by Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
(TriceEdneyWire.com)—Following the example of my good friend, Dick Gregory, I read as much as I can from as wide a variety of sources available to me. An important email from the National Trust for Historic Preservation crossed my desk regarding the encroachment of a public highway upon an historic African American settlement and cemetery. Fortunately, “the State of Maryland has announced plans to avoid ground impacts to this historic site.”
Understandably, I was relieved to learn that Maryland modified any plans that would have led to the desecration of the final resting place of so many of our ancestors. Had it not been for the occasional, but inappropriate, disturbance of African American graves and cemeteries, I would have had nothing to fear. My reflection caused me to think of the times African Americans—living and dead—have been degraded, demeaned, and/or had their human remains desecrated at the altar of American Racism.
An election and two court trials loom large in my reflections. The racism of the Governor-Elect of Virginia and his supporters, and the trial of the accused murderers of Ahmaud Arbery and the trial of accused Wisconsin murderer, Kyle Rittenhouse, consumed a good portion of my thoughts.
Glenn Youngkin, a Trump acolyte, orchestrated a not-so-subtle gubernatorial campaign that exploited the prejudice, fears, and racial hatred of thousands of Virginians. Polling indicated that, as expected, jobs and the economy were the number one issue among voters. Labeled by The New York Times as an “unlikely issue,” education ranked number two among Virginia voters. The crux of the education issue was Critical Race Theory.
Professional educators weigh-in by confirming that CRT is not taught in Virginia public schools (K-12). What has set these ‘good’ Virginia voters off is the discomfort they and their children feel when forced by textual confirmation to take an honest and critical look at the brutality and inhumanity of their ancestors’ conquest of this nation. Youngkin has pledged to eliminate CRT “from day one.” This informs me that “Black History” and other records of White inhumanity will either be revised to soothe the guilt of a White audience or eliminated from the curriculum entirely. Among their outrageous justifications is that Black History makes African American youth feel like “victims.”
Youngkin’s proposed remedy for the imaginary CRT brings to memory the words of the Father of Black History, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
While judicial trials seek the elevation of justice, the two trials I referenced leave questions about that in my mind. In one, the case of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a jury has been seated that reflects what I call “Georgia Justice.” The jury in that trial is composed of eleven Whites and one African American. In the history of southern jurisprudence, that composition is known as the “15-minute acquittal.”
In the other trial, the judge has ordered that the two people shot and killed and the one person wounded could not be referred to as “victims.” As a student and practitioner of the law, I find it difficult to identify persons killed by an underaged assailant who crossed state lines with a weapon he unlawfully possessed as anything except victims.
Any objective observer understands that contemporary information is being shaped to justify the oppressive acts of an antagonistic White America. Our legitimate appeals and demands for justice and equity fall on deaf ears. Things done to us or those who support us are, more than ever, considered in good order. Degradation and desecration remain the order of the day. This cannot continue without our response.
(Dr. E. Faye Williams is President of the National Congress of Black Women.)