Today we have a guest blogger... W. E. B. Du Bois (pronounced boys), one of the drafters of The Harlem Renaissance.
In 1919, W.E.B. wrote an essay for The Crisis magazine on drafted soldiers of African-American descent returning from helping liberate France from Germany and fighting for freedom in the name of the U.S.A. They were proud to serve and proud of a job well done. In spite of the deep irony of fighting for someone else's freedom and returning to a land of lynching and oppression.
Beyond color, I thought Mr. Du Bois had some interesting things to say about a country that "despite all its better souls have done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land."
It disfranchises its own citizens.
Disfranchisement is the deliberate theft and robbery of the only protection of poor against rich and black against white. The land that disfranchises its citizens and calls itself a democracy lies and knows it lies.
It encourages ignorance.
It has never really tried to educate the Negro. A dominant minority does not want Negroes educated. It wants servants, dogs, whores and monkeys. And when this land allows a reactionary group by its stolen political power to force as many black folk into these categories as it possibly can, it cries in contemptible hypocrisy: "They threaten us with degeneracy; they cannot be educated."
It steals from us.
It organizes industry to cheat us. It cheats us out of our land; it cheats us out of our labor. It confiscates our savings. It reduces our wages. It raises our rent. It steals our profit. It taxes us without representation. It keeps us consistently and universally poor, and then feeds us on charity and derides our poverty.
It insults us.
It has organized a nation-wide and latterly a world-wide propaganda of deliberate and continuous insult and defamation of black blood wherever found. It decrees that it shall not be possible in travel nor residence, work nor play, education nor instruction for a black man to exist without tacit or open acknowledgment of his inferiority to the dirtiest white dog. And it looks upon any attempt to question or even discuss this dogma as arrogance, unwarranted assumption and treason.
A little shocking, isn't it? This was written almost ninety years ago. Even if the color issues don't seem to apply at the same level, the class distinctions sure seem to. The rich keep getting richer, the poor keep getting poorer. W. E. B. doesn't leave it at that, though. He also offers a solution.
But it is our fatherland. It was right for us to fight. The faults of our country are our faults. Under similar circumstances, we would fight again. But by the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that that war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land.So, the solution is us. We are the change we need to return our country - today in 2007 - to a true democracy.
We return from fighting.
We return fighting.
Make way for Democracy! We saved it in France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why.
You can read the full essay HERE.
ROBOWRITERS TONIGHT! Starts at 6pm, goes til 8pm, at Uptown Writer's Space. Bring a sketch you're working on.