Black Americans have been conditioned to exercise patience in dealing with the reluctance and outright refusal of this nation to extend the rights and protections of full citizenship. From the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans, and the imposition of Black Codes to suppress the freedom of emancipated Blacks, to Jim Crow and the current paradigm of institutional racism and reemergence of white supremacy, African-Americans have tempered their demands for equality.
Our passive approach has been strategic and practical. We have used patience as a strategy to try to enlist empathetic and “progressive” whites to echo our calls for full citizenship. Our patience has been practical because our sheer numerical minority has made an aggressive and physical backlash a certain death wish. We have bought time by tempering our outrage at indignities thrown our way; quieting elements within our community that have demanded a more aggressive response to racism, and suppressed the very natural and human reaction to express outrage when there have been blatant violations of our human rights. Much of our restraint is so because of our investment in a belief in a higher power than the spiritual wickedness we see in high places; but even David had to gather his stones to defeat Goliath and drew his sword to decapitate the giant.
Recent events suggest that patience has worn thin and a new sensibility is taking hold in the Black community, and we suggest that America better listen or prepare for the day when chaos reigns and blood runs down our streets. Apartheid is peeking around the corner, and history teaches us that the artificial hold on power cannot be maintained by force or law by a politically and economically illegitimate minority ruling class.
The killing of young Trayvon Martin and the failure to arrest George Zimmerman, his killer, speaks to a larger issue of the degree to which Black life is discounted and devalued in America. The audacity of Florida law enforcement to allow Zimmerman to remain free is indicative of the state of racial injustice in our nation. In the midst of our outrage over the murder Trayvon Martin we have become aware of the case of a 19 year-old college student, Kendrec McDade, who was shot and killed by Pasadena, California police responding to a 911 call of two unarmed men engaged in a robbery. The 911 call was bogus and Kendrec was unarmed when he was shot. The 911 caller has been arrested.
Our patience has run out on the litany of excuses made up when our young men are stacking up in morgues. We have also grown tired with those who are in a state of denial over the persistence of racism in America; including some African-Americans who are so self-absorbed that they lack empathy until death shows up on their doorstep. We have too many Blacks, including those in leadership positions, who don’t want to rock the boat even though the ship is sinking. Too many of us have grown far too comfortable, far too complacent and far too sophisticated as the body count our young men rises and those that “survive” face prison or unemployment.
And, we are tired of the retort that we should be equally concerned about Black on Black crime. No kidding. Across communities large and small, and for years, Black people have been crying out against gang violence and the proliferation of guns. Yet, our political leadership has watched our community implode, leaving us to fend for ourselves while opposing every effort to engage our federal government to support the restoration of our hopes and dreams for full inclusion. Funny thing; law enforcement can’t seem to do anything about the gang epidemic and the murders of Black youth but has been masterful in taking on organized crime and disposing of mob bosses.
Black Americans can’t afford to be patient any longer. We must organize and take action. We must also be unapologetic for our anger, undeterred by our enemies, and we do have real enemies, and not distracted by the silliness of the 24-hour idiotfest on cable television news and talk radio. Forty years ago the rallying cry at the Gary National Black Political Convention was “It’s Nation Time!” We concur and African-Americans must get about the business of recasting the nation our forefathers built, fought and died for, and must move with a sense of urgency to save America from itself.