November 7, 2007

Current Events

Many people throughout the world have been speaking quite candidly about America's race issues in the past few months since the demonstration in Jena, Louisiana. Myself, having read many books, including The Strange Career of Jim Crow and A Rap on Race (a conversation that took place between James Baldwin and Margaret Mead, have found myself at a loss for words. Nevertheless, in the quest to understand I have recently started reading The Mind of the South, a very illuminating text by W. J. Cash.

Of course, there are many private thoughts, and while it is relatively easy to speak of any divisive issues in an intellectual manner it is definitely difficult to express our deepest sentiments. Recently, though, I received the following from a dear friend who wished to remain anonymous but agreed to this posting. Please feel free to read on and share your thoughts.


"At 43 years old and one who has lived a relatively good life without overt prejudice and fear, I am humbled by the images in the video hyper-link below you are about to watch. I warn you what you are about to see is graphic and may be unsettling or not for everyone to see."

As the debate continues (on CNN) whether it is funny for African-American comedians to wear a noose on stage in an effort to be funny or to prove a point, after receiving an e-mail last evening from a friend in D.C. of this narrated video montage I really did not know what I was going to see or witness. The haunting pictures that were made into (of all things) ‘postcards’ shed some light on what was going on during the many years of American history when blacks were lynched. The distinctive tone and cadence of the narrators’ voice took my breath away as each picture came into focus."

I paused and slowly watched each and every one of the images that appears to be commonplace entertainment for those pictured imposing this insane torture and death on people who simply wanted to live a life of freedom. My God we (black or white people) can’t forget our past. Our forefathers and these sacrificed souls endure the most absolute horror one can imagine so that I might have the right to simply walk into any establish of my choosing in this country and be served and treated with dignity and respect."

Rarely do I feel compelled to make such a statement in correspondence form to friends and family. For some reason seeing the noose stories in the news this week and then getting this link made me feel as though I had to. In light of the 'whatever' attitudes permeating our society and after watching this once sick and disgusting way of life in this country it move me. After all we all learned in school one of the main reasons for our seceding from our cousins across the pond was the pursuit of freedom."

Whether as kids or as adults at patriotic community events wherever we may live, black, white or other, we all pledge allegiance to this country for liberty and justice for all. With this in mind we all should be outraged when black or white people use this symbol, there is nothing funny about these pictures. This video should make us all think about what that pledge means and why we should speak out or raise hell when any group is singled out or treated unfairly."

As an African-American male who has benefited on the shoulders of the likes of Dr. King and others who were not as welled known, I clearly understand my benefits are unquantifiable. Seeing this video is the reason I will never forget this kind of injustice. I reflect on how lucky I am often not just during the month of February. Those who died and made the ultimate sacrifice for us to live the harmonious life we live without fear (in comparison to the era shown) is why all of us should never pass up the opportunity to vote, speak out against injustice or take for granted this incredible gift we were given called freedom."

Take a moment to find a dictionary and look up the word “FREEDOM.” What a gift."

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