To her surprise, she found she could not rent a building in which she proposed to have Negro aides unless they were servants!
Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells
Most of us have experienced the bad neighbor, the couldn't-care-less-about-you-or-anyone-else neighbor. It's nothing personal. Just self-centered. Rude.
In the best of situations, a knock on the neighbor's door brings him or her back to reality: There are other people living here!
In the best of situations, the neighbor becomes a friend or, at least, someone you can borrow the proverbial cup of sugar from.
Not so much today. The old wounds have re-surfaced. Again.
I was thinking about the opening of old wounds, our current state of affairs in the US, while reading Hiroshima, the late journalist John Hersey account of the immediate moments and days after the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Six survivors, at least two of whom are physicians, tell of witnessing survivors heal from their wounds only to return to the hospital with the same wounds re-opened only a few days later. What could account for such a bizarre occurrence?
It's only later that doctors, and everyone else for that matter, learn "radiation sickness." One such symptom is the closing and re-opening of old wounds, with the re-opening worse, as in larger and more life-threatening than the original wound.
In the US, we are bombarded with images of white college students and politicians in black face. Old slaveholders in modern garb wishing for the old days. If mass incarceration is waning, how about shooting? Shooting to kill? And yet, there are Americans arming and training themselves in the use of high-teach weaponry. The rhetoric of hate offers these advocates of white supremacy the guiding principle without which there can be no re-opening of old wounds.
We were "conscious" back in the day. Politically conscious. Culturally conscious. Today, among the young adults, being black is being "woke." Conscious or woke, being black is to be aware of the historical injustice of white supremacy. Return with the ancestors to the western shores of Africa, to infamous caves and European and American ships. It's to return to remembering through the eyes of survivors a continent struggling to free itself from the injustices of capitalism, plundering still its resources and re-enslaving blacks, luring them, that is, to the "good" life, there for the taking as long as there's faith in the dollar. My generation might hail the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, but we still recognize the first layer of those old wounds.
Most blacks know the personal struggle is linked to the survival of not just African Americans, but anyone who truly believes that inequality, in terms of healthy food, decent and affordable housing, complete health-care coverage, and education, threatens the survival of this nation itself.
The larger narrative, as it concerns itself with blacks at all, concerns itself with the revolving door: Some are let in while others are not.
It's not that whites-only signs are visible over the entrances of apartment complexes in towns that are predominantly white in our most northern states. But more often now, these managements, wanting to maintain a "whites-only" building or complex, need only be on guard for the perceived "uppity" black, the too black, all too aware of just why white supremacy lives within these gates and security entrances. Just keep that element of the population out and all within are safe in the illusion of white supremacy. In the meantime, while the manager or owner often lives well beyond these locations in even more "secured" communities, the black newcomer is left to fearful and sometimes angry white tenants who discover difference in their midst. If not armed with guns, white America is certainly armed with enough of the rhetoric of hate so as to take up the cause of maintaining white residents in what they perceive to be not just a white place to live in safety but also a white town.
N-----s are not wanted!