Opinion: Things Fall Apart
Note: The following essay was crafted by Aidan Taylor. Taylor is a senior pursuing a double major in Digital Media Production and Pan African Studies. His essay contains strong language.
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
- W.B. Yeats
Before starting, I think it best to lay out the current state of my mind: I am someone who has, throughout the past five years, discovered something so very sinister regarding the world around me and my place in it. What is most unnerving is the way in which I am forced to pull strings of hope out of an exceedingly desperate condition; the human condition. My ideas, thoughts, opinions, and points of view have driven me into an inside space, it seems. I now have a watchdog – who is on high alert, I must say – within myself, that examines all ideas and people with ideas, very cautiously, waiting to attack or scare off if need be. What I am talking about here is not something unique, this inwardness, this watchdog: it is a condition that comes with life, especially if one lives it long and/or bravely enough. And this alone says everything about the country which I find myself a citizen of.
When a country actively ignores, denies, abuses, murders, and neglects a specific community of its citizens, it has no right to be shocked, angry, and especially “exhausted” once that community takes their lives into their own hands. White people are, apparently, shocked, appalled, dazed and confused as to just why these people would burn down their own community, their own country. It is important to note that when I speak of white people, I am speaking of those who refuse to review themselves, those who continually and habitually turn a blind eye to the evils of themselves and the world around them. I am speaking of those who have let the Western world and it’s untrustworthy standards dictate their views of and responses to this thing we call life; those who run to politics and religions and armies and corporations and institutions for a place in this world. Much more important than skin color is the state of mind. The white mind is America’s most effective, and in that way, destructive, invention. America has always required a continual and transparent examination. In order for one to examine their country, one must examine themselves, and in this way liberate themselves, and in turn – no matter how small or to what degree – their country.
The two are almost, if not inseparable. The problem with examining oneself as an American is the fact that it requires such a devastating and completely honest removal of the heavy, heavy veil, which is the American Dream. However, once this dream is gone, one can begin to build one’s own dream, one’s own standards, one’s own identity. When a young person begins to question their country, many other things begin to fall with it. Most pertinent, is the identity. In order to build an honest identity, in order to stand firm in your convictions, and more importantly, in order to have the ability and confidence to change those convictions when necessary, you must strip yourself bare and examine something much deeper than skin color or gender or class or orientation. Values, beliefs, standards and passions must be reevaluated. Notions and thought processes must be stopped in their tracks and re-assessed. If one fails to do this, one fails to become an adult. And my point of view is that this country is run and inhabited by an overwhelming majority of children.
Donald J. Trump is a 74-year-old child. In 2016, Americans and the electoral college alike decided they wanted someone they could most relate with: a profoundly selfish, racist and narcissistic leader with the inability to be honest with himself and most certainly not his countrymen. It is the traits which Donald J. Trump carries, which I have most noticed in the majority of my countrymen--white and black--which brings on a cloud of emotions (rage, irritation, disappointment, hopelessness) which all lead to a common denominator: fear. I fear for the future of not only this country and the Black and Brown people in it, but of the world at large.
I was a 12 when 15-year-old Travyon Martin was shot and murdered by George Zimmerman. Upon Zimmerman’s acquittal, there rose in me a sense of doom that I was yet to explore. It is strange, that first moment of realization, the knot in your stomach when you begin to process what is happening in the world, why it is happening, how nothing is being done about it and how it can easily, and by statistics stake, is likely to happen to you, or someone you love.
What is even worse than this is knowing that nothing – not the circumstances, the setting, the time, day, or season, and least of all, your life – is in any of your control. On the one hand, this may sound like a desperate situation, and it is, but it is also a very dangerous one, and not just for and in a very different way, than it is for Black Americans.
