Monday, December 1, 2014

"That's when all hell breaks loose"

From The Healing by Jonathan Odell. The setting is a Mississippi plantation. Silas, who has been the Master's right hand man since he was a boy says:
"I did my best to teach the master about slaves. Told him a hundred times when he was a boy that it wasn't a black skin that made a man a slave. It's the other skin, the one that grows on the outside, that second hide made of fear and obedience. What a good master does is every once in a while, prick that skin to remind folks that it's still there and always will be. I told him that if a slave was to molt that outside skin, you no longer have a slave. 'Mark my words," I said, 'when a man's not afraid, then he's hoping. And that's when all hell breaks loose.'"

1 comment:

  1. That's a powerful observation. I don't know the work, and I thank you for it. We have the capacity, even as privileged white people, to don the skin of slavery by allowing injustice to flourish. Those of us old enough to have been witness to or participants in the Civil Rights movement understand the power of hope that drives us to help all hell break loose.

    What one learns from the study of Empire is how much the skin of oppression binds the oppressor. It may seem otherwise, but when your resources are poured into keeping others in slavery, your own freedom is shackled. Your obsessive intent to keep other people down consumes your every moment, takes your resources, links you to them eternally. When the slaves get the hope of something better, a wise person who has participated in the system of oppression ought to understand how freeing that is for them, too.

    The slow grind of the New Jim Crow has to end. It is destroying our democracy and economy. You cannot have a free society for white people if it is not one that enhances the well being of all people. We knew that in the 50s and 60s from Rev. King. We need to learn it again if we are serious about democracy.