Fire & Fury, Not Fireworks.

July 4th in the USA is jammed with jingoist junk; stuffed with solipsistic slop of self-congratulation and “exceptionalism;” inebriated on the insanity of illuminating the night sky for mere minutes with a fortune in feel-good fireworks, while the people gawking at them below, get ground into the dirt on which they stand.

Nothing illustrates that sharp contrast of Red, White and Black and Blue this July 4th holiday, than the three-pronged missiles of mass destruction aimed at every person of color, and every person of modest means in this country, by the US Supreme Court of High Executioners. 

The High Court’s poison-dipped darts came “in bunches, not as single spies,” as Shakespeare wrote, but their targets were all the same:  people of modest means, and people of color, left out of this country’s original contract; shackled, whipped, beaten, robbed and robbed again and again and again.  Reparations?  Don’t be ridiculous—this rich man’s country and its’ institutions are hell-bent on Decimation of any poor, or Black or brown human different from it’s wealthy, White overlords.

First, the repeal of Roe, and the termination of a woman’s right to have freedom over her own body, comes down like a hammer on the heads of predominantly poor women of color, in the States of the Old Confederacy—which once had laws protecting the rights of Slave owners to rape Black women, and now, in 2023, has laws forcing poor, Black women to give birth to the child of their rapists. How far have we come?  In the good ole’ boy days of the Confederacy, that’s just the way Slave owners increased their workforce, with the approval of their Christian churches & governments.

Secondly, the assault and dismemberment of Affirmative Action was an arrow aimed directly at a noble, 60 year movement toward fairness, to level the playing field for many whose ancestors’ labor and the very fields they worked were ripped out from under them, without compensation, or remorse.  Affirmative Action—an affirmative, constructive step to approach equality—was a measured, modest, long-term attempt to rebuild some of that stolen wealth over generations, and to overcome the onerous obstacles continually constructed to block Black people—like Black Veterans being denied the right to go to college, or use the GI Bill’s benefits they risked their lives to earn.  Affirmative Action was intended to make a minor correction to those crimes against Black humanity; a very mild attempt, not unlike Germany’s, to recompense the families of the six million Jews that German Nationalists slaughtered.

Finally, and much like an assault weapon obliterates the flesh of its victims, the Supreme Court’s malicious destruction of a Student Loan forgiveness program, decapitated one concrete hope millions of striving, working-class Americans of all colors had of building wealth for their families and their communities, by dramatically reducing their college debt.    But in this rich man’s corporate playground known as the United States, only big banks, oil & gas companies, and  Justices Thomas, Alito, & Roberts are permitted to get bailed out –-by government or  billionaires, and multi-million dollar law firms with business before their kept Court.

My anger over these these intentional, pre-meditated acts of murder of poor women, Black people and generations of working families, has unlocked some of  my darkest demons.  I want revenge; I want to even the score; I want to understand how generations of Black Americans have never lost hope in this goddamned, amoral country.

 So, not for comfort, but to learn how to better channel my fury, I turned to James Baldwin, in his brilliant book, The Fire Next Time.  The tight, tough book, was first published in 1963, the year Medgar Evers and President Kennedy were assassinated; and, republished in 1964, the year that Civil Rights Freedom Riders, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were gunned down in Mississippi by the KKK working in collaboration with local law enforcement officials.  The fire, the fury, was all around us; the following year, Malcolm X was assassinated; three years later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his powerful and prescient closing pages, Baldwin wrote in 1963:

“ A bill is coming in that I fear America is not prepared to pay.  ‘The problem of the 20th Century, ‘ wrote W.E.B. Dubois around 60 years ago, is the problem of the color line.” 

Baldwin continued:

 “A tearful and delicate problem, which compromises, when it does not corrupt, all the American efforts to build a better world—here, there or anywhere. It is for this reason that everything White Americans think they believe in, must now be reexamined. “

“What one would not like to see again is the consolidation of peoples on the basis of their color.  But as long as we in the West place on color the value that we do, we make it impossible to consolidate, according to any other principle.  Color is not a human or personal reality; it is a political reality. . .

“And, at the center of this dreadful storm, stand the Black people of this nation, who must now share the fate of a nation that has never accepted them, to which they were brought in chains.  Well, if this is so, one has no choice but to do all in one’s power to change that fate, and at no matter what risk—eviction, imprisonment, torture, death.

“For the sake of one’s children, in order to minimize the bill that they must pay, one must be careful not to take refuge in any delusion…  I know that what I am asking is impossible.  But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand…

“One is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and in American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less, than the achievement of the impossible.”

“If we—and now, I mean the relatively conscious Whites and the relatively conscious Blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of  others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world.

“If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in a song by a slave, is upon us:  ‘God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time!’

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