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Tales from Your One Black Friend

Perspectives on race, gender, politics and parenting in America

Time Traveling While Black #TTWB

So, truth be told, I’m a geek.

I have not one, but two Dr. Who Tardis banks and three Game of Thrones bobble-head characters on my work desk. I’ve read Lord of the Rings, Outlander, all of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books and I truly believe that Stephen King is my soulmate in another life. Aliens, alternate universes and time-travel: all possibilities in my sci-fi book.

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tumblr_nc8wcb2lk31tm4sm4o2_r1_250So the other day, while talking to one of my many friends on Facebook, the idea of time travel came up and I was so ready to jump in with my, “let’s go back to the 1700s so I can become the wife of Jamie Fraser and have lots of Scottish babies,” when I realized I needed to rethink this: Am I going back in this body? Would I really want to go back ANYWHERE in the 1700s as a Black person?

Make America Great Again.”

I keep hearing this refrain and keep asking the same question: If you’re African American, and your family traces back to the first group of slaves brought to the Carolinian and Virginian shores (in the 1600s), what era in American history are you looking back to as “great?” Livable, surely. But “full of hope, opportunity, and personal freedom” great?

Let’s review, shall we?

1629 – The first enslaved Africans arrive in what is now Connecticut.  [Nope, don’t want to be one of the firsts, thank you very much.]

slaveshipbrookes
This ain’t “The Love Boat” or Ellis Island:                                                                                           Illustration of the slave holds during Middle Passage. 

1629 – 1863 – Hmmm…over 200 years of lawful (Constitution-approved and sanctioned) slavery. [Nah…I’m gonna pass.]

1866 – 1875 – For a short period, we’re allowed a little bit of representation in government, but…”Birth of Nation” Klu Klux Klan is born. [Nah, will pass on the lynching and government sanctioned raping and pillaging, no access to jobs or due process, thanks!]

restrooms

1876 – 1965 – Jim Crow lives and breathes. “Separate but equal” in education, politics, employment, healthcare…you name it, if you’re Black you’re not doing it. Oh, but you might have fought in WW2 (you’ll be denied the pleasures of the GI Bill when you get home) or the Korean War, like my father (where you’ll come home to Jim Crow). Maybe the last decade I’d consider, so I could be a part of the Civil Rights Movement…but to face water cannons, dogs, Bull Connor, loss jobs, not able to marry my husband (damn those miscegenation laws)..Pass on this one too…

1965 – 1968 – Possible, until April 4, 1968 (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated). The world burns…[Not my cup of tea — #Pass]

1968 – 1990 – “Affordable Housing Units” means the rise of slums, crack cocaine, and gang violence. Not to mention we watch Rodney King brutalized on LA’s streets, followed by riots, and OJ Simpson…well, at least the music was good. #Pass

1990- Present: No need to time travel…we’re already HERE. We get Beyonce, a Black storm trooper in Star Wars, #Richonne, and all the Shonda Rhimes we can get, plus Oprah. #Staying_Put.

I ask the question again, “which era was America great…for ALL of us?” Seems like if it’s not about ALL of us, then it’s just for some. Which is not too American, and certainly not “great.”

 

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Trigger Warning: Some of this you won’t want to hear, but you need to

Dear friends,

It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up the [electronic] pen and put thoughts on “paper.” but I’ve felt pretty compelled as of late.

I’ve tried numerous times to write these thoughts on Facebook, but either my brief posts get delayed and lost in the din of cat photos and birth announcements, or they are frankly ignored. So today, I’m kicking off a blog to speak on the issues that plague my thoughts.

So fair warning. We are going to talk about race. No. We’re going to talk about racism and race politics and history. You are going to read opinions that are strictly my own (unless there’s a guest commentator here or there) and some of it, depending on where you sit, will make you squirm, question, dislike, hate, appreciate or abhor. Some of it may surprise you and question your relationship with me and I understand that. I hope my words are clear and my points clearer so that you at least understand in full my point of view.

Whatever your reaction, if you’re reading this blog, you either (1) want to hear MY perspective or (2) are interested in the subject matter. I hope you take everything with a “grain of salt” and find yourself in a place of discomfort from time to time. That, my friends, is what happens when a real conversation on race occurs. No one comes out unsullied, unprovoked, or unchallenged. Perhaps you’ll have a new perspective or perhaps you’ll feel even more secure in your beliefs, but you will THINK.

So, pony up, boys and girls. Can’t promise a “fun” ride but enlightenment and thought-provoking is the aim.

Namaste. Let’s get to work!

– CC

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