For more than 150 years, first Negroes, then Blacks, then African Americans have been told the same thing: just wait, it will get better. The Massachusetts 54th, the first African American regiment, fought not just to end slavery, but also for the promise of a better life. Freed slaves were promised “40 acres and a mule” (have you ever wondered about the name of Spike Lee’s production company?), a promise that was never kept. Reconstruction promised a better life, yet that was abandoned with the Compromise of 1877 and the rise of Jim Crowe and the KKK. History goes on.
Spend a little time studying the black experience during World War 2. Most were given the most menial of jobs, building and cleaning latrines, cooks, and more. Very few were given the chance to fight. Spend some time learning about the Tuskegee Airmen. The Army wasn’t integrated until Truman ordered that it be after the war. Yet in spite of the discrimination, African-Americans volunteered and fought, often to show that they too loved their country, that they belonged. And what did they return to? Jim Crowe. You can’t eat here. Nope, not allowed in this bathroom, that one is for you. Nope, wrong drinking fountain. You are not allowed to vote. Sorry, wrong school. This one is for whites only. The list goes one.
Take some time to look at the histories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The key difference is that MLK said we need to reform the system. Frankly, he was content to wait. But Malcolm? He said the system is broken, we’ve waited too long. Both were killed more than 50 years ago. Both would see a lot of change since they were murdered and would also be shocked at how much has not changed. We wanted to believe that electing Obama showed that we, our country was different. Sadly, where we are today, shows it was just hidden better, that hate and racism were still alive and well.
Is George Floyd the tipping point?
I will not turn the other cheek. I will not be silenced. 400 years of violence is too many. If my choice to protest, to fight angers someone? Too damn bad.