I think I approach Black History Month the way a person might approach a grave or some memorial: with reverence and regret. It saddens me that when I look back over the history of Black people, I find frustrated dance that leaves the community taking one step forward and two steps back most of the time. And what’s worse is that in recent times, Black people think that the issue of being Black in America is a part of history. They think the struggle for equality is a part of history. They think racism, prejudice, slavery, and lynching are a part of history. They are willfully blind to the fact that it all those things are all very much real right here in the present.
Morality and the American Context
It is true that the concept of slavery is not American created; however, the concept of chattel slavery is one that America perfected. And when the time had come for America to move forward, they country struggled.
This is what I see when I look at ‘Black History’ in relation to ‘American History.’ It shows that America is a country that is extremely innovative, but they are not and have never been progressive. America is good at taking ideas and concepts and innovating them and perfecting them but they have never so great at creating them. America is a nostalgic, rigid, and arrogant country that would rather stand in shit than have the world see them use a shovel. It is because of this that when evolution happens in America it is almost always laborious and often violent.
It is no surprise, then, that it took a war to end slavery. It is no surprise that once slavery was ended the issues of prejudice, racism, and discrimination did not end. As my boy Los G might say “Historically speakin,’” America has had to fight through each context of inequality in order to arrive at the level of justice we now practice. What does this mean for today? It means that the work we have left to do will not be swift as we will have to struggle through the contexts that now exist. Prejudice is a virus. If assaulted and not destroyed, it mutates and becomes resistant to that which once worked. That is why marches, boycotts, and sit-ins will not change race relations in America today. Contemporary Prejudice is protest-resistant. That is why organizations such as the NAACP are all but irrelevant beyond their iconic status, bureaucratic connections, and legislative influence. That is why the Black church is no longer the manufacturer of Black leadership. The virus has changed and the cure must be different too. New methods must be practiced. Activism must be redefined. A new strategy must be created.
The reason I make mention of these things is because when speaking of morality, there must be a context. There is no objective morality. Right and wrong and good and bad do not actually exist objectively. They are subjective. In order to make the case that racism, prejudice, and discrimination are wrong, one must create a context in which to view these concepts subjectively. The context I am using is America and American history.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin,’
An Angry Black Man