January 27, 2014 by Jan Stone
I recently saw Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Forest Whitaker plays a character based on Eugene Allen, a House Butler who served at the White House for over 30 years and 8 presidents from the Truman through the Reagan administrations.
We meet him as a boy who watches his father get shot point-blank by his “master,” after he’d taken the boy’s mom into the barn to rape her. We see he and his family through the 50’s and 60’s so we see lots of lynchings, cowards draped in white calling themselves the KKK, the murders of MLK and President Kennedy. We see African-Americans try to ride a bus, get equal pay, fight for equality through non-violence and a great deal of frustration.
Little has changed. So little that I’m not only embarrassed but ashamed at the hypocrisy of the country in which I live and the race I was born into by no choice of my own. As I watched I recalled The Middle Passage―how many remember that little piece of American history? Americans with large boats went to Africa, grabbed big, black healthy-looking men, women and children, threw them in the hull of their ships atop each other, shackled together and brought them to the United States. Those who lived were separated from family and loved ones, their names and histories were also stripped from them, and they were sold to the highest bidders at auctions. This occurred for years. Kind of reminds me of what Americans did to American Indians, but that’s another rant.
Too little has changed, from how we treat people of color and women to how little is done to dismantle the insanity of the old-white-men-in-suits’ club aka the NRA. Nothing points this out clearer than the consequences our country has suffered as a result of our audacity to elect an African-American as President. Review the actions of Congress if this hasn’t reminded you of enough.
I will never understand why the white race believes it is dominant. Never mind the color of most serial killers, those who created concentration camps, the guys who hung dead cats in front of Obama election offices during his campaigns, etc., etc.
Nor do I understand how to create change. I hope seeing President Obama in office for eight years gives Africa-American boys more promise than they have ever felt. But I’m afraid the biggest change has to come from The White Man whose history is rewritten at his whim but whose truth cannot be changed. How can anyone with any education wonder why African-Americans are frustrated, sometimes to a rage that would otherwise be understood by any other race/culture?