@ 4:52 a.m.

by Dr. Jeannette Eileen Jones-Vazansky
special to The Dreher Report

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMBeen up since 4:52 am. In my restlessness I was grappling with two unrelated issues–both which are sources of trauma for me. I will write about the one that has most Black people enraged, sad, exhausted, traumatized, and generally not OK.

I have to get it out.

A people can only take so much.

Some elders used to say, “It’s a wonder we didn’t burn this [insert any explicative] down” after what we went through and go through in this country. Others let us know that one day the chickens were gonna come home to roost. Others told us no justice, no peace. So much prophetic wisdom continues to be passed down to us. I believe our ancestors foresaw this moment and many others that preceded this recent round of protests.

I have lived my entire life in a nation where state-sanctioned and vigilante terrorism against black folks (and other minoritized groups as well) has been the order of the day. For every decade of my life, there have been unarmed black folks murdered by police officers. White vigilantes have murdered black people who were simply going about their business–and they have celebrated for it. Growing up in Queens and Long Island, you couldn’t escape it.

I believe our ancestors foresaw this moment and many others that preceded this recent round of protests.

I will be 50 in August. That’s 50 years for me. But what about our parents, grandparents, [great grandparents], etc.? How did they survive? Some of my folks will tell you “But God.” Whatever your beliefs, something has kept us.

People ask “when is it going to end”? The truth is the powers that be, this racist country, and their acolytes don’t want it to end. If they did, they would dismantle this entire system that delights in and profits off of our death and suffering. Until that time, people will protest and it will not be (and we should not expect it to be) according to some book of “acceptable protest.”

I pray for the lives of the protesters. That’s my fear. That they will lose their lives speaking truth to power. I don’t pray for property or material things of this world. Buildings can be rebuilt or replaced. Insurance covers loss of material possessions. But LIFE. That’s priceless.Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PM

Jeannette Eileen Jones-Vazansky is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a historian of the United States, with particular emphasis in American cultural and intellectual history and African American Studies, with strong interests in race and representation, Atlantic studies, and science studies. She published In Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936 in 2010. She is currently at work on her manuscript America in Africa: U.S. Empire, Race, and the African Question, 1847-1919. 

 

That Terrifying Darkness

by Dr. Stefanie K. Dunning

(special to The Dreher Report)

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMI was settling pretty nicely into my self-chosen cloister when the news of George Floyd’s murder came to me and then the uprisings across the country. And then, the director on Twitter that “if there is looking, there will be shooting.”

Do I need to tell adult human beings that the destruction of property isn’t violence in this case?

Do I need to say that violence is the murder of people and that murder of people is the real crisis–not what happens to some resource-depleting crap in Target that will end up in a landfill and only worsen our climate crisis?

Do we need a lesson in the difference between a chair and a human being?

I keep coming back to this quote from James Baldwin, that writer, prophet, and seer who has never left my mind and heart once I cracked open Go Tell it On the Mountain all those years ago:

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.

All of these anti-quarantine protestors are caught up in a grand and complicated projection designed to forestall awareness of the reality of death, whose imminence materialized quickly with CV-19. Denial of the dangers of CV-19 connects to the deeper aspects of this culture so obsessed with youth (evidenced by the cultures of beauty, plastic surgery, dieting, wrinkle creams, hairlessness, and so on).

Do we need a lesson in the difference between a chair and a human being?

Now, as is the American way, all of those anxieties and fears about death will be offloaded onto the necks of black people. It’s as if forcing black people to die allows their white murderers to feel more alive and more firmly rooted in life than in death. But the fact of death, regardless of your skin tone or class status or gender identity or sexuality, cannot be postponed, negotiated with, or made otherwise a reality of living.

My spiritual journey has shown me that what people do is a reflection of what they feel inside. So murderers “feel” dead and can only feel alive in the presence of an actual dead body. People who can only see criminality in another feel guilty themselves because ultimately, there are no others. Everything is a mirror.

I suspect, black people do not behave in the genocidal manner that racist and murderous white people do is because we project what is inside of us–which is life, not death.

I have seen some racist arguments which wonder why black people don’t terrorize white people in armed militias or take up an eye-for-an-eye strategy vis-a-vis police/vigilante shootings. [My daughter] Omi was speaking to a (now former) friend of hers in Sri Lanka who told her that “black people are weak.” Many people whose consciousness is framed by anti-blackness think like this. By this logic, Jesus was weak too.

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A makeshift memorial for George Floyd near the spot where he died in police custody in Minneapolis. 

But the reason, I suspect, black people do not behave in the genocidal manner that racist and murderous white people do is because we project what is inside of us–which is life, not death. As a black person, I have no desire to kill anyone, for any reason. I am too concerned about what I would become if I did such a thing. And, I am too concerned about what I would foreclose in the life of the person I would kill. In other words, if living in this society means becoming a serial killer–I’ll fly away.

 

I’ll close with a prayer:

I pray for
the safety of
each and every one of us.

I pray that
our children
are safe.

I pray that
wisdom and insight
will rain down upon all of us and
the killing can stop.

I pray for
our collective
healing.

Love to you all.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMStefanie Kyle Dunning is Associate Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio. She is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of California, Riverside and a Ford Fellow. Her first book Queer in Black and White: Interraciality, Same Sex Desire and Contemporary African American Culture, was published by Indiana University Press in 2009. Her work has been published (or is forthcoming) in African American Review, MELUS, Studies In The Fantastic, and Electric Literature. and several other journals and anthologies. Her latest project, Black to Nature: Pastoral Return in African American Culture, is forthcoming from the University Press of Mississippi in 2021.

