It Is So…Poetic

I’m anticipating to write an extended essay about the issues most concerning black Americans and their communities. The subjects are typically those concerns of the poor [i.e. poverty, education, crime, police officers, etc.] and I aim to discuss why that primary focus is problematic too. So I’m gathering a collection of books, typically those that are of the popular canon of ‘black thought’ on such subject matters. Or rather the accepted authority on this subject matter in opposition to my own alternative thoughts. As I gather books I read to find the key points and topics that are related to this extended essay.

Yesterday I decided to read the most recommended and awarded text of this date: Between the World and Me authored by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Actually I skimmed through the text, as it is rather short and can easily be done, and found that I was not impressed. Do not become mistaken here, I skim then I read a book first. The initial captivation among the pages are what confirms my need to purchase, to read, then to recommend to others. I can only read of what I have skimmed if it is profound or simply interesting. I’ve found neither adjectives are appropriate for this book. Perhaps, as all others, being poetic with their ‘blackness’ may captivate an audience that are the same and those that are white Americans and liberal-minded. However that is all and nothing else.

Of course it was written in a time where police homicides of black Americans took the nation by storm. People are emotional, calling it the greatest crime against black American males from years past to this date. Though emotional, basically an appeals to emotions, the statistical data proves otherwise. Black American males are more likely a victim of intraracial crime than they are to be a victim of interracial crime or to be killed by a police officer. As well, white Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans are largely ignored whenever the discussion of police killings surfaces on mainstream media. The majority killed police officers this year and last year alone have been white Americans. However, it is more profound if we discuss the statistics based on groups or ‘per rate’. Still in doing so we largely ignore that Native Americans are effected more so than black Americans. That is what I mean that it is an emotional appeal and one used tirelessly in the discussion of ‘black thought’-the center of attention ignoring the plights of all others.

There is something about ‘black thought’ that always needs to be poetic and to appeal to emotions. Or to over exaggerate a claim and to assume a collective mindset on all issues, whether all black Americans face them equally or at all. I do not find this common tendency in almost every essay, or every book about issues concerning [some] black Americans, profound or interesting. I too have studied black American history, U.S. history, the history of me and my being here. I enjoy it and continue to read. Though I do not appropriate the pain of my ancestors as that is insulting compared to my far more privileged life and life of freedom. Though I grew up in a rural area I never assume that poverty and the issues that become of those existing in urban areas are similar to my own. Poverty in rural areas is different compared to poverty in urban areas and I cannot falsely assume to relate to those that have an entirely different experience. Or what I am saying here, I refrain from using black Americans as a collective whenever discussing police shootings and killings and all other issues. That would be false to do so, and to give a false impression to others about the experiences of black Americans as individuals. As well it is simply an appeals to emotions to do so. I can discuss my experiences without included the entirety of black Americans who may have or usually have not experienced the same life. And I can do so without the poetic rhyme.

In writing this future extended essay I have to keep an open mind. To include Coates and other like him that all write in a rather similar manner, I must understand their thoughts. Why is it a common way to speak of issues pertaining to some black Americans this way? Why do they always assume a collective experience extending to all black Americans? For instance, his text in referring to the police killing of Eric Garner: “And destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings…All of this is common to black people. And all of this is old for black people. No one is held responsible.” A collective experience and notion assumed to be the thoughts and concerns, even the experiences of all. To the last statement, why is it common to make a claim based on limited observation; an assumption without facts? I remember around the time Michael Brown was killed, the tension had continued ’til December where I read that ‘police officers are never held accountable’. I retorted with, well it depends on the circumstances of the event and the evidence found. Since within that same month a local news source reported a police officer sentenced to time in prison for his crime against a black woman. Unfortunately I do not remember the details to that particular news story, but to make a ‘never’ claim on the basis of limited observation is quite common. So I ask ‘why’. To ask is to read, and that requires me to read their thoughts.

So, I’m looking forward to reading those differences in thought processing. In doing so I will provide a proper book review of each book I am thinking to include for my extended essay.

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Monuments to the Confederacy

There is a heated debate over the public presentation of confederate soldier monuments decorated throughout the southern region of the United States. A dozen have been taken down in the light of recent vocal public outrage, which has caused additional outrage in itself.  NBC sites the Southern Law Poverty Center stating that over 1,500 monuments to the confederacy still remain. And the upset on either side of the debate remains as well, since the pressure to either keep or to remove the monuments is the decision of the government. What is the argument of either of the outraged? That the monuments to the Confederacy are history. Well they both agree that the monuments are both symbolic and important. What is the debate then? One side assumes that the monuments are a history of a defense to the crimes against humanity and the treason that cost the lives of over 1.2 million men [and women] union and confederate soldiers. A war that ultimately devastated the economy of the South, which then influenced the history of ‘race’ relations with its freed population of black Americans there after. As to where the monuments should be relocated, the majority consensus say a museum, while others say they should be all destroyed and forgotten. The other side, seemingly the direct descendants of confederate soldiers as well, argue that the monuments are history and should be honored and should remain. The confederate soldiers should be honored for their valor, for the act of fighting in a war. I’ve noticed that those that argue this point are those that support soldiers no matter if the war that was fought was just or justified in its subject. Their offense is that a soldier’s duty has been taken for granted. As well, they ask ‘why now?’ They are asking well the monuments have been present for well over 50 years or more. Why now is the public outraged of their presence?

