DON’T ASK ME WHY

“Hey man, cool it! Why are you so angry?”

That question, no doubt, is asked by different people, in different situations, and at different times in this world every single day. What is annoying is that when the answer is given that people keep asking the same question — over and over again. When they do so, it suggests that they either were not listening, or that the answer given was viewed as trite, or not understandable at all. Why ask a question if you are not interested in the answer? In such frustrating circular conversations this writer would understand if some people would default to the following lyrics written by the late Reggae artist, Bob Marley, as a response out of resignation:

“There’s a natural mystic

Blowing through the air

If you listen carefully now you will hear

This could be the first trumpet

Might as well be the last

Many more will have to suffer

Many more will have to die

Don’t ask me why”

White America — whether with an aura of confused sublimity or with one of mindless flippancy — often refer to Afro-Americans as “Angry Black men” or as “Angry Black women.” These wattle and daub generalities are ascribed to Blacks whether they were genuinely angry at someone or something, or just asserting themselves in respect to matters which would be of concern to anyone who had to endure the same trespass. The false impression created is that Afro-Americans, as a race, are more disposed to undue anger than those in other races.

The Bible admonishes its adherents to “be angry and sin not.” Though it is all right to be angry, from God’s point of view, it seems that some vice is always at play every time Black people take umbrage to something that would elicit the same reactions from other races. Some sort of psychosis is implied when they choose not to smile, or to laugh, or to dance when white America chooses to do so. On the other hand, white America says nothing about their fears whenever they are in close proximity to Black people.

It is a fear which engenders a “gun mania” and chronic “itchy trigger fingers” — whether Black people bear arms or not. As it is open house on the mental states of Americans in the twenty first century, do not these inexplicable, unhinged “anxiety attacks” of some whites — to use a more euphemistic expression — warrant an appointment with a psychotherapist? But, assuming that the anger of Black Americans constituted a serious malady of psycho-social origins — then from whence all this unnecessary and unhealthy affect?

Whence this anger? Could it be due to the thousands of lynchings of Black men, women and children across the U.S. from 1880 through 1961 to the present which might have anything to do with it? Could the massacre of Black men, women and children and the wanton destruction and theft of their properties in East Saint Louis, Illinois in 1917 have anything to do with it? Could the massacre of Black men, women and children, and the mass arrests of the same in Elaine, Arkansas in 1919 have anything to do with it? Could the massacre of Black men, women, and children and the destruction of properties in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 be a factor?

What about racial profiling? What about Black people being shot and killed routinely while at a traffic stops for broken tail lights or expired tags? What about for selling cigarettes on the corner, while sleeping comfortably in one’s bed, or while praising The Lord in a worship service at church? What about voter suppression? What about no jobs, low paying jobs and about always being the last hired and the first fired? What about the exasperation of some reading this article because they are tired of this litany of complaints or of the aggravation that they cause just hearing about them again? Why are we angry? Don’t ask me why?

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