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One day white people and black people will have a tea party, no-one will mention the president, white people will offer black people a cookie as black people offer to refill white people’s cup, and everybody will go home happy and refreshed. One can dream.

Now in the last few months racial tensions seems to have only increased and people on the internet haven’t really been helping much. Media outlets are beginning to drool like starved ravenous muts the second someone mentions that police have shot an unarmed black man, and before the body is even cold the camps have been drawn andBatman_Forever_Soundtrack
we must decide whether we agree the man’s father being a criminal would have eventually set him on the path to crime, or else call out for the cops blood while burning in effigies Val Kilmer. I’m not sure why we would be burning effigies of the man, unless you really really didn’t like the Batman Forever movie, which I’m sure constitutes about half the population of sane people creeped out by the rape-vibe the man gave off in his performance. Unless that’s his natural voice in which case, gross.

I’m cracking a lot of jokes at the start because I’m going to deal with a sensitive subject and I need you, my regular reader, to be prepared as I lead into my observation that black men haven’t come very far since Frederick Douglass delivered his speech Why is the Negro Lynched? to the Bethel Literary and historical Society in Washington D.C. on April 16, 1889. Impressed that I knew that? Its part of the title in my book. I cheated. I could have gotten MTE5NTU2MzE2MjA1MzE5Njkxaway with it, but I cheated.

Over the last month I’ve been taking a course, the only one of its kind in America right now, which has been a comparative study of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglass. I’ve published two essays already about the first, but so far my passion has really lied in Douglass’s work. My only problem with Emerson is that too often the man is so rooted in idealism and near impossible logic that sometimes he seems to lose relevance. It’s easy to write about scholarship, Napoleon, and Self Reliance instead of digging into political matters of the day. Obviously America required a philosopher, and Emerson certainly deserves his praise as pouring the foundation for a national identity, but Douglass strikes me often as being more brave, and often far more eloquent than Emerson.

WAR AND CONFLICT BOOK
ERA:  CIVIL WAR/BACKGROUND: SLAVERY & ABOLITIONISM

It’s not just that Douglass was able to trash talk, though he was certainly able to do so and always able keep on point, it is more the fact that always his writing speaks to the inherent dignity of his race as human beings. If you observe just one passage from the speech he begins to sing a national hymn before biting the white hand that tries to pat his back:

We claim to be a highly civilized and Christian country. I will not stop to deny this claim, yet I fearlessly affirm that there is nothing in the history of savages to surpass the blood-chilling horrors and fiendish excesses perpetrated against the colored people of this country, by the so-called enlightened and Christian people of the South. It is commonly thought that only the lowest and most disgusting birds and beasts, such as buzzards, vultures, and hyenas, will gloat over and prey upon dead bodies; but the Southern mob, in its rage, feeds its vengeance by shooting, stabbing, and burning their victims, when they are dead. (752). **NOTE** I’m quoting from an anthology, the speech isn’t that long.

When I read lines such as these I want to turn back time to that I could yell “BOOM!” in people’s ears and be the first guy to make that a thing.

Douglass is addressing an audience in a Post-Civil War atmosphere. He’s seen the rise of the Klu Kulx Klan, he’s watching the rise of Jim Crow laws, and the ousting of the Republican party (at that time Republicanism was more like being a liberal, my how the times change). More to the point he’s watching the struggle he’s fought for so long Paying respects to Frederick Douglass 3b39466ubeginning to diminish for one principle reason: sex.

The quote that follows this unrelenting assault on hypocrisy openly states why such travesties are occurring:

Now, what is the special charge by which this ferocity is justified, and by which mob law is excused and defended even by good men North and South? It I a charge of recent origin, a charge never brought before, a charge never heard of in the time of slavery or in any other time in our history. It is a charge of assaults by Negroes upon White women. (757).

