america — a needed meditation

| February 13, 2017

we are not your niggers or your negroes

James B© rootfolks poets press

4 february 2017

 

the interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world.—james baldwin

 

donald trump dreamed he would rule the world. . .

donald trump campaigned to rule the world. . .

donald trump thinks he rules the world. . .

 

and the white people donald trump convinced that he could be president and make america great again, believe he rules their world. but there are other whitefolk who know he doesn’t rule their world, and they have taken to the streets to protest his authority. but they don’t know how to stop him!

 

how do you find the interior life, jimmy, when matters outside your skin are wrenching every nerve in your body? how do you find peace and the positive in oppression and hate when scared children are crying in their teachers’ arms, and alternate facts have driven the population to wholesale distraction?

 

that query from a thotful friend called me to consider the strength i draw from my interior life. since the election, america seems to have come unchained, unleashed, undressed! but the indigenous american and the afrikan know this country has always been unclothed, exposed to the world. its white people divided into ideologues and small “d” democrats.

 

the last time america’s interior life was this exposed afrikan people were declaring their right to be hueman, and demanding the laws and customs of the land be changed. with the facade of the happy darkie disintegrating in the late ’50s and ’60s, white america became unrestrained. till then, the lynchknot and mutilated black body had sufficed to keep the negro in his place. but now the afrikan was in the street demanding the world see and hear her, and heed his cry.

 

white america’s response: out came the attack dogs, fire hoses, bombed churches and hate speech. out came the police state’s shock troops, truncheons, white mob violence, and bible thumping justification for keeping the niggers in their place. that was the 1950s, and ’60s. then, the bodies in the street protesting white supremacy’s institutional violence were predominantly black. white people of conscience stood with us as allies and took the beatdowns and some died.

 

today, it’s white people protesting in the streets of cities across the land. for the most part, the police ensure their safety even when they disagree with their protest. the street protests oppose donald trump’s presidency, and his barrage of antihueman executive orders. in his immigration policy, the participants see him disturbing their peace, in violation of their collective conscience and constitution — a constitution to which the afrikan and the red man are still an addendum. but black lives matter patriots stand with these protesters to humble the emperor and vie for a new contract.

 

race relations in america have changed by degree over the last half century — but the power elite[1] remains fundamentally the same bastion of white supremacist privilege. and president trump is determined to expand that. his sole ideology, to quote the online british newspaper, the independent, is trumpism: corporate autocracy with a populist facade. he isn’t listening, and is provoking the genii to rise from the bottle.

 

the interior life of america is in question — that’s clear. but what is america? what does it mean to be an american? what does america stand for? like my friend, during these days of dislocation, the country is suspended between ideology and intention. trump’s unraveling manifesto of white nationalism expresses an american ego that intends to bring back the ’50s and ’60s. to many of us that feels like a severely pinched nerve.

 

my friend’s struggle with ideology and intent opened the way[2] to self reflection — to feeling and thinking about my interior-exterior american space. my friend understands everything as vibration. i agree that vibration matters, but vibration is not an abstraction. it’s the language of change — change at the atomic-cosmic level. vibration is the disturbance of equilibrium, so everything that is of matter is oscillating between these poles. change is felt/sensed/experienced in the body as sensation — being, absent thot — witness without engagement. observation as a quality of mind! what is the mind of america?

 

i sit in meditation. thot wanders, strays, dissipates, disappears, reappears, materializes. i experience cool air pass thru the opening of my nostrils. it exits as a warmer flow of air barely touching the crease in my upper lip. subtle sensation! witnessing becomes more focused, more awakened. mindful now, other sensations occur simultaneously becoming apparent on my skin, inside my skin, vibrating my internal organs. sensations become more intense dissolving to a unified subtle sense — a silence, and i am no longer observing. i am not, yet present. no words suffice to express who, what, where, when, why, and how. i am that i am.[3] it is what it is. everything is everything. . . in the rite of practicing good character —iwa pele[4]— i find balance and the insight to see what is, as it is.

