and issues facing the LBGT community than deal with 400+ years of the dehumanization of Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans—gay, straight, male and female?  What, did they think hard work would put them in good graces?  Did they think that they, in the last few decades worked any harder than Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans who built this country?  What did they really expect?

So, my advice is to take a number!  They’ve already missed their chance to take a stand.

Can anyone hear me?

Contrary to popular belief, terrorism and the threat of terrorism are not new phenomena.  In fact, terror attacks are, in a big way, the very reason we’re speaking today.  Think about it, the fact that the United States of America is even a country is as a direct result of the invasion and conquering of other lands and people by European settlers, who then called them their own.  In the history books, this process is lovingly referred to as colonization.  At least, that’s what it’s called by the culprit.  Just for one moment, try to imagine how the peoples being invaded felt.  Imagine being attacked and decimated, having your families tortured or used for sport and watching your homes burn to the ground.  Imagine succumbing to diseases you had never even heard of due to being given infected blankets or injured by strange weapons never seen before.  I think we can safely assume that the individuals being colonized were not willing participants and did not view the process as a blessing.  Thus, battles ensued.  Blood was shed.  Lives were lost.

But more than the overwhelming loss of life was the loss of the culture of the inhabitants of the conquered lands.  Whatever ideals, religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs, customs etc., that were a part of the conquerors’ world were now imposed on the remaining individuals that survived the physical slaughter.  I don’t think it is farfetched to say that these same citizens had to have experienced extreme trauma, major distress and mental illness after being forced to abandon everything they ever knew or believed on the threat of death.

Now, imagine this same scenario being repeated and played out from sea to shining sea.  The trauma imposed upon the conquered occupants who were oftentimes members of thriving civilizations before being colonized was completely ignored.   Honorable mention to the raping and pillaging that ensued.  But, depending on your vantage point, the success or failure of each mission changes.

Try to imagine conquered peoples having to live through and with these situations without reparations or apology!

Fast forward to today and the script is being flipped!  The former conquests are now becoming the conquerors!

For the first time in history, the colonizers are getting firsthand knowledge of the fear and helpless rage that their conquests have lived.  Now, the former master is being threatened, confined and controlled by forces who have a totally different belief system.  For the first time, the former conqueror is afraid…and rightly so.   After all, he is dealing with a rising group of people who believe that their way of life is both accurate and mandatory.  To that end, they are willing to kill or be killed.

The former colonizer finds himself unprepared to deal with this new threat.  So, amazingly, he solicits members of other societies that he previously colonized to take on HIS latest enemy.  By convincing them that they are being threatened as well, he feels that he can get them to be willing to die in his stead.

And why not?  He’s done it before!

He sends them to boot camps and other training camps designed to strengthen his cause.  He convinces those that he has consistently terrorized to assist him in terrorizing his future conquests.  He uses inclusive words such as “us” and “we” when discussing the threats  —  ones that are actually aimed at dethroning HIM!   Once graduated, the reformed members now use words such as “us” and “we,” seemingly forgetting that they were previously as much of a “they,” “them” and “those people” as their new enemies.  As such, they are now ready to die for a country that never even considered them human beings!

And then you have people like me.  As all this is going on, we’re here encouraging others to live by the words of Tonto when he addressed the Lone Ranger after the latter’s frantic statement that “they” needed to hurry to escape from the natives who were pursuing them.

Can anybody hear me?

In recent news, we have heard about the capture, enslavement and eventual liberation of three young women in Cleveland, Ohio—Amanda Berry, 27; Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, 23; and Michelle Knight, 32—as well as a 6-year-old daughter apparently born to Berry while in her imprisonment.  They were held in captivity for ten years by a man named Ariel Castro.

During those ten years, they were brainwashed, intimidated, raped, beaten and emotionally destroyed.   Without argument, everyone can plainly see that a tragedy has occurred.  Everyone agrees that the perpetrator of the crimes has to be punished.  Everyone is sympathetic, angry and downright incensed that such an event could take place in a civilized society/world.  There are those who feel that there will never be appropriate restitution for these three women.  Still, in order for them to have any chance at a normal life, all the experts are recommending therapy.  Even with the best therapists and counselors in the world, I think we can all agree that they have a long recovery ahead.  The public is outraged and rightly so!

Fortunately or unfortunately, this news story made me think—hard—about the many injustices that people have faced.  I started to think about all the enslaved peoples of the world.  Specifically, I thought about the plight of African Americans who, like these three women, were captured against their will.  Like that first group of Africans that arrived here in the United States, these women were strategically isolated, beaten and outright tortured to the point that the front door of the house where they were being held could remain unlocked and they would not attempt to leave.  So convinced were they that their condition was hopeless, they soon accepted their plight and made a life for themselves as best they could.  At the same time, they were forced to rely heavily on their slave master for food, water and shelter.  As such, they accepted whatever he said as if it were law and they assimilated.  As with the Africans, he wanted them to forget their former lives and to submit to him.  Soon, they didn’t question his authority.  Like the Africans, they submitted for the sake of survival.  On some level, they may even have identified with their captor.

I learned recently that the three former captives are receiving counseling and are slowly reclaiming their lives.  Nevertheless, the descendants of the African captives were not so fortunate.  For them, counseling was not even considered.  No.  Once free, they were expected to go about their lives, “get over” what happened and not “live in the past.”  As a result, they will never get the sympathy, restitution or even restorative counseling that are so clearly needed in order for the formerly enslaved individuals to make a life for themselves.   Do not misunderstand.  They will receive scholarships and grants to institutions of higher learning.  Nevertheless, we must all agree that classes are not the same as counseling, nor textbooks acceptable therapy.

The victims of Ariel Castro will see their tormentor prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.  However, the victims of the African slave trade will not.  Regardless of what happens that closure will never come.  Of course, the situations are not identical.  Many people will point out that, in the case of African Americans, no such therapy is necessary because the injustices and abuse of the past did not occur to them directly.  While this is true on the surface, we must remember that trauma like that is not something people just get over with time.  It spreads and eats at its victim.  Like a cancer, it spreads to every aspect of their being.  It is naïve to think that it spreads to every area EXCEPT social interactions, EXCEPT self esteem, EXCEPT childrearing.  It enters and twists every part of a human being until it expresses itself in everything they do and everything they see.  It is foolish to believe that such harm can be overcome simply by maintaining a positive attitude and chanting “yes we can.”  They NEED treatment.   Without that medicine, no matter their level of achievement, they will always be multiple steps behind individuals who, while not directly responsible for slavery, continue to profit from it by birthright.

So, rather than address the issue once and for all, we continue to play “Let’s Pretend” at work, at home, at church and everywhere else.  Let’s pretend that discussions of race are passé.  Let’s pretend that racism is confined solely to the history books.  Let’s pretend that we are not still celebrating “firsts” for African Americans in this country (e.g., first African American Mayor of this, first African American Governor of that, first African American President, etc.) in 2013!  Surely, the election of President Obama cannot make up for the continued suffering of a group of people struggling to make it in a land that continues to view them as second-class citizens.

Can you imagine a world where these three women had been freed, straightaway returned to society and told to stop whining and to make a life for themselves or to stop blaming their captor for their misfortune?  Would it be fair to them?  How do you think they would fare?  Yet, this is essentially what happened to the enslaved Africans now called African Americans.  After many, many years of slavery—much more than ten—they were released into society and told to “make it.”

How successful has that been?

Can anybody hear me?

 

PS.  This article follows a similar theme.