Recalling Heritage

When haven’t there been black conservatives?

The elders who raised me, who imprinted me, they were conservatives. Oh, conservative in that one got what he earned. What one deserved. It just wasn’t given. That way when it was withheld, every effort could be made to obtain what was yours.

I enjoy hearing ignorant Anglos and even dumber blacks declare how the “welfare state” has hobbled minority initiative in America. Actually, that hose ought to be turned against Anglos crowding the lower economic rungs throughout the Southeast and Appalachia.

Those salts of the earth receive the greatest portion of our nation’s government assistance. But black and brown faces make for the acceptable visuals that declare the comforting opposite. These make the willingly downtrodden feel better about their continuous helplessness.

For this segment of Americans there’s always going to be some man above keeping them down. Bad as that is, at least there’ll always be somebody black or brown to look down upon.

Just waiting for a modern-day Joe Hill to distill that into contradictory agitprop strong enough to wrench the scales off eyes of “the little men.”

Growing up in Quarropas, New York, ours were union homes. There were no “little men.” Just “working men.” Perhaps that was the most important concept union officials drummed into the heads of the rank and file.

Language is important. Spoken artfully or artlessly those words and phrases cobbled together can define the addressee or audience for better or worse. And if one is seen as “little,” should regard him or herself as “little,” then that perception diminishes the figure.

Looking back, I don’t know of any relatives or neighbors or friends of my parents who weren’t union members. Best thing about those affiliations? They didn’t segregate. Or at least none of them used complexion to favor this group of the membership over that one.

That discrimination mostly occurred in general society.

Everybody sailed on the same boat; the same tide lifted it and the same current propelled all aboard.

As distant as Americans have become from toil, do today’s clock punchers even consider their working hours with the depth as previous generations ago? At least around my boyhood precincts, discussions often abounded about the notions of work and reward.

The majority shared common backgrounds. They’d migrated from the Jim Crow Deep South. Their early lives had been ones of hard work and sparse reward. Until migrating North, getting paid commensurate for their efforts might’ve factored in dreams but never real life.

In the Industrial North, these were people who took to heart of getting what they’d earned. Having been shortchanged throughout early life, they knew their true value. They shared these through conversation. It just so happened the young ears of impressionable forming minds heard the lessons maybe inadvertently given. Or maybe the elders knew exactly what they were doing through casual chatter rather than pointed sermonizing.

Strategy comes in many forms. Sometimes it develops through foxlike slyness.

A great many of us today still apply the past instructions imparted. All well and good for us, a quandary is will what we’ve learned fade as our generation does?

Pessimism arrived at through observation says yes.

The approach of Juneteenth (June 19th) is a better occasion to broach this than around Martin Luther King commemorations. MLK Day celebrates advance. Juneteenth reminds how despicable at times our American cavalcade has been. For those out of the American History loop, Juneteenth acknowledges when Union forces conquering Texas informed Lone Star State slaves they’d already been emancipated – for two years.

Circumstances around Juneteenth are perfect times for certain black community elements to raise the asinine suggestion of reparations for slavery. That American blacks of today are owed reimbursement for the centuries our forebearers endured bondage here in the New World. That’s a stretch. Unfortunately, it finds a lot of undernourished mental loam in which to germinate.

There are instances when I hear some figures insist black Americans deserve reparations and I laugh. Not at the absurd idea alone, but mostly at the presumed reactions of my elders.

They would’ve been incredulous.

Few had stellar educations. Not like the kind today that are available to any who apply themselves. But they were smart. Smarter than the bunch Boomers will bequeath America, that’s for sure. Upon hearing of “reparations” for generations stalled, no, regressing, our sires would rightly point out how “money for nothing” to the truly undeserving should confirm susceptible Americans’ worst impressions of blacks.

Reparations, though easily grasped, is one of those shouted out shifty slogans which has been founded on a sandy cause. Right up there with “Defund the police!”

The only people who deserved reparations were freedmen. If Abraham Lincoln had lived, or had Ulysses Grant succeeded him instead of Andrew Johnson, why doubt the South’s ex-chattel would’ve been recompensed beyond 40 acres and a mule? As far as diluting police presences, the residents in those neighborhoods which stir the wildest misconceptions throughout our nation’s most ignorant regions would’ve gone beyond uproar into revolt.

They want the police. Those badges help keep the wolves who prey on their own at bay.

Black Americans, vast percentage of us who don’t make news which fuel biases that thread backwards Anglo consciousnesses, we who lead dull, inconspicuous productive lives, take comfort in the law. Recently a Southern senator grilled a prospective Biden administration appointee. Senator Cornpone asked the nominee whether she thought American law enforcement was by its nature racist.

Listening to her response, I immediately realized her mistake. She respected the cracker’s office more than he did. She needed to have seen him for what he was. Then replied appropriately.

Instead of answering deferentially, she should’ve been forthright. Something along the lines of: “No, senator. Law enforcement in America is not inherently racist. However, individual elements enforcing the law marble it with racism. Particularly in your home state.”

Unlike too much of Anglo, okay, MAGA, America, black America holds authority in higher esteem. Remember, when legislation and court rulings started applying laws with greater fairness, injustices against blacks substantially lessened.

Yeah. I know. Someone from Generation Whatever read that last sentence and had an endless bag of “whatabouts” ready to dump. Bad as anyone in those age brackets believe how imbalanced the citizen/authority aspect is now, it was worse when my cohort occupied that age. The same years could’ve been outright perilous during our elders’ “youthquakes.”

For the last contingent, the rights guaranteed as an American citizen must’ve been an illusion. But give Americans credit. Playing by the rules, keeping eyes on the prize, ignoring distractions that begged the diversion of urgency, they made the impossible happen. They made the laws work for them.

Did it happen overnight? Did it happen within short time spans? No to both. Decades often passed before positive results were realized. Not only did those activists have right on their side, they also had patience. They persevered. Setbacks didn’t shake their resolve but strengthened their drive.

Firsthand knowledge of the civil rights movement will disappear when my generation expires. The younger of us weren’t in the fight’s forefront. But we did benefit then built upon the struggle.

We did not know pernicious racism. Jim Crow. We did not know any threat of empty-belly hunger. The Depression. Hopefully if our moment to step up comes, we will never lose the battle of defending forward democratic values. World War II.

Who had been steeped in the knowledge of the above? The generation that sired mine. We listened to them. Better, we learned from them. The fortunate among us even prospered by the trails they blazed.

Maybe if we’d shared some of their hardships, we too could’ve been more effective at passing this American heritage along.

MAGA professes to be enthralled by possibilities of “a severely structured society aligned with promoting the least amounts of deviance against tradition, convention, and conformity.” Who doesn’t know the deplorables favoring such would find themselves quickly incensed by the same strictures they championed?

But look who’s giving them marching orders. A failed businessman who became a convicted felon.

Who are the heralds for Generation Whatever? From the vantage of having practical knowledge, too many of our successors, at least the vocal ones, are being misled by people lacking in practical knowledge. They don’t want to reinvent the wheel. They wish to destroy the wheel.

They want to be rewarded without having truly struggled in the least. They want prizes without having won them. Aren’t those called allowances? And aren’t those dispensed to the unaccountable among us by people who’ve managed themselves responsibly?