Opinion

Your Eyes Are Open, But Are You Woke?

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OPINION|By Khalil Hakeem

My brothers and sisters, Donald J. Trump did not invent racism!  I know you are upset that he waited 48 hours to even say anything about the tragedy that happened in Charlottesville.  I know you’re upset that when he did say something, he had the nerve to say that there is a moral equivalency between white supremacist and those protesting them.  I know you’re upset that he referred to those same white supremacist as “fine people.”  When he said, “Make America Great Again,” that was a dog whistle for the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the David Dukes of the world. To be honest with you, I wasn’t surprised because I know and have known for sometime that Trump is a racist.

I present to you exhibit A:  Former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.  Stevie Wonder can see that this man is a deeply fanatical white supremacist. For your reading pleasure, Google him and just check out his ideology.  Trump appointed him to his cabinet without even batting an eye.  I present to you exhibit B: Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, the Attorney General, formerly a profoundly racist Senator from Alabama.  As the US attorney in Mobile, Alabama, Jeff Sessions took over a case in the 1980s with two fellow prosecutors.  The case had to do with a young black man who had been kidnapped and brutally murdered by two members of the Ku Klux Klan.  The Klansmen, Henry

I present to you exhibit B: Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, the Attorney General, formerly a profoundly racist Senator from Alabama. As the US Attorney in Mobile, Ala., Jeff Sessions took over a case in the 1980s with two fellow prosecutors.  The case had to do with a young black man who had been kidnapped and brutally murdered by two members of the Ku Klux Klan.  The Klansmen, Henry Hayes, and Tiger Knowles slit the victim’s throat and hung his body from a tree.  They carried out the attack in retribution for a jury acquitting a black man in the slaying of a white police officer.  As Sessions learned that some members of the Klan had smoked marijuana on the evening of the slaying, he said aloud that he thought the KKK was, “OK, until I found out they smoked pot.”  Sessions insist he was joking!

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and other politicians who are so appalled at what Trump said or didn’t say, I have a question for you.  Where was the same outrage when the President of the these United States appointed a white supremacist to his cabinet and a part-time comedian/bigot as the Attorney General?  Now they want to grab the flag of morality and wave it like their lives depend on it.

I get it, I really do.  This is the time for news networks like CNN and MSNBC to cover this dreadful situation like Trump invented racism, but he really didn’t.  Racism is sewn into the very fabric of this country.  This happened way before you or I were even thought about.  Trump didn’t invent racism,  but he did empower racists to come out from the shadows and shout out racist rhetoric without feeling shame.  The sad part about these racists is that they blame black folks for their condition and for taking their country.   How are black folks taking their country when the five largest landowners in America own more land than all of Black America combined?

How are black folks taking their country when the five largest landowners in America own more land than all of Black America combined?

The whole Charlottesville situation was mismanaged and handled atrociously.  The police force had 30 days to prepare for this day.  They should have known that this was a powder keg situation that could blow up at any time.  The excuse of not having enough cops to handle the crowd is weak and irresponsible.  Yet images of militarized lines of police with semi-automatic weapons and dogs backed by armored vehicles staring down black protesters on the streets of Ferguson has been burned into the national psyche.

When confronted with a situation that brings out that dangerous emotion called anger, you will always have choices as to how you handle that particular situation.  React, or respond.  We can all go back-over our lives and see what happens when we react, versus when we respond when confronted with something that makes the very hair on the back of our neck stand up and makes our blood boil.  If you were honest, your reaction to the situation always tends to not work out for your best interest, or you get so caught up in anger that you miss an opportunity to possibly learn something.  If only you had just responded. If you had just taken a deep breath and thought it out, assessed the situation and then make a smart, well-calculated response to the situation.

