When the white people tell the stories of black folk, they tell it from their point of view, in the same way victors tell the stories of war.
When victors tell the stories of war, they tell stories of bravery and brotherhood; stories of courage and sacrifices made. Victors always leave out the stories of unfathomable cruelty. Or if they tell it, they do so with a nod that says, “War, you know. These things happen.”
Friendly fire, they call it. A way to sanitize intentional murders or the careless slaughter perpetrated by the undisciplined or drug-addled.
When victors tell the stories, their stories always come couched in justifications for the most heinous of wrong-doings. And in those stories, the victors are always the ones deemed honorable, even when they are doing the most dishonorable of actions.
Like when they are buying and selling a human population like 4-H livestock.
It is the role of the victor to exploit those defeated, isn’t it? What good is winning if the victor can’t crush others beneath their heel?
When people talk about the values of our forefathers what they really mean is this ability to crush others, weaker, poorer, darker in color.
The real truth is America’s forefathers never intended for people of color or women to hold any significant position in society. Yet, this is the America that far too many still long for.
When white people tell the stories of blacks, it’s always with an air of “knowing better than them.” Them is the term white people use for black people. It’s the rhetoric of power, “them”. The rhetoric of exclusion. The rhetoric of “lesser than.”
People entrenched in this rhetorical power structure aren’t even aware that they are doing it.
“I’m not racist, one bit,” they say, as they launch into a diatribe about the removal of Confederate Statues and how it harms their white Irish or German or Scottish history.
White people have no business telling the stories of blacks because the stories they tell will always be skewed to a white point of view.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND (Mercer University Press).
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND: Mercer Univ. Press