Out of its stunted and squalid existence on the fringes black America gave America and the world Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Langston Hughes, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Ella Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Satchel Paige, and many other luminous examples of black genius.
On the promise of that performance a deal between black America and white America was made:
“Do you enjoy this?”
“Yes, we do, very much.”
“Would you like more?”
“Give us our civil rights as Americans.”
“Done. Let’s get on that right now.”
It was an easy agreement to make under the moral leadership of men like Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and Ralph Abernathy and the elegant strength of women like Rosa Parks and Coretta King. It was difficult to finalize and implement but such was the power of the oratory and example of the black civil rights marchers that the conclusion of the struggle was inevitably going to be resolved in their favor and in the favor of America generally.
No party to the deal thought we’d get what we have today.
Nigger was going to be done away with. James Baldwin famously wrote that no society needs a Nigger. In 2020 multi-billion dollar record companies live and thrive from using Nigger in every lyric. Motown has given way to Hoe- town. I don’t even have to list the names. If you’re a parent you spend your time trying to keep your children shielded from these “entertainers”.
Black athletes were going to proudly represent American superiority in any game played anywhere on the planet. In 2020 black athletes won’t stand in respect for the National Anthem or the flag their forebears defended against insurrectionists and foreign enemies even as the only privilege they enjoyed as Americans was the privilege of being shot full of holes while wearing the emblem of the flag on their bodies.
Black leadership was always going to be there to point America to its Christian God and its founding documents. In 2020 there are no black leaders just black critics who use their elite educations and world wide media pedestals to tell the world America is not a fit home for blacks.
The fires that raged in black America after King’s death weren’t the hottest or the most deadly. The incineration of the minds of the affluent black elite by the fires of an anti-American and anti-Christian ideology foreign to the sharecroppers and maids who birthed them has burned black America to the ground.
We’re richer than ever and poorer than ever at the same time.
The deal we brokered in blood has been broken and black America is once again abandoned and adrift but this time in a storm of our own making.