Now I’ve addressed this issue before on at least two separate occasions, stating clearly that white men’s fear of black sexuality has led to numerous atrocities, or, to put it another way, white men are terrified/fascinated with big black dicks. One need only look at the daily search term feed of this blog and my ever rising alcoholism to know that. d5677bcddb7ff4523ed2fd75d620e5c3

Before I get to the naughty bits though it’s important to establish the context of this speech. Yes Douglass is concerned with how sex is polluting race relations, but his larger concern is the stability and unity of the Republic. As Americans are recovering from the war, and peace is settling back into that typical apathy that follows domestic comfort, Douglass is seeing a step backwards to the efforts he has made over the last twenty years. Unlike some abolitionists that ended the fight once emancipation and the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments had passed, Douglass understood that ending slavery was only the first step towards total equality. Even if the slaves were free many were uneducated, institutionalized, lacking in a sense of personal dignity and selfhood, and completely unable to participate in democracy. Fearful that African Americans will once again be consumed by bitter whites, Douglass spent his life fighting for the political rights and freedoms of African Americans, but still never gave in to the thought that the fight was over because he understood that power will always create division and unless abuse is fought to its last breath, it can ruin a nation.

Well then so what? What does any of this have to do with lynching and when the hell are we going to get to sex I kept reading because you promised sex dammit!

First of all, calm down, you live in the age of Google where tits boob dick and ass are literally a few clicks away in an infinite gross pool of tepid ball sweat.

Excuse me while I vomit.

The reason I began this essay is because in the last few months the character and writings 635727141030450897-Sandra-Bland-071715of Douglass seem to be gathering more and more significance for the American republic, and the differences that currently exist between African Americans and whites  only seems to be getting worse. The Sandra Bland debacle is only the most recent clusterfuck that has taken place between African Americans and members of the white police force of this nation, and let it be clear I’m not suggesting that all police officers should be drawn & quartered, we have police in this country for a reason. What concerns me is week after week for the last year it seems the media has discovered yet another warm body turning cold to turn into a national hype desecrating the memory of men and women of this nation by turning them into prime-time television. We need to be informed to the abuses of those placed in positions of responsibility, but we should also be addressing the larger problem which is: why does this shit keep happening?

In the case of Douglass he was working with the mob mentality and its ravenous appetite for African blood. He says:

When the will of the mob is accomplished, when its thirst for blood has been quenched, when its victim is speechless and dead, his mobocratic accusers and murderers of course have the ear of the world all to themselves, and the world, hearing only the testimony of the mob generally approves its verdict? (752).

The greatest tragedies of the steady slaughter of Africans reveals to Douglass, and hopefully should reveal the larger issue at hand today which is that the victims of these tamir-rice-wrongful-death1assaults are unable to testify in their defense or innocence. The death of Michael Brown was wrapped up in speculation, and it was later revealed that the young man was not an innocent angel, but the young man was still unarmed and deserved his day in court. His democracy promised him the chance to speak in his defense. In the case of Tamir Rice a twelve year old boy lost his life because he was carrying a BB gun, and before any could condemn the actions of the police officer for committing such a slight many attacked the boy’s character accusing him of inheriting the vice of his incarcerated father. And finally in the instance of Sandra Bland we find not just an abuse of power, but corrupt criminal activity poorly designed to hide odious and cowardly actions. The worst part is, the mobocracy that Douglass describes seems only ever to drown out the real tragedy.

When a white man steals, robs or murders, his crime is visited upon his own head alone. But not so much with the black man. When he commits a crime, the whole race is made responsible. The case before us is an example. This unfairness confronts us not only here but confronts us everywhere else. (763).

There have been many that have said it more eloquently than I will be able to do so nvphotohere, but if one looks at the white shooters that have disgraced nightly news over the last year, all of them have been deemed insane, and all have inspired conversations concerning the conflicts with mental health in this nation. Yet when a young black man is shot in cold blood, it’s because blacks at large are whiners, or uppity, or trying to over-dramatize a minor incident and push an agenda. And the opposite is true, when a single black man behaves odiously it is the race at large that is supposed to suffer because in white America color is unanimity and deserves collected accusation. Again, why is the Black American lynched by the system?