White Americans are their own worst enemy; they will exterminate themselves before they exterminate anyone else. They do not understand this, and it is not my duty, my prerogative, and least of all my wish to make them understand this. They will understand when it is far too late, when their time is up, when, as the Bible prophesied, the meek rise and inherit the earth. I hope this does not sound like a manifesto, but rather a warning, a call to wake. One day the white people in this country (and when I say white I am speaking of not only white faces, but also of white minds), will be forced to face themselves and at that point, they will die. And this will have nothing to do with violence, but rather a dramatic change in brain chemistry, a disappointment, a regret, a guilt so profound that they are bound to turn against themselves. Americans are very unfamiliar (and unfamiliar because they are uncomfortable) with the concept of accountability, with examining the ways of life and deciding to change what is not working. In fact, America has never worked for anyone, not even those who it was designed to work for, and certainly and most obviously not those who it was designed to work against. And the constant denial of this fact is what has led to the profound disease that we call racism. What white people know, though they do not want to know it and are therefore unconscious of it, is that the way they treat “niggers” is in all actuality what they feel of themselves. America cannot and will not exist without the “nigger.” Having the “nigger” is the anchor which holds white people to the false sense of reality which they live with, clench to, kill and die for, from birth to death. It keeps them passive to injustice, makes them an accomplice to “the crimes of the world. Without the “nigger,” they do not exist, and it is this constant fear which eats away at their hearts, minds, and souls. By the time they are, say, 30 they have harbored this mixture of hate, shame, rage and fear for so long that they in effect become something so alien, so inhuman, they are unable to pull themselves out of that place where humanity dies.
Meanwhile, for those in which the system was designed against, there comes something so powerful that everything is done to keep this power at bay; to keep it undetectable to those who possess it. For Black people, living in a system which is so intricately and complexly designed against you, and withstanding that system for centuries – withstanding it up until this day, up until this hour, up until this very second creates in you something so beautiful and so terrifying, that the expression of that ability to withstand provokes and agitates that fear which runs so deep in those in which the system was designed for. And what is even worse than the agitation is the expression of that fear, which is very often (slavery, lynching, systematic suffocation, police brutality, the concept and implementation of the “ghetto”, etc.) violently evil and in most ways: demonic. The fear becomes an obsession and the obsession a necessary explanation to live out one day to the next. They soon become aware that their entire life is governed by a hateful and fearful obsession which is, by that point, beyond their own control. The slow but brutal and process of losing control, of becoming governed by hate and fear, in such a humiliating one that they in turn have lost their souls, lost the ability to love their children and contribute to the growth of the world. And I am not being romantic in the least. When their reality begins to slip, when the dream is shattered, when their comfortability in ignorance is threatened, they turn into something worse than monsters; I have watched this happen with my own eyes. Look at the brutality inflicted on American citizens by police as they protest police brutality. One cannot watch this footage and justify this violence. Unless, however, the justification of this violence is the anchor which holds this false reality in place. In their utter and complete self-destruction, they destroy the lives and world around them. In order to not face themselves, and in effect hate themselves, they must hate me, though they dare not face me.
Make America Great Again simply means making it white again, keeping the dream alive, keeping those false realities comfortable, and underneath all of this: exterminate the enemy once and for all. I, as the “nigger”, as the enemy, am their guilt, their fear, their violence and utter psychopathy, made flesh. In their minds, I embody the things they hate most about themselves, the things they are utterly frightened of. When they see me, the nigger, they see the worst parts of themselves, the parts they dare not examine, for fear of what will be found in that dark, dark corner of their mind and hearts. What they do not know is that what they see has very little to do with me as a human and says everything about their lack of humanity. And when I see them (them being the lost white faces and minds) I see a group of people who have turned away from themselves for so long that they have lost all ability to love, pray, plan, think, hope, strive; all of the attributes which differentiate cavemen from the modern human.
But, let us assume for our purposes that the neo-nazis of the world and their sympathizers reach their goals in exterminating those they are afraid of; they are then left to themselves. A world of white people is a world of terror, cannibalism, barbarism, primitiveness, and caves (for Africans have certainly never been cavemen). And this is not an insult, this is the bitter truth. The history books that they themselves doctored tell us so. These people haven’t the slightest clue about how to face the world without someone to stand on, without something to hate, without an explanation to the tasteless and uninteresting lives they lead. Left to their own devices, these people would not only further destroy themselves, but would, in absolutely no time, turn on each other. And this is not some bitter statement in a desperate search for an explanation to their inhumanity, their inhumanity has been proven throughout history and is proven to this very day. Look at the fall of Greece, of Rome, of the kings, queens, conquerors of England, France, Spain and Italy. Look at the brutality that England inflicted on her citizens, a brutality so thorough and consistent her own children fled, in a time when it was almost certain death, to the other side of the ocean. Look at the California frontiersmen, who ate their own family upon starvation. Look at the slave master, who was able to turn a blind eye to his son falling victim to the whip, the master who killed his family and then himself as his sugar stock steadily fell. Look at the Grand Wizard who spends his evenings in a shed near some trepid Mississippi swamp thinking of ways to a catch, kill, lynch and burn a nigger, instead of attempting to know and love his family. Look at the police officers, who terrorize communities, use their spouses and children as punching bags and Black bodies as target practice. If history has taught us anything about white people, it is that they have been battling themselves—and losing—for so long that, in order to survive-- literally, survive--in order to not brutalize and conquer and eat their own family members, they must turn these barbaric, inhumane, evil, twisted and sadistic habits outside of themselves onto the people they have convinced themselves superior too. Again, this is not a matter of opinion.
