It Took Awhile But The Civil War Ended…

Black history is different than White history. Northern history is different than Southern history. The multiple time-lines thing became apparent last week.

White history goes something like this: come to America because you were oppressed for your faith. Become free. (for the most part — there were indentured servants). Declare your freedom from the old oppressor.   Win. Fight with your brothers and sisters over what “free” is. Have a Civil War. End the Civil War. Declare everybody free.  Stay free forever — especially if you’re Protestant and male. 

Black history goes like this: Come to this country as slave or free person. Become enslaved here. Fight for your freedom 100 years later.  Become free, except for the whole voting thing, and the schools thing, and the office -holding thing, and the KKK thing. Later, there’s the water fountain thing and the bus thing. 100 years after the last time you “won” your freedom, win more of your freedom. Get shot a lot, have a church mass-shooting, have White folks acknowledge that the Civil War is over. 

Northern history goes like this– come over as oppressed, become free. Become free some more, argue about what freedom is. Have a Civil War. Win. Declare everybody free. Stay free– especially if you’re Protestant and male.

Southern history looks like Northern history right up to the Civil War, except lose. Be humiliated and declare everybody free. Then pretend that last part didn’t happen and you didn’t really mean everybody was free. Admit Black folk are human, give them some rights, but take it back and still pretend you didn’t lose the Civil War and be proud of slavery. Then, when a White man shoots a bunch of Black folk who are studying the Bible, realize that the whole “KKK is really Christian” doesn’t work anymore, admit that the Civil War is over.

White history goes one way — toward freedom. Black history goes for 10 or 20 years and then stops for a hundred. Then does it again, then it reads that the Civil War is over and have trouble believing it.

When we White folk see history, we pretty much like it. When Black folk see it, not so much– at least in America.”We” don’t “get” them and they don’t understand why not. Time is different and reality is different for each of us. Until we get that, until we can actually hold onto reality, this will keep happening. 

I’m a liberal, so I like to see change and freedom … At a pace that suits me, I’m told, but this is too slow, even for me. Since the 1970’s, we have feared equality and change and let our Black brothers and sisters lose any gains they made on the timeline. The last year has been hell. 

First, our Black president was going to take our freedom, so, out of fear.  we acted like idiots. When we saw that he was still President, we went after “those people” who (we swear) want to take our freedom by claiming some for themselves.  We kill them because they’re in our neighborhood with a hoodie. We kill them because they’re criminals (again, we swear they are). We kill them because they are “scary” and poor and hurting and want our money (which we might know something about. Finally, we kill them because — while praying, mind you — they want to rape our women and take away our guns and give us insurance against our will. 

When we saw all of this happening, many of us stopped believing that it didn’t hurt, started remembering that the Civil War was supposed to unite us as a country and started remembering that that was a good thing. We have stopped believing that killing is a tradition we want to keep.  

Still, there are those who want to pretend none of this happened, that the Confederate flag is a symbol of freedom for all of us, and that the Civil War isn’t won yet.

And what did the Black community get for all of this? They got flags taken down in two states. Did I mention that history is different for Blacks?  That’s a lot of pushing and dying and a long time to  get flags taken down. Couldn’t we all get our stories straight and move this history thing into second gear? It’s just too confusing this way.


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