It Is What It Always Was (But It Won’t Always Be)

The scriptures say that men without vision perish.

Today, our nation stands void of vision… direction… and values.

We are left to then deal with the disease of addiction.

Addiction to violence. Addiction to hate. Addiction to dominance. Addiction to guns. Addiction to whiteness. We are enthralled and drunk off the very things that lead to destruction.

When I started writing this letter, I was watching the scenes unfold of a terrorist attack in Buffalo committed by an 18-year-old white supremacist. The details are eerily similar to an incident that occurred in my home state of South Carolina a few years ago. In 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist, acted out on his hatred and killed 9 Black worshippers at Mother Emanuel AME Church. In a strange twist, Dylann Roof lived in the same town, on the same stretch of highway where I grew up (even though the town is 90% Black). You always knew, but it hammered home the point that white supremacy lurks everywhere, unafraid because it knows that society upholds the very things that allow it to flourish.

It’s a tale as old as the Republic, with its first lines being written with the first “explorers” stepping foot on these shores, terrorizing the original Americans who thrived here. Its next chapter included the kidnapping, torture, and brutalization of millions of Africans (my ancestors). These recent acts of terror are of no surprise to us who have seen the seeds sown of hatred and its violent harvests, the strange fruits that it entails. We have seen the lynchings, the mass murders, the terrorism, and the betrayals. We are hurt, many are tired, and some have given up ever believing in a democracy that honestly has never worked for us nor is currently trying to.

But there is one thing I also feel tonight, and that’s maladjustment. Maladjustment by definition is “A failure to meet the demands of society, such as coping with problems and social relationships: usually reflected in emotional instability”. It’s an inability to become adjusted to the norm. Dr. King speaks of his maladjustment, stating, “I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry.” And I, like Dr. King, am also proud to be maladjusted. I am discontent and repulsed by what I see, and I will never back off of those feelings until we see progress.

I never have and never will believe in the default theory that this nation was built in the name of freedom or under the guidance of just men. If I am honest, I am disgusted with this nation today. There can be no civility and no honor due to a nation that allows Black bodies to be tortured, its citizens to be ambushed and subjugated to terrorism, both by the state and its other citizens. Just as I lived amid white supremacy, in every sector of society you see the offspring of the original terrorists, not just in people, but its systems and institutions.

The most offensive part is the audacity of many, including those who benefit from the system, to turn its back to what they know to be true. Many are purposefully negligent and willfully ignorant, looking to reap the benefits of a system without bearing the guilt of its cruel foundations. That to me is the highest of sins, the lowest of moral cowardices.

The propensity to see our problems through the lens of political strategy prevents us from attacking white supremacy head-on. If leaders only base their decisions on the already fickle opinions of voters or focus groups, then maybe they were never worthy of power. If you try to placate both the Confederacy and the Union you only hasten the logical conclusion of our nation “tearing asunder”. You enable the rebel, the terrorist, and the anarchist to rip democracy from the very people you said you are here to protect. You are then guilty of malpractice of the highest order.

And while many white Americans are turned off by what they see, there are still too many who do not want to disturb the status quo and are willing to hold their noses just so they can keep the societal standing they have. I looked at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner the other week, where some (who may have been well-intentioned) were joking around with people from a white supremacist network. A network that has indoctrinated and contributed to the very hatred that attacks my people daily. A network that lied about the first Black President’s place of birth. A Jim Crow network that will stop at nothing to fill our airwaves with the very lies and deceit they say they have no hand in.

I want to ask this question to the reader: If there were anti-white outlets, and they were invited to the White House, how would you feel? If you saw the very people who seek to oppress you normalized, how would you respond? Is the want to maintain a false peace so strong that you would entertain and as a result normalize people who indoctrinate terrorists? Do you not realize that the avoidance of peaceful confrontation only increases the chances of an undesired violent confrontation in the future? French fabulist, Jean de La Fontaine once said, “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”

I want to finish by addressing both the downtrodden and the terrorists that are the root of our pain. Even this cannot last forever. What is won’t always be. Maybe for once, we will stop trying to coddle racists and their enablers and set to ensure not just the survival, but to provide the flourishment of those who have been beaten down, those made to endure the winters of their discontent. A Second Revolution, a rebirth of this nation’s ideals and foundations can and will be the only option. I will work to my last breath to ensure that it is. There will be recompense for all the years of pain, reparation for the property pilfered, and justice for the lives and futures stolen. There has to be because the laws of seedtime and harvest remain true, even to this day. I am left with no other option but to believe in this. It’s inevitable we will be given what we are owed… we cannot be denied. And to those who attempt to stand in our way, there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Joel Pulliam

Millennial, campaign/Voter Protection Unit alum. Passionate about civil rights, politics, music, and comics.