50 Shades of Black

By Arthur Jones III

Contributing Writer

I want you to take a little trip with me. Let’s go to a parallel universe together. Right this way. Everything there is as it is here with four exceptions: all white Americans here and now are black Americans there and then – and vice versa. Everyone in this alternate timeline of America who is a Democrat here is actually a Republican in the specific timeline of America that I’m referring to – and vice versa. Rich folks here and now are poor there and then – and vice versa. North is South – and vice versa. Ladies and gentlemen, cast your gaze upon a unique dimension of the space/time continuum. I call it 50 shades of black.

Stand right next to me. I’ll keep you safe.

Please put on your thinking cap.

What if the most advanced civilizations on earth in ancient times were established by black people – and history books in postmodern schools were willfully written by the purveyors of black privilege so those facts were not taught to white students in elementary, middle, and secondary schools? If you were white and watching your children being denied knowledge of their cultural heritage, would you remain silent?

What if America’s founding fathers had all been black? What if the cancerous blight of slavery had been inflicted upon white African citizens who were stolen from their native land – and robbed of their language, culture, and system of faith in the process? What if those same black founding fathers – long revered as beacons of tolerance and vision – owned white slaves themselves? As a white citizen of America, would it alter your level of respect for the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Federation, or the US Constitution? How would you feel if our duly-elected Senators and Congressmen – the vast majority of which were black – went out of their way to make it difficult for women, minorities (especially white folks), and young people to vote? Wouldn’t you be motivated to protest, march, and rally to affect change?

What if Barry Odom was the first white President in this nation’s history? What if the Democratic Party – once the political party of inclusion, integration, and innovation – denied its proud history to focus on being the party of demonization, despair, and denial? What if the Democrats voted 56 separate times to repeal Odomcare? What if America’s white citizens were called takers and users? What if President Odom was constantly called communist, Muslim, fascist, socialist, racist, apologist, and other names too abhorrent for print? What if that American President’s faith in God, love of America, and legitimacy as the leader of the free world was repeatedly called into question? Would you smirk then?

Pay attention. I’m going somewhere with this.

What if white people couldn’t breathe? What if black police officers throughout America displayed the propensity to harass, stop-and-frisk, and arrest unarmed white men without just cause? What if the events of Ferguson and Staten Island and Cleveland were events which resulted in the deaths of unarmed white teenagers and men? If as a parent, you were concerned that a black George Zimmerman might follow and potentially harm your white son merely for walking through his own neighborhood, wouldn’t you be angry?

What if White History Month was every February? What if Historically White Colleges and Universities (HWCUs) were still necessary as a lasting legacy to the dark days when white students – however gifted – were legally prohibited from attending American institutions of higher learning alongside blacks? What if Predominantly Black Institutions – like The University of the North – only had a 4% population of white undergraduate and graduate students?

What if “black power” was the battlecry white people heard as they were beaten, arrested, and fired upon by black police officers and National Guardsmen in the North during the 1960s simply for peacefully protesting? What if the civil rights movement was waged so that this great nation would grant the full citizenship rights to white Americans? What if Presidents Kennedy and Johnson – black Presidents who risked everything politically – worked with Dr. Marty King, a white pastor and professor, to make the US a greater union? After all, if black is beautiful, isn’t white wonderful, too? White lives matter, also.

What if 1% of black Americans owned 50% of America’s wealth? Would the terms “wealth redistribution” and/or “living wage” still offend you?

What if brown-skinned women with dark brown eyes and natural black hair were the globally accepted standard of beauty? What if curvy and thick, not thin, was in?

What if America’s prison population was mostly made up of white men who couldn’t vote, secure employment, or re-integrate in society after their release from prison? Would they, too, be classified as the rightful victims of poor choices?

It’s time for us to go home. And… we’re back!

In dimensions imagined or real, people are people. We love and hate, rise and fall, live and die. Individually and collectively, we’re powerful yet powerless; righteous yet unrighteous; selfless yet selfish.

God grants us His unmerited grace, but we refuse to extend grace to each other. When will we learn?

Self-diagnosis is sorely needed in our nation. Maybe we all need to spend some time staring into the mirror. Perchance we should reexamine what true diversity looks like. Perhaps our hearts are 50 shades of black.

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