There has been so much in the news over the last couple of weeks that I find it difficult to choose a single topic. As you may have noticed, I'm an inconsistent blogger. I tell myself that I will blog at minimum once a week but the best laid plans....
I ran across a link posted on Facebook to an article proclaiming that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for "crippling sanctions against Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapons capability." I read the brief article and there were no surprises; Iran and nuclear weapons capability is not at the top of the wish list for most nations. What caught my eye were the 30 comments following the post in which the overwhelming majority's views are summed up in the comment, "I urge crippling sanctions for him," referencing Netanyahu.
One commenter suggested that if the players can't get along in Jerusalem, the UN should just nuke it. I think he was kidding. Another declares that Israel has been playing the anti-Semitic card since its inception. (Somehow that reminds me of something.) Yet another declares that he doesn't want his tax money to support Zionism. One lone woman protested that Israel had to defend itself because it couldn't trust anyone else to do so. She was soundly attacked and dismissed for her alleged Zionist views.
Interesting comments, however it seems to me it's like arguing which is worse, a scorpion bite or a bite from a black mamba. Nuclear weapons capability in the hands of Iran, Israel, the U.S. or any nation is as scary as hell. That some of us already have that capability doesn't mean that everyone else should get to have it. No new profileration and disarmament with regards to current weapons should be the focus, not a bitch session about Israel.
I confess that I have empathy for Israel. I don't agree with its policies towards the Palestinians but I can understand the impetus that drives those policies. I think that Israel mistrusts that anyone will look out for its interests with the same diligence that it looks out for its own interests. I actually understand that position. I understand because I find myself having problems trusting that the white majority in this country has the best interests of black people at heart. I understand exactly why Reverend Wright talked about chickens coming home to roost. I fully comprehend Michelle Obama's statement about being proud of her country for the first time; I still haven't been able to say that. I work on being a rational person as opposed to giving in to my anger and frustration, but they are still a part of me.
I was 11 years old when I read The Diary of Anne Frank. When I finished the book, I knew that she died, but I didn't fully understand the larger backdrop of the war and the concentration camps until my 10th grade history class. Mr. Sewell was an amazing teacher and what our textbook left out about WWII, he filled in with supplemental materials.
I recall how betrayed and bewildered I felt as I learned the full horror of the Holocaust. I couldn't understand how the world allowed this to happen. I couldn't forgive the world for allowing Anne Frank to die. I became a student of the Holocaust at the age of 14 and I'm still bewildered by it. I've visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C. twice. The first time, (1991 or 1992) I didn't make it all the way through.
I see the nation of Israel as fighting desperately to keep its truth in front of us.
I identify with this need for truth because I see the same desperate struggle in my own experiences as a Black woman, especially amidst the current climate where racism has pulled off its white hood and is riding across the country announcing its resurrection.
I never believed that racism was dead, but I did believe that it was on life support. I wanted to believe that Obama's election was a sign that we were entering a post racial era, but the revisionists are at it again. The Governor of Virginia has set aside an entire month to honor the Confederacy under the guise of, "We are just honoring our ancestors."
Well it doesn't fly. Those ancestors treated my ancestors like cattle; they branded them, sold them, divided families permanently, raped the women, beat and abused men, women and children. Now, comes the ultimate insult, a new level of abuse--it wasn't about slavery it was about the economy and states' rights. The right to do what? To continue to make slavery a part of the economy.
The highest court in this land ruled conclusively in Dred Scott [60 US 393 (1857)] that slaves were chattel (property). Slaves, as well as people who had been slaves, or who descended from slaves, were not protected by the Constitution and could never be US citizens. Without citizenship status, African-Americans were denied access to the courts, and couldn't sue for their freedom, even if they had a contractual agreement granting them free status. The Supreme Court also ruled that Congress had no right to prohibit slavery, nullifying the Missouri Compromise. It would take the 13th amendment to overturn Dred Scott.
My first year in law school, like 1st year law students across the country, I had to take a course in property law. One of the assigned readings was of a case in which a landowner had sold two female slaves to a buyer and then died before the slaves had been transferred to the new owner. The son and heir of the landowner argued that the sale was null because the slaves were a part of his inheritance. He wanted to return the money and keep his property. I don't recall the outcome of the case. I only recall reading a legal case arguing ownership of the property at issue--two Black women.
I don't write about this stuff because I want pity or sympathy. I write about this stuff because I think that lies are dangerous; because I believe that if we misrepresent the past we compromise the integrity of the present.
I write about this stuff because I get so angry sometimes that I have to find a way to vent that anger and writing is preferable to cussing out strangers who cross me. I write about this stuff because I am tired of hearing people attempt to wipe out the past with the declaration, "I've never owned slaves;" or "My family never owned slaves." I'm never certain what response is desired to such statements. Thank you seems a bit much. Let's try a little substitution. "I've never abused a child." Gee, thanks a lot!
Really want to move forward? Then recognize that slavery was just the tip of the iceberg. Black codes, Jim Crow, the denial of civil rights, segregated schools, and the current manifestation in the guise of states' rights aka the tea party are all part of the white privilege that accrues to the White majority regardless of whether you seek it out or not.
The first step in healing the past is acknowledging the full truth of the damage that arose from that past, no matter how distant. The harm that oppression does to the victims is passed from generation to generation. Healing cannot begin until truth is acknowledged.
I write about this stuff because it is my truth.