Monday, October 17, 2011

My Dream

I dreamed a terrible dream the other night.

I was on trial, facing death or at best, life imprisonment. Accused of a murder I knew I did not commit, I was still convinced I would be convicted. Why?

Because it was the Jim Crow South.

I don't know who I was supposed to have killed, or why I was believed to be guilty. I don't know who I was, or where I was, or who put me there. I just knew it was the South, and I was going to court, and I was going to suffer.

Even asleep, and with the vague inkling that I was only dreaming, my angst was horrible. My heartbeat was elevated, I felt queasy to my stomach, and I couldn't tear my mind away from my impending fate. It was a slow march to doom, and every step cost more than the last.

I was only dreaming, but it felt real. My fear was so real that it gripped my bowels forcing me to the toilet, and as I slowly shook off the cobwebs of sleep, something hit me.

This was how it felt. For so many men who looked like me, my dream was their life. They took that same walk, and faced those same fears.

My dream was only a pale reflection of that terrible reality, but even then, it was almost too much for me to handle. How did they find the strength? How did their families ever overcome that fear and anger? How did they learn to forgive?

We have failed in this country to truly understand the scars left by this country's past. We've spent far too much time trying to put things behind us, sometimes as a coping method and sometimes as a way to avoid blame. But, that decision has left our past misunderstood and, in many ways, forgotten. That means it will only be a short fall to descend back into that madness.

A short fall indeed.



Bill said...

I am always troubled by the disproportional amount of African Americans that are incarcerated. I have seen over the years as various advocacy groups with the use of modern science (DNA) have resulted in some being released. It doesn’t take a statistician or math expert to figure that there are many more innocent people of color in jail. In fact, after 26 years, Dewey Bozella was exonerated of killing a 92 year old woman. He won his professional fight. Yet the GOP republican candidate Herman Cain an African American says: “I don't believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way." It reminds me of,
The late Marvin Gaye song about: Makes me wanna holler. There are many more Bozella’s and others having and living NIGHTMARES.Just makes me wanna holler.

Big Man said...

I feel the same way Bill. I can think of few worse fates than having to endure the horror that is the American penal system while knowing that you've been convicted of a crime you didn't convict.
Plus, the rampant unfairness in sentencing guidelines for different crimes is crazy. You can get life in prison for an armed robbery, but only do a few months for stealing millions.

Raving Black Lunatic