All one needs to do is look at the facts of history, they are there for us to examine and pick apart. There is a pattern of destruction, a trail of carnage, wherever white people go, at whatever time in the history of the world. This must be examined for what it is. We no longer have time to play respectability politics. There is something distorted about a people who inflict nothing but terror in the world. I realize these are extremely strong and ultimately problematic convictions. Being problematic is no longer my concern. If America is going to heal, if America is going to progress, if America does not want to burn at the hands of its citizens, I suggest a deliberate and thorough investigation of the self. This investigation of self is not only uncomfortable, not only painful, not only never ending, but it can be murderous. When white people, and again, I am referring to white faces and white minds, take that plunge, they will be confronted with the absolute worst parts of humanity. Americans are the most selfish and brutal group of people this world has yet to produce. If you don't believe this just look at our handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Look at the brown children—literally children—being thrown in cages raped and trafficked and starved and abused. The country in which you were born condones, creates, perpetuates and endorses these evils and so many more and has for so long. This country does not merely ignore evil; this country produces evil, it was founded on evil, cannibalism, brutality and psychopathy. Again, these are the facts of human history, of American history. This is not an exaggeration. The latter statements cannot in any way be argued. Because of this, this inability to face, accept, deal with the facts of the past, we have attempted to create new facts, new standards of humanity. This attempt to forget has bred a country of people so confused, so ashamed, so ignorant of their past that they have lost the ability to look at their countrymen in the eyes and themselves in the mirror. They are so blind to themselves that they really do believe it is possible to loot a country which was founded on the most violent looting the world has ever known: centuries of genocide and slavery. By default, by simply being born on this soil, you are guilty of these crimes and you must rectify this with yourself. When white people see those stores being ransacked, an emotion hidden by centuries and generations of false realities awakens somewhere so softly it is almost undetectable. But it is awakened, nonetheless, and that reality slips and slips and continues slipping until nothing can save it but hatred. Coming face to face with that is not and will never be an easy task, but it is the lot that was given to us. Accountability, moral responsibility, standards of conduct, and a deep sociological examination is what is needed to begin digging ourselves out of this hole we have been digging for 400 years. This is where we are as a country. This is the state of America, but what is much worse, Americans.
We speak of looters, as if Christopher Columbus isn’t the most prolific looter the world has ever known. We speak about violence as if we didn’t whip slaves to a pulp, pour honey in the wounds and hang them in cages from trees. As if we don’t find Black bodies hanging in trees to this very day. We speak of riots as if white football fans haven’t destroyed entire cities in the name of a touchdown. We speak of law and order as though white people weren’t marching the streets with AK-47’s in the name of haircuts. We speak of police reform as if we don’t give any coward with an inferiority complex a badge, a gun, and immunity. We speak of freedom and social mobility as though we don’t have the highest incarceration rate in the world, as though we haven’t thrown thousands of Black and brown families into project buildings. We proudly call this country the home of the brave as if cops don’t get away with murder in broad daylight with the excuse that they feared for their lives.
Again, it is not my will or my duty to educate anyone on their own history, least of all white people. Furthermore, it is not Black Americans I fear for. Black people in this world have proven for centuries that they simply will not die. That they will continue to face the facts of life and deal with it as it comes. That they will continue to find truth and myth and song and laughter and love in the worst parts of life, no matter what happens to the fragile human species. White people have already lost this ability, this effort to pull out of life something more than you came in with. It is the white faces and white minds that will perish, and it will on their own accord. Black people built this country and have every right, and dare I say, the duty to reinvent the world as they see fit. It is the hateful whites and gullible Blacks I fear for, for they have lost their souls. Life in America is a continual fight for the preservation of the soul. If one fails to preserve the soul, one automatically destroys their world and the world around them.
The preservation of America requires the liberation of its citizens. If liberation is not granted, it will inevitably be taken: history proves this to us time and time again. And when liberation is taken, destruction almost always follows. And this destruction, which we are beginning to see unfold, will be the complete and utter fault of the very people who hate so much to watch this country burn.
Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.