 

since color and sound are perceived differently and we have different senses to perceive them, we have made a distinction between visible and audio things; but in reality those who meditate, who concentrate, who enter within themselves, those who trace the origin of life begin to see that behind these outer five senses there is one sense hidden. and this sense is capable of doing everything that we seem to do or to experience.[5]

 

america is a meditation; a thot unraveling. people have perceived it as better, as great, as just, as democratic, as freedom’s mecca. and now, donald trump is going to make it great again, the meaning of which —history tells us— is all too clear. this greatness is make believe, a disneyland, a realm of the fantastic. it’s bubble must burst, if the interior life is to be revitalized. donald trump’s brazen, xenophobic white nationalism is an in-your-face truth of american double consciousness[6] that stands to challenge that revitalization.

 

the obama presidency was the bubble, and barack, himself, an imitation blackguy in the white house. the first black president could not be his authentic self — that self shaped by his experience with white america, especially given his biracial identity, and socialization on chicago’s south side. so what the american people accepted as (emphasis on possession) their first black president was really a sanitized version of their idea of the negro they created to serve them.

 

james baldwin makes it oh so plain. . .

 

now here in this country we’ve got something called a nigger. it doesn’t in such terms exist in any other country in the world. we have invented the nigger. i didn’t invent him. white people invented him. i’ve always known and i had to know by the time i was 17 years old, what you were describing was not me, and what you were afraid of was not me. it had to be something else. you had invented it, so it had to be something you were afraid of …. i’ve always known—and really, always, that’s part of the agony—i’ve always known that i’m not a nigger. but if i am not the nigger, and if it’s true that your invention reveals you, then who is the nigger?

 

you still think, i gather, that the nigger is necessary. but it’s unnecessary to me, so it must be necessary to you. so i give you your problem back. you’re the nigger, baby. it isn’t me.[7]

 

my friend is working hard to understand identity given the fact of trump’s election and his disregard for the institution of the presidency.

 

this double consciousness, this dialectic, this ethical contradiction is what the afrikan born in america has borne to be here subject to white people. from the outset, the lie of america was intentional. genocide and enslavement are the basis for the creation of american wealth and privilege. the american lie of the equality of all people, and god on the side[8] of white male elite landowner is an irreconcilable  division of the self. and we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights was an intentional lie white people told themselves. they coerced others, and extracted from that history white privilege as their national birthrite. donald trump is your chickens coming home to roost.[9]

 

i’m glad trump was elected. not because i predicted it more than a year before his electoral college victory, but because hillary clinton, as the first woman president, would simply have extended the obama post-racial fantasy. america was not alright with race under obama. despite its degree of movement, and his smooth talk and pleasing smile, the president was the same thug as former presidents, but dressed in brownskin. obama, like former presidents, was the prisoner of wall street, and became a three-card-monte artist who did the minimal to maintain the neoliberal myth of the american mecca.[10]

 

my mother use to say: “boy, don’t you play with god,” meaning i better not fool my self into thinking a lie won’t be found out, and the liar held to account.

 

despite the sweetness of the words —that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness— america’s statement of intent is founded on a bold-faced lie. and every hueman being who is white knows it —it’s sensational, perceived/felt/known in the skin— tho very few consciously will admit it. to do so would make their white world liable, and accountable to pay the cost of repairing the injured — and who wants to give up his position or privilege, or make payment for their ancestors’ actions that benefit them? it’s more comfortable to live the lie.

 

jefferson knew the lie, and considering himself a moral gentleman, speaking to the fact of afrikan enslavement, he confessed:

 

indeed i tremble for my country when i reflect that god is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! the almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.[11]

 

and this cultivated lie of ideological purity, psychological chastity, and ethical well-intention is backed by threat. . .

 

james baldwin spoke to it often. on april 20, 1971, in the central hall in westminster, england, speaking to people rallying to the defense of george lester jackson and the soledad brothers,[12] baldwin responded to the question of his possibly advocating violence to achieve the civil rights of afrikans born in america.

 

and by and by you hear the question so long and so often that you begin to understand that in the question there is a threat, and what the question really means is: “if you have the effrontery to seem to be advocating violence, you must bear in mind that we have the police forces, we have the tanks, we have the helicopters, we have the guns, we have the mace, we have the chemicals, we got the jury, we got the judge, and we got you! it means: if you don’t like where you are, we can keep you where you is!”

