Monday, January 20, 2020

#20 / When... (In One Sentence)

Sheila Wise Rowe has written a book called Healing Racial Trauma. I found out about the book from an advertisement in the February 2020 issue of Sojourners Magazine. The advertisement had a headline that said, "Racial Trauma Is Real."

When I read that, I thought to myself, "What?" How could that headline on the advertisement be necessary? Is there really anyone who doesn't understand the reality of racial trauma, and that it continues to exist?

Of course, I know that there are people who have not, yet, really "gotten it." Still, we all ought to have "gotten it" by now, and if we haven't, it is time to read, or reread, one of the most powerful single sentences ever written in the English language.

This sentence (and it is a long one) is found in Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham jail. The Letter was later included in Dr. King's book, Why We Can't Wait:

Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." 
But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.
If you are a writer, note the use of the semicolon. That sentence, starting with "But," is all one sentence. If you need reminding that "Racial Trauma Is Real," think about each one of those examples, and others that might be added to those mentioned in King's list. Long as it is, that list could have been longer. Oh, yes: "Racial Trauma Is Real."

There was an article in that issue of Sojourners that is particularly appropriate today, on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Here is a link: "'UNTIL WE ARE ALL FREE': LEARNING FROM TUBMAN, KING, AND STEVENSON."

We still can't wait! We must not wait. "Racial Trauma Is Real," and it is, as always, time to act. Today, on this holiday, it is a good time to think about that!

It's Now Or Never, More Than Ever.

Image Credits:
(1) -
(2) -

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!