Note: I have noted the deathly silence on this blog’s activities after posting a picture and a quote from the late Romain Rolland, author of the massive roman-flevue “Jean-Christophe.” The quote was taken from the novel.
I placed the quote there for an obvious reason. Yeah, Monsieur Rolland was a white Frenchman, a good friend of Gandhi (well-known racist and flip-flopper) and Rabindrath Tagore (who wasn’t). That’s not the point. The author does not indulge in white worship either on this blog or elsewhere nor does he do it in his private life. The reason why I posted the quote is because it is entirely relevant to what people, especially black people, need to do now.
Rolland writes: “There is an age in life when we must dare to be unjust, when we must make a clean sweep of all admiration and respect got at second-hand, and deny everything truth and untruth everything which we have not of ourselves known for truth. Through education, and through everything that he sees and hears about him, a child absorbs so many lies and blind follies mixed with the essential verities of life, that the first duty of the adolescent who wishes to grow into a healthy man is to sacrifice everything.”
The point is perfectly clear. Writing from a contemporary perspective, it’s obvious that there are too many people, including far far too many black people, who get all their values, their knowledge about the world and themselves second-hand. With Afro-Americans in particular, we are still so deeply infested with this idiotic colonial mentality that some of us are even willing to pretend to our white masters that our oppression doesn’t really exist, that it’s just an illusion. Which explains why the late Stephon Clark went to his death thinking that his children (from some Vietnamese woman, whom I’m not going to talk about) were “not black,” that he himself wanted nothing whatever to do with “black.” Or why his brother Stevante was willing to put on a ridiculous coon act in front of the entire nation, to the point of landing himself in jail. It also explains why Melissa DePino, a white woman who captured the entire Starbucks flap on video, was far more willing to call the incident for what it was–blatantly racist–than the very victims themselves.
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sit on ABC News with their attorney, their blank faces staring back at us, carefully censoring their true feelings before the white majority audience–as if mouthing bland platitudes about “standing up” and “this is a people issue” will take the national heat off them. The heat is on them because they are black, of course. It does not matter if they have been victimized or not. Like the ridiculous Stevante Clark, both Mr. Nelson and Mr. Robinson were perfectly willing to settle for a wad of cash in exchange for their dignity. Now if either of these three were willing to take the cash and leave Trumpland, it would make perfect sense. I do not know what either Nelson or Robinson intend to do with their cash and it’s none of my business. But we all know what Stevante Clark intended to do with his because he made himself plain with his goofy-ass behavior.
Unfortunately, Stevante Clark was not the only victim of fascist police thuggery to trade in his dignity for a few pieces of tarnished gold.
Every single stupid thing that we do when it comes to dealing with the white world stems from the fact that we still see white people (and to a lesser extent other non-blacks) as our superiors. We think that no matter how horribly the planet treats us, we still must make believe that our ill-treatment really isn’t so bad. So some white guy kicked you in the ass on the metro, spat on you and called you a nigger? Well, okay. Not a big deal. In fact, maybe the white guy was just angry over something else, and was just taking it out on me. Don’t even bother to ask yourself why he chose YOU, of all people, to vent his disgust on. Don’t bother to ask yourself why much of the world thinks you’re a walking spittoon simply because you’re an African. Laugh. Smile. And above all, love.
Love is the key, isn’t it? Why, sure it is. We’ve heard that old line before. The only goddamned problem is that you never bothered to ask yourself where you got those words from. Who? Your mother? Your father? Some random book, or some friend of yours? And did you bother to ask yourself precisely what “Love” is? Is it a one-way or a two-way street? Is it conditional?
From what any damn fool can see, the “Love” we share with our white overlords clearly comes with a huge laundry list of strange clauses. The most notable clause is from the Bible. Do Unto Others As They Would Do Unto You. Well, then. How do “Others” do unto us, anyway? Ever thought about that? You read the fucking Bible and the damn thing tells you “Love Thy Neighbor.” Okay, then. Your white, Asian, Hispanic, Arab, African or self-hating American colored neighbor hates your damn guts for no good reason. This is how shit happens in the real, everyday world, sir. So what do you do, then? Do you come to this hate-filled neighbor with a love he refuses to show you, preferably with a Bible or Koran in hand? Or do you return the favor, since–as that clause itself would amply illustrate–you should Do Unto Others As They Would Do Unto You?