 

jimmy baldwin was a truth teller who spoke to culture, race, and the inevitable relationships that emerge from the american democratic experiment. chris hedges is a modern day truth teller who speaks to the politics of america’s quest for world hegemony.

 

donald trump is “a faux pas populist,” says hedges, and those who voted for him “picked a figure who’s a con artist, who told them what they wanted to hear.” writing before the inauguration, hedges labeled trump’s administration “a naked kleptocracy,” and characterized him as “malleable and easily manipulated.” and hedges added, trump wouldn’t be able to withstand the influence of the elite who wield wall street power.[13] and he’s been proven right. for while candidate trump took the wall street barons to task, declaring that he would take them down, his cabinet appointments expose the campaign lie.[14]

 

america’s interior life is rotten. adorned with genocide, enslavement, naked theft, mob violence , and delusions of grandeur; its illusion is made manifest by the threat. trump’s america first manifests as jefferson’s conscience: there must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. the whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.[15]

 

trumpism posits mexicans, south americans, and muslims as today’s niggers. it’s the ’50s and ’60s again, and no wonder donald trump is broadcasting that from this day forward, it’s only going to be america first. america is going to start winning again, winning like never before. i am the law and order candidate, he boasted during his run for the office he now holds. it’s the us against them message of the red summer of 1919; it’s alabama governor george wallace’s 1963 declaration: segregation today . . . . segregation tomorrow . . . . segregation forever.

 

white america’s recognition of the other —and afrikan people have always been that other—  always turns on the afrikan’s ability to covet whiteness. by manipulating our flesh with bleaching solutions, frying our hair with hot combs and lye, and injecting our mind with greco-roman, disney, buffalo soldier images, we have sought to be that which we can never be: white. no matter how white we thot we had become to be accepted, the afrikan never has been an accepted member of the american social order.

 

but the nigger and the negro have been nominally accepted! they were created to serve white america’s guilty conscience and god complex. so now, with the chickens roosting in the rafters, some white americans are in mental distress because donald trump is their image in the mirror.

 

again, baldwin:

 

i will state flatly that the bulk of this country’s white population impresses me, and has so impressed me for a very long time, as being beyond any conceivable hope of moral rehabilitation. . . . they are unable to conceive that their version of reality, which they want me to accept, is an insult to my history and a parody of theirs and an intolerable violation of myself.[16]

 

nearly five decades have passed, we must ask: to what degree have white people changed? to what degree have afrikan people changed? we must answer: not enuf, for together we have allowed the desperation among us to put in place the trumpian agenda to make america great again. this greatness is not a kumbaya moment. as scholar and political activist ron daniels recently wrote:

 

we who believe in a different version of america are not obliged to accommodate, acquiesce to or accept trump or trumpism in the name of constitutional continuity or political stability. . . . i campaigned on a new covenant for a new america based on the following broad tenets: repair of the damages done to the indigenous inhabitants of this land, enslaved afrikans and other exploited people of color as the foundation for the creation of an inclusive, multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, political and economic democracy free of discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation or religion.[17]

 

all the varied shades of america are in the streets protesting donald trump’s administration. they are protesting his flashpoints — the barbs he’s thrown out to distract engaged people from his real agenda. to make america great again trump and his wall street henchmen are about to gut the economy and give us another recession-depression. the real fite is in trump’s deregulation of wall street, and his attack on the environment. by calling for reauthorization of the dakota access, and keystone xl pipelines. he’s already issued an executive order to eliminate two regulations for every new one enacted, and intends to scrap all together the dodd-frank wall street reform and consumer protection act.[18]

 

u.s. news and world reports called trump’s economic agenda a ridiculous regulation gimmick. in a january 30 opinion piece, assistant managing editor pat garofalo, said, . . . this order is just another facet of the trump con: playing the populist while doing things that make corporate america and wall street clap with glee. case in point, as trump signed the silly regulation order, he told reporters, “we’re going to be doing a big number on dodd-frank.” yes, that would be the law signed by former president barack obama, which put in place new restrictions on the banks that had caused the largest financial disaster since the great depression. letting banks remake the same mistakes that nearly sank the global economy is apparently how trump plans to make america great again.

