By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
As we near the end of the first month of a new year, it feels like it is time for African Americans to own the anger we rightfully carry.
White Americans of the MAGA cult owned their anger by showing up at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and violently working to destroy the building and get the former president to declare martial law so he could stay in office. It was the natural aftermath or consequence of his beginning and spreading the lie that the 2020 election was rigged.
White MAGAs, and maybe other White Americans who are less vocal, were angry. A good number of White Americans have gotten angry any time in this nation Black Americans made electoral, political and economic gains – in spite of all of the roadblocks put up before them to prevent this from happening.
The election and reelection of Barack Obama was a bridge too far, and many White politicians and civilians have been angry since then. They have worked and continue to work to “take their country back,” which, in their opinion, is a country where a very few wealthy, White men own and control the lives of everyone in this country, especially Blacks, but also women, immigrants and others whom they believe to be illegitimate occupants of America.
So, they’re angry, and one can understand their anger, given their very sophisticated and strategic antics over the life of this country to stay in control.
But even as they understand their anger, they are quick to disparage Black people who are angry. “The angry Black man” or the “angry Black woman” are descriptions most of us try to avoid. It is meant to be an insult and criticism of us, in that they believe Black people have gotten way too much in the way of “entitlements” from what they seem to think is a benevolent White society.
But White American society has been anything but benevolent. This White society has done all it can to restrain the growth and progress of Black people. From it being made illegal for us to learn to read and write (a danger as well for White people who helped Blacks learn to read) , to being denied medical treatment in White institutions, being denied veterans benefits after serving in this country’s wars, to being lynched by angry White mobs, often infiltrated with or led by White people in law enforcement, to being denied loans to purchase houses or having our homes, communities and churches set afire by White mobs – we have a lot to be angry about.
Anyone would be angry at this treatment – including and especially White people who are so used to living privileged lives. Too many angry White men who served in the military where they learned to shoot and kill, are now on our streets, spreading their anger as widely as some Roman Catholic leaders spread their belief in and support of child molestation as priests were accused of molesting young boys. The fact that in this country there have been laws that supported segregation, supported laws that made it illegal for Black people to visit libraries, and made it legal for Black schools to be understaffed and given hand-me-down books from White schools is a reason for anger. The fact that angry White people, in their quest to destroy Black life and advances, got into airplanes and dropped turpentine bombs on targeted Black communities including Black Wall Street in Oklahoma, and in East St. Louis – is a justifiable reason to be angry. The fact that Black people have been killed after serving this country in its wars – many while they were still in uniform, is a justifiable reason for anger.
We need to own the anger. It might help the generationally fed trauma that is in our souls and that has been passed down from our ancestors for hundreds of years. We need to own the anger that has come from seeing people who claim to love Jesus, act as though Jesus never existed. We need to own the anger that gives school officials the right to ignore the physical needs of schools in our neighborhoods, causing our children to have to learn in intolerable situations.
We should own the anger, and when the media – which is complicit in perpetuating racism, bigotry of all sorts, sexism, homophobia and transphobia – jumps on us for being angry, we need to say, “Yes, I am … we are angry – because this country has failed the people – many of whom are Black but other non-White, non-Christian – who made them wealthy.”
And we need to own the anger at how they have manipulated the Bible and the words of the Christ to fit their ideological positions. We need to say, “Yeah, I am angry,” and move on and let them stew in their own reactions.
If what has been done to us had been done to them, there is no doubt the crying, wailing and complaining would be blaring. It’s not like denying the anger gets us extra benefits or a door opened for us. So, since that is the reality, we need to own the anger and in so doing, perhaps make a way for some of the anger to begin to seep out and stop causing us physical, mental and emotional issues.
We don’t need an absolution from White people who demand that we denounce our anger and move on. We have had too much taken from us – including our language, culture and our freedom.
We have a right to be angry and we need to own it and thus, begin the process of freeing ourselves from pain we have carried for far too long.
It is time. In fact, it is past time.
Anyone would be angry. We are no different.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at email@example.com.