Thursday, January 08, 2015

There's something about the women ...

Isabel Wilkerson, the author of the acclaimed history of African American migration within the nation, The Warmth of Other Suns, spells out why there's no stopping the uprising for justice in the wake of police killings in Ferguson and Staten Island. The suffering does not end.
We seem to be in a continuing feedback loop of repeating a past that our country has yet to address. Our history is one of spectacular achievement (as in Black senators of the Reconstruction era or the advances that culminated in the election of Barack Obama) followed by a violent backlash that threatens to erase the gains and then a long, slow climb to the next mountain, where the cycle begins again.

The last reversal of Black advancement was so crushing that historians called it the Nadir. It came after the leaps African-Americans made after enslavement during the cracked window of opportunity known as Reconstruction. The newly freed people built schools and businesses and ascended to high office.

But a conservative counteraction led to a gutting of the civil rights laws of that time and to the start of a Jim Crow caste system in the South that restricted every step an African-American could make. Any breach of the system could mean one’s life. African-Americans were lynched over accusations of mundane infractions, such as stealing a hog or 75 cents, during a period that lasted into the 1940’s.

... And now police assaults on Black people for the most ordinary human behaviors—a father tasered in Minnesota while waiting for his children; a motorist shot to death in North Carolina while seeking help after a car accident. It is as if we have reentered the past and are living in a second Nadir: It seems the rate of police killings now surpasses the rate of lynchings during the worst decades of the Jim Crow era. There was a lynching every four days in the early decades of the twentieth century. It's been estimated that an African-American is now killed by police every two to three days.
My emphasis. The new issue of Essence includes additional essays by Angela Davis, Melissa Harris-Perry, Patrise Cullors, Chirlane McCray, and more.

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