This week’s column is a response to readers’ letters I received about my June 23 column on violence amid the recent national discussions on reparations for the descendants of black American slaves.
Dear brother, don’t get it twisted: As the great-great grandson of a man born an African-American slave, I’ll gladly take a check, should the government ever cut one. Hell, I’ll take 10 acres and a Hyundai.
But I ain’t exactly holding my breath.
And know this: America can never — ever — reparate us for the hell it has inflicted for 400 years upon the souls of black folk. I will never forget. We must never forget.
“I’m sorry” will never be enough.
Regarding, “I hope to see you on our side for reparations…”
LOL, bruh, I’m down for the cause. Always have been. Always will be. You’re not blacker than me. And you don’t love black folk anymore than I do. Period.
For the record, I never said I was against reparations. What I said was, and I quote: “Let us take up a more imminent cause: The murder of us by us…”
I’m not saying, “Damn reparations” as in “it is not worthy of discussion or unmerited.” Instead I’m saying, “Damn reparations” as in “that is not the most imminent issue at hand.”
Nor am I conflating the two. “Reparations” is in the news. It was a device, a hook (something I learned in journalism school), to draw attention to something that doesn’t ordinarily summon the same collective outcry. My column reflected my deep angst, frustration and passion as a writer chronicling “murder” for three decades. I’m saying, “The house is on fire. Save the babies!”
For example, for a black homeowner, a discussion about historic housing discrimination and racist lending policies is a worthy one, just not while the house is ablaze. Duh. Save the children.
I also wrote: “I acknowledge systemic racism, the toxic and conspiratorial socioeconomic soup that has placed black folks in a most unenviable American position…”
Did you miss that line? Huh?
Do you really think I have been in this black male American skin for almost 60 years now and don’t get it? A six-foot-tall 200-plus pound, dark-skinned, black-bearded black man born and raised on Chicago’s West Side? A poverty-bred, collard greens-fed, food stamps and government cheese cred black man, and I don’t get it? Seriously, man? Please.
I also get the deep-seated reasons our community suffers. Damn straight. I’ve written about it plenty. And I’ve got enough hate mail from racist white folk to prove it.
I feel the weight of racism everyday. I have written of our sojourn, the psychological trauma that slaps us like a cold wind at every turn; about the government-sanctioned murder of us.
I’ve chronicled the systematic attempt to destroy the black man, to render us impotent, lifeless. I’ve written about America’s insidious unrelenting assault against the “black body” and soul. I breathe black. I am unapologetically black.
I’ve written exhaustively that healing our community will take policy and policing, the church, parents and resources--economic, social and political.
But what if the cavalry or reparation check never comes?
Are we eternally doomed, hopelessly entrapped by a racially discriminatory system designed to destroy us? Are we powerless? Nay.
We must continue to fight for reparations while also remaining fervent in the more imminent struggle. And we cannot afford to entrust our future or healing to something that may never transpire.
Finally, let me be clear: If Japanese internment warranted reparations, as have government-inflicted atrocities and injustices against other races or ethnicities, then, to use a Bid Whist term, the case for black folk is a straight-up “Boston.”
For the record, I am for reparations. For. Not against. In whatever form they might someday come. Even if it amounts to five acres and a Harley.
Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org.