Resentment For What Has Been Happening
Imagine a time at the peak of the period of institutionalized slavery where Africans are considered property and low intelligence beast of burden. White people use skin color as an indication of a person’s worth. Any obvious indication of African ancestry and the person is relegated into a low class social status. Some black people are able to shake the bonds of enslavement. These fortunate blacks are owned by white people who want to grant their enslaved Africans their freedom in their will. Or, some slave owners will actually allow their enslaved Africans to make deals that would allow them to earn their freedom. But these deals are normally not a package that would allow for the freedom of the entire family. An Africans could work their entire life just to gain the freedom of their loved ones.
Once freed the African has to deal with a racist society that works relentlessly to keep black people from accumulating wealth, owning property, earning the right to vote, earning an education, earning an equal wage, and participation of anything else that would or could lead to a perception of equal status for blacks.
Now, me being a black man I would imagine that if I were to live under such conditions I would resent the white community. I would consider such living conditions unfair. I would look and see the disparity between the conditions that the vast majority of black people live under compared to white people. Although I may not fully understand every last detail of the science of the social behavior that the dominant white community follows to justify the subjugation of black people I would understand that the disparity could not be created and could not be perpetuated without white people actively working a system of segregation and class strife than runs along racial lines. I would imagine that the resentment that I would feel would run rampant throughout the black community.
Throughout the changes that have been made in American culture, throughout the period that witnessed the establishment and eventual abolishment of America’s institutionalized enslavement of black people, throughout the period of time that saw the establishment and eventual abolishment of America’s Jim Crow laws, through the era of the civil rights movement, and all the other subsequent generations of American history, the dominant culture continued its perpetuation of racial disparity. As a black man I would resent America’s dominant culture for what it has done in the past, what it is doing now to protect the racial status quo, and what it will continue to do in the future to continue its subjugation of the black community.
People will say get over it, what’s done is done. But, tell me, how do I get over it when I see as the result of this subjugation every single day when I go home to my house in the black community and see the disparity of black community’s living conditions compared to the white community I just left with a complete set of services and resources for its residents and businesses? How do I get over racial disparity when I look at the workplace and see all the predominantly white executives in the boardroom and the mailroom and janitorial services that are predominantly black? How do I get over the racial disparity between black wages and white wages, black wealth and white wealth, black property and white property, the quality of black healthcare services and white healthcare services, the quality of black public education and white public education, the black employment opportunities and the white employment opportunities, black prosecution and white prosecution, black government representation and white government representation?
Most of all I resent people, across the racial spectrum, who have the nerve to say that I, a black man who is reminded everyday of the affects of this disparity founded a long time ago along racial lines, should get over my sense of fairness and justice and simply conform to the parameters that the dominant culture has established for black people. In my mind, to simply submit and learn to tolerate this disparity is to become complacent. To suggest that other people should join in the submission to the mandates of the dominant culture is to become a collaborator to black people’s subjugation.
My resentment does not paralyze me. My resentment does not keep me from competing in a working environment stacked against me. My resentment doesn’t blind me to the fact that I have to work harder to earn less. My resentment doesn’t allow me to forget that I have to tolerate coworkers, black and white alike, who would prefer that they not tolerate me darkening their work environment with my presence. But most of all my resentment helps me remember that I have to continue to do what I can to change the status quo of black subjugation. Resentment for how our society has regulated the black community to its second class status helps me to remember that this isn’t over. Other black people can pretend that everything is okay. But resentment, fueled by what has happened to black communities across this country, keeps me from embracing such blinders.