As I witness the ongoing assault of all-things-Barack-Obama and the environment of hatred that has ensued after his election, this atmosphere is reminiscent of the Post-Reconstruction Era.
Post-Reconstruction is also called the Nadir Era because it signified one of the lowest points of US history due to the violent, white backlash against African-American progress in the country.
Today’s whites have dirty little family secrets about a racist great-great-grandmother or a plantation-owning ancestor and even an heirloom of a picture postcard of a lynching circa 1907. Whereas black folk have many hushed family stories about an ancestor being the photo on the lynching postcard, someone who had to abandon their family in fear of being killed, or ran out of town, beat-up, or raped or unrightfully disposed of lands during these times.
But before you understand Post-Reconstruction, let me briefly explain the period of Reconstruction. This time marked a period of serious rebuilding of a fractured infrastructure due to a Civil War that left the United States dismantled, broke, and uncertain of its future.
One of the biggest plans that had to be put in place were policies and laws to ensure that recently emancipated enslaved black folk and quasi-free Negroes would be provided the opportunity to receive some of the civil liberties that whites had enjoyed for over two hundred years. Things such as basic public education, land ownership, business loans, military protection in the South, the ability to sue in court and the right to vote for black men (remember women were not a part of the public sphere during this time) were just a few of the things implemented.
And what happened? Black folks flourished, often becoming more prosperous than the local whites.
Since black folk had command of many of the trades, knew the land, and were industrious, plus communal, fully-operating and self-contained black communities, began to spring up throughout the country. Eventually, they began to compete and in some cases, surpass the prosperity of with local markets.
A photo of the first black US Senators, elected in the late 1800s. It would be almost 100 years before the US would see another one.Black communities began to spring up and compete with local markets. And what happened? Local whites became agitated and hostile by their progress. From the poor white trash, to the white elites, the nation of whites did not like the progress of African-Americans.
In response, whites became agitated and hostile by their progress. From poor, whites whom were landless and sometimes more impoverished than their black counterparts, to white elites, they began to have a deep disdain toward the progress of African-Americans. Of course, they did not understand that black progress meant the nation benefited. Nevertheless, these hostilities were brimming, and became extremely prevalent during economic recessions.
This is when Post-Reconstruction became a reality. Along with the reemergence pattyrollers in the form of the Klu Klux Klan; the bevy of lynching acts against black males and females; and white vicious mobs that terrorized black communities in the North and Mid-West, blacks were subjected to political and economic disenfranchisement in untold measures. These inhumane depravities ranged from removing all black political officials to neutralizing black-owned businesses by way of brutal harassment and even murder.
As a result, whites set into motion a climate that would strip political and economic power from African-Americans through systematic violence and a host of civil rights injustices. Since the power structure holds males as the true base of power in this gender-conscious country, black men were heavily targeted thus removed as black powerbrokers, or attempts of brokering some type of power.
The culture of violence and vehement persistence to remove progressive actions in the upper echelons of politics and financial matters by white masses happened then and it is going on as I write.
In the age of Post-Obama elections, we see poor white and working class folks protesting for policies that continuously undermine their communities in an attempt to re-position a false sense of white privilege. Doing the dirty work of people who would never share a seat with them, but thinking they are on the same team.
On news channels, both left and right, you catch the blatant and subtle onslaught of undermining tactics toward Obama, now Eric Holder, and as of late, the deceased Thurgood Marshall. These offences resemble actions that are creating an environment, though very nuanced, that loudly says, "See I told you, niggers can't run sh*t."
This movement is an old, reconstructed BS machine, but from Hannity Combs to Michael Steele, it is being reinforced. The anti-Obama climate is reigniting the same Post-Reconstructive tone that created almost a 100-year gap between having a black Senator, and a list of other atrocities. The next time you might see a black president, or any president who is not white will be in 2112!
What is even more disturbing are the familiar slogans and sentiments that strikingly resemble late 18th Century and early 19th Century lynching parties that celebrated as they cut off the scrotums of black men and passed out his phalanges during lunch time in front of cheering white families.
"Oh what a day to pick a nigger!"
Though I am fervent in holding Obama accountable, I often must sit back and acknowledge the racial, gender and classist dynamics at work in the public sphere. What I see are systematic entrapments to disempower an effective leadership and the consciousness of country that not only believed, but knew there was a better way, and it did come in a black face.
In the midst of my frustration with critiquing the Administration and its evident follies, I had to look at myself. I must be conscious about how my energy and my perspective are being directed and think about ways in which I can put Obama's feet and behind to the fire without incinerating him, myself, and all of us, in the process.
In my opinion, well-meaning, frustrated critics are so caught up the chaos in pointing out all-things-bad-Obama they undermine their own power, thus neutralizing a healthy agenda that can be manifested.
Sometimes, I must realign my own perspective. And today was that day.
The inner me understands that the "powers that be" have established a machine that is entrenched to manipulate every cell in every living thing. However, the higher inner me knows that machines can be dismantled, but without the master's tool.
It ain't about change no more, we just gotta be different. We’ve got to be the revolution we’ve been waiting for.