By ANTONIA WILLIAMS-GARY
South Florida is getting ready for the annual Miami Book Fair, now in its 43rd year, and each year, hordes of black readers would turn out in search of our stories. The selections have increased, and there are always a few good reads; particularly new works of fiction.
But what about our history? His story. Her story. The right story.
Seemingly, current day historians are much too close to the nation’s political battlefields, its past wars (especially the first Civil War of the 1860s), and particularly its ongoing social conflicts, to offer a clear or objective long view. The daily skirmishes are much too contemporaneous; the drawn blood still bright red; fresh.
For instance, when April Ryan recently asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the conflicting statement that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly made about the ‘failed’ compromise that led to the Civil War, the answer Ryan was looking for could not be given by Sanders.
Sanders could not give a satisfactory answer. Not just because she is white; but because she is white, Sarah could not approximate the right answer.
Tacitus (d.120 AD), a Roman senator who is still considered one of the greatest historians, reminds us that “victor and vanquished never unite in substantial agreement.”
To date, nearly all published American history is on Sarah’s side; she is a member of the ‘victor’ group.
But black folk are still looking, in vain, for published and/or publicly pronounced ‘correct’ responses to what has been our plight in this country.
After nearly 400 years of being part and parcel of this nation; where our (free) labor, especially in the South, constituted the very fabric and fiber of this countries’ wealth and, thereby, giving the USA first world standing; providing much of the muscle and sinew of the US military; originating certain cultural, musical and literary expressions; and disproportionately entertaining the fans of professional football, we are still searching for our rightful place in the annals of American history.
We want to be respected for our spilled blood, sweat, and tears. To be paid reparations for generations of free labor, forced contributions of our bodies, minds and spirit, which helped make this a great country.
We know that the whole truth of us will never be written, spoken, or acknowledged by the victor, and yet we still pine for it.
When will this stop? Not anytime soon. That’s just the nature of historical conflicts.
Yet, we can take it all back. Take back our humanity. Our dignity. Our selves.
First, we have to begin to believe, and then behave as if we are victors ourselves!
But what have we won? Ha, ha, ha! We are still here. Could it be that simple? Yes.
I agree that it is imperative that we continue to reproduce. And that we cultivate a certain Negritude (d. the affirmation or consciousness of the value of black or African culture, heritage, and identity), if you please.
But first, we really need to love ourselves. Then, our story will be written, right. After all, it was first told right in oration. Next in evaporated blood and tears.
What we need now is for our story to be published – in permanent ink – and to join other indisputable and indelible truths.
And that brings me to Donna Brazile. She is scheduled to spend an evening at the Miami Book Fair reading from her ‘insider’ story of the Democratic Party where she served as the interim chair during the 2016 presidential campaign.
I’m so glad she was in the mix, and that she has written her truth. But she is being vilified and taken down for telling it like she saw it. The attacks began pre-publication.
Whether all her claims are true, or false, it doesn’t matter as much as that she recorded her perspective.
And Ms. Brazile is not backing down; not one inch. In fact she responded to her critics by telling them to “go to hell.” Write on, Donna. You wrote right.
Black ‘her story’. Black history. Toniwg1@gmail.com