For me, watching snippets of the Ahmaud Arbery court trial has been even more painful than the 12 seconds I saw of the George Floyd video. Police brutality, an offshoot of the slave catcher mentality that began 400 years ago, is unbearable.
However, the thought that any random set of white men can form an impromptu posse and declare “martial law” is unfathomable. Welcome to American History 101, the CRT edition.
Most Black people know just enough history to be dangerous. For example, we know that W.E.B. DuBois waxed eloquently about the “souls of black folk.’ A few of us even understand DuBois’ musings about our uniquely American consciousness.
“The Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which
yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused con- tempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
Yet others can spit of few lines of King. We got the “I Have a Dream” speech down. Nevertheless, few comprehended MLK’s transparency relaying his fears of integration.
“We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.” Ahmaud Arbery is a re- minder that America’s house is a fiery furnace of the vilest and ugliest racism known to man. All he did was walk into a vacant house!
Some of you get giddy every Emancipation Day; when you think of Frederick Douglass, you run to that familiar opening “What to the slave is your fourth of July?” That’s an excellent place to start, but to tether the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery to this moment; we should look a little deeper into Douglass’ writings.
Listen to an excerpt of his speech, “”I Denounce the So-Called Emancipation as a Stupendous Fraud.”
“The love of power is one of the strongest traits in the Anglo-Saxon race. This love of power common to the white race has been nursed and strengthened at the South by slavery: accustomed during two hundred years to the unlimited possession and exercise of irresponsible power, the love of it has become stronger by habit.
To assume that this feeling of pride and power has died out and disappeared from the South is to assume a miracle. Any man who tells you that it has died out or has ceased to be exercised and made effective, tells you that which is untrue and in the nature of things could not be true. Not only is the love of power there, but a talent for its exercise has been fully developed.”
It must have been an exhilarating burst of power and privilege that caused a White father and son to chase down an unarmed Black man. That power also enticed the third wheel in this train of injustice to videotape the entire incident.
There is no doubt that White power was in full effect when the Glynn County Police Department weighed the bloody and lifeless body against the freedom of three self-deputized slave catchers.
Page Pate, a criminal defense attorney in Glynn County, is no stranger to the department’s track record of incompetence. “There is not just one prior case. There are many prior cases. And each one is a separate Netflix episode!”
America has to wake up. Don’t take it from me. Listen to Douglass in his torching of “Southern Barbarism.”
“The American people have this to learn: that where justice is denied, where poverty is en- forced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither person nor property is safe.”
160 years past the Emancipation Proclamation and it still re- mains a stupendous fraud. Not one of us is safe!
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.