Disturbed About Man
Usually, I try to inject humor into everything here. I mean that’s the point right? I’m just trying to color things the way I see them. There’s something funny in a lot of stories, and I think the only way to really synthesize things is to put them all into perspective and laugh a bit. But the story I just ran across about the heinous murder of James Anderson in Jackson, MS really makes me sad and angry. I can’t think of a joke.
It was a classic case of a man being killed simply because he was Black. He was beaten by a gang of white kids who decided to go “fuck with some niggers.” Then he was run over and killed instantly. He was just trying to make his way home. He hadn’t been in any altercation or even communication with the guys at all (not that it would have been in any way less reprehensible if he had). Unfortunately for the kids, the whole incident was captured on a security camera
I’ll be keeping up with this case very closely. Given that they have multiple eyewitness accounts of his intentions, and a fucking video of the incident, I’m calling bullshit if he doesn’t get at least a murder charge. This was a planned hate crime from the beginning. Now I realize that this group of kids was just that, kids. They were all around 18, and the stupid actions and opinions of a group of stupid kids shouldn’t really reflect on the majority. But fuck that. Blacks have been persecuted as kids for far less for centuries. And if those kids felt that strongly about “niggers,” then I highly doubt their views and opinions came about spontaneously. What do you have to teach kids from birth to convince an entire group of them that it was ok to just kill a black man in cold blood, simply because he was black? Racism is still very alive, it’s just that now it goes by a name other than Jim Crow. There are still a great many people with hateful views in the world, and as I grow older, I realize that more and more people harbor these views than we would ever admit.
Right now we face hard times in the country, perhaps the hardest in a generation, and the outlook isn’t too peachy. And we know that with hard times comes true feelings once repressed. Thus, the founding of the KKK in Reconstruction and its rebirths in the Great Depression and after WWII. The true character of any man is brought out in adversity, and the same holds true for any country. And what we’ve seen in the raw, strained sinews of human emotion exposed in these hard times tells us conclusively that America is no more “post-race” than it was in 1955, when Emmett Till was killed, or in 1916, when mentally handicapped teen Jessie Washington was put on trial, dragged, beaten, castrated, lynched, and burned all within the span of a half of a day. Those murders were no worse than this one.
But what now? I guess that’s what this blog and many others like it are trying to find out. This blog was founded in the spirit of the popular zeitgeist of African-American youth. Our generation is really the first one born after the concessions of the Civil Rights Movement were fully realized. We were taught that the battles had been won, and that we should be happy with what he had. We witnessed as old folks reminisced about Dr. King and wistfully thought about where we would be if he had lived, and subconsciously we all waited for another like him. We watched as the rights we gained eroded, impacting most of our lives as the public school resegregation movements gained steam in the late 90s, and watched as the majority began to react with vitriol against many protections afforded us, like antibodies built up against transplanted organs. We grew up in an era where the term “reverse-racism” was coined and where somehow people began to conceive of Affirmative Action as racist. We became adults in an era where whites felt somehow “oppressed” by the “ownership” of Blacks over the n-word, and began to try and find any way to say it and other racist things with the implicit defense that since we can call them crackers or honkies with impunity, it’s somehow OK. Genetics overturned the scientific concept of race in our lifetime, and far from being a victory over Darwinian racism and books like the “Bell Curve,” it actually became a limiting mechanism on how we can express what’s wrong with society. This world is “post-race,” now, so claims the majority, as if notions of race and superiority held for centuries in this country alone can be wiped away by a few studies. We are told that we cannot ascribe to the people in power the sins of their fathers, and that we must not be limited by the sins against ours, although we all understand that no person is self-made and that the views, circumstances, and failures of our forefathers shape us as much as our own experiences. So we can’t complain. Invariably, someone will comment on this post itself telling us this exact same thing.
But what can we do? Honestly I’m not sure. Emmett Till’s case received publicity in the Black community from day one and sparked the entirety of the Civil Rights Movement. The James Anderson case managed to stay hidden for months and isn’t even on the front page of the New York Times. It has the makings of a case that will spark typical twitter-anger and rants until J. Cole releases another mixtape or whatever. Despite the fact that similar things happen about every year, we have allowed ourselves to think that such actions are the actions of a dangerous minority of maligned malcontents, and not the function of wider lashings-out or societal racism. In today’s society, a purported “hate crime” by Blacks against Whites, or the riots following things like the Oscar Grant case (or this case if it does spark them), are more likely to be considered newsworthy than the James Anderson case. All I know is that there will always be a space here for these things here, until the world changes or until we change it. We don’t know exactly where the blog will be headed in the future, as it seems that what we started out to do opened up all of our own consciousnesses to what we experienced actually meant. But we will be a place to express unashamedly the problems besetting Black America, double consciousness be damned. I don’t know where that fits in in helping things, but I hope that it does, in whatever minuscule way possible. We like to think we occupy a niche of expressing things that aren’t often expressed, and we hope to continue.
I know this is really lengthy, but I hope you’ve gotten this far. I started this blog because I was ill-content. I felt a fraying on the edges of myself at being forced to be silent about little things and big things, funny and serious. The title of this post was inspired by a book from Benjamin Mays, of which the first paragraph I think describes the doubt and anxiety found in all of us.
“All my life, I have been disturbed about man. I have never been able to understand to my complete satisfaction why it is that one man, one race, one nation doesn’t want to see another rise; why one wants to suck the life blood out of another. Despite psychology, sociology, and even theology, I do not understand.”
Well neither do I.
RIP James Craig Anderson and best wishes to your family.
Thank you all for reading and keeping up with the blog. Promise I’ll bring laughs next time.