By Mikel Kwaku Oshi Holt
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed the legality of online betting, I plan to head across the state line to place a bet that within 10 years, some alt-right group will propose creating a monument of Donald Trump. And even if the sponsoring organization is the KKK, I’ll send in a couple of dollars in support of that cenotaph.
Why? For the same reason I’m opposed to taking down confederate flags and other racist monuments. I say keep them in public view, maybe even erect new ones for placement in front of schools, government offices and churches. I wouldn’t be opposed to erecting a statute of Laura Nelson next to them. Nelson was the Black woman featured on the front page of last week’s WEEKEND edition. Because there is no public statue of her to remind us of the evil cancer that continues to fester in this country, few of you have ever heard of her. But it’s important for you to tell your children that Nelson, a Black woman, was raped by a crowd of racist farmers and then hung, beside her 14-year-old-son, for allegedly confronting a police officer in 1911.
She was among the thousands of African American lynching victims in the south—north, east and west—prior to, during and after the civil war. No ‘Hue-man’ was safe from the terrorists, who often enjoyed bar-be-cue and beer while lecturing their children on the importance of keeping the sub-human darkies in check.
Many people assume, or were erroneously taught that the lynchings, along with Jim Crow policies, were restricted to the south, and that residents of the north were all good hearted Christians who gave their lives to free the African slaves.
Irish and German immigrants, who were “forced” to join the Union army, rebelled in New York—they not only rioted in protest, but murdered, lynched and burned hundreds of free Black men, women and children to make their point. Maybe a monument of the victims, and the perpetrators should be placed outside of New York’s Laguardia Airport. White travelers will have to deal with true history, vs. H.I.S.T.O.R.Y, and Black travelers will be reminded of their reality. They also need to be reminded to be on guard, because they lynched two brothers in Oklahoma last month.
Maybe some politicians will see the monuments and vote affirmatively for an anti-lynching law, which has yet to be passed 150 years after the civil war. Instead of trying to censor history, we should construct new monuments to place outside of the White House and congressional chambers so our “elected officials” can link our myriad of problems to their true source.
I assume some of you think I’ve finally flipped my weave, and although that’s always a possibility if you dedicated your life to trying to wake up comatose Black folks as I have, that’s not the case.
At least not yet.
And I haven’t gone temporarily insane learning that the president of the United States, who wants to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, Medicaid and Medicare, but doesn’t know the difference between HIV and HPV, although it’s not a coincidence that this is the commander and chief who wants to return America to the good ole days? (Yeah, if we survive his presidency, we need to put up a statute of him right next to his idol, Andrew Jackson, a slave owner who murdered hundreds of thousands of Native Americans.)
Naw, the truth of the matter is I’ve always had mixed feelings about demonstrations to relocate or destroy monuments glorifying the racist civil war “heroes,” or to take down the confederate flag in southern states. I understand what activists are trying to do, and support their “cause” if not their “cure.” That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. Hear me out.
As some of you know, I’ve been traveling around Metro Milwaukee for the last two weeks wearing a ball cap with a confederate flag on it. More often than not, I also wear a “Black” themed t-shirt, sometimes featuring Barack Obama, Malcolm X or Marcus Garvey. Most folks understand the incongruity and absurdity of my “message,” and thus can figure out I’m trying to provoke some and educate others.
During the process, and much to my surprise, a significant number of Black Millennials didn’t even know what the flag is, or represents. (I’ll provide my thoughts on the various responses at a later date.) I could easily dismiss their ignorance as a byproduct of a school system that “whitewashes” American history. By that I mean, the textbooks provide little more than a perfunctory or superficial look at the events that shaped and supported apartheid in America.
Or, maybe this is part of a new agenda, a coordinated scheme to pacify and confuse a new generation of African Americans who can’t relate to our struggles and as such don’t know why there are so many obstacles in their path. I believe, whether consciously or unconsciously, political and so-called progressives are being manipulated to assist in efforts to strip American injustices from the history books. Some are doing so because they hate being reminded of what their parents did, and why they benefit from white privilege. Others may believe this is a new starting point, and we should forget the past and move forward.
To that I say: those without a sense of history (or culture) can be easily tricked into believing the problems facing them are genetic, or self-inflicted. A miseducated person is gullible enough to believe slavery and the paradigm of American-style apartheid are not the reasons we have not achieved equality, it is instead because we don’t have the intelligence to reach the bar, or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But as Al Sharpton said on his radio show a few days ago, you can’t “divorce the reality from its roots.” He wasn’t talking about racist monuments or rewriting history. But his point was as both apropos and profound.
There’s a reason why European Jews tell their children about the holocaust, and keep historic monuments of Nazi oppression in plain view in Germany. Their motto is “never again!” In essence, they are stressing the importance of being forewarned and armed. The European Jews use that horrific history of attempted genocide to motivate and inspire.
