For the entire history of these United States, black folks have had to understand whites.
Blacks have had to have intimate knowledge of those who had enslaved their ancestors and shipped them far from home. We have done so by observing not only behavior, but words and the thought processes behind them as well. As slaves and freed folk, blacks served whites and – in order to remain amongst the living – had to learn the nuances of social and interpersonal behavior, becoming, in effect, professional psychologists and philosophers.
This knowledge was passed down across the generations. Consciously, sub-consciously and genetically.
Most black families have a time when the young children are given “The Talk”. A time in which America’s propensity toward violence against black bodies is laid out in the most direct and succinct manner possible. “The Talk” is often filled with dire warnings and examples in personal life as well as societal. It is memorable and as those children aged, we have been able to add our own stories to the narrative, continuing a tradition that has served the black population well by the dissemination of survival strategies that have helped to ensure our continuance through dark and dangerous times.
All of that shifted in the 1960s, 70s and 80s with Integration.
Those were hard years for those of us black kids who grew up in those integrated environs, standing in the breach, interacting with white children who – and whose parents – were often openly racist. Locked up in classrooms where racist jokes were deployed as terroristic tactics; many of us were bullied and taunted and ostracized and relegated to pariah status. All of us were hardened to some extent in this crucible of forced integration, but there were, of course, positives as well as negatives.
White kids and families who were pointed in their rejection of the racism of other neighbors. Teachers who did their job and monitored their classroom ambience and politics. Friends who ignored their racist friends. Strangers on the road after snow storms and car problems. Small moments and big hearts in countless instances proving that people are people when they choose consciously to transcend their milieu and shift the paradigm.
Media began to affect the zeitgeist in a different way. Sanford and Son, Flip Wilson, I Spy, Good Times, the Blacksploitation movie era, Cosby. Whites were finally beginning to get a glimpse of what their collective, studied American Dream had wrought against those physically coextant but denied the same privileges due to their race.
Then, Hip Hop came.
And with it, the Black Power era of the late 1960s and early 1970s was reinvigorated and found new life and expression. The question that had been deliberately and violently suppressed in a Boomer Generation traumatized by the strategic murders of the late-60s came of age with Gen-X.
Can the American Dream truly be actualized for all of its citizens?
Can this nation be what it has dreamed it is already? With Obama and the maturation of the Millennials, the USA has finally produced a generation that has seen the barest, most tantalizing glimpse of what America could truly be over and beyond that Mountaintop MLK preached about so poignantly. And for many white Americans, that vision has frozen their collective soul.
The regressive and fear-based response of white America – and the European diaspora as a whole – to this inevitable demographic shift is doomed because heterogeneity Trumps homogeneity, walls don’t work and Karma is Multiversal Law. The Ferryman must be paid in the coinage of the realm.
Now, the greater multicultural agenda and the plethora of diverse media sources have made black culture – as it is currently and very publically expressed – as accessible to most whites who wish to vicariously experience it as normative white media and culture have always been for the rest of us. Black American culture and media is one of this nation’s most profitable exports.
Some white folks believe that they know what motivates black folk individually and as a whole. Familiarity with some music, TV shows and the movies has bred a palpable contempt as well as a fundamental misunderstanding of the true nature of Black Culture as well as the American Experiment. Too many think Equality has already happened – the media tells them so – and that they, whites, are now being targeted for a plethora of genocidal tactics. Psychological projection has never been so clearly on display on such a mass level as it is now. The media continues to glamorize aspects of culture and reality that reinforce the status quo and common opinion.
But the media glamor is just that.
An illusion that obscures as much as it seems to reveal. That minimizes the increasing distance between white economic achievent and black, the continuing ability of monied and racist elements to maintain racial political supremacy by hook, crook and any means necessary. But this illusion is the reason itself. The American Dream. The American Way, as evidenced by innumerable books, movies, songs and cultural traditions.
As Climate Shift, whatever is causing it, continues to make the Tropics uninhabitable and the bulwarks of Europe and North America are fortified and prepped against the perceived “black wave” of human dross, tossed up against the wall of entrenched monied and ethnic interest, technological supremacy, military might and cultural homogeneity are considered by many to be the deciding factor in what they envision to be the culmination of a war of survival between competing species.
Not members of the same race.
The fallacious belief, on the part of some mainstream and Right-leaning whites, is that – due to media saturation and, perhaps, personal familiarity with some blacks, browns, reds or yellows – they know and understand the Souls of Black Folk. That images the media portrays are who and what we are. In toto. That they can see our essence as clearly as we have always had to see theirs. A mere 50 years of study – even so, relegated primarily to the mechanics and composition of black bodies, not the workings of minds or souls – as compared to almost 400 years of complete immersion within eurocentric culture.
The ignorance and assumptions that result from this gross, perceptive misunderstanding are apparent daily in the world around us. They are the result of a deliberate miseducation process. Of a continuation of institutional misdirection. Of a political process that has traditionally served one segment of the overall American population successfully and other segments grudgingly, if at all.
What is and has been missing in their long-standing and rational analysis is the ability to synthesize disparate sources of data and glean information from the bewildering array of sources. Seeing the forest for the trees. Synthesis and holism remain relatively new and suspect entries into the canon of the Scientific Method since the wealthy Cosmographers/Geographers of Old gave way to the rigidity and compartmentalization that has typified the modern University system.
In retrospect, as the future plays out according to whatever scenarios currently envisioned by quantum computers, channels or psychics, an underestimation of the nature of human interrelation and abilities will be as clearly seen as we currently see near and distant history. None of it will work out as those who dare to assail the heights of species evolution, plan.
And the reason why their plans will not come to fruition, despite the appearance of supremacy, will be as clear then as it perhaps is to some now. Those who may be able to see the writing in the sky, the flight of birds and the dissipation of contrails.
Beneath the surface, beneath the skin, the essence of humanity lies cloaked by mundanity. Those human qualities that receive the most doubtful public reception are among the truest expressions of our collective unity. What lies within us each must come out eventually and in these times of fundamental change, we are each called to examine ourselves. To offer our truths up to our communities and even through our refusals to commit or stand up for causes, apply our energies toward the outcomes of our choosing.
What has been Unknown, will become Known. What has been Illusory, will become Real. As events continue to rush at us and the world seems to get crazier and crazier by the day you would do well to remember that inner peace is a choice and that not all battles are yours to fight.
Time and energy are currency. Two things we each only have a limited amount of, making them the most valuable of all commodities. The future becomes the present which becomes history. But, within that triumvirate, only the Now is real. Which means, our choices to pursue – or not to pursue – knowledge of the things that are important to us is a paramount consideration in each succeeding instant.
As I take the time to know you and vice versa, that information is applied at the genetic level and subatomic reactions inform the Collective Unconscious by way of quantum entanglement and superposition. The collapse of the wave function into the Now shifts, as Timelines do, and we co-create each instance together in a multidimensional process far too intricate to understand consciously.
But we do it naturally. And it is this unknown and questioned ability to transcend the known that lies within the very essence of human nature, our truest nature, that will save us all, in the End. Which is merely a New Beginning and another chance to truly Know.
Art by Joshua Mays