By Jonathon Van Maren
“We are not makers of history,” Martin Luther King Jr. told his congregation in 1954, “we are made by history.” King, of course, would in the years ahead, with all his flaws, become a maker of history, too—and precisely because he understood that both his civil rights movement and those they faced off with on the streets from Birmingham to Chicago were shaped by their respective pasts. If one didn’t understand that, one understood nothing.
As America’s racial tensions erupt once again, one viral video making the rounds is giving voice to the historical grievances of many African Americans. Tweeted by activist Matthew A. Cherry and retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, it shows black author Kimberly Jones (author of I’m Not Dying With You Tonight) wearing a George Floyd shirt, raging with grief and anger. She is standing in front of a building covered in graffiti, speaking to the camera, running through a litany of historical grievances: “You broke the contract when you killed us in the streets…You broke the contract for 400 years.”
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2 thoughts on “The anger of the African American community is real–and it is essential that we understand it”
it is telling. We hear the words of a dead man who speaks of his grandmother. Why don’t we hear the words of the man himself? Why don’t we hear the words of the woman? Because that was the past, JVM. Yes, things were like that, once. But things are not like that now. If it is right to bring up the sins of the past then I will bring up more sins. Sins which I doubt you’ve even heard of. It used to be law to sterilize people like me. The justice who was lauded for his incredible work on civil rights, the justice who, even today is considered a paragon of the law, who puts out many graduates from him school who applaud themselves for their bravery today, even voted for this. It was nearly unanimous with the sole objector being the ‘antiquated’ Catholic who’s dissent spoke simply to the common dignity of Mankind.
What then, JVM? Many have suffered. Many have been through similar things. Is not our anger justified? Is not hatred of those who have, and in recent times – passed laws that says that our lives are worth no more than a dogs? Where the law argues that killing us is merciful?
Are we to bear the burdens for sins we did not commit in order to appease those, who, generations ago, were badly off? I say no. Everyone, if they go back far enough are the sons of slaves, of the downtrodden of the oppressed. The history of mankind is that of suffering. Why should we acknowledge the sufferings of one and not the other? Because the powers that be say it must be so?
I challenge you to name the case, JVM. Show me that you truly understand civil liberties and why that ruling was wrong. Then, perhaps, I’ll listen to what you have to say. Contrary to you, I don’t believe that anger is the solution. Forgiveness is the solution. The only way out of the endless cycle of hate and violence, as we have seen, is with love and mercy. Not just from those who are labelled the ‘oppressors’ but from the oppressed too. You cannot dig yourself out of a hole, unless you first determine that you must do the work. Yes, I know that you will probably delete this comment, but that is the truth. Black people who riot and murder others because of the sufferings of their grandfathers grandfather’s perpetuate the cycle of suffering, and inflict the damage of hate and evil on another generation. There is no justification. Yes, not even oppression. The cycle must be broken, and it must be broken by those who would seek justice in the blood of police officers and the innocents they have slain.
The interview was a lot longer. I mentioned one little example from an entire interview. He talked much of what he and his family suffered under racism. But I see you haven’t read the article clearly, you’ve missed what I said, and thus I’ll leave you to it.