By: Davonte Sanders-Funches, Junior, President of Black Student Association
*The following was submitted as a monologue for North Central’s MLK celebration, “The Power of Our Stories” with the theme “A Letter to My Country.”
Have you ever seen chains thicker than Bob Marley’s dread locks binding a black man to life?
Those chains, meant to hold him in place so carnal hearts can bring death upon him.
Have you seen into that black man’s eyes?
Head hangs while hands are bound together.
The ferocity of the crowd intensifies only as time drags on.
One of the people in the crowd spits in the black man’s face exclaiming, “HANG THAT N*****!”
The crowd begins chanting those very words louder and louder.
Rocks, bottles, and blocks of wood are being thrown at the black man.
It is as if the crowd were trying to evoke fear in the black man’s soul. But, the black man smiles. And with that the black man’s head is hung high above ground and water, but still produces fruit.
Have you ever seen virtue in its truest form? With little defects in morality.
Something so repressed in this world that it seems foreign.
Untouched by heinous human agendas.
Have you seen into This Child’s eyes? Always looked over. Always underestimated.
Always is to follow orders no matter the cost.
Wanting to help the family at all costs, but the Father always pushes them back. The mother always pulls them to comfort.
Their opinions do not matter because they occupy a child’s place.
Arguably the most sacred space sane enough for judgement.
The Child is forced to endure the perceptions of the adults.
The Child has no say, just the conditioning from the narrative of the adults.
The crowds roar intensifies as a chant grows louder and louder screaming,
“HANG THAT N*****!”
The Child was taken here by caring, strict, and loving parents and brought to the front to witness death after life.
The Child didn’t know what was going on or why people were angry and spitting at this man with rope around his hands and neck.
This was a little scary to The Child because people were getting dangerous.
That feeling turned into fear when The Child realized that the people who were throwing rocks, screaming nigger, or throwing rocks at this man were the police chief, mailman, elementary school teacher, mother, Father. These people represented The Child, but the child didn’t know who they were anymore.
The Child clung to the mother and said in a panic, “They can’t do this to him! It’s not right!”
The mother said to The Child, “Its what’s best for our society.
Now don’t give me any back talk! People who look like him are bad!”
The Child was confused and didn’t know what to do.
The Child felt deep within like this man had did nothing wrong. Then suddenly, The Child makes eye contact with this man.
Right when this happens time slows down dramatically.
In those moments, the glimmer as water creeps into his eyes relays a deeper message for The Child.The Child does not know what the man means, but knows it’s significant. Then time picks up its pace.The man lets out a faint smile for The Child; trusting that time will bring understanding. And with that, the man is hung.
It’s a story that I like to tell people whenever we think about race in America. Whenever we think about all the demographics and all the ways that they are oppressed by a racist system. Whenever we think about Black Wall Street and how successful black businesses were bombed out of existence. Whenever we think about the founding of this very country and see that its construction was purely through the form of free labor, accompanied with discrimination, raping, lynching, and conquering of land. We forget about the children. We forget about the impact the young have on this world way after we are gone. Foregation is forgetting or not caring about the impact that the next generation will have. So we continue to idle in our past ways and let those tendencies implant themselves into our children’s hearts.
We often forget that our sole purpose as old folk is to pass on the wisdom we’ve gained from our lives to the young folk who will need it growing in their lives. But that last sentence always is misinterpreted. Wisdom is having knowledge, experience, and good judgment. To pass wisdom down all 3 must be present. The overwhelming prevalence of racist systems and prejudice values indicates that something is going wrong. Wisdom isn’t being passed down to the next generation or invasive ideals are coated to be wise information in the eyes of the young. For example, if the country has learned that it is wrong to prevent African Americans from voting through grandfather clauses, literacy tests, and intimidation; Why has the country set up a system where police disproportionately target African Americans, send them to prison, and stripes prisoners of their right to vote upon exit? Wisdom is being manipulated by the unjust. The unjust hold the highest positions in government. The unjust pass down their wisdom along with their positions perpetuating racist values that privilege one group of people.
The power to end this lies within the children. The power the end the racism constructed decades ago lies within minds unaffected by invasive ideals. Now living in a color-blind society is not what I present here, however, a society where racist systems are dismantled successfully is in reach. To achieve this though extra attention must be focused on the children. These children must know the full and true history of this country and know the difference between what’s good and what’s bad. Foregation cannot be tolerated.
This is for the black men and women who were executed in the streets just like black men and women were executed in the woods.
This is for the crimes committed against black people that were just in the 18th century.
This is for black women who were forcibly raped, sterilized, and beaten by strangers.
This is for black men who were castrated, hung, and beaten by strangers. This is for Celia!
This is for Eric!
This is for Emmet!
This is for Sandra!
This is for us!
A way to de-radicalize America and a way to provide freedom for all.