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All evils old and new—militarism, monarchism, and the racial threat to Anglo-Saxon purity posed by the new global mobility of the Irish, Italians, and the other so-called inferior races of Europe in the industrial age—paled in comparison… to the problem of the presence of black people in America.’ — Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, 1884, qtd. in The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

I wanted to save money and time. Usually, I use senior transportation services for medical appointments and once-in-while trips to say, to the bank or the dress shop near by. The week before, I dropped off a light jacket that needed hemming. The cost for that repair was not much, and I had my second Pfizer vaccine shot in February. And it is near by but not so near to walk. And to pay almost as much as the repair… Why not? Hop on public transportation and be there in less than ten minutes. I’ll have on my mask and latex gloves. I always carry a small bottle of sanitizer.

Nearing the dress shop, there’s construction work. Trackers and bulldozers on blocks of torn up streets. There was only one other passenger on the bus, so the driver shouted that he wouldn’t be able to get me any closer than here, and I look out the window at “here.” I had never been in this area on my own, outside of the senior transport the week before. Okay, but, I thought, I’m very close.

“So how far do I walk?”

Six blocks. We have to go around the construction.

He indicated where I was to stand on the return home as he opened the door for me to exit. It’s not the usual stop, he said, so flag the driver. I thanked and looked at where he indicated I should walk—and started walking.

After a block with only construction site barricades, I now found myself in the middle of construction vehicles, graveled streets, and huge holes. The sidewalk, however, was in better condition, but I still had to be careful—in my late sixties and can’t afford to trip and fall. And then there was this walk I hadn’t anticipated and in unfamiliar territory. As a cancer patient, I don’t want to exhaust myself with this walk through the drilling and the movement of a giant excavator men seemed to be waving in my direction at one point.

I was distracted by the construction work, and I tried to distract myself by humming a mantra.

I made it to the dress shop, packed my jacket in my backpack, and started out the shop. More familiar with the terrain, I was less focused on the excavator and the smaller trackers. I knew to avoid slightly raised concrete and the wires that ran on the ground almost the length of my walk.

Back on the corner where I was to wait for the bus, I noticed I was surrounded by homes. Nice homes. Moderate, but well kept. At a distance of two blocks, little white children were playing outside in front of their homes.

And I know that I am old enough to be a great-grandmother, I have cancer, I struggle to keep a weight that doesn’t make me look as if I were anemic, and I am also an educated woman, having tught college for over 30 years, I write, and have been published for longer than I have taught. I still write commentary as my activism for social justice. And yet, none of that would matter one bit if a person in their homes, standing or sitting behind one of these windows, decides to call the police because there’s a strange Black woman with dreads, just standing there, at the corner, near our house. Oh, yes, she has something in her hands!

What do I do? Have the cellphone in my hands, not in my hands? Look in which direction? For at least a block in any direction are these homes. And homeowners. Maybe anxious homeowners. Fearful homeowners. Or Worse.

Fifteen minutes. I feel my heart rate increasing. I was so much in a hurry to get back and not miss this bus! And now I’m way too early for standing on this corner. How many Americans think I should be lucky, thankful it wasn’t another corner, a corner in any city with a marginalized and underserved population.

Would that be 38th in Chicago? In Minneapolis?

 Black Americans, it’s perceived by many Americans, are always up to no good! Even I felt as if I was doing something wrong.

My heart is beating in my throat. I looked again at my cellphone for the time. Had time moved forward at all? I try to recall the mantra but could only imagine, instead, the arrival of police cars, an officer or two exiting their vehicle, shooting, as one did when someone called on 12-year old Tamir Rice. Maybe there are guns pointed because people would be in those windows. People who matter, in a neighborhood that matters. And police are scared, too. They’re scared, too, they tell us!

Or maybe, I’ll hear shouting, what’s in my hand? Raise you hands? I’ll no longer be able to see clearly. It would just be too overwhelming to see who is doing the shouting when I asked to fall to the ground. On the ground! Where I’ve walked so carefully, trying not to be! On the ground!

And I can’t breathe!

There are consequences to scaring certain people in America, making those people feel fearful, reminding them of what they have heard about Black people, and what they know with certainty about Black people, no matter who they are or where they are from. There’s a pattern of behavior, almost predictable, from law enforcement when called in to respond to the terrorized—particularly if in the mind of the caller and the responding officers the one doing the “terrorizing” is Black.

 Black Americans, it’s perceived by many Americans, are always up to no good! Even I felt as if I was doing something wrong.

And I’m just on a corner waiting for a bus that maybe I shouldn’t be waiting on if I had just called for senior transportation.