But I should probably get back to big black dicks since that’s principally why most of my readers are still here, that’s what’s interesting after all. My class this semester has been an on-line summer course which requires regular posts on a website called Blackboard where students quote passages and explore their reactions to the texts and bounce ideas off of one another. One of the students wondered why this speech was not read more often in schools. It’s a legitimate question since the traditional Douglass texts given to students are The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave or else his most famous speech The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro. Both­­ texts are phenomenal demonstrations of Douglass’s ability as a writer, but I must agree with my fellow student. Why the Negro is Lynched? is a perfect opportunity to discuss the tensions that existed between Blacks and Whites, and actually continues to this day and therefore would serve as an excellent opportunity for teachers to explore and fV4vzkpfROKuICqB1MSP_slavery-separationdiscuss such an issue in the classroom. The conflict is revealed as I write it, and I explained this to my fellow classmate who agreed with me, teachers would have to explain the Mandingo myth and white men’s fear of black sexuality, and given that it’s an uphill struggle just to talk about fucking condoms in a public school setting, imagine explaining big black dick paranoia.

Douglass himself is able to reveal the mediocrity of this argument with one firm slap of facts:

But I come to a stronger position. I rest my denial not merely upon general principles but upon well known facts. I reject the charge brought against the Negro as a class, because all through the late war, while the slave-masters of the South were absent from their homes, in the field of rebellion, with bullets in their pockets, treason in their hearts, broad blades in their bloody hands, Slaveryseeking the life of the nation, with the vile purpose of perpetuating the enslavement of the Negro, their wives, their sisters and mothers were left in absolute custody of these same Negroes and during all those four long years of terrible conflict, when the Negroe had every opportunity to commit the abominable crime now alleged against him, there was never a single incidence of such a crime reported or charged against him. He was never accused of assault, insult, or an attempt to commit an assault upon any white woman in the whole South. (757).

Yet again I wish I possessed just a magic ring to go back in time and yell “Squa-doosh!” and yet again be the guy to make that a thing.

Why is the Negro Lynched? is a speech that many people are unlikely to read because it does not possess the same biting tongue of Douglass’s earlier works, but it must be remembered at this point that Douglass is an older man and does not possess that zest that is so commonly cultivated in the character of young men. As men age, they tend to grow cautious, wise, and up-their-own-ass with experience, but in many ways Douglass is a marvel for, even if this speech is not on the same level as The Fourth of July, the man is able to demonstrate that he is still a mind that is reasonable and worth listening to. Douglass never loses his conviction.

The other reason many probably won’t read this speech is simple ignorance. As stated before, each author has a canon of work that some will recognize either to high school experience, or that one freshman English professor who tried to convert you into a liberal arts major. Why is the Negro Lynched? is a speech that seems to assume more frederick-douglass-speaking-in-england-on-his-experiences-as-a-slave-in-the-usaand more pressing relevance in today’s society for even after a hundred years African Americans are still being “lynched” simply for the color of their skin. Given our political climate it is more crucial than ever to look back upon our society’s debates and discourse and see whether or not we have progressed.

We have, but far more work needs to be done. The fear of big black dicks hasn’t changed much, but economics is quickly supplanting this fear.

My class has recently ended, but my professor, on our last Douglass day, read the closing the remarks of this speech, and I tell no lie when I admit I was actually brought to tears:

Apply these sublime and glorious truths to the situation now before you. Put away your race prejudice. Banish the idea that one class must rule over another. Recognize the fact that the rights of the humblest citizens are as worthy of protection as are those of the highest and your problem will be solved, and—whatever may be in store for you in the future, whether prosperity or adversity, whether you have foes without or foes within, whether there shall be peace or war—based upon the eternal principles of 130107070228-douglass1-story-toptruth, justice, and humanity, with no class having cause for complaint or grievance, your Republic will stand and flourish forever. (776).

There’s an idea that is the American Republic, and once the words Democracy and Mobocracy have been thrown about like over-stretched cheap hash, there is still the kernel of human potential and voice that can survive and mean something. If human dignity, no matter its color, cannot find solace and even mere safety then what has been fought and struggled over in our discourse? Why is it so damned difficult for a black man or woman to drive their cars without having to worry about whether or not they’re going to be killed. The surest sign that a writer has accomplished a contribution to the humanity and society they participate in is if even after almost double a century their words still resonate in the capacity of the soul and stirrings of the intellect.

Why is the Negro Lynched? was the last public speech Douglass gave. It was a final battle call for dignity and justice for the American Republic. Let it ring in the ears of those with the courage discover and to read it.

 

**Writer’s Note**

The passages cited here were from Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings, edited by Philip S. Foner

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