By Hakim Abdul-Ali
America is besieged with continuing plagues within its democratic landscape, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Sadly, that’s the way that it is as this nation struggles with the escalating pneumonic illnesses of racism and discrimination.
I was thinking about how we Black folk have, “our-storically” speaking, managed to survive and remain strong in light of the persistent challenges for our healthy survivals in light of what has befallen upon us over the last four centuries. It’s a thought that’s both painful and troublesome for me to deal with at times.
In today’s article, I’d like you to contemplate a few meaningful impressions garnered from some of the wise past and present Afro-American thinkers who spoke about racism and resistance. Hopefully, these diverse jewels of wisdom coming from these elders will elevate our present-day conscious to levels of being more proactive in the cause of uplifting our culture with unity, faithfulness, dignity and mutual respect.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Racism is a sickness unto death.” This powerful Christian was one of the 20th century’s great American leaders and his was a spiritual voice of reason denouncing the cancerous viruses of racism and prejudices. He was murdered in 1968 while advocating his beliefs.
Some Americans didn’t understand Dr. King’s activism about racism injustice and why he was addressing this poisonous moral disease that still exists in many sectarian cauldrons of America today. Along these lines Toni Morrison related that “Race has become metaphorical, a way of referring to and disguising forces, events, classes, and expressions of social decay and economic division far more threatening to the body politic than biological “race” ever was.”
Think about what this heralded novelist and Nobel Prize laureate said about the racism issue and ask yourself if she’s intellectually on point. I definitely think that she is very much on point because today’s national racial climate in many instances is shrouded in apologetic, insincere and questionable denials about the race factor in the USA.
Maybe, that’s why the Black youth of today don’t want to hear (any) loose talk about justice for all because, in reality, they don’t see any progress being made in their folk’s struggles for equality, justice and freedom. The brilliant academic, professor and activist Angela Davis said that “The struggle is much more difficult now because racism is more entrenched and complicated.”
Living in and under past and present day American racial apartheid is enough to make all intelligently aware souls sick to the very core of their existences with disgust. Just looking at the psychological trauma that racism has inflicted upon many of today’s Black folk is proof enough to validate Dr. King’s aforementioned and rather frank assessment of what racism’s disastrous ailments can do if left undiagnosed and unattended.
Imam Jamil El-Amin, Muslim leader and activist when known formerly known as H. Rap Brown, uttered that “Racism systematically verifies itself anytime the slave can only be free by imitation of his master.” Unfortunately, I believe that mentality still resonates within the hearts, minds and souls of many of our comatose Black folk to this very moment.
It’s a hard and bitter pill to digest when the truth is revealed about some of our own racial conundrums, especially when it comes to some of us dealing with our own self-denials. Leone Bennett Jr., the legendary Afro-American scholar, author and social historian, who died in February of this year, said that “We misunderstand racism completely if we do not understand that racism is a mask for a much deeper problem involving not the victims of racism but the perpetrators.”
Black scholars and thinkers like Mr. Bennett, who exposed the loathsome maladies about racism, are the doctor philosophers who aid us intellectually in understanding the harms of racism. Dr. Henry Lewis Gates Jr., noted critic and scholar, said, “The last vestige of racism in the West will be intellectual racism,” a point I’m personally beginning to see take root in today’s political society more and more with each passing day.
Even with the obvious fact that racism is very much alive in America, Afro-Americans still have to fight for their rights to be who they are. The gallant activist Ida B. Wells, who died in 1931, said, “I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap. I had already determined to sell my life as dearly as possible if attacked. I felt if I could take one lyncher with me, this would even up the score a little bit.”
And legal scholar Derrick Bell, who died in 2011, once said, “Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those Herculean efforts that we hail as successful will produce no more than temporary ‘peaks of progress’, short-lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white dominance. This is a hard to accept fact that all histories verifies. We must acknowledge it, not as a sign of submission, but as an act of ultimate defiance.”
The great historian Joseph Wilson, who was born in 1836 and died in 1891, said, “The Negro race is the only race that has ever come in contact with the European race that has proved itself able to withstand its atrocities and oppression. All others like the Indians who they could make subservient to their use they have destroyed.”
These sundry opinions and thoughts from the minds of those intellectuals only expressed some of their personal views about racism and resistance. You may agree or disagree with them as you like, but the reality is that racism is still here and we must do something about it.
I trust that, if you’re of color, young or old, you aren’t sleeping through this current period of social isolationism by, again, not reflecting on what Dr. King previously said in the beginning of this article. Yes, American racism is a sickness, but we don’t have to become infected by it. Remember that “Black Lives Matter”.
In closing, l’ll leave you with the sentiments of the late renowned Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer, who summed up the resistance towards racism by saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I think that no more needs to be said because it’s the truth, and for today, that’s, “As I See It.”