You Haven’t Moved An Inch Uncle Sam
If USA were searching for a dramatic way to broadcast its progress in white-black race relations, the headline of the award-winning Virginia Slims ad, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” won’t work. Because, while USA’s white-black race relations may have progressed around the edges, its core is still stuck in the 1960s.
The labels used to tag the black community have indeed come a long way, from Nigger to Negro to Colored to African American to Black. However, the political and social correctness implied by these changing labels is largely symbolic. In several key enclaves of white society, the minds and hearts of people are still as incorrect and bigoted as they were in the 1960s. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other victims of mindless police brutality are all symptoms of this wider social cancer. Sorry, Uncle Sam, you’ve barely moved an inch.
Since, “neither the mind nor the eye can see itself, unless reflected on something else (Percy Shelley),” and since life imitates art, I’ll hold up two of my favorite top-ranked films as mirrors – In The Heat of the Night and Mississippi Burning – so you can see for yourself.
Here’s a sampling of scenes and dialogues from the two movies. Ask yourself as you read, “Could what was shown in those movies happen today in Minneapolis, or in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC? Today, in June 2020?
—In The Heat of the Night: Officer Wood arrests Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) for one and only one reason, because he’s black and hence suspicious. And because he’s black and suspicious he had to be the prime murder suspect. Simple.
—Mississippi Burning: Lester, a blithering redneck, shoots one of the Civil Rights activists and complains and gloats (off camera), “Y’all only left me a nigger. But at least I shot me a nigger.” Chilling and Grotesque.
—Mississippi Burning: Mayor Tilman educates Agent Andersen (Gene Hackman), “Simple fact is, Anderson, we got two cultures down here. White culture and a colored culture. That’s the way it always has been. That’s the way it always will be.”
And that’s the way it still is. Not only can any or all of these events happen in real life in any major city in USA today, they are happening even as you read this piece. Any surprise that Black America is sick and tired and angry? The Black Community hears all the politically correct words but breathes only their toxic hypocrisy. The rhetoric just doesn’t add up, especially not when juxtaposed against gut-wrenching fatalities.
Time To Stare Into Our Souls
Time to quit the BS and get real. Stare into our souls and ask the question the black community wants us to ask: “What will it take for black lives to really matter?”
The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others are not one-off accidents that can be attributed to decision errors or the temporary unhinged mental states of under-duress cops. They are the result of enduring and endemic cultural tendencies, which must be rooted out for white-black race relations to leap from the 1960s to the 2020s.
And please don’t insult my intelligence by hawking the “few bad apples theory.” I’m not buying it. I agree and accept that the majority of white Americans are not racist. But there are enough who are, whose pernicious and bigoted thoughts, words, and actions are an ongoing source of frequent and real pain to black communities across America.
Besides, these “few bad apples” didn’t thud down on us from outer space. They fell from trees that support Mayor Tillman’s assertion that there are two cultures – one white and one colored – and take it one step further. Convinced of the superiority of the white culture, they hunt for opportunities to remind members of the colored/black culture, “who’s boss,” even if it means killing a few, every now and then, to prove their point.
This is the root of the problem. This is why “You’ve haven’t come an inch away, USA.” Knowing that racism is an integral part of several sections of America society, but choosing to live in denial. Preferring to hide behind smokescreens of political correctness rather than having tough conversations concerning racist hate.
If you are really serious, America – I mean really serious – about resolving this endless loop of senseless destruction, then get naked, see yourself for who you really are. The world of white-black relations is screaming for reform. A change of hearts and minds, not just a change of labels and legislation. And if you aren’t willing to go there, brace yourself for the next Derek Chauvin, the next George Floyd, and the next Minneapolis.