By ANOTONIA WILLIAMS-GARY
It’s happening! The hounds have been unleashed, making this a peculiarly dangerous time to be black in America, once more, and still again.
Take the public ‘lynching’ of Richard Collin III, only three days away from graduating from college. The act cannot be called anything else.
His assault and death was designed to be a spectacle. The audacity of the murderer – to so boldly commit this heinous act in the middle of the street – with witnesses, speaks to how insane the underbelly has become.
Collin was a picture-perfect AfricanAmerican male: he was educated, athletic, commissioned to serve as a second lieutenant in the Army, etc.
The attack has been described by lawenforcement as “totally unprovoked.”
Richard and his friends were waiting for an Uber. How American.
The attacker, Christopher Urbanski, 23, is a member of the Alt-Reich Nation, just one of many white nationalist groups now flourishing in America.
In my last column, I spoke about the white trash of America; how it evolved into the “forgotten” – many who supported Trump; and what their plight has been over the past 400 years.
I did not have enough space to explore the terrorist class that has been spawned, largely from this same group. Let’s call to mind Timothy McVeigh, who can be considered a poster child for them. His main reasons for bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma, nearly 25 years ago, was that he was anti-government, anti-media and anti-minorities. Now there is a lesson for continued study.
McVeigh’s portrait of the angry, forgotten, marginalized, white man, grew out of a bitter legacy with deep roots and with growing tentacles. He was from a typical small town, working class, with military background. Can you count the millions of minions who fit this profile?
While we have become obsessed with the threat of ISIS, we have turned a blind eye toward the terrorists at home who have been feeding, festering and propagating for nearly half a millennia.
400 plus years is a long time. In the meantime, blacks – as a community – have grown so deeply American, having bought – wholesale – the promises of the ‘dream’ and the ‘hope,’ preached to us over the past two hundred years.
I am reminded of a lesson from James Baldwin who suggested that, as black Americans, we can’t be pessimistic because we are alive.
But we are not Americans. We can’t be. Not yet.
Just recently, another layer has been added to my thinking about being black in America. I am currently reading the History of White People by Nell Irving Painter, an African American. She is an established professor of history at Princeton, author of more than seven books, and is also a fine artist.
In a recent interview, Dr. Painter declared that there is no such thing as a black American. She suggests that we can be individually a middle class black, a poor black, a black artist, a black entertainer, etc. and some can even be republican.
I get it. We are black when we vote as a political block.
We are black when we sing gospel and spiritual music in church.
And, we are especially black when our sons/daughters are killed by the hands of hateful others – just because we are black.
I’ll keep trying to channel the optimism of James Baldwin yet temper my enthusiasm with the wisdom of Nell Painter as I travel along this perilous journey of being black in America.
Take heed and remain vigilant. Take a stand. Remain standing on the sacred and blood-tainted ground that has been tilled and fertilized by black bodies.
Remember, this land is your land.