Leaving “America” Behind

Michelle D. Commander in Avidly:

But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. You are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoy. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. [Even when you] go where you are treated the best…the ban is still upon you.

–Abraham Lincoln, “Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes,” 1862

Emancipation_MemorialWe are in the midst of an interminable bloody season. In the past few months alone, white domestic terrorists have heaped violence on the unsuspecting at an alarming rate, and even after the recent tragic events in Charlottesville, our elected officials are doing very little to tamp down this upsurge in outwardly expressed supremacism. Their collective failure to name racialized brutality for what it is along with their refusal to work earnestly to defeat it renders complicit each one of them whose sole actions are stale, pedestrian utterances of regret in the aftermath. Americans should not be wholly surprised by such disturbances occurring in our public spaces in such rapid succession. We had every indication of this possibility. Take, for instance, President Trump’s now-infamous question from the campaign trail. “What do [African Americans] have to lose….What the hell do you [African Americans] have to lose?” Trump’s spectacle was an affected performance of a “tell it like it is” posture before a near-white audience; as he feigned a desire to win the Black vote, Trump sarcastically rattled off a list of what he deemed to be African American failures, including the community’s supposed naive faithfulness to the Democratic party.

With a mocking tone, Trump connected Blackness to inherent deficiency, offering a thinly-veiled reinforcement to his base that the Trump/Pence ticket subscribed to notion that somehow African Americans are pathologically irresponsible, impoverished because of their own laziness and lack of grit, and owners of nothing from which it would hurt them to part. The most significant extrapolation from this particular dog whistle and the Trump administration’s contemptible actions thus far is this: Black bodies are the vessels upon which anything can and will continue to occur unabated in the name of upholding white supremacy.

More here.