I’d like to first apologize for what may seem like a long a$$ed, Grandpa Simpson-esq rant. After reading the Gawker piece on prosecution of cops for murder( all of my frustration suddenly just came flowing out of my fingers faster than I could type, and I didn’t have much time to properly edit. But trust me, it’ll all tie together in the end. And due to it’s length I didn’t want to post it as a reply.
I’m going to share a little bit about myself. I’m a Black Alabama transplant, who became a Connecticut Yankee in 1996 at the age of 14. At the age of 11 or 12(I forget exactly), I was sexually assaulted by my White, 65-ish y.o., next door neighbor. I should also mention he was also a certified, card carrying, good ol’ boy Klan member. Apparently, he didn’t see what all of my fuss was about. Because, as he so eloquently worded his request, he thought I wanted him to go ahead, and just “take a feel of it”. Oh yeah...I should also mention he happened to be a retired LEO when the incident occurred. And would it surprise you if I wrote the case was never investigated. But my mysterious kissoff didn’t bother me much, and I brushed it off as another shitty experience. You see, by then I’d already read & watched both To Kill A Mocking Bird and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings films and book. And become jaded by social injustices suffered by Black women for hundreds of years just because of their skin color. I refer to this type of apathy as “The Slave Mistress Syndrome”.
You see, on a regular basis, Black men lived w/the worry of being lynched. But Black women had to worry about getting raped by a White man(or men. Yes...even gang raped). And sometimes it led to the woman being forcibly impregnated. Which explains why my Mom was routinely mistaken as Puerto Rican, and my milk chocolate skin tone. Lol.. Just for a moment, I want you to imagine it does to your psyche, when you’re forced to have sex with someone who sees your entire ethnicity/racial group as a thing, and “it” below a mongrel.
During the early 90’s, sometime after midnight, an in-law of mine was pulled over speeding in Hueytown, Al. Back then known as a notorious “sundown town”(you can look the term up in Wiki). He was subsequently arrested just for speeding. Wouldn’t you know that the darndest thing happened. Later that morning(6/7 am) he was found w/2 broken legs, and a broken arm. Here’s the kicker...it was ruled suicide. HA! Well, somehow his Mom was able to get the case aired on the popular Unsolved Mysteries series. But dispite being a very popular NBC primetime show, even they couldn’t drum up any leads.
I also know what it’s like to have what’s known colloquially as the “hanging tree” just one town over(Woodward, Al). I grew up hearing stories from my mom what life was like as a little girl in 1950’s Woodward, Alabama. Until she married she’d lived in what was known as a predominantly Black “company town”(Wikipedia it again). It was transformed from a former slave plantation into family owned Woodward Iron, one of the county’s largest employers. Her dad worked for W.I. all of his adult life. And the company never paid in cash, they paid in something called “company script”. Why? Because those with that held all the financial and governmental power were White, and rich. WI employed both Blacks, and Whites, but the commonality was they were both poor, disenfranchised, and no one cared how they were paid. And script was only redeemable at the “company store”.
In an attempt to escape the cramped living quarters of my grand parent’s company-owned shotgun house, my Mom would go outside to play ‘til well past sunset. Being it was the 50’s rural South, playing outside w/other kids past dark was fairly common. Growing up, my Mom shared stories about how as a child in Woodward, it’d become routine that whenever the Klan came through town, whichever neighbor had caught 1st sight of them would warn each other by shouting “it’s the Klan, it’s the Klan!”, similar to the way the kid game “Telephone” is played, only louder. And upon hearing the warning, everybody within eyesight would scatter to a safe place nearby until the coast was clear. Being that my Mom usually would be playing w/friends just a couple blocks away whenever the alarm was hollered out loud, she’d hide under the nearest porch, peeking through the planks of wood at the images of men in white(some walking, some on horseback) carrying torches, as they marched into the woods for their meetings. From what I was told, the only reason the local Klan didn’t routinely “harass”(aka lynch) the Black male residents in town was it made for bad business. The owner of Woodward Iron somehow worked out a “hands off” deal with the local head cop, Mr. Officer McDuff. And in turn McDuff would ensure safety with the simple phrase of “don’t touch my negras”, and the Klan left them alone (for the most part). Scared, demoralised, and dead employees has a strange way of slowing down production I guess.
Here’s where it all ties together. Now take those emotional scars born from my examples, and multiply them among most of whichever group you identify with. Imagine the mental mind-fuck this does to a person, and to your group. Those feelings of inadequacy are easily passed onto the next generation. Now it’s 2015, and the public had the utter gall of wanting to know why Blacks are a still bit peeved? Or, if Asians & Jews were able to overcome American internment camps, and The Holocaust, why can’t Blacks get over the past, and just let it go”? Because after your ancestors having passed down for umpteen generations, these feelings of self-loathing, collorism(wiki it), dis-unity, and paranoia, and having their will broken, these feelings(mostly subconscious) cannot be easily erased with the passing of a couple federal laws passed here and there, a pity casting on SNL, or even with the election of a Black President. Especially when those historical achievements are only a recent occurrence. HELL...most of them didn’t even happen until your parent’s had become young adults...at the latest.
Considering the hundreds of years of oppression the Black race has suffered under the government approved thumb of Whites. I’d say it’s fair play to still be pissed. And that we’ve earned the right to be a bit touchy, and gunshy(no pun) whenever there’s a perceived threat or injustice. But what do I know?
These examples are my family’s, my Mom’s, and my own. I don’t proclaim this most Blacks go through shifty experiences like mine before the age of 13, depending on their age I’m sure it wouldn’t have been that much different.
[sidenote: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings & Mississippi Damned are both great little known films dealing with what’s it’s like to be a Black female in the South, and survive physical/sexual abuse. And I highly recommend finding them, most likely on Netflix. Also, I didn’t include many reference links because I wrote this using Gawker’s mobile site. And inserting links as a part of the actual word, and(or) sentence instead a separate URL is impossible. Another thing, it’s been awhile since I last posted to the commenter written blogs, and my post might belong somewhere else. So if there’s another blog more fitting of my diatribe I apologize. And I realize this whole thing is tl;dr.Sorry]