A Six-, Seven- or Eight-Step Program to End Racism


And if we don’t fight

if we don’t resist

if we don’t organize and unify and

get the power to control our own lives

Then we will wear

the exaggerated look of captivity

the stylized look of submission

the bizarre look of suicide

the dehumanized look of fear

and the decomposed look of repression

forever and ever and ever

And there it is

— excerpt from There It Is by Jayne Cortez

When some people experience racism — especially the extreme form which is now in vogue, every bit as blatant with butchery as what was happening during turn-of-the-century lynching — they turn to drugs sometimes. Others succumb to resolving to be deaf, dumb and blind to what they can’t put behind them. I know decent folks who have responded to racism by lashing back with whatever means happened to be at their disposal at the moment they got fired up beyond self-restraint, reason or whatever select barrier the members of our dominant culture fancy should kick in when others are kicked down and out. A bout of sleeping in rat-infested quarters, and waking up without a quarter for coffee might go a very long way toward… understanding. But even that wouldn’t be enough to create the visceral heart and soul break that is the take away of those who are most disposable in the eyes of… you know who. Not you, them, the mad majority.

Don’t know about you, but I have my eyes yearning for Eternity, the capital “E” inserted here for good reason. The motivation for which leads me to attempt — incessantly — to deal with the source of racism’s bleeding. For leeches, indeed, have been placed on the black bodies which have been boldly told the Old White Story. Not just black bodies, of course, but all those who are under-served intentionally and immiserated by design. Held back on purpose,  Misled by our textbooks, media outlets and various institutions, along with their oppressors.

I’ll focus on BLACKS for the moment, though, ’cause I’m re-reading I Am Troy Davis, and being reminded that if the loved one of someone on Georgia’s Death Row is executed they have to pay for the body to be shipped to Atlanta for an autopsy (and returned to your burial place of preference)… unless you want to shell out less money (only $25 still, I believe) for a local burial in the most crowded city of the Peach State. [Pause.] The punch line here has to do with the reason why the autopsy is deemed necessary. That is, believe it or not, to determine the cause of death!

I’m citing these points because of the well-documented FACT that capital punishment is punishment for those without capital, especially if they’re people of color. David Baldus died just before his 76th birthday — about three months prior to Troy Davis’ execution on my mentor’s birthday in 2011 — but long before they both passed… in the early 80s… just around the time Troy was becoming a teen… Baldus established the FACT that implementation of the death penalty — particularly in Georgia — was a thoroughly racist act. Definitively. Is still.

Well, instead of getting down with the usual focus for discussing the injustice of all that, permit me to launch into the FACT that what the loved ones of those who are executed go through — particularly when a child, uncle or father or mother executed is innocent — is truly disgusting. When, then, irreparable damage is done not only emotionally, but financially (not that they’re unrelated).

What do the loved ones go through on an ongoing basis? What happens to them, especially in the context of having to recover from their loss in a deeply racist environment? There’s enough horror, of course, to overcome — whether or not the person executed is innocent or guilty — for loved ones and the victims of the state. But the societal context in which people of color must exist and acclimate would challenge anyone on earth. For most, processing these dynamics is — truth be told — impossible.

And that guarantees that OUR CASTE SYSTEM continues, yes?

[At this juncture, I ask the reader to review the Cortez excerpt above again.]

One of the ways that WHITES get away with all this is by routinely repeating — emphasizing — that the Civil War led to freedom and justice for BLACKS. In classrooms and elsewhere. It’s worth noting that a lot of BLACKS (wanting and/or needing to be part of the system) don’t hesitate to compound ignorance with ignorance by repeating the lies that teachers have drilled into them.

So… what do we do about all this?

Here’s my Six-Step Program:

  1. Help to abolish the Death Penalty in your state. Interesting that those who attempt to do so are referred to as abolitionists.
  2. Do everything you can to put an end to U.S. racist bombing abroad. All bombing, actually, should be the aim.
  3. Read and recommend a book or two by Professor James W. Loewen.
  4. Contact me to discuss any reservations you might have.
  5. Watch five minutes and twenty-three seconds of footage of Robert Coles providing narration about an historic event centered on Ruby Bridges.
  6. Listen to a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King giving his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at New York City’s Riverside Church in 1967. Racism must not be separated from the issues of militarism or poverty.

Actually, I should make the above a Seven-Step Program. You should involve another person. Get someone else to secure a decent recording of the full MLK speech, which led to him getting assassinated a year to the day of giving that address. The link I’m giving here focuses on how  “reform” is not enough, that there’s a clear need now for radical institutional change. It’s not that reform here and there should not be welcomed, but — rather — that that aim should not be one’s primary or exclusive means for bringing about change. And on that note, perhaps — on third thought — I should urge readers to at least glance at Black Agenda Report (BAR), which delves into that with great passion… making this an Eight-Step Program.

Many of the specific recommendations made on the BAR site, and many of the facts cited might be off-putting to some, or even make readers recoil in horror. But, that said, they do put to bed the notion that the Black Caucus and counterparts across the spectrum serve as an asset for BLACKS. Leadership lacking? Yes.

Doesn’t matter whether or not I give you a six-, seven- or eight-step program to consider embracing, does it? No more than if I refer to the demographic I’m spotlighting here as African-American or Black. Debates about hyphens can hold you back, and “black” anything can be a liability in our society, yes? It’s endless, that sort of engagement.

Civic engagement must follow a fresh paradigm. Come up with whatever numbered program that resonates with you and yours. But do something new under this Black Sun setting.

Flannery O’Connor Academy serves youngsters who have committed to home schooling. They write anonymously and exclusively for CC. Each young author posted here asks for feedback at [email protected]. The author’s mentor (link directly above) has tried — repeatedly — to serve as a volunteer for the new “radical” mayor of Jackson, Mississippi to no avail, a point that should be considered in processing the points made in “Practical Love Supreme in Activism” (link above). Something’s seriously amiss with African-American leadership, whether or not it’s what the author is citing here. Whether or not there’s a grain of truth in what the author’s white friend says about Obama.





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