by Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., For New Pittsburgh Courier
(Trice Edney Wire.com)—I know you’ve been giving the 1619 Project some thought. How can we not be interested in what happens to Black people in America, as well as on the way to America 400 years ago when our first ancestors were brought from Africa to Port Comfort in Virginia. There’s something ironic about being brought to a place called Port Comfort and being treated so viciously. The horrors escalated there and many of them are still happening. There are repercussions present from the whole enslavement project that was/is still sanctioned by our government. I’ve been noting the discussion of psychiatrists about the status of Donald Trump’s mental health. It’s scary, but we’ve been warned by psychiatrists who exercised their duty to inform us.
As much as people sing about this being the “land of the free, and the home of the brave,” the first part of that phrase is not true for Black people even if a few of us have been allowed to live comfortably without showing any responsibility for the rest of Black people who’ve been wounded by the circumstance of enslavement. I include all of us as not being free because I believe as Solomon Burke sang, “None of us are free, til all of us are free.” I often hear people say we’re the land of equal opportunity, but that is an incomplete sentence unless you add something about “except certain people that America has held in bondage for 400 years.”
If this were the land of the free and equal opportunity for all, why was Jim Crow necessary and why are Black people still impacted by it? Why was there the Tulsa Massacre just as Black people built up their businesses, their wealth, their community? Why did we need Brown v. Board to give our children better educational opportunities and why didn’t we have the right to learn to read before that?
Why would two duly elected Congresswomen of color have to get Donald Trump’s and Benjamin Netanyahu’s permission to travel anywhere? Was there a written rule that says they could only travel with a White male led group or not at all? Why does Israel get $142 billion of our tax dollars while Black people get nothing to repair the damage deliberately done to our ancestors and ultimately to us? Didn’t perpetrators know the horrible things they did to our ancestors would be handed down to us and that past denials would prevent generations to have the ability to accumulate wealth and for so many to live in poverty?
Why do we still have such a high rate of police brutality against Black people? Why are there great efforts to suppress our vote after Black people were denied any voting rights for hundreds of years? Why do we still have to face so many statues of White men who were responsible for our ancestors’ enslavement and the problems that still resonate today? Why was Colin Kaepernick punished so harshly for peacefully protesting against racial injustice? Why is White supremacy on the rise so soon after the successful term of President Barack Obama?
I’m tired of hearing people, including Black people, say about America, “This is not who we are.” Really? On this 400th anniversary of our being in this country, Black people have always been treated inhumanely.
Thank you to the New York Times for taking a new look at slavery’s origin and its legacy. Let us take a new look, too, so we can understand what America is as opposed to what she claims to be. Let us not be fooled by “Make America Great Again” because that implies America was once great for all of us.
(Dr. E. Faye Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women. 202/678-6788; www.nationalcongressbw.org.)
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