Answer: I can’t go for that.
Question: Why don’t those Blacks just get over it?
The value, importance, and respect for the Black experience in America can be summed up in three little words that have been echoed repeatedly by conservative commentators and whites when no Blacks are around: Get over it!
But you know, it’s always been troubling to me that when it comes to Blacks and America’s history of racial discrimination against us, the answer is that we need to get over it. I never hear those same conservative commentators tell Jews to get over the Holocaust, for Japanese Americans to get over World War II, and for Native Americans to get over the Indian Wars, Indian Removal Act, and the battle of Wounded Knee. But us Blacks, we need to get over it.
Isn’t it quiet convenient that America has allowed itself to have a selective memory when it comes to the atrocities committed against Blacks? It’s almost as if they’d just like to sweep everything relating to the Black experience from 1877 to 1977 under the carpet because it’s too much to deal with.
Along with white America’s selective memory, I forgot to mention that Blacks are supposed to come down with a severe bout of Stockholm syndrome. We’re supposed to just accept the fact that from the first ship’s arrival with it’s cargo of African slaves that our experience here in America is what it was always meant to be. And any talk of it from the perspective of truth constitutes as harboring some form of racism towards whites.
And that my friends is precisely the problem. We’ve been all too willing to accept the current state of Blacks in America for what it is and our voices have been silenced on the issue for fear of being considered racist or politically incorrect.
But as tradition would have it, this has been a conversation that has gone on for generations behind closed doors away from mixed company, and not only in Black homes as Senator Obama eluded too in his “race and politics” speech.
But one speech isn’t going to right the wrongs of years and years of institutionalized racism that has resulted in the current state of Blacks in America.
The United States government could start with an official apology to Blacks for its state sanctioned slavery and generations of racial discrimination.
Congress apologized to the Japanese-Americans in 1988 for holding them in camps during World War II and gave each survivor $20,000. In 1993, Congress apologized to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of their kingdom a century earlier. In 2005, the Senate apologized for not enacting anti-lynching legislation.
Why do we have to fight for reparations from a government that is very aware of the atrocities that it’s committed against African-Americans? Furthermore, that apology shouldn’t have to come from the country’s first Black president.
The fight for reparations is righteous and credible. Before the Japanese were held in camps and before conquering of Hawaii’s kingdom, Blacks were abducted from Africa, transported across the Atlantic Ocean, and sold into slavery for sugar, tobacco, or some other product, and that’s just those of us that made it through the Middle Passage. Many of us did not and wound up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. And those of that did make it here wished we had died once the realization of the life that lay ahead kicked in.
So, please don’t tell me to get over it.
That one act, the act of invading Africa’s coast and kidnapping her people and bringing them to a foreign land to be sold into a slavery that involved being tortured, raped, beaten, murdered, and exploited, made sure that Blacks would never play on an even field as whites.
We were set up for failure from the jump. And while many of us found a way to make it within a system that wanted us to fail, many of us did not. And I don’t buy into the notion that because some of us “made it” that there’s no excuse for those that didn’t. The disparity between whites and Blacks tells the story.
So here we are in 2008, still living in a state of denial and labeling anyone who dares to speak the truth as being a racist simply because it’s an easy way out of having to deal with something that’s just too uncomfortable and unbearable a situation.
But since when has ignoring something ever made it go away? Exactly.
Where this conversation goes next is anyone’s guess. While Senator Obama is not the first to say what he did, he is the first to say it on this level and at this time.
Obama is not in a position to lead the fight for reparations or an official apology from the U.S. government to Blacks, and nor should he. That’s a fight that should be taken up and lead by others in the community.
While I don’t agree with Obama making excuses for Dr. Wright’s comments, I understand the position that he finds himself in and what he must do to continue on.
I don’t feel in any ways the need to justify my feelings about being Black in America. Knowing my history and owning that history doesn’t make me a racist, just like it doesn’t make Dr. Wright one. You either get it or you don’t and labeling Blacks as racist who refuse to be coddled by the notion that we’ve somehow transcended race with Obama is just a cop out for those unable or unwilling to see the situation for what it really is.
Just because you voted for Obama doesn’t mean you’re not racist, it means that you voted for Obama. Don’t let it go to your head.
And just because Obama is where he is doesn’t mean that Blacks should get over it [slavery]. I am not sure this is something that Blacks will ever be able to get over and nor should we have too, especially given the fact that we are still dealing with the effects of slavery. A good place to start the healing however would be with an apology and reparations.