My five year old son has a mortal fear of spiders and has elected me as the spider assassin-in-chief. I have however failed terribly in this assigned duty. Our conversation on this problem usually goes like this. “Daddy, there is a spider in my room!” I will go into his room. There is usually a small spider in some corner that he wants me to kill. “Well, what do you want me to do?” “I want you to kill it!” He usually has this incredulous look on his face as if wondering why that question was relevant. By this time he has already started getting frustrated, worried he may not get his wish. Ultimately, we have a conversation on how the spider has just as much a right to live as we do.
Eventually, my son will need to learn to overcome his fear of spiders. In addition he would need to accept the fact that you don’t kill another creature just because you are scared of them.
I recently had a similar conversation with an ardent conservative. This person supports Trump because he believes Trump stands up to those who want to assail his religious liberties. When I pointed out to him that based on what he had told me nobody was limiting his religious liberties his response was; “Stops them in their tracks from infringing on my rights.” My friend supports Trump because he has a way of preventing people from infringing on his rights. In other words he wants a situation to be stopped before it happens. This idea which may sound great, when applied to ideas and believes can be disastrous.
Unfortunately this is the world we now live in. A world where nobody wants to be offended in any way. To achieve this idyllic world all offensive behaviors, thoughts, ideas, beliefs and freedoms have to be suppressed before they are expressed. These need to be stopped in their tracks; lest someone let them loose on us. We definitely, do not want them to assail our sensibilities. Support for this way of handling ideas spans the political spectrum.
In this very beautiful world my own people, blacks of all kinds and backgrounds occupy a unique position. For some reason which is not always easy to understand we incite fear in some of our white contemporaries. A fear similar to that of some with spiders. There are many stockpiling weapons only fit for war in their fear and hatred of black people.
This fear is called negrophobia and is defined as the irrational fear of black people. People suffering from this condition will find the mere thought of black people to be very anxiety provoking. It is yet to be classified as a mental health disorder. I however hope that never happens lest some claim the cost of a gun as a health benefit on that account. For those who suffer from this condition being near a black person can stir up violence. Most will claim after these acts that they felt their life was in danger. In a way this not surprising, what makes it irrational is how this violence is perceived. Black Americans have almost always been the victims of racial violence and more rarely ever the perpetrators.
Yet for centuries blacks in America continue to carry the blame and take the punishment for a violence perpetrated on them. One day I hope to understand why individual freedom and negrophobia in America continues to contribute to the shedding of innocent black lives even after emancipation.
There are still many in this land who see violence whenever they see a black person. How did we come to personify violence? I have read and searched our history and even with whitewashing can easily discern that more violence has been perpetrated on black people than by blacks on others.
Violence against blacks persists today because it has been nurtured by us. To this one can only ask; “what kind of society nurtures violence?” Unfortunately, for many centuries black antipathy has been the easy calling cry of the ambitious and lazy white politician without a viable platform seeking an easy path to power. These unscrupulous charlatans managed to brew a mix of individual freedom and negrophobia in America into a political beverage that is highly toxic to black people. It is a stirring up of this ideology that catapulted Trump into office.
America would once again need to ask if this is a reflection of who we are. This month we would be voting for new leadership after a very tumultuous year with many issues that stimulated a lot of emotions and discontent. We have lost many of our friends, family members and coworkers to Covid-19. There have been race protests across the country following the murder of George Floyd. It is time for us to start doing some mental renewals. We need to end 2020, with a promise to leave the hate behind and move into 2021 with a new heart to start working to bring our country together.
Let us all learn to challenge ourselves as we prepare for 2021, let’s all love better and live better in 2021.
By Dr. Leonard Sowah a physician in Baltimore, Maryland