By Ya’Ke Smith – Films glorify birth. A push here. A tug there. A brief argument between husband and wife when one of them says something the other doesn’t want to hear. But ultimately the holding of hands. The helping with breathing. The calming whisper and reassurance that everything will be ok. And then the birth of a beautiful soul—a being that will change the parent’s life forever. And although there is some truth to this depiction, what the movies don’t talk about, and barely show, is the blood. The tears. The violent process of one body bringing another into the earth, a body that at times rejects the idea of being born because it’s gotten so comfortable in what it thought would be its permanent home. There are instances when this little body must be forcibly pulled from the womb. It ain’t pretty, but the end result is beautiful.
As I look out at our world and watch the constant violence that black and brown bodies, and those standing in allyship with those bodies, have to endure: being shot, run over, threatened, tased, pulled from their cars, and tear gassed. I can’t help but think of the birthing process. We have lived in a country that has operated on the covert, and oftentimes overt, ideals of racism, sexism, ableism, extreme capitalism, and every other ism, since its inception. The country was built on the backs of slaves, on the idea that some were created by God to rule, while the same God created others to serve this ruling class. And because the people who for so long have been perceived as the “serving class” now refuse to stay silent about their oppression, we have found ourselves in a war where those who believe it’s their destiny to rule are executing those who refuse to be ruled. I call it genocide. Some would call it manifest destiny. The slaps on the wrist that the perpetrators of these crimes receive reflect a country that oftentimes subscribes to the latter categorization.
A young white terrorist in Kenosha, WI walks into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protestors and shoots one of them before moving casually past cops brandishing a gun, giving him the opportunity (and permission) to shoot others. A 21-year old neo-nazi, walks into Emanuel AME Church and executes worshippers, only to be given a meal from Burger King after police finally catch up to him. A member of the military sits in his car and shoots an Austin protestor at point black. A group of white terrorists stormed the capital in protest of what they considered to be a travesty to our democracy as congress was set to certify President-Elect Joe Biden as our new president. I could go on and on, but to name them all would take up all the pages in today’s paper.
Although the assault on black and brown liberation is not new, I can’t recall in my 40-years on earth, such an openly brutal, violent and strategic, execution of those fighting for social justice. We have a president that spews lies in order to create discord, last year waging war on diversity and inclusion training, calling it “divisive” and “Anti-American.” What is the country afraid of? Why does teaching about difference, inherent privilege, and the ways that our country disenfranchises and discriminates against certain demographics of people pose such a threat? I suspect it’s because these racist ideals are the very foundation that this country was built on and now people of all races are waking up and daring to challenge them.
In James Baldwin’s 1962 seminal work The Fire Next Time, in which he pens a series of letters to his nephew, he writes: “the danger in the minds and hearts of most white Americans is the loss of their identity.” And what we are seeing now is a deep fear of the loss of a white nationalist identity that some Americans subscribe to. Mother America has been confronted with the possibility of finally truly becoming the “home of the free,” that she has always claimed to be. She is being forced to become a new America, a more equitable America, an America where the BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) populations aren’t viewed as second class citizens. And this very notion disrupts her foundation, because Black people were never meant to be free here, but were always meant to exist in chains. This “land of the free” was always meant to be our graveyard and not our home. We were never supposed to survive the brutalization that was inflicted upon us on slave ships, auction blocks and cotton fields. But we did survive, and if we are ever seen as fully human we will usher in an America that looks far different from the America that the forefathers envisioned. It’ll be the birth of a new nation. And sadly, some of the citizens of the nation we live in now are hell bent on seeing this new nation be born of blood.
For more on the original article visit: https://www.dallasweekly.com/articles/op-ed-the-bloody-birth-of-a-nation/