Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thoughts of Injustice and Similar

"First they asked June Johnson, a sixteen-year-old from Greenwood, whether she was a member of the NAACP, and when she admitted it, one officer started slapping her around.   They asked who paid her and what kind of trouble her bosses were planning for Winona, and in the risking heat of the cuffings another officer hit her on the back of the head with a blackjack.  They took the wailing Johnson back to a cell and brought out Annell Ponder-tall, schoolmarmish, and fatefully dignified.  She said she and her friends did not hate them, she steadfastly refused their demands to say "sir" to them so long as they called her "nigger" and "bitch," and she admitted straightforwardly to the highway patrolman that she had been writing down his license number for a complaint to the federal government.   All these answers enraged men who already had stepped over the line of violence.  Cursing the name Bobby Kennedy, they kept beating Ponder to the floor and pulling her to her feet until her head was swollen and bloody, a tooth chipped, and one eye seemed knocked off line.   Ponder held unsteadily to the corridor walls as they pushed her back toward the cells.   She made a terrifying sight to her students, including Fannie Lou Hamer, who was next.   By then vengeance had consumed her captors.   They dragged Hamer into an empty cell, threw here face down on a cot, and ordered a young Negro prisoner to be her with a blackjack. ... "
p. 819, "Parting The Waters: American in The King Years 1954-63" - Taylor Bell, Touchstone Books, 1988 (an incredible book I'm reading slowly - taking in its incredible story)

The text above is in June, 1963 when Annell Ponder, and her students, trying to build voter registration in Mississippi got off a bus in Winona, Mississippi and went into the "Whites Only" waiting room and were arrested because of this.

It is often said: "Never Again" - referring to Not allowing another Holocaust similar to what Jews faced with Hitler during World War II.

I try to imagine what makes people angry so that they want to severely injure or kill others in various settings present, past (and in the future) and how these situations differ from each other.

I can imagine that White Men fearing Black People and killing them when they:  perceive impending "attacks", feel that they can kill without facing serious punishment and have peer support.

I can imagine police, soldiers and other "authority figures" facing repeated violence in their work may perceive All who in the moment appear to be "the enemy" as a threat to them and may kill innocent individuals and groups of people.

I can imagine Taliban members perceiving outsiders and those resisting their cause as needing to be killed.

I can imagine Palestinian teenage boys throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and even blowing themselves up killing Israelis and themselves feeling threatened by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

I can imagine Israeli Jews feeling threatened by Palestinians who they fear may kill or injure them most any time.

Separating the "good guys" from the "bad guys" and knowing always what is "right" and what is "wrong" often takes a lot of serious soul searching as well as inqury.

As a Male, White, U.S. citizen, whose memories go back to around 1960 - I can acknowledge progress in some areas.   I'd be shocked today to hear of an incident similar to what Ms. Ponder and her students faced in 1963, the year my partner was born.   

It is also clear to me that killing others needlessly out of anger, fear, envy and similar is fairly equally common today both in the U.S. and elsewhere.   Stalkers and other men who don't let go emotionally of (former) partners, White (generally) Teen Male mass killers in high schools, and others contribute to a world that isn't safe often for many.

It is important that we learn our history - as Men/Women, White/Of-Color, as well as in many other areas - including religion, economic class, gay/lesbian/bi/transgender.   It is important that we learn to support positive change and do our best to face up to the oppressions we and others face today.   It is important that we learn to feel - to grieve, to laugh, to cry - and to be responsible for our own feelings - so we can reach out to others.



Anonymous said...

What a great post. And how terrifying the description of violence in the first paragraphs.

When people "other" those whom they perceive a threat, violence can quickly follow. Especially when there is the sense that their fear of the other is justified. And they are in large groups with weapons.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Thanks for letting me know that you weren't on the blogroll! I've added you!

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness some bloggers can still write. Thank you for this read!!