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When asked to define “home,” most people will agree that their home is where they are most comfortable and feel most relaxed.  In fact, they often volunteer unsolicited information about items within their home that maximize their comfort level.

From leather recliners to chaise loungers, everyone has that one piece of furniture that puts them most at ease.   Even with differing taste in furnishings, varying size of the homes etc., the dwellings still promote the same feelings of security and pleasure to the owner ​regardless of social standing.

Interestingly enough, during these discussions, most people never mention putting anything in their home that makes them feel uncomfortable or unappreciated.  In fact, even with limited funding, most people go out of their way to make their homes their sanctuaries.

That same need for security within your home is also needed when you exit said home for work or play and, when properly in place, promotes overall health/wellness.  And most people would acknowledge this.  After all, we have laws and rules on the books to protect people from “hostile working environments.”  However, this basic and often taken for granted level of comfort is routinely denied to black people in the United States everyday, resulting in a very different and difficult life for blacks compared to their white counterparts.

If it isn’t harrowing enough, not knowing if law enforcement will see you as a criminal today as a direct result of your skin color,  hairdo, or outfit, you have to contend with walking passed innumerable statues and shrines that pay homage to the slave masters (both past & present) of your people.

Blacks in the US have no choice but to attend institutions that bear the names of the same individuals who not only enslaved their people but who fought then and whose followers fight now to have them remain slaves in some fashion and listen to the cries and murmurings of those who wish to celebrate that legacy of barbarism under the guise of maintaining the integrity of history and tradition.

What’s even more amazing, if possible, is that this particular level of insensitivity has flown under the radar in a country such as the US, which claims religious, cultural and moral superiority over other countries with differing religions, gods, languages, etc. Yet, somehow, from members of Congress to ordinary individuals on the streets, so many people believe it’s okay for blacks to live with the reminders of these and other atrocities every single day.  Not only that, but if blacks bring these points up in any sort of conversation, those on the other side claim that THEY are the ones being persecuted for being who they are and that it is black people who are oppressing them because of their whiteness.

With all of that being the case, I don’t find it a quantum leap to conclude that black people are being told through situations—such as the excused, if not celebrated, murders of blacks by law enforcement officials, as well as the continued overlooked acts of daily cruelty, as discussed above—that the United States is not their home.  If it were, the individuals who run this country and who are in positions of authority in this country would own up to the truth about its history of flagrant mistreatment of black people.  They would make reparations to them, as other nations guilty of genocide and enslavement in the modern era have to their victims.  They would make every effort to ensure the comfort of ALL the nation’s inhabitants and not just a few.  In other words, they would do everything in their power to make sure blacks Americans would “feel” at home in America.

Not tolerated…and certainly not like they should feel grateful for the consequences of the enslavement that cut them off from their native lands and history.

But at HOME…right HERE.

The cultural differences of blacks would be nurtured and celebrated the same as other cultures of people within the US.  Perhaps there would even be areas of town set aside for the advancement and encouragement of black pride and business, which would be especially important for a group of people who arrived to the US on slave ships as opposed to other groups of people, such as the Chinese and Indians, who arrived in the US of their own volition and with their memories and histories intact.  To be clear, I’m not disparaging them.  I’m trying to make a point.

So, let’s think about it.

What is the underlying message to black people, who continue to be disrespected, murdered in the streets by law enforcement and forced to endure daily cruelty at work, rest or play?

What CAN it be?

America is making it loud and clear that this land is not your home.  If it were, at the very least, the same attention to detail currently in place to make other cultures feel at home when they choose America as their new home would be extended to black people who didn’t choose America in the first place, but had it forced upon them.

To recap, when you are at home, you feel welcomed…not alienated.  You feel at peace, not that little concern is being shown for the continued damage to your spiritual, emotional, physical, psychological and financial capability.

Can anybody hear me?

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Let’s Make America Great Again!

Confession time…

Every time I hear these words or see them in print, I’m about ready to scream.  And it’s not just because Trump’s supporters covered everything from television ads to their own bodies with it.  No.  I’m sickened by the sheer and baffling level of self delusion and historical revisionism that allows someone to utter those words and actually believe them.  Can someone… anyone… please point out to the class exactly when America was ever great?

I mean, was America great when whites first arrived to America only to find native Americans and indigenous blacks thriving and, despite being met with kindness, deciding to “colonize” land that was already occupied, kill and enslave the people living there and, if that isn’t bad enough, have the unmitigated gall to refer to themselves thereafter as Americans?

Was America great when those same invaders decided to sail to Africa, ensnare and kidnap the natives there and bring them to America as slaves to build upon the newly ill-gotten parcels of stolen land?

Was America great when they forced these same kidnapped black slaves to forget their God, their religion, their name, their heritage, their language and their culture?

Was America great when they stormed from coast to coast, driving the surviving native peoples further and further from their land and forcing them into smaller and smaller pens like pets?

Was America great when they hanged, beat, raped, pillaged and sold those enslaved black people amongst themselves for money while making them build America for free?

Was America great when it wrote a Constitution that protected its white citizens that did not include either the enslaved black individuals or the natives they boxed in even though those people needed it the most?

Was America great during the ensuing battles that followed, such as the civil war, when the north and south had different plans for utilizing the rather lucrative black peoples?

Was America great when it wanted the no longer quite as enslaved black peoples to join their military and fight, kill and die on the frontline fighting enemies that had done nothing to them while ignoring their actual enemies and tormenters at home?

Was America great when it decided to revamp the laws supposedly protecting blacks, yet never enforcing those laws, rendering the laws as useless as the paper they were written on?

Was America great when it labeled descendants of the native peoples illegal immigrants despite the fact that their ancestors were here before whites were?

Was America great when it deliberately miseducated blacks in an attempt to create a permanent underclass who would always be dependent upon them?

Was America great when it limited and controlled all banks, housing, neighborhoods, schools, churches, and all other facilities that blacks could utilize?

Was America great when it taught stories of the Holocaust in vivid detail while glossing over the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, despite the millions upon millions who were killed each year?

Was America great when white America wanted and demanded that black America grieve for, cry harder and sympathize with victims of atrocities overseas more than they mourned for themselves and their present condition in America?

Was America great when it continuously charged black and brown people higher prices and interest rates for housing, automobiles, food and necessities?

Was America great when it allowed/allows officers of the courts to gun down, imprison, profile black people often without provocation and without repercussion?

Was America great when it attempted to punish these mistreated individuals for picketing, rallying, protesting, boycotting against being mistreated by white America?

Perhaps America was great when it provided reparations to Japan while making no effort to repair the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and financial damages blacks had incurred directly as a result of slavery and the vestiges thereof?

You tell me!  When was America ever great?

Because, honestly, I’m a little vague on the timeframe we’re talking about here.

Can anybody hear me?

 

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.