Friday, March 11, 2016

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. and me!

Democracy in Black came my way several times, but to be honest, when I looked at the cover, I thought that it might read like a textbook, and I gave it second thoughts.

However, I received an email stating that Dr. Glaude would be in DC, and y’all know I can’t pass up many opportunities to hear authors talk about their books and race. So, I went to the talk.

I was instantly drawn into Dr. Glaude’s passion; I got the overwhelming feeling that he loves my folks and his folks and our folks, and I just had to read this book.

To start off with, Democracy in Black definitely does not read like a textbook at all. It actually reads like a novel, and he drew me in with his conversational approach to the events that took place in Ferguson surrounding the death of Michael Brown. I hope that there is not one person who reads this blog who has not heard of Michael Brown. (Google Michael Brown!)
‘Something happened in Ferguson that day that transformed  these young women and transfixed the nation. As one of them said, “You just felt something different in the air.” As if the fog was lifting a bit.'
And, you know what? I feel something different in the air, and it’s paining me to the core, but at the same time, I feel a deep sense of hope. Dr. Glaude states “Our choice now, as we leave behind the confidence men and their false hopes, is either to wake up and give everything to ‘achieve our country’ or to remain asleep as America burns.” Oh, this fondly reminded me of The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, and it gave me the courage to run on.

One of the ideas that is presented in this book that I have been wrestling with is the idea that Democracy means White and to see this truth in words made me think about our school systems that seem to perpetuate this idea by a teacher having to justify teaching works by Toni Morrison, James Baldwin etc, and it is readily accepted that Shakespeare, William Faulker, and Jane Austen are the staples of any school’s curriculum. This perpetuates the idea that Democracy is White and definitely creates a value gap. Also, I thought about Coates' idea from Between the World and Me of race being a social construct that creates a huge White group collectively with all of the power and influence, and everybody else scrambling to get some of that power.

Racial habits..."Rather, inequality comes from habits we exercise daily-habits that are not revealed in racial slurs or blatant acts of discrimination, but in the choices we make and the lives we live, even when those ideas seem to have little to do with race.” When I read this, I wanted to cry tears of pain and at the same time tears of joy.... It’s the decisions that we are making everyday that creates inequality.... If you are an educator in The United States of America, you see this every single day. Things like allowing school buses to be late every day and most of the children who ride the buses just happen to be children of color, overcrowding of classrooms that just happen to be the classroom of children who have the most needs and most often these children are children of color. Or, Detroit public schools running out of money, and the world ain’t upset. I wonder if people are not upset because of our perceptions of schools and school districts where most of the students just happen to be Black. I do believe that we can make different decisions, yet most often, we are not, because it’s part of our racial habits.

White Fear....The idea that White people’s fear of Black people causes police to beat my people. That fear causes White people and Black people to hold their purses tightly when they see suspicious looking Black people. The idea that if Black people show any form of anger, it causes White people to be afraid....However, with the art that is being created today, the books that are being written, the explosive social media, people are being forced to listen and face their fears. Yea, we know by the number of people who attend Trump’s KKK, oops, rallies, many are responding to these bold, loud, courageous Black voices with fear and the fear is manifesting itself as hate. However, Dr. Glaude mentions that the flip slide of White anger is Black distrust... And, I could go on and on about this topic!!

In this book Dr. Glaude explains that in a small town in Mississippi, Dr. King could not get out of the bed; he was depressed. The image of Dr. King being weary with depression has been on my mind every since reading about it. Dr. Glaude explains that maybe Dr. King had succumbed to "marrow weariness....He had underestimated how deeply White supremacy was in the habits of American life.” I can whole heartedly understand Dr. King weariness.... Looking at what’s going on in this country today; I totally understand his thoughts and the weariness! But, oh my heart goes out to Dr. King who eventually got out of that bed and continued to fight the ‘good fight.'

Now, Dr. Glaude touches on many other ideas in this book such as the ideas of saving our historically Black colleges, churches, magazines, newspapers etc., because we “still are institutionally at risk.” I absolutely love the quote that Dr. Glaude used by James Baldwin to explain the need: “What will happen to all that beauty?” He also touches on the idea that we do not need one leader; we can all be leaders.

What I love about this book the most is that Dr. Glaude offers solutions....”If we are aware of their presence (habits) in our lives, we can change them." After reading this book, my people, I clearly see everything that he is saying; I’m wide awake.

I am sooooo grateful to Dr. Glaude for courageously writing this book and adding to the many stories on race and racism that MUST be told.

My people, I know that there are many of you who may want to put your head under your pillow and stay there until the world is fixed, and I also want to do that at times, but we NEED you... Yes, we NEED courageous you in order to make this United States of America a better place. AND, reading Democracy in Black just may be the fuel that you need to “run on to see what the end is gonna be.”

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