There used to be a time when black folks spoke to each other. Maybe we still do in certain settings or cities. But here in Portland, OR, chances are, niggas will count the chicken fat stains on their wing tips before they’ll look a brotha in the eye and speak.
I mean, GOTDAMN! I’ve been doing an unscientific survey recently, making a real effort to look into the whites of my kinfolks eyes, male or female, young or old. Niggas here seem to be saying in no uncertain terms, “fool, you on yo’ own.”
The reasons are probably related to several factors: the exclusionary laws that forbade blacks from living in the State until the late 19th century; the intensely restrictive housing covenants that led to realtors being fired for selling a nigga a house in the wrong, a.k.a. white neighborhood; the perfection of the practice of redlining to the point where, the chances of a nigga getting a house loan in Portland were similar to those of a terrorist strike on a Penguin colony; and the fact that, after WWII, black shipyard workers – many of whom were Southern or Midwestern transplants – were systematically fired once the white boys came back home.
At the height of this betrayal, 10,000 unemployed blacks from the Great Influx remained, unemployed, the rest having gotten the message to leave pronto. The white city fathers contacted the National Urban League to help remedy the problem. The Urban League rep was ‘shocked’ when his hosts, rather than asking his help in seeking’employment strategies for the Negroes, were actually interested in finding the most efficient means to remove these remaining Negroes from the state! HELLO?!
We’ve been so beaten down and balkanized here that we don’t, can’t trust each other. It seems many of us don’t want to be seen as black or reminded of it. As I walked towards this sistah the other day (who was in the company of two white women), from 50 feet I could see it coming. Just as we approached, at the point where near-sightedness kicks in and you can see the pores in a person’s face, Beulah’s head swiveled and pitched skyward as if she’d heard the rocket boosters fire up in the Space Shuttle high above. I lived right next door to a Rochester Knee-gro a few years back and it was the same thing; I’d just moved in, come out on the stoop of my house, he’s standing on his stoop. I look over to give him the ‘yo, was up’ and he turns away. Nigga Puh-leaze!! There was really no other reason to turn his head at that moment besides: racial shame, embarassment, “trying to pass with yo’ black ass?” Qui, non? Mon DIEU! I’s confused?!
Its gonna take YEARS of racial rehab therapy to help our poor people recover from the “cradle to grave” racist oppression. I know I need to be more gentle with my people cuz we are suffering post-slavery/post-traumatic stress/post-Jim Crow Syndrome.
Its sad how whites have felt they did us a “favor” by supposedly freeing us. Freeing us to an aborted Reconstruction and then into the blood stained hands of “Jim Crow” and the Southern, sheet wearin’ cracka? Or, the second class citizenship of UPSOUTH? We had to suit up and fight to TRY and get what every white immigrant leapfrogged over us and got after a few years of minor difficulties: the status of an American (white).
They never had a “Marshall Plan” for us, when the Native American and the ex-slave, handkerchief headed niggas were most deserving of one. Who was more deserving than us…the Germans, the French? The Japanese, for God’s sake? This country has done more for strangers, for foreigners – more for its former enemies – than its ever done for its own nonwhite popoulation.
And what of the mental damage, the “intentional infliction of psychological distress and misery,” the selling of black babies and black women and black men, the permanent, willful and malicious separation of families and the crippling stereotypes,” vicious images and ideas that have been propagated systematically, and applied liberally – for 400 years and counting!
No, white folks bore/bear no responsibility in the spiritual, psychological and mental uplift of a people who were and are run through a racist meat grinder – by OTHER white folks. Always, its not US but those other, older, ancient white folks. It is niggas who have been culturally degraded, abused worse than a chained hound; it was my people who were prohibited from reading and writing, from receiving education, but in fact were SPOONFED black servility, black inferiority and black subhumanity. All of this damage was inflicted by a phantom, an amorphous cipher. The approach of whites since the Emancipation Proclamation has been some variant of “I didn’t do it!” The faux progressive offers a bit more sugar to soothe the savage beast like, “oh, we were just playing. We didn’t really mean it” AND “it really wasn’t so bad, was it?”
What kind of human being could simply IGNORE or MINIMIZE the horrific damage done and underestimate the necessary period of healing; what kind of monster could fail to provide the essential medicine – when we all know its readily available – and the “ALL-HANDS-ON-DICK” emergency surgery required to mend the gaping wounds in us? What kind of beast could deny the help needed to recover from THE most brutal campaign of soul genocide in recorded history.
I can’t be too harsh with us niggas cuz we’re still nursing centuries old wounds that are continually torn open and re-infected with the old white poison in new, all natural bottles. We gon’ heal it, though, I can feel it.