Black folks have had their chain yanked by society for a long time.  This puts us in a perpetual state of anger, and that’s not by accident.  If we stay angry and react, we will miss the big picture.  It reminds me of this time in Trenton NJ; I would walk down this alley, and there was a dog that I would taunt for no good reason.  The dog would charge at me, literally foaming at the mouth, trying to get at me while I kicked the fence and teased him unmercifully.  This would happen every day because the shortcut to school was out of my backyard and through this alley.  I knew that the dog was so angry and so caught up in what I was doing that he didn’t ever notice that the gate was old, flimsy and held together by a loosely tied rope.   If that dog was to jump on that the gate or push the gate, it would open up with no problem. Instead, because he was so angry at me and wanted to get at me so bad, his frustration and anger got the best of him and he didn’t even realize that his liberation to tear me to shreds was right there in front of him.

Well, one day the dog stopped coming down to growl and bark at me.  He sat on the porch just looking at me, not even moving.  Despite all of my taunting and kicking on the fence, the dog didn’t move.  I kicked the fence, I shouted but nothing.  The dog just sat there as if to say “Eh, forget about it.”

This story speaks to how Black Folks are reacting to this spike in racist activities an overtly racist dialogue in public and on TV.  We have become the duality of this dog.  Angry, or docile.  The angry folks are missing the big picture, and the docile folks are just overwhelmed because we have an openly bigoted president and they haven’t fully recovered from the fact that Barack Obama is no longer president.

Do we have a right to be angry?   HELL YES!! It’s ok to have anger but don’t let anger, have you.  When you’re angry, you can’t think straight.  When you are enraged, you lose the ability to assess, observe and respond in kind.   Devoid of emotion, or inundated with everybody’s negative emotion.   As a people, we can no longer get emotional and react to what racist are or are not doing.  I don’t have time to put racist white folks in little groups; neo-nazi, white nationalist, KKK – these are all hateful people.

We must maintain focus on what’s important, and the big picture, as we tear down systemic racism.   That’s the goal, the total dismantling of systemic racism.  Tearing down Confederate statues is a nice gesture, but somebody help me understand how that stops the school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, economic disenfranchisement, underfunded schools and so on?

We should not get so angry at that fact that Trump didn’t speak harshly enough to a bunch of racists.   Those are just words, and words don’t mean anything.  A policy is what makes a change in America.  I don’t care what he says, but what I do care about is income inequality and wealth distribution.  It’s nice if they change the name of a school to something else other than a Confederate General, but how about changing the laws that protect cops and give them carte blanche to kill us with impunity.

Those politicians on the left and the right who get on corporate-owned media outlets and speak eloquently, saying “This is not what this country is about” are the worst hypocrites in the world.  They pass laws that have more of negative long term effect on Black Folks than any tiki torch carrying, polo shirt wearing, Robert E. Lee loving, ignorant, racist, misguided person ever has.

For all of the Black Folks who live in Tulsa and surrounding areas who got all upset about what Trump said or didn’t say, and got all angry at the racists in Charlottesville, posted on your Facebook page, “NOT MY PRESIDENT” but you still shop in the Brady District, eat in Brady District, watch movies at Guthrie Green, and go to the Brady Theater when the next famous black comedian comes to Tulsa.   Stop, just please stop! You epitomize hypocrisy.

We can no longer become distracted by ratings hungry CNN as they force feed us narratives that keep us in perpetual anger while they have the nerve to pay political pundits that are diametrically opposed to the truth and have them debate with someone.  Then, after all, is said and done, call it 50/50, it’s a tie, never calling a spade a spade.  Wolf Blitzer, Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon and the rest of the millionaire so called journalists regurgitate the status quo of “on to the next one, same as the last one.”

We can’t get so angry at Trump that we forget the 2018 elections are right around the corner, and the Democratic slogan of “WE AIN’T TRUMP” is not a winning strategy.  If you don’t believe me, how did that whole “I’M WITH HER” thing work out?  We can’t get so caught up with white supremacists, because the democratic party will just force feed us an “Any Blue will do” mentality.  Paging Kamala Harris.  Paging Corey Booker.

Systemic racism didn’t just start with Trump’s presidency.  We have to keep the main thing, the main thing.  The total dismantling of systemic racism is the end game, not removing of statues, not changing the names of schools, not allowing corporate ran media to yank our chain and not tell our truth.  It’s not enough to have your eyes open and not be woke!

 

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