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When the former president of the US stated that there were fine people on both sides, that is, fine people among the Nazis and fine people among the protesters for justice, most of us understand that there are no fine people among the Nazis—the past or present version of them. The Nazis aren’t equal to justice protesters. They aren’t one and the same—but just on different sides. This is nonsense.

And no, the Black Lives Matter protesters aren’t equivalent to the Nazis. Not even close! BLM didn’t organize to kill or exterminate people.

Haters, then, and justice fighters aren’t one and the same!

It shouldn’t be necessary to point out the false equivalency between Nazis or the KKK or today’s Oath Keepers, Q Anon, and Proud Boys and BLM. But then there are people in Arizona counting up the presidential votes in an election that happened last year—months ago! But there are those who believe that to recount and already counted vote in an already certified election will bring back their Dear Leader.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, law enforcement believes that Officer Rusten Shesky, the man who, on August 23, 2020, fired seven bullets toward the back of a Black man, Jacob Blake, as he was attempting to enter his car (where three small children sat in back), is innocent of wrong doing. Six of the seven bullets hit Blake in the back, and he is paralyzed today. A little more than eight months ago. But Shesky did nothing wrong.

An email from the Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis to Mayor Antaramian states that Shesky was found to have committed “no violation of internal policies.” No violations! Shesky can and did return to duty on March 31, 2021. Blake is still recovering.

Wrong corner, wrong time! But, then, where is there a right corner in America for a Black person to be? Where is there a good time for a Black person in America to live?

Last summer, Black Lives Matter and supporters, Black and white, protested on the streets for days demanding the resignation of Shesky. In the last few days, protesters for justice for Blake as well as members of his family went back to the streets demanding Shesky be sent packing.

I can imagine the terror of some white citizens of Kenosha who believe BLM is a terrorist organization in spite of the numbers—over 90% of BLM protests have been peaceful. Black Lives Matter—meaning only Black people, for to excise the hundreds of young white supporters and allies from the mind, cleanse the narrative of white violence and confusion—set ablaze places of business and overturned cars in downtown Kenosha. I’ve heard about the “looting” from residents, high on that old traditions of who is supposed to be in what “place.” I’ve heard that to go downtown is, you never know, to be swept up in a spontaneous “riot,” an uprising of Black people, appearing out of thin air… Oh, the horror!

I’ve heard from white citizens who are tired of hearing about “racism.” Protests for justice and irrational fears of Black people are conflated to represent, I imagine, an apocalyptic prediction of the world’s end. You can say it’s one way to avoid the way in which Black Americans have historically fought back to be heard, fought back against enslavement, lynching, segregation, oppressive policies and laws designed to not only privilege and advance the white population in general. But the fight of Black Americans inched America closer to a democratic society. But, apparently, there are many Americans who really don’t believe in democracy.

History tells us that Hitler and his propaganda minister, Goebbels, riled up the average German citizen, particularly those who hadn’t given a thought to Jews. Now they were to think about the Jews—but not as fellow citizens, neighbors, co-workers, even family members. Think on them as creatures that must be hated if economic prosperity and freedom are to be restored to the Germans. Your thinking isn’t corrupt or immoral if you fear these others! You are free to act however you will toward them. Your actions will be justified!

We hear this sentiment echoed in a proliferation of bills, collectively narrating a story about how votes were stolen, had to have been stolen. The Dear Leader isn’t in the White House! And what population of people are responsible for the illegitimate seating of Biden? You always had my back and I’ll have yours.”

And yes, it’s okay to think about Black Americans stealing the votes for this impostor in the White House. They are criminal because they cheat! They destroy dreams. Freedom. And if these Blacks come out to protest as they did last summer, if they demand redress for another shooting or protest any of the bills designed to correct any cheating that resulted in the presidency given to someone other than our Dear Leader, if BLM continues to persuade others to join them, then you good citizen and motorist may run them over. Your actions will be justified!

Justin Blake, the uncle of Jacob Blake, called the return to work of Officer Shesky “just outrageous.” Of course, it is.

But just calling for the resignation of an officer who shot another human being and left that person paralyzed isn’t enough. Rusten Shesky’s actions followed that of former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin. Since and even during Chauvin’s trial, more families are grieving over the loss of their sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews…

The resignation of one police officer in one town is only an immediate response to the system violence committed against Black Americans since we were chained and shipped to these shores. The problem is too deep. Just calling for Shesky to resign isn’t enough.

After all, who is Derek Chauvin or Rustin Shesky to white America?

blacks

Where do they come from? Who does an individual believe themselves to be, from what community—how much of the inheritance has become a way thinking about others when an individual decides to join law enforcement? And, more specifically, is the freedom of Black people perceived as a threat to their freedom?

Is the Black American the problem, really?

So little has changes because so much has been passed down.

Lenore Daniels