In the 1960s, venerated author Joan Didion wrote of America “that the center wasn’t holding.” This ideology still holds true over a half-century later, as the mood of our blighted nation continues to hover just slightly above a clumsily contained chaos, as blacks are forced to watch the continued, and at times systematic, hunting and slaughter of their people. To wit: the murders of nine parishioners at South Carolina’s historically significant Emanuel AME church. Adding further insult to an already egregious and appalling crime is that while the city mourned such acts of hate and terrorism, it did so under a Confederate flag. In a noble America, displaying such a symbol would be an act of treason. And confusingly enough, it took mere days before the country’s dialogue shifted from the loss of nine black innocents to the oft-discussed issue of gun control and, finally, whether or not the flag is appropriate in a seemingly post-racial America. Discourse regarding its removal merely offers African Americans a modicum of penance, a diversion from the true issue at hand: America has seen only minimal growth beyond her wicked past. If “we the people” are ready to shift focus to what can be done above and beyond trifle gestures and repetitive debate, the conversation must include the long overdue issuance of slave reparations.
My guess is that most, if not all, blacks would prefer to see the flag lining a cat’s litter box, and not in a museum like President Obama foolishly suggested. No one would dare expect Jews to tolerate the conceited displayed of the swastika, but blacks are expected in a few states to live in the shadows of flag that celebrated and promoted our enslavement under any means necessary. Surely, in the wake of both the church shootings and what seems like the methodical and continued state sanctioned murder of blacks by unrepentant, rogue police officers the debate shouldn’t center around a relic flag only the lowest among us pledges allegiance to. In honor of those who senselessly lost their lives, addressing how to permanently repair race relations should be our country’s most pressing priority.
Celebrated African American writer Zora Neale Hurston once wrote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer. America is ailing and it’s become morally imperative that the issue of slave reparations be addressed now, centuries after she allowed for an unprecedented genocide so calculating and dehumanizing that it has crippled every generation since. A civilized, remorseful, and mannered government would offer some form of remuneration for unspeakable crimes left unchecked, offenses so horrific mothers would rather drown their babies along the trans-Atlantic route than see them toil as slaves in an unforgiving America. And while there isn’t a metric system large enough to measure the toll slavery cost, this should not dissuade a democratic body from attempting to correct her wrongs, to finally add a commemorative footnote to a nation’s disgraceful history.
Also speaking of a 1960s America, Malcolm X famously argued:
If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, that’s not progress, If you pull it out all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made. They [America] haven’t begun to pull the knife out… they wont even admit the knife is there.