Toni Morrison & American Racism
| Bumpy J | AfroSapiophile |
Jan, 2021 | Medium
Nor did she witness the following:
- The tackling of the son of jazz trumpeter, Keyon Harold by a white woman in a hotel after he wrongly accused him of stealing her cellphone.
- The other shootings of Black men which almost go unrecorded now they are so normal (but not normal).
- The killing of Breonna Taylor. The cover-up of that death.
Morrison warned us all of the hatred of the “other” and how it would continue to poison all. Her steady hand, and wise and willful voice, is missing right now.
Line of Separation
I was watching the current PBS drama, Line of Separation when I learned of Morrison’s death. It was appropriate because Nazism and racial and ethnic hatred is central to that story.
Line of Separation is a drama about a small village in Germany (Tannbach) that finds itself caught in the crosshairs of the beginning stages of the Cold War between Russia and the United States when Nazi Germany collapses.
It is a story perfect for our globally connected world, right now — Hitler’s racism, Stalin’s fortitude and evil, and the West’s market based ideals all mixed into a drama about inhumanity.
In one memorable scene, in Line of Separation, the death of Adolph Hitler is heard over a radio in a small, crowded cafe.
With a mixture of U.S. soldiers, Nazis who have been captured, German citizens, and Germans of Jewish ancestry, the complexity of the world but also the factions is revealed.
The hardcore Nazis are disappointed Hitler is dead. The U.S. soldiers salute his death. The others — the Germans of various backgrounds and political persuasions — cheer even louder that the racist, genocidal leader is dead.
You wonder what would happen if suddenly Donald Trump were to die.
In another scene, U.S. soldiers liberate a Nazi Concentration Camp. Corpses litter the screen, skeletons are pulled from ovens, men frail and near death are rescued. It is sickening.
Many are not aware that Hitler studied American racism systems to design his own racial systems in Germany. It is well documented.
The Confederacy and the Nazis
Watching those segments in ‘Line of Separation’ makes me think of the end of the Civil War in 1865 and Toni Morrison.
Morrison spent her career exposing the dark side of American history in books like her classic, awarding winner, Beloved.
In that book, a black woman, rather than see her child face the evil of slavery and white supremacy, kills her own child.
Morrison, in her writings, and in her talks, knew, as most black writers today know who are fully engaged, that white supremacy is wicked and toxic. It leads to frequent death.
Many debates have erupted online comparing the Confederacy in the U.S. to the Nazis in the last few months. There has been fierce pushback but the Confederacy is finally receiving the slow send-off it should have gotten in 1865.
The General Robert E. Lee’s statue, that was inside the U.S. Capitol, was just removed. U.S. military bases named after Confederate leaders are being renamed.
You wonder how it took this long.
Yet, one also wonders? Did the U.S. take the memorials down for the greater good or to maintain white supremacy.
Here is the history that Morrison never let go of when she was alive and writing. A war was fought to keep Black people enslaved— the Confederates lost that war.
Black people fought in that war for their freedom. Many died so their offspring would be free.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, the Confederates got welcomed back into the country again and got memorials. Black people got Jim Crow laws and lynchings and had to begin to fight like dogs again for everything.
Then, there was the “Lost Cause” movement.
‘The Lost Cause’ movement perpetuated the lie that the Africans who had been enslaved were loyal to their masters and did not want to be freed. Their masters had treated them well and had provided for all of their needs.
The masters, according to this sick theory, had protected them. There was no focus on the savagery of evil of slavery and the terror and violence used to maintain it.
When that lie got old, and discredited to a degree, they shifted to a new narrative that was just as absurd.
Writer, Joshua Zeitz summarized that narrative in POLITICO last year when he wrote about the current movement to remove all Confederate monuments in the U.S.:
The dirty history of the Confederacy has been hidden, altered, and repressed to this day. White southerners and the many today who still proudly display the Confederate Flag refuse to face the racial evils of the past and present.
In addition, the average person living in the U.S. likely has no idea of the terror and racial wickedness that it has caused.
We saw it in action in Charleston in June 2015. A white teen walked into a church one evening, prayed with some Black people, and then shot and killed nine of them.
The Confederate ideas of white supremacy were his motivations.
The Confederate flag, and all of the Confederate monuments, that were built after the Civil War and into America’s Jim Crow period, all stand for terror, hate, and racist evil. All of them should come down.
A Racial Paradox
Here’s the real kicker though.
Line of Separation, the PBS program, is interesting because it is more complex than our racial madness. Some people joined the Nazi party and Hitler for Germany, some joined for ideology, some joined for just Germany.
It is all over the place.
But one thing that has now happened is, a unified Germany has rejected Nazism. This began about 40 years after May 8, 1945, the original “day of liberation” following the fall of the Third Reich.
There is now a Day of Liberation for the end of Nazism in Germany and it means just that — the end of Nazism. Swaztikas are banned in Germany. Nazi monuments have been removed. Memorials to victims are being erected.
There would be no more celebratory moments for Nazism in Germany like in the U.S. with the Confederacy. Nazism is evil. Racism is evil.
What Germany did during the 30’s and 40’s under Hitler was wrong and evil and that needs to be said all the time. More importantly, it wasn’t just Hitler’s doing either; anyone who stood by and said nothing was responsible and that was a lot of Germans.
I wish Morrison were around to write about what we are witnessing, especially if it continues.