The other clause (and far more sinister and unspoken) is: you, negro, must love me no matter what, even if I don’t love you. Therefore your honky neighbor has a right to scrawl racist shit all over your car and you must forgive him (or her). The honky will probably get probation, but if you curse at him you might get shot on a technicality, either by the honky or by the cops (who are probably the honky’s friend). The real point I am trying to make is that everything you think you know about love, about forgiveness, about respect, about being an American or being (for that matter) “Black,” you learned it second-hand. You show America a begrudging respect (and your own folk a routine and calculated disrespect) not merely because you are afraid, but because it has been drummed into your head from birth that you belong at the tail end of the bread line because of your ethnicity and color, democracy be damned. Yet at the same token it’s also been drummed into your head that this is your country and that this is a democracy and that you are an integral part of it. So, then–why the fuck do you think belong at the end of the national bread line? And if you are at the end of the fucking bread line, getting everybody’s leftovers every passing decade, why do you still call it a “democracy?” Something is clearly wrong here, but what do you think of all that?
Deep down, you (Afro-American) think you are at fault for all the bad things that are happening in the world. Never mind that you don’t have a goddamned stake in running things, and NO, it’s not because you’re “inferior”–whatever the fuck that means. After all there is a thin line between a man who thinks himself to be inferior (and acts the part out of some sick Pavlovian syndrome) and a man who actually is inferior and thinks himself to be superior–not because the inferior man is genetically deficient or lacks the necessary melanin to build a Great Pyramid, but because this inferior man’s inflated sense of white self makes him feel that his color alone is enough to make him feel superior. Had this superior white man walked in your shoes for a single month (much less a lifetime) you can rest assured his high IQ score would plummet by several dozen points after the first week.
The whole country right now is screeching like drunken magpies about arch-rapist Bill Cosby, while forgetting that their President Sideswipe is pushing humanity towards World War Three. If you ask me, I’d rather have Quaaludes in my coffee and fingers in my crotch than global radiation poisoning. (We only have one planet, after all.) That’s not to say that Cosby is a saint. Bill Cosby is simply the by-product of the same decadent, money-grubbing, hypocritical, neoliberal, capitalist, bourgeois culture that spawned Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Roy Moore and the rest of them. That culture is completely antithetical to all true moral values, all sense of right and wrong, everything beautiful, everything positive, and anything even remotely natural and healthy.
Yet you abide by the fake values of this culture and even pledge love for the promoters of this shitty culture without even thinking about it. You go to a Starbucks or a Denny’s or a Cracker Barrel with the intent of eating or drinking their shitty, chemically saturated food. Okay, you dig this funky “food.” You have every right in the world to eat there and to challenge to any degree those who would insist that you have no right to eat at Cracker Barrel, or Denny’s, or Starbucks–the police included. But your eating there puts money back into the pockets of the same schmucks who are kicking your ass, while at the same time, very slowly ruining your health.
There is something very childish about this kind of behavior. It’s typically American, and black Americans are definitely no exception. The average American spends his entire life in some painfully protracted adolescence, blindly believing everything he has been taught and living what James Baldwin has called “the unexamined life”–a life which, he hastened to add, was not worth living. I’m assuming that your average Afro-American is equally adolescent, if in his head if not in his body. You have millions of black men who have prioritized a cheap piece of ass over everything in the world because they imagine that some oozing vagina (or asshole) will make up for their basic lack of manhood–and millions of black women who imagine a blonde weave will give them the womanhood they never had. And why?
Virtually none of them can think for themselves. Very, very few of them will stand back from the chaos that is their society and say, “I won’t accept it.” It’s not enough for an individual rejection of the American insanity; there must be a collective effort to reject the insanity. But whether this rejection will actually take place within Black America is another question entirely.