(Salon) – Black America is tired. The liminal existence of Ellison’s invisible man; Cornel West’s brilliant meditation on “niggerization” as a state of existential fear, where black and brown people are unwanted, unprotected and unsafe in America; and the genius insights of Richard Wright’s “Native Son” speak to a stalwart resilience in the face of the racial absurdity that is white supremacy and the color line in America (and the world).
Black Americans are the moral conscience of the United States. In her book by the same title, political theorist and legal scholar Lani Guinier described black folks as a type of “miner’s canary” for a democracy that is still very much a work in progress: a country whose origins are in the twin crimes against humanity that were the genocide of First Nations people and the murder and enslavement of millions of blacks held as human chattel, and one that still struggles to perfect a “more perfect union” in the face of a resurgent White Right, a plundering plutocrat class and the terror of neoliberalism and the politics of human disposability.
Black America is strong. But “Black America” is more of a symbol and an idea than it is a place or a fact. Black Americans are not a monolith, the Borg, or a hive mind. They are individuals who have a shared experience of racialization in a society structured around both maintaining and protecting white privilege and white supremacy.
Individuals have a full range of emotions and life experiences.