We often instruct the young or obviously ignorant among us to open a history book if they want to know how Black people have been abused, marginalized and arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Not only opening books, but also viewing documentaries, the internet, visiting museums and even talking to living and breathing people, who remember the bad old days of Jim Crow.
That group of people is aging and on the verge of passing on to their reward; but, they witnessed Jim Crow first hand which restricted where Blacks could live, worship, marry, attend school, work, and be denied the right to vote.
Some can recall how they were beaten or harassed by White citizens or police who questioned them being in a neighborhood or city where “they did not look like they fit in.”
Once upon a time, “sundown” towns existed both in the South and up North. A Black face had “better not” be seen after “the sun went down” or they would have the police called on them to be jailed or worse.
Whites were taught, and fear was instilled in them, based on the ideas that Black people were dangerous and posed a threat to the safety of Whites.
Today the media and courts may inquire about how a Black person could be shot dead by a police officer “who feared for his life.” Mostly White juries have been shown to side with the officers.
Within the past two months, not 75 years ago, two Black men were waiting for a friend in a Philly Starbucks. The police were called to remove them, as Black and White patrons asked, “What did they do?”
In the same time period, a video image surfaced of a young Black man being thrown around like a rag doll in the parking lot of a Waffle House in North Carolina by a White police officer. He had just escorted his sibling to her prom and got into row with the restaurant’s staff for some reason.
At another Waffle House Restaurant elsewhere, a Black woman who asked for the phone number to file a complaint with the restaurant’s corporate office had the police called on her to restrain her.
How about three Black people shot to death in yet another a Waffle House by a mentally ill White supremacist. A Black man, James Shaw, saved the day helping to end the onslaught.
Yet, in days since that event occurred, we have not heard a word of praise from 45, on James Shaw, Jr.’s heroism, where he suffered a wound to his hand.
How about the Black Yale graduate student who was taking a nap in a lounge in a dorm and one of her fellow White students, feeling the Black woman did not belong there, summoned the law because she felt “uncomfortable” and feared the mysterious Black woman.
How about Stephen Clark, who was using a cell phone in his grandma’s back yard one night. Police searching for another suspect shot him dead, suspecting the cell phone was a weapon.
Wonder what would have happened if the officers “fearing for their lives” had taken a few seconds to really get a grasp of the man’s situation before opening fire.
How about the 69-year-old Black granny who was cursed and manhandled by a Georgia State Trooper during a traffic stop.
In Oakland, a White woman summoned the police on a group of Black people who she said were not allowed to barbecue at the city-owned site.
Let’s broaden this theme.
How about political plots we read about, related to GOP state officials seeking to devise schemes to deter Black people from voting?
Once, it was the poll tax or the Klan that was used to achieve this goal.
Now it’s gerrymandered voting districts, where only White and Republican voters can assure politicians hostile to civil rights a seat in a lawmaking body for years.
Think about all of those Black children, said to be disruptive, having the police, rather than a staffer, summoned to deal with their behavior. They are suspended, expelled and removed from the nation’s public schools for infractions which are handled more gingerly if they were not Black
A week or so ago, three Black Airbnb (Air Bread and Breakfast) guests checked out of their rental in Rialto, California, and were met by seven police cars. A White woman had called the police because the departing guests didn’t wave to her or smile at her.
Most of these events listed above occurred after January 1, 2018, or are trends common for several decades.
We roll our eyes, when we encounter people who are surprised and … shocked…at such transactions.
We elected a Black president in 2008, did we not?
Ain’t Jim Crow dead?
We have a large Black middle class. They work in various professions, other than teaching and preaching. If we can afford it, we can live where we choose.
But apparently, there is a segment of White America which did not get the memo listing all of these advances.
They did not get the advisory that if you encounter a Black person in a public space, they are not there to rob or perpetrate other breaches to anyone’s personal safety.
These Black folk may want to buy coffee, be served some greasy eggs, buy a house in a nice area, or shop and buy some ugly overpriced clothes.
Is this new wave of hostility reflective of the antics of the current occupant of the White House? He has vowed to “Make America Great Again.”
Translation: by 2060 Whites may be in the minority in America, losing power and privilege.
Such an idea can easily ignite racial fear and its byproduct, violence.
From 1887 and 1930, over 2,000 plus Black men and women were lynched after being falsely accused of crimes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time or standing up for self.
Blacks were a threat because they were moving forward, decades after slavery ended.
They were such a threat they had to be kept “in their place” by police or mobs. Remind you of any recent trends?
History is being repeated and is captured in big headlines on the front of newspapers, on the internet, or read as the top story on a radio or TV broadcast.
Who needs a history book, documentary or the painful memories of our elderly to give today’s generations of Black people a reality check on how being in the wrong place or standing up for yourself, can lead to being arrested and brutalized, just as quickly today as yesteryear?
These events reveal to today’s Black man, woman and child, what their forefathers quickly realized just 50 or 100 years ago.
Despite all of the earned social and racial advances, Black people are still deemed the inferior and scary “other” – unwanted and to be penalized.
African-Americans had better quickly and practically define ways to use the legal, political and economic resources available today to combat the sanctions being imposed on us for Driving, Eating, Walking, Shopping/browsing, Standing in your own yard – While Black
How we respond will reveal who we are as African-Americans in 2018 and beyond.
But more telling is how far we have come as a people since slavery or the darkest days of Jim Crow.
By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide