I mean...what is the fascination of white folks, young
or old, wanting to sing a tear-producing song of, "Mammy!"
or do a Moonwalk or dance a jig like Bojangles used to do
with the late Shirley Temple?Temple?Temple?Temple?
I mean...first of all, white society denigrates and
demeans black men and women with racist caricatures and
images of African-Americans eating watermelons with
overblown red lips, black people adorning the boxes of food
(remember Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben?), and of course
pictures of black men with huge bucking eyeballs and
grinning with bloated lips.
I mean...wasn't it enough to relegate black people to
slavery (we came to America as people with dignity and a
history and then were beaten and subjugated into
slavery....a big difference!) and to whip and kill slaves on
the plantations and to deny them any wages for their sweat
I mean...why the day and night-time terrors of
hundreds of years of slavery via mental and physical abuse
and belittlement, the condoning of the terrorist group, the
KKK and the White Citizens Council?
I mean...why the daily abuse and punishment and denial
of basic human rights including the right to form a cohesive
family and to earn a paycheck by honest labor when both the
North and the South benefited from the fruits of peonage
slavery. It was slavery that allowed capitalism to get a
foothold in America and to flourish and to dominate the
I mean...why the past blessings of the highest courts
in the land regarding black people having no rights that a
white person had to respect (Dred Scott decision from the
US Supreme Court) and the government turning a blind eye
when slavery ended so that the emergent Jim Crow laws could
practically re-enslaved black people...and get away with it!
And yet. The country goes through all of the above and
yet they still want to call black people the N****r word and
find every which way to put stumbling blocks in their
ability to vote, obtain housing, get a fair education and
find employment but then have the temerity or audacity to
say that black folks are lazy!
I mean...why are we still giving comfort to people and
to places which hold dear allegiance to Confederate flags,
the lionization of General Robert E. Lee and the continual
enshrinement of white womanhood as being virtuous?
The answer is simple: White folks still want to have the
white privilege option of using old racial mnemonics as a
way for them to remind themselves of a good ol' time in the
past when they ruled with an iron fist and the lynching of
black people was a public spectator sport.
White folks who still trot out despicable images of
black people and who bring out their KKK robes are reminding
black people that it could all start up again...they are
ones with a subconscious mindset that finds no offense in
dressing up as Mammies, or using black shoe polish on their
faces to mock and profane people of color.
It is of strong significance that the current occupant
of the White House has uttered enough racist statements that
one could believe or infer that it is now OK to attempt to
do a moonwalk at a critical press conference called by the
now-embattled Virginia governor.
Herr Trump has given implicit permission and approval
to his base, and to others, to act the fool and show out;
and then they wonder why there is a blow back to their
Are they that clueless or tone deaf? Some are...some
aren't. Some do it for the anticipated laughs and guffaws
that will come their way. Others do it because it reminds
them of a prior happy time in which they were unchallenged
in their abhorrent treatment of black people and Native
Americans (Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians baseball
So, when we see the current governor of Virginia try to
wiggle out of the horrible pictures which purportedly
represent him either as in full black face costume or
wearing a pointy KKK robe, you gotta wonder and think, do
those depictions influence or control their professional
life and their interactions with people of color as it
regards: fair housing, equal employment, competent medical
care, fair social policies, police powers or even a white
clerk demeaning a black customer?
America has never come clean as to its sordid racial
history and much less the issue of reparations or the
accountability for thousands of lynched black men, women and
children (yes children!) who lost their lives on a whim or a
Now, the Attorney General for the State of Virginia
has recently confessed that he too wore a wig and browned
his face back in 1980 to imitate a black rapper. The
Attorney General! Can you imagine what decisions, if any,
that may have been "colored" by his biased perception of
black men and women.
Too many white folks have no historical understanding
of slavery in America and its continuing aftermath...and
they do not want to learn because of the intense pain and
angst that it would uncover and their fear of "retribution"
for what they did to black people.
Contact Lafe Tolliver at firstname.lastname@example.org