The next time a non-Black person asks you why Black people are so angry I have a few questions that you should pose to them. Ask them, how would they feel if their grandparents, and grandparent’s parents, and so on and so forth were stolen away from their homelands and forced to abandon everything they have ever known and love simply because they were of a different culture and color? To be worked to death and treated like a thing rather than a person, ask them if that would make them angry?
If that’s not enough to shut them up ask them, how they would feel if their grandparents who were free American citizens were forced to endure Jim Crow? Ask them how they would feel if their grandparents could be murdered simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for something as trivial “reckless eyeballing.” (Looking at a white woman in the wrong way.) Ask them if they would be angry about living in a system that is designed to discriminate, disenfranchise, and destroy their communities?
Ask them about a criminal justice system that protects police officers who randomly murder unarmed Black men and woman and very rarely if ever pay for their crimes. What about a prison system that profits from the imprisonment of young black and brown men and women destroying families for generations. I wonder if these things would make them angry? I’m betting they would. Black people for years have lived with at first, fear and now anger for the unjust ways that our ancestors have been treated in the past and the way we are still being treated today.
What people outside of the Black community don’t seem to understand or care about is that our very presence here in America with few exceptions suggest that most of our ancestors were kidnapped and packed on a slave ship like cattle. Forced to endure the hellish journey of the middle passage across the Atlantic Ocean to America where they were beaten, raped, stripped of their religion, their customs, and brutalized in ways that we could never imagine. So yeah, the thought of all that makes me angry.
When I see we are still fighting many of the same battles today that were fought during the civil rights movement like voter suppression, I get angry. I get angry when I see politicians disparaging African American athletes for exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest the injustices that many in the African American community have endured. The justification of Black anger is evident to anyone who really cares and wants to understand it.
It’s easier to say that Black people should somehow get over it because most of these things happened a long time ago in the distant past, except they didn’t. The past isn’t so distant. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago, just six generations, that’s it. Slavery officially ended 152 years ago, and we in the African American community are still dealing with the lingering effects of it. I’m not saying that things haven’t gotten better in the Black community because they apparently have.
We have made progress, but we still we have a long way to go. Two-years ago my father was called to his reward; he was 80 years old at the time of his passing. To keep things in perspective, my father was born less than three generations after slavery ended. His grandparents were likely slaves. So, when I think of my great-grandparents as slaves, that makes me angry, and my anger is justified.
Lucius Wilson 2018