We Have Always Been the Help

1963 and JFK
1963 Birmingham, Alabama

I think possibly the worst thing we public school kids were taught in history class is that all its evils are just that – history

The evil rests in black and white photos that can’t reach us in our safe-and-predictable, multicultural, environmentally conscious homes. We focused on the “ending” of slavery, genocide, racism, and sexism more than its dawning and thriving. We were taught to take a moment of silence in remembrance of the bloodshed that founded this nation, but quickly end it by singing about how great everything is now that we were all Americans. We take a moment of silence in remembrance of the bloodshed that allowed Europe to colonize the world, but quickly end it by singing about how “civilized” lives can now be lived.

We leave school thinking most of the world’s ills have already been cured.

But then there are students of color, who, though in varying degrees, are aware that the world is nowhere close to perfect due to their own experiences and the experiences of their loved ones.

When you’ve grown up as other your whole life, you are much more aware to the fact that life is not not fair. It can be very fair for some, and not so fair for others. You catch on to the fact that there are different rules for you. And so when you turn on the news and see acts of war, you become much more discerning.

mikebrown
2014 Ferguson, Missouri

RACISM(white supremacy)

  • the local and global power system and dynamic, structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined
  • consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war)
  • the ultimate purpose of white genetic survival and to prevent white genetic annihilation on planet Earth – a planet upon which the vast and overwhelming majority of people are classified as nonwhite (black, brown, red, and yellow) by white skinned people, and all of the nonwhite people are genetically dominant (in terms of skin coloration) compared to the genetic recessive white skin people


This definition encompasses both the overt (calling someone a racial slur), the covert (saying you don’t see color), the incidental (a single employer refusing to hire people of color), and the systematic (average poor white American having more net worth than a middle class black American family due to more assets that equate to more longterm wealth compared to the yearly salary of the black family that if lost, the middle class lifestyle is lost as well – because some white Americans are still living off of slave trading money).

When I use the word racism, I do not use it lightly. I’m aware of the weight it bears. From micro aggressions to major acts, racism is a form of violence, and by taking a closer look at history, a very effective form of violence.

The reason why I equate the micro aggressions to the major acts of racism, is because racism asserts that some people are lesser people than others. Even if this assertion is made for just a millisecond, it is dangerous. The thought and/or belief that a particular person is less of a person is the foundation for every evil ever inflicted on humans by humans. It possesses all the potential to become the most violent force on earth.

gazabombing
2014 Gaza, Palestine

GENOCIDE:

  • sustained (not an episode, but matter of policy) purposeful action (destruction of the victim group is intentional and systematic) 
  • by a perpetrator (organized actors, whether states, regimes, military, or political elites)
  • to physically destroy a collectivity (those who inspire particular loyalties, are cohesive, or reproduce over time)
  • directly or indirectly (selective murder or imposed starvation, poisoning of air or water, destroying the basis by which the group makes its livelihood)
  • through ban of the biological and social reproduction of group members (systematic actions that break the link between reproduction and socialization of children in the family or group of origin)
  • sustained regardless of the surrender or lack of threat offered by the victim (cannot adequately defend itself, even those who pose no threat i.e. children are still targeted for killing, armed victim groups are still killed even after surrender) 
power structure of oppression


Looking back on my primary education, I never heard the word genocide until discussing the Holocaust. It took years before I realized that the treatment of indigenous people and slaves were both acts of genocide in America long before Hitler was even born.

Much like racism, the word is heavy. It’s uncomfortable. It carries the weight of every person who was slain in the name of ethnic cleansing or Manifest Destiny. Genocide is a long-used tool of racism, and collects every person deemed less of a person by a people. It is racism in its most overt, systematic, and explicit form.

When you are a person of color and you see a person of color slain before your eyes, a very important lesson is repeated. It’s a point that gets through to you best through violence.

You are less.

And at any point in your lesser lived life, people worth more can decide that you are no longer needed.

And you will grieve, for yourself and for others.

But you can’t be too upset for long, because you did live your lesser life. You could barely breathe sometimes, but you still managed to get oxygen inside your lungs.

You might be lesser, but your existence allowed others to live better.

And now your death will do the same.

We’ve always been the help.

This is,

MAB

 

 

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