 

street protests since trump’s inauguration haven’t slowed him down. the federal courts have checked his muslim ban, but the rest of his ridiculous agenda proceeds apace. protesting his policy and character won’t stop trump or drive him and mike pense from power. but these protests are essential to the strength of we the people’s interior life. we must believe that we can move the mountain.

we have to go after the banks and corporations. they must feel the pressure and hear our footsteps. their profits must be attacked, and their access to the economy and environment checked. protecting and repairing the economy and environment means protecting and repairing those most injured by these systems. we cannot allow ourselves to be divided by race, religion, the threat, or other fear tactics this administration will hurl at us.

 

if america is ever to be great, we the people must declare the lie, hold ourselves accountable, drive the thieves from their perch, repair the damage and get on with our responsibility to build an economy and society we can all live in with dignity, respect, and truth, sharing in the privilege and wealth of our labor and productive forces.

[1] the power elite is a 1956 book by sociologist c. wright mills, in which mills calls attention to the interwoven interests of the leaders of the military, corporate, and political elements of society and suggests that the ordinary citizen is a relatively powerless subject of manipulation by those entities. today the banks are added to that tripartite.

[2] throughout 2000 seasons, ayi kweh armah propagates the legitimacy and appropriateness of a worldview that is intrinsically african. he simply calls this worldview “the way” or “our way.” “the way” is not a religion; in fact, the term religion is discarded in all descriptions of traditional african thought. the dialectic term “reciprocity” is used instead and is defined as “not merely taking, not merely offering. giving, but only to those from whom we receive in equal measure. receiving, but only from those we give in reciprocal measure. how easy, how just, the way.”

[3] exodus 3:14

[4] in the yoruba understanding of ifa —the logical working of the universe— iwa pele is good character working within the logical matrix of the universe to improve our lives without damaging those around us or the universe we must live within. www.ifafoundation.org/the-real-meaning-of-iwa-pele/

[5] hazrat inayat khan, the music of life: the mystery of sound, p41

[6] w.e.b. dubois, the souls of black folk, 1903: http://scua.library.umass.edu/duboisopedia/doku.php?id=about:double_consciousness

[7] shannon m. Houston, pastemagazine.com: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/01/can-i-get-a-witness-i-am-not-your-negro-gives-the.html

[8] dylan, god on our side, https://www.google.com/searchq=dylan+lyrics%2C+god+on+our+side&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

[9] brother malcolm x, god’s judgement of white america: http://www.malcolm-x.org/speeches/spc_120463.htm

[10] truth-out.org, the legacy of the obama administration: an interview with noam chomsky: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36260-a-mixed-story-ranging-from-criminal-to-moderate-improvement-noam-chomsky-on-obama-s-legacy

[11] thomas jefferson, 1781; notes on the state of virginia, query xviii: manners: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/notes-on-the-state-of-virginia-query-xviii-manners/

[12] james baldwin, the cross of redemption: speech from the soledad rally, p98; freedomarchives.org: http://freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/DOC513_scans/Soledad_Brothers 513.Soledad.Brothers.Support.the.Soledad.Brothers.pdf

[13] truthdig interview with chris hedges: http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/chris_hedges_on_trumps_naked_kleptocracy_20170113

[14] nytimes.com, trump’s economic cabinet picks signal embrace of wall st. elite: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/business/dealbook/trumps-economic-cabinet-picks-signal-embrace-of-wall-st-elite.html?_r=0

[15] thomas jefferson, 1781: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/notes-on-the-state-of-virginia-query-xviii-manners/

[16] james baldwin, the cross of redemption: the price may be too high, p106

[17] ron daniels, toward a season of resistance and organizing to eradicate “trumpism,” the second of three essays on the impact and consequences of the 2016 presidential election: http://ibw21.org/vantage-point/resistance-and-organizing-to-eradicate-trumpism-dr-ron-daniels/

[18] www.hcn.org, what will president trump’s attack on government regulations do?: http://www.hcn.org/articles/president-trump-launches-major-offensive-against-government-regulation

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