Black Folks Live with a Deadly Virus Everyday

Meet Guest Writer Angela Carr Patterson, Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.20.40 PMentertainment executive, entrepreneur, Innovator, CEO, Film Producer, Author, Speaker and Spiritual Thought Leader.  Angela also is the Founder of The Fatherless Daughters Network and The Awakened Beauty Experience, the creator of The Journey to Being Process™ and The Divine Ache™ Life Cycles.

Read Angela’s provocative essay on the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died on Monday, May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMDisclaimer: Let me start by saying that this article is not intended to offend or hurt anyone. But my intentions are to shake some things up…to step on some toes…to punch you in your gut…in your consciousness and to shift and wake up some folks. Most of you see me as gentle, loving and kind. I still am…but at times…I will become a force and voice for change. This writing is one of those times. I will be blunt, direct and perhaps a little harsh. But brutally honest. I truly believe these things need to be said. They have been said by others in other ways…and they will continue to be said until things change.

we believe you reap what you sow.

I grew up in a southern city, Columbia, SC. I remember as a little girl hearing my mom have the talk with my brothers. She would say things like, never run from the police, keep your hand out of your pockets, keep your ID on you. I also remember, my mom telling me as I started to drive to stay away from Forest Acres and West Columbia after dark. She said it was the clan territory.

As I became a mother of two sons, I remember having the same talk with them. I also told them to make sure when they went in a store to hurry and purchase what they went in the store to get. Because browsing simply was not a luxury for them.

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Now that my children are adults, they are now having the same talks with their children. Except now, they have to warn them about walking or jogging through a neighborhood, or be aware when you are having a cook out in the park, or sitting in Star Bucks, or yes…simply sitting in your house watching TV.

Every last one of us black folks have to take a deep breath when we are driving. Because we know that one simple innocent traffic stop of DWB (driving while black) could literally end in our death.

Now those of you who don’t share my same skin color, there’s a little voice in your head that will try to tell you that I am exaggerating. But deep within you…you know that I am not.

I … remember, my mom telling me as I started to drive to stay away from Forest Acres and West Columbia after dark. She said it was the clan territory.

Everyday we leave home could be our last day just because of our skin color. And we can’t wear a mask to protect us. I remember hearing stories from my grandmother about how black folks couldn’t walk down the street without being stopped. Or they couldn’t gather in groups of 2 or more because they could get locked up for loitering.

Black and Brown folks live through our own epidemic and pandemic every single day of our lives. Except our deadly virus is RACISM! It spreads so quickly and if it doesn’t physically kill us, it slowly kills us emotionally. And for some reason we haven’t found a vaccine.

 

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And to add insult to our wounds, we are accused of playing the “Race Card” when tragedy hits us and our communities for simply walking, jogging or driving. What the hell do you call it then if it isn’t RACISM?

Do you have any idea what it feels like to walk in a store with more money in your bank account than the store manager and get followed around like you’re about to rob the joint? Do you know what it feels like to be in a line and not recognized and watch someone else get pulled to the front? And you have to struggle whether or not to say anything because if you do, it could cost you your very life?

Do you know what it feels like walk around daily and be told by groups of people to go back to Africa…when we didn’t ask to come here in the first place?

We’ve learned how to live in a pandemic…called RACISM…a deadly disease that spread quickly…kills and destroys our communities daily.

Do you know what it feels like when even your best intentions are considered suspicious because you are not seen human…or equal…you are seen as subhuman.

Now, we here in the America have to sit and listen to a President who we KNOW hates us. How do we know? He demonstrates it to us daily.

Then to have so called “good white folks” tell us that he’s not racist. Like my mom used to say, “Don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s raining.” Because that’s exactly what it feels like when you defend this man to us. You need to know that’s how we feel EVERY time you defend him to us. It becomes difficult to hear you say you love us and you be okay with how this man treats us.

Now I want to say this. We black and brown folks are some of most brilliant people in the world. In spite of all the odds against us…we still find ways to succeed, to laugh, to win, to live, and to love. We walk tall with our shoulders squared, even when we’ve been beat down on every corner.

 

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We have learned how to code switch and to pivot when we are in your presence because we recognize that our brilliance would BLIND you if we really showed you who we are.

You see, we’ve learned how to live in a pandemic…called RACISM…a deadly disease that spread quickly…kills and destroys our communities daily.

But here’s the secret that you don’t know. The tides will eventually turn. We will rise to the top. And that disease…that Pandemic will eat at the host like a virus that destroys the body.

When you are a racist… or you condone it…you don’t get away with it. You will come face to face with what you have done and you will feel the pain of what you have caused others. It’s call Karma.

It never fails…I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Because we believe you reap what you sow.

So the next time you raise your confederate flag, your MAGA hats and your 2nd Amendment signs…I want you to remember this…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

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We don’t want your pity…because we are proud people. We don’t want your money because we know how to make our own money…and stretch it to feed our entire community.

We don’t want your respect…because we don’t need it. What we want…what we really want is for YOU to recognize that you are living among some of the most powerful, amazing, strong, courageous, resilient and brilliant people in the land.

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Oops…but you already know this…this is the truth you know and the truth you fear.

 

 

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