I blush to admit that pre-apocalyptic Andre didn’t see racism as being endemic to American society. I once believed racism was primarily an emotional attitude rooted in ignorance, an irrational hatred for people based on their skin color. There was a time I believed the myth that America is a fair place where people get what they deserve. I assumed that if I just conducted myself in a “respectable” way, I’d never have to worry about being jailed or choked to death by a police officer. I believed these things because these myths are part of America’s version of Pax Romana – Pax Americanus, if you will – that the U.S. is a paragon of democracy and the leader of the free world and that racism isn’t nearly as big a problem as it used to be. Needless to say, I didn’t do much freedom fighting when I believed those things.
I’m willing to confess the naivete of my nonrevolutionary former life because I know I’m not the only Black person to have ever sidestepped the revolution. In 2015, after activist Bree Newsome was arrested for removing a Confederate flag from a South Carolina statehouse to protest a white supremacist mass shooting, a childhood friend of mine, a Black woman, posted a long defense of the proslavery symbol. “The Confederate flag just reminds me of home,” she said. I scratched my head at her. No Black person can actually be home under the Confederate battle flag, but if we’re indoctrinated with the myths of the white world, we can think we’re partakers of a table we’re not invited to.
From “All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope – And Hard Pills to Swallow – About Making Black Lives Matter” By Andre Henry