The argument between the two sides is agreed upon by myself as well. What are my thoughts on the debate rather? I will tell my opinion as a person of several influences. I am a black American, a descendant of black American slaves. I was born and raised in the rural South part of north Georgia. I grew up on a road that was part of the Callaway Plantation Farms, which still remain in name today. I grew up on the same roads as my mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother who was most likely a slave. My rural town is connected to a historic district town called Washington, GA. In that town I remember my kindergarten school tour to the Callaway Plantation house. As well I remember my time walking about the center staring at the courthouse and the large tree that stood before it. The tree has since been taken down. I always noticed the large tree, however I never paid any attention to the confederate monument that stands before the courthouse. As my mom would drive around I would definitely see it. However I did not know to whom it honored or what it honors. I was never taught in school why it was there. As far as I know I was not concerned, no one was concerned about its presence. Now that I am observing an outrage about confederate monuments, as an adult, my feelings towards the monument of my hometown remains, honestly, unconcerned.

Again, I am a person of several influences and one of my influence is my great interest for, and my study of, history. I have recently graduated with my degree in history, specifically about western civilization. On my personal free time I will read more, watch more, discover about the history of the United States. As one of my southern history professors stated ‘I like history that is told in my backyard’. What I have been taught, and what I have learned on my own, is that the preservation of history is important. As well the preservation of a history torn and destroyed is important. There is a great importance, then, in the matter of people making historic decisions about their history regardless. The fact that a racist society decided to honor the Confederacy with monuments to the soldiers that had died in vain, is a historic decision. The more vocal outrage calling out the racial insensitive that is reminded with the presence of confederate monuments is now history. And if our government decides to take down all 1,500 or more monuments in light of outrage will be recorded in history. We will, indefinitely, be reminded that the American Civil War was fought and Confederacy had lost. We will forever be reminded that this was an important battle fought. This is what makes history interesting. As long as there is a record of an idea and of its existence, we will forever be reminded.

With or without the presence of the monuments, we still have descendants of the confederate soldiers that regard the valor highly. They honor their history with decorated confederate flags as shirts, hats, bras, bumper stickers for trucks. They will forever speak of ‘Southern Pride’ so long as they have children to continue their culture and beliefs. We will still have a segment of the U.S. population to remind us that the Confederacy mattered to millions of people. And that their voice and beliefs is why the monuments were erected in the first place. We are forever reminded.

Should the monuments stay, then? I am stating, as an opinion, to regardless of the decision made by local governments, the history remains and is reminded.

On Authority: The Significance of One’s Word Over Another

Whenever we discuss the plight of the black community-the issues that plague black communities, and the youth not yet inspired-there is an echo chamber of a singular voice speaking for all. And here I ask, why? We are to assume that in opposition or in question of these thinkers, preachers, intellectuals is the black conservative. The discussion then is no different than the “arguments”  between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Dubois, who were both speaking of two truths over one topic. As we are to understand, and to believe that, black thought on privilege, poverty, education, wealth, criminality, law enforcement, activism, etc. is a debate between the black democrat and the black conservative. However, where the black democrat is the only valid, and sensitive voice of authority on these subjects. Why? The black democrat blames the hardships on the government, on predominately white institutions, on the history of white privilege and the privilege of the white youth. And because some of them, perhaps many of them have lived these experiences. Whereas the black conservative blames the hardships on lack of self constraints, finanaical irresponsibility and the criminality of the black youth engaging in self destructive activities. And because some of them, perhaps many of them have lived these experiences. 

Where do I stand? I stand between them, telling that they are speaking of two truths on the same topic. Where no singular thought is weighted more than another. 

Though where is my authority? Whenever I give my unwarranted opinion on these matters, yet informed, I’m considered the black conservative. Where ever I call upon myself to offer an alternative viewpoint, my thoughts are told to be less valid as the white people agree with me. If I ever point out the blatant racism displayed by a black person who is assumed to have authority on the subject of racism and privilege, I am told “racism = power”. If I ever challenge the viewpoints of the accepted majority, the black democrats, I am the puppet controlled by whites who wish to keep black people complacent. 

Though who am I and where does my politics stand? Politically I am a moderate social liberal. As far as my education is concerned, I have always been interested in studying racism. Specifically,  all aspects dealing with American (North and South) slavery. As for subjects on education and crime, I call upon my personal experience and observations. For what I am not familiar with I call upon facts and verifiable sources, without the emotional appeal that is often praised in black thought. However, who am I? As in the minds of others? A person easily disregarded by the majority as the ‘lite’ black conservative. 

As I embark on my writing journey I will discuss the topics most concerning the modern black community. Most certainly my authority will be questioned and disregarded. Though I’m open to the challenge, because it is refreshing to read the thoughts of someone equally knowledgeable, yet different.