Saturday, July 9, 2016

Peter Birkenhead's Post

This post appeared in my Facebook timeline at the end of a week when social media has been aflame with the killings of Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile and six police officers in Dallas. Here is a description of slavery as seen by generations that followed.

Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to hunt you. We’re going to trap you. We’re going to tear you from the arms of your mother and call you cargo.

We’re going to beat you. We’re going to put you in a crouch under an all-day sun and deform you. We’re going to forbid you to read. We’re going to lash your skin with salted leather if you read. We're going to rape your daughter if you read, or if you ever dare to stand up. We’re going to tear your son from the arms of his mother, and we’re going to burn you alive if you look for him. We are going to kill you.

We’re going to kill your children. We’re going to leave your daughters to die in the mud after birthing our children. We’re going to crush the bones in your children’s hands with the weight of great buildings. We’re going to brand your children like beasts, raise great buildings on their backs and call them lazy. We’re going to celebrate those buildings as our accomplishment.

"The Half Has Never Been Told"
by Edward Baptist p. 22
We’re going to write laws in those buildings that make it impossible for your grandchildren to enter them, or vote, or read or keep a family together. We’re going to mock them for not being able to do those things. We’re going to kill them. We’re going to dare your grandchildren to vote, or love, or read. We’re going to pull their bowels from their bodies or drown them or hang them when they try to do those things. We’re going to tell stories of their ignorance and wickedness when they don’t try.

We’re going to kill your great grandchildren. We’re going to taunt them with dreams. We’re going to tell them what to dream, then mock them for dreaming those dreams. We’re going to shackle their hands with their bootstraps. We’re going to flail our arms and ball our fists and redden our faces in roaring incomprehension that they don’t have jobs, or know the value of an education.

We’re going to burden them with our fear. We’re going to drop the unmeasurable weight of our failures on them and laugh when they bend their spines. We’re going to insist they straighten up. We’re going to laugh at their names and erase their faces. We’re going to steal their expressions of pain and call them our own. We’re going to force them to deform themselves, to take the shape of our nightmares, to swell to the size of demons and make us fear for our lives instead of theirs. We’re going to sigh about this on occasion.

We’re going to pretend to not understand your great grandchildren. We’re going to wonder what their problem is, and then we’re going to kill them. We’re going to kill them by crooking our fingers. For putting their hands in their pockets. We’re going to wish we didn’t have to kill them, though, so that should count for something. We’re going to kill them yesterday, today and tomorrow. We’re going to hunt them, we’re going to trap them, and then we’re going to kill them.

And we’re going to want you to get over it.

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