Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: America’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost

I can’t say I’ve shed many tears at the sight of white people’s homes ravaged by devastating wildfires out West. I can’t say I’m saddened when I see white people in tears after a tornado has destroyed their homes, their towns in middle America.

No, I don’t cry when hurricanes and floods ruin the lives of white people in the Southern Gulf states, not like I cried at the misery wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Blacks and whites’ lives were ruined then.

I was moved to tears when I saw Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Illinois director of public health, break down in tears during a press briefing on the coronavirus in her state.

My tears were not for the audacious Proud Boys and Boogaloo Boys and girls in that state and elsewhere who consider measures to limit the spread of the pandemic that has already killed nearly 250,000 people in this country as “oppression” akin to slavery.

I cried for the medical personnel, the low-wage sales clerks in pharmacies and grocery stores who show up at work and deal with those arrogant bullies, risking their lives because they literally have no choice and must show up at work every day, all day, who work in the superspreading nursing homes and hospitals, and who have no choice but to watch those Boogaloo mamas and Proud papas die alone because of quarantines.

I don’t cry for the miseries befalling this country because I think about my own mother, and her mother in silent grief — no headlines, no “person of the week” TV profile, no feel-good consolation — when my mother’s sister was struck and killed by a white motorist, when she was walking home one night on the road from Ruleville to Indianola, Mississippi. No tears.

When a gas station attendant asked the driver about his car’s bloody bumper the investigation of her death discovered, the driver said he must have hit a dog or something on the road. I never even knew my mother had a sister who was murdered like that. She shielded that pain from me, and I only learned it from relatives after my mother’s death.

So no, I don’t cry for the pain I see Americans suffering in every corner of this land today. It feels to me like: “The chickens are coming home to roost.”

It took the Americans living in Oklahoma nearly 100 years to get around to investigating, apologizing for and offering some recompense to the descendants of the hundreds of Black folks who white folks massacred in the Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street. It was a time like this. There was a massive flu pandemic sweeping the land, and other racial massacres — “riots,” as they were called — took place that season in Florida and Illinois.

They destroyed the lives and homes of Negroes who were minding their own business, who had managed to succeed, despite rampant racial injustice at the time, and the rise of the night riders — the Ku Klux Klan — who were even celebrated, like today, in the White House, when segregationist President Woodrow Wilson presented D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” a film glorifying the Proud Boys of that day, as the first movie ever seen in the executive mansion.

No. I don’t feel any sympathy for the white people who are suffering from natural disasters today but still say they are holding their noses and voting to keep the most despicable president ever in office for another term. Donald J. Trump is the biggest liar ever in the White House, and his Repugnikkkan Party of enablers are nothing but rank hypocrites drunk with power and blind to their own wickedness.

This truth about white Americans has been known for a long, long time, but now, the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

Frederick Douglass wrote in 1852: “Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

But now, at last, this country is being brought to heel, and even though it’s not pretty — it’s horrendous, even — I’m not crying.

“America has been blessed ever since her fathers came across the Atlantic out of the confines of Europe until this day,” The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote in “The Fall of America” in 1972. “Now, for her evil done to her slaves, God threatens her with total destruction.”

I watch, and I’m not crying. The chickens are coming home to roost.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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