This old post gets regular random visits these days. So here it is again, with one exception: The high cost of living in the USA is much higher today than it was two years ago.
The high cost of living in the USA has fallen on African Americans from the beginning of this nation. The goal has been and still seems to be this: Keep ‘them’ in their places and optimize the gains of those in power. Including the power of those of us who think we have no power.
The high cost didn’t go down when slavery was outlawed. We simply notched it up with lynching, and then discovered mass incarceration. Some argue that mass incarceration is simply the latest way to get cheap labor and ‘disappear’ black or brown Americans without getting into legal trouble.
Are we the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes and no. Yes if you’re able to reach and maintain inner freedom and courage in the face of overwhelmingly negative odds. Perhaps we’ve looked to the wrong heroes to show us what true freedom and bravery looks like.
More than one of my younger African American male seminarians said he didn’t think he’d live to be an adult. Besides a history of slavery, lynching and entrenched racism, we witness or read about random gun violence every day, entrenched poverty, and limited options regardless of ability. Add to this the availability of drugs and alcohol, and the mistake of being black or brown in public spaces.
In April 2018 a new Memorial to Peace and Justice opened. It makes visible our history of slavery, lynching and now mass incarceration. I want to visit this new Memorial before I die. Why? Because it’s also about part of my heritage.
In summer 1950, my family moved from California to rural Savannah, Georgia, just a short walk from what we called ‘colored town.’ I wasn’t aware of animosity between races. I was, however, painfully aware of economic disparities on display every day. Not just in our rural community, but in the city.
I now know, thanks to this interactive map, that the state of Georgia is #2 in states with the most lynchings on record between 1882 and 1930. From 1877 to 1950, Georgia lynched 586 black men, women and children. How many were lynched in your state?
I’m told I enjoy white privilege. It’s true. When I get up in the morning I don’t have to worry about things like being seen in public as a white woman. For me, this ‘privilege’ is white ignorance or worse. By breathing the air around me, I learned to be blind and unresponsive to what’s right before my eyes.
I don’t think the solution to our problem lies in miles of data. I’m rooting for poets, songwriters, storytellers, and truth tellers. Including truth-tellers like those who birthed this new National Memorial. Plus pieces of lost history embroidered on small bags.
©Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 May 2018, edited and re-posted 17 July 2020
Photo found at Wickipedia; y Shameran81 – Courtesy Middleton Place, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55786120