Today’s American history books are PC. They are sanitized, incomplete sentences. When I was growing up, the books we used blatantly lied about slavery and bigotry. Today they confuse and diminish.
For example, the killing of untold millions of Native Americans is glossed over or justified by the need to expand and bring civility to the savages. Thus, the killing (legalized genocide) of millions of Native Americans was God-ordained Manifest Destiny. And nowhere will you find a history book that describes slavery as the worse form of oppression in world history. They won’t tell you of the horrors and cruelties, the separation of families, and the pathological mythology of the bigots who maintained it. Their history portrays George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as American heroes who planted the seeds of equality and democracy in a barren land.
But our history—Africans, Native Americans and Latino—views them also as liars, murders and rapists.
Harsh? Yes, but truthful.
Give the Founding Fathers credit for what they did to bring about a beacon of democracy for the world, for planting the seeds that have made America—today—the greatest country in the world. But we cannot forget that mixed in with the seeds were and are weeds.
We should not, and cannot forget, that we were treated worse than animals; in fact, we were considered animals, chattel and through forced labor created this country.
Our sweat lubricated the mortar and our blood and tears bleached the paint.
Our children must be taught how and why the system of apartheid was created and has been sustained, and how our White cousins and friends were also victims.
Black and White Americans have been pitted against each other by design. Racism was created to separate the masses, and bigotry (the manifestation of racism) has been orchestrated by the “haves” to keep the “have nots” at each other’s throats.
The history brought to light by the confederate flags or the statutes of bigoted heroes should spark consternation at the very least. It should also serve as a launching pad for global study, not to mention Black empowerment.
That we survived “in spite of…” should be our motivation and war cry.
Thus, we must explain to our children that they are not niggers—another creation of the “haves” to create a layer of separation through false paradigms that we are inferior, pathological, lazy and uncivilized.
Our children can’t understand why they walk around in circles until they know where the starting point is, and why they put “can’t” in our vocabulary. They must be told why there is more crime in poor Black communities, why Black men and boys impregnate gullible Black sisters like they are being paid (they are), and denigrate each other with adjectives/nouns like “nigger” and “bitch.”
We must teach them, and each other, that none of this is by accident or coincidence. We are in the predicament we’re in today by design, or maybe divine purpose. Whatever theory you subscribe to, you have to recognize that the civil war didn’t end in 1865, and that the transformation of a once proud African people was permanently altered through socialization and victimization.
Equally important, a large percentage of us don’t recognize that we suffer from PTSD. Far too many youth and their parents, think we came here on the Good Ship Lollipop, that we were always slaves. And if you believe that idiotic bipolar” Con-yea” West, we were contented happy-go-lucky slaves.
Or, as Secretary Ben Carson believes, we should feel “honored” that the well-meaning bigots took us out of the jungles of Africa, gave us civility and a religion.
A move to remove all remnants of the disease—albeit well intentioned—will only perpetuate our suffering because we don’t realize that we are in the situation we are today because of yesterday.
Moreover, the Emancipation Proclamation, 13th and 14th Amendments or the Civil Rights Acts of 1968 did not exorcise the cancer of bigotry and social injustice.
Instead, erasing history is the greatest con since they started using in 1490 a portrait of Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander IV, as the “true” image of Jesus. Five hundred years later, the imprint of Jeffrey Hunter—blond hair, blue eyes—became the new Messiah.
By and for the same reasons “they” created racism.
I strongly believe Nyame (God) is judging evil people based on their repentance and current good will. But there is nothing to repent from if you remove all symbolisms of evil. You effectively erase sin by taking down the monuments.
As Sharpton promulgated, follow today’s reality back to its roots. After you return, you’ll understand why the hateful monuments, the confederate flags and the Black holocaust museums are needed today and tomorrow.
Let us teach and preach, for you if you know how and why, you can figure out when and how. We need to look at them and get mad, get angry, and seek reparations vs. getting even.
The evil monuments should strengthen our resolve to create a better place for our children and ourselves.
Some White Millennials are uncomfortable being reminded. That’s too bad, but not as alarming that many young Black Millennials don’t want to be reminded.
A Marquette student I talked to recently agreed with Snoop Doggy Dud’s belief that there are too many “slavery” movies being shown of late. She feels “they” are overdoing it.
Actually, there were only a handful produced in the last decade, but even if a new one came out every month, that’s not enough in my book. Show them in schools, on bus videos, in churches before the sermon. Show previews prior to singing the national anthem at football games, since a racist slave owner wrote it.
Keep showing them until it motivates White progressives to talk to their cousins, and grandparents and significant others.
As I said earlier this year, we—African Americans—cannot eliminate racism. Only Whites and their churches can.
Until that day arrives, I propose putting a racist monument on every corner.
I say keep them up until we don’t have to talk about this anymore.