By Jay Arrington
“Imagine if in this world we were all colorblind. If not one of us had any way of distinguishing of race. Oh my what a wonderful world this would be if somehow in our place and time we could live side by side in this world colorblind.” From the song “Colorblind” by Jay Arrington © Copyright 2011Poetry Emotion Productions, LLC
Raise your hand if you believe that what you contribute to society relative to your values is not a reflection of what you learned at home and be honest. Come on now. Let’s see a show of hands. Granted some of you did not grow up in a two-parent home or with your biological parents. Still, the odds favor that your values descend from your home and what you heard adults say about others, and their (adults) treatment of others. Mind you, these off-the-cuff descriptions and gestures might stem from road-rage incidents or an adult responding to a news story, a politician or a crime. However, the most likely venue for the majority of influence on your values were the conversations had around the dinner table.
Imagine a child sitting around the dinner table hearing his father referring to a co-worker as a “Jew Bastard” or her mother referring to a neighbor as a “Black Nigger Bitch.” You know what I mean don’t you? Fess’ up, we’ve all heard it before. Hell, as a black man I heard my father say “Jew Bastard” many times as I am sure many of you have heard someone say, “Nigger,” “Spic,” “Kike,” or “Wetback.” Chances are the majority of you first heard these words at home around the dinner table. A few years back I wrote a series titled “The Ape Story” about the pattern of learned behavior in the urban community, not that urban communities have a monopoly on setting bad examples but to offer a solution by identifying the problem.
Well folks, guess what? It ain’t only in urban communities. It’s in suburbia also and again if we are honest about it we must acknowledge that bad behavioral patterns have been alive and well in mainstream America (white households) for hundreds of years. In fact, most of the bad behaviors present in urban communities are a by-product of blacks’ assimilation of white societal behavior/s…enough of that however.
This past Wednesday night in Charleston, SC a twenty-one year old white male walked into 200-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and with malice & forethought shot dead nine black bible study participants. Forget for a moment the act as heinous and hateful as it was and concentrate on this, twenty-one years of age. Where and how does a twenty-one year old amass this much hatred for a race of people especially when his age alone testifies to the fact that his life experience with blacks could never justify such hate? There can only be one plausible explanation and that is perhaps this was a homeschooled curriculum.
Think about this folks. When you see archival footage of lynchings, dogs attacking blacks in the south, protestors blocking school doors and whites spitting and tossing rocks do you ever wonder where those people are now? Really, the majority of these people were white women that brought along their children to enjoy the spectacle of a black man being lynched. Some were white teenagers that enjoyed terrorizing lunch counter protestors, Freedom Riders or beating to death someone associated with the Civil Rights movement sans “Selma.” Where are those people now or better still where are their grandchildren and what were the lessons taught during the conversations around the dinner table?
Well, some are in Congress passing laws that reflect their values, e.g. voter suppression, denial of assistance, deciding what foods families are allowed to purchase (Kansas). Some are in the criminal justice system implementing those laws in ways that reflect their values, e.g. shooting folks down like the animals they view them as or handing down exaggerated sentences. Some are in the school system denying education to those they consider a threat to their perceived superiority, a direct reflection of their values. Some are sitting behind a desk denying work opportunities in an attempt to oppress the already oppressed, another reflection of values. Some are watching their grandchildren walk into a church and gun down nine people worshiping the very God upon whose word America claims to have built its foundational principles/values. Yeah, right.
Listen up folks and you will hear if you haven’t already people referring once again to the country’s need to have a serious conversation about race. This may come as a surprise to you folks but there is a serious conversation being had about race and therein lies the problem. Want to hear it? Get invited to dinner.
RIP brothers and sisters and pray the Father grant us some time to return to Him.
By Jay Arrington