WE ARE A MIRACULOUS PEOPLE
By Kai EL’ Zabar
Former Executive Editor
I have often found myself saying to various individuals that we are a miraculous people. They of course are curious as to why I would say such a thing given the tone of the conversation at that particular time. It usually emerges out of the conversation when we go into attack mode citing unfavorable things about us, how we operate on CPT/Colored People Time, how we don’t help each other like other race or ethnic groups, and how we are lazy, how the young people expect to be paid top dollar as an entry level worker and the worse is how we always criticize those of us who are successful and dictate how they should spend their money. I answer them with this, “Think about it. Whenever there is some sort of major tragedy, for example a mass murder that occurs at a high school.
Most often it takes place in a majority white school. The students, teachers, parents, administration and community are all traumatized. Or we can look at 9/11 and recall the impact of the attack caused New York and in particular all of the victim’s families that were directly affected. When massacres occur the clergy, therapists, and grievance counselors are called in to help students, victims families and all those affected emotionally. The implication is that those somehow involved have been affected in a way that impacts them psychologically, emotionally, physically and so forth. This impact whether it is caused by direct violence, or terrorism, war or racism is the labeled Post-traumatic Stress Disorder/PTSD, which shows up differently in various people based on the source of the trauma. Continued childhood violence, combat exposure, ongoing terrorism, the war experience as a civilian, the Holocaust or slavery all effect our behavior.
So let’s cut to the chase, my point is, authorities recognize the importance and necessity to make available trained individuals to help and assist victims’ of school massacres and yet have a very difficult time understanding or first recognizing that the condition of slavery has had an ongoing impact on African Americans. That past follows us just as the Holocaust follows the Jewish community. The film 12 Years a Slave, best dramatizes the mental and emotional scars caused to the human condition than perhaps most. To take a man who is already a second class citizen and demean him, strip him of all that he is except for what he believes himself to be is perhaps the most traumatic thing one human being can do to another.
I watch The Game Of Thrones with great interest because of the interaction between one group of people towards another. The character Theon Greyjoy, an aristocrat son of a Lord who boasts his way with women was taken from his home but welcomed by the family Starks with whom he was still respected as a human being. However when he had the opportunity to express gratitude towards the family who could have murdered him, instead, he chose to take over their land. He then finds himself captive by the cruel Ramsey Bolton who literally castrates him and transforms him into a pitiful, ruined creature known as Reek.
Over the season viewers observed a cocky man go from confident to a mumbling idiot scared of his own shadow because of the cruelty he endures under Ramsey. I can’t help but think of our experience as a people who have endured far more than such suffering portrayed on any fictional series. That sort of demeaning of one’s very existence was a daily occurrence in the lives of Blacks in America. Lupita Nyong´o’s character Patsey earned our empathy when she asked Solomon Northrop to kill her. She asked, “what do I have to live for?” She was valued for her beauty and ability to pick more cotton than any male slave yet her life was one of abuse. She was objectified by her sadistic owner who rapes and beats her daily at his whim. At one point we witness the slave owner’s wife throw a glass pitcher hitting Patsey upside her head leaving a scar. This ongoing terror and abuse is what Blacks endured. Just read or look at “Roots,” “Django,” “The Butler,” “The Help” “Selma, “The Great Debaters” and any other resource that will provide you insight into the day and a life of Blacks living in America. Blacks have continued to live in terror as demonstrated over the last year, a reign of terror with the deaths of unarmed Black men murdered at the hands of white policemen.
The most recent incidents captured on video expose the attitude of white supremacy at its best. Ray Tensing, U.C. police officer made up a fictitious story about why he shot and killed Samuel Dubose. This he reported forgetting that he had a body camera on. Joe Deters, Hamilton County prosecutor spoke candidly at his shock around the murder of Mr. Dubose. “What I wasn’t prepared for, and what I had not experienced as a prosecutor, was for a police officer to commit such a horrific act.”
Here’s the caveat, “Black people are not surprised white people. We have been telling you for years that our people are victims of this sort of racist behavior and that we have cause and reason to be angry, upset and distrustful of the law, the medical field, education and employment opportunities. We can go on and discuss Henrietta Lacks or the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, the murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, 16th Street Church Bombing killing 4 little girls, the numerous lynchings, the recent murder of 9 individuals while in Church at Emanuel AME, Charleston, N.C. and on and on and on.
We have always known this from our experience of simply being Black. So we will always question your explanation for why you have killed one of us when it appears that the victim did not provoke it. Of course we were suspicious when we learned that Sandra Bland died in her cell after being stopped for a traffic violation. But more importantly what I am saying here is that as a people suffering all this, that we have never had any consultation, no therapy, no treatment and yet we are held to the letter to perform and be normal. If we still speak harshly at our children it’s because we have been taught to through our slavery experience which has been passed down. Were we not beat darn near to our death because we failed to bring in the amount of cotton you expected?
Was not Emmett Till, a 14-year old brutally mutilated/murdered because it was said he whistled at a white woman? We suffer the same sort of trauma that war, terror, violence and abuse victims experience. And worse our abuse has been an ongoing occurrence over two hundred years. However still we have made huge strides as a people. It is for that reason that I look at us in amazement knowing what we have gone through to get here. We have come a long way. Yes in spite of it all we have a Black President of the United States, who has been disrespected by congress and often times the media. So when the Bright Moments like the Bud Billiken Parade comes around, a moment in time when we can hold ourselves up and express appreciation for who we are and what we do the way we do it is much to be grateful for. We all look forward with much joy to celebrate our children and the opportunity to convey the importance of education.
We look forward to seeing you there and sharing the celebration.