An Exhortation to Practice Patience in the Face of Racism

W.E. B. Du Bois, speaking of the newly emancipated American slaves:

“In song and exhortation swelled one refrain – Liberty; in his tears and curses the God he implored had Freedom in his right hand. At last it came, – suddenly, fearfully, like a dream. With one wild carnival of blood and passion came the message in his own plaintive cadences: –

‘shout, O children!

Shout, you’re free!

For God has bought your liberty!’

Years have passed away since then,  – ten, twenty, forty; forty years of national life, forty years of renewal and development, and yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nation’s feast. In vain do we cry to this our vastest social problem: –

‘Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves shall never tremble!’

The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people,  – a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people” (W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk).

As we continue to deal with problem of racism in American society, we – those of us who care – must practice patience. The brand of racism that doggedly persists today is sometimes blatant, but, more often than not, is subtle, sly, a master of disguises (and excuses). Let us hold onto our ideals and defy racism where we find it – gently but insistently – with dignity and poise. And may we never forget that the best “revenge” is a life well-lived.

Have a great week!



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