The Blackman’s Historical Wobble and Topple Dance For Rights In America
Go to any old school or even new school gathering of black folks where the music is playing and eventually the dance song “the wobble” will bring the folks to the dance floor. I love the song personally although it can get to be a bit tiresome. The fact that one of my friends Frank Ski helped produce it makes it even more meaningful. This afternoon I am going to take another trail for wobble baby, wobble as it relates to the black experience in America for the past four centuries. You see since we disembarked from the ship in Jamestown, Virginia to the shores of America, blacks have been wobbling and damn sure toppling as it relates to payment for services rendered. Today, I would like to address shortly how for every forward step prompted by either legislation sought to benefit blacks or blacks participation in protecting the national security of America. We wobble ahead then are forced to topple backwards. Why? Have not blacks shown resilience and fortitude when asked to step up and protect what was even theirs to protect.
The question that I was prompted to ask myself this morning is how has this nation’s white leaders treated people of my color when life chips were up for them, or when life’s chips were either down or declining for white people.. They say black people have been in this country historically since our arrival in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. You even have some people who ascribe to the theory that blacks were already in this country before the Jamestown arrival. If you simply ascribe to the Jamestown theory that’s a total of 401 years. That length of time isn’t an inconsequential period of time by any means. That is 4 centuries plus 1 year. How many empires have risen and fallen all around the world in that period of time? When we first arrived here we were considered essential to simple day to day survival for both white and black people. This was a country inhabited by only Native Americans and wild beasts. The land had not be tamed in the European sense. The rugged frontier demanded a sense of partnership between arriving whites as well as blacks. The human lifespan was most like only 1/2 of what it is now. Each day you awoke you were presented with life threatening challenges as well as unknown ailments that could end you life. Why a simple cold untreated could have dire consequences without medicines to treat it. So in a sense everyone’s ability to live depended on the person beside him. Whether that person be black, red, or white. This seminal relationship between whites and blacks changed as more and more whites spread over the continent from the Chesapeake Bay to Plymouth Bay to the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast and finally to the Pacific Ocean.
When we were needed blacks were always at the forefront of protecting white interests even if it meant shedding our black ancestral blood. We gave our all and yet in return payment for our sacrifices was never reciprocated by the whites. From the very inception of this nation’s freedom and fight for liberty there were the calls for our support from the revolutionary leaders. Even our brother, Crispus Attucks shed the first drop of blood in America’s call for revolutionary separation from King George’s tyrannical reign and control of the colonies. Didn’t both Peter Salem along with Salem Poor both take down British Commanders only to both die paupers for services rendered? So tell me why did George Washington call African Americans to battle yet leave them in servitude after gaining the white’s man’s liberty? Why did George and the boys allow blacks to wobble forward yet topple backwards?
When both blacks and whites should’ve been celebrating the exhibition of heroism in that war for American independence. Blacks were absolutely slighted, ignored, and considered no more valuable than chattel. Legally we were considered only 60% of humanhood by this nation’s greatest legal document, the Constitution. We were given no favor by these white forefathers of America nor given no sense of humanity’s consideration as men. Even if we were living as freedmen we were still less American, less human, and more beast to even the most liberal of white Americans, or abolitionists. In order for speakers like Frederick Douglass, and other escaped slaves to be truly listened to in this nation. They had to exhibited more tendencies allotted to the slave than then the intellectual persons they truly were. When the Civil War initially broke out blacks weren’t allowed to fight for their freedom. You see the Confederate Southern States would’ve accepted Lincoln’s initial plan. This nation would’ve existed half free and half-slave in the southern states. They needed only to agreed to the provision that banned expansion of slavery into new American territories. We would’ve still been bonded and chained in those southern states. The so-called Emancipation Proclamation only freed us from bondage in the Confederate States. We had to remain slaves in the border states of the Union. If Abraham Lincoln could’ve shipped every black person off the shores of America it has been proven historically that he surely would have.
After the battle for survival of the United States was secured at with Lee’s surrender to Grant at the Appomattox Court House. The celebration was short-lived. Why because Lincoln who may have demanded a true payment for evil intentions by slaveholding Confederates was murdered at Ford’s Theatre. His Vice President, Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee shoe cobbler, was elevated to the Presidency. He had the power to institute a fair deal to recently freed slaves by simply implementing Sherman’s plan for land distribution. All parties white and black would have been given an equal opportunity to start fresh and rebuild the south. This period was labeled Reconstruction but in reality it was the continued Deconstruction of Blacks in the Southern States of America. We continued our dance of wobbling forward and toppling backwards in America.
Andrew Johnson took our 40 acres and a mule gave the 40 acres back to the white southern slave-owning plantation owners and killed the damn mules. Johnson didn't even blink at the injustice served on our ancestors. Johnson left us high and dry and beholding to tyrants. The wobble of black injustice continued.Then to make matters worst Rutherford B. Hayes made inconsequential the 13th, 14th, and 15th black rights amendments in a smoke-filled backroom deal which came to be known as the Compromise of 1877. Hayes side-eyed Frederick Douglass and the other Radical Republicans. He winked at the former southern rebels and gave them the nod to reinstitution a new form of bondage without the term slavery being used. They called it peonage, sharecropping, or imprisonment but it amounted to another century of injustice nevertheless. When the Supreme Court in 1896 mandated legal separation of the races in all facets of American society it ensured no chance of black equality. That dance was known as the Plessey wobble a dance that stole any chance of uplift for the vast majority of black Americans.
When asked to fight for the survival of democracy during the initial Great War, when whites were essentially fighting whites in Europe. Black men and women rallied to the defense of this nation. Their spilled blood nurtured the rebirth of European soil and world hope. So what was the reward for this gallant service? First Woodrow Wilson refused to support any measure or legislation that banned the terroristic act of lynching. Then Mr. Woodrow Wilson instituted complete segregation of the races in all federal government buildings. This racist policy then moved into almost every state in the union. Then the Red Summer of 1919 came to past a year when America’s sea majesty from California shores of Pacific to the eastern shores of the Atlantic down towards the Gulf coast shores and up the Mississippi the littered bodies of our black ancestors hung from trees, lamp posts, bridges bodies multilated by bullets, ropes, and torches. While our supposed Congress refused to enact a simply law against the terroristic inhumanity of lynching. Then in 1921 our Black Wall Street was erased from the face of the earth an entire town was toppled. Our black ancestors certainly wobbled.
Then when our hope was renewed with the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as President with his new deal policies. In order to gain some security in life as you aged the social security bill was passed. That was a huge step in social justice in this country. Yet it presented a huge problem for blacks, in order for it to pass Congress’s racist southern democrats 85% of all black people had to be excluded. We’re wobbling, and toppling folks. Then when the Axis Powers launched a full out assault for world domination. Again we answered the call to protect what we didn’t own or benefit in, American Democracy. We assisted in the dismantling the Axis Powers still our rights continued to be suppressed in the world’s so-called great republic. As matter of fact white Germans, even former Nazis were given better treatment by our government than we were. You see the internal man may have launched war for world domination but the external color of that man provided him white privilege. Why do we wobble so and topple back so easily.
It was a promise of a new day on May 17, 1954, when the Warren Supreme Court decided that separate but equal was no longer the law of the land. Guess what the ruling came without the teeth of enforcement. Heck the following year three words appeared “all deliberate speed” which denied the justice fought and won in 1954. So denied justice however meaningful in intent is still justice denied. So for another 20 years or more that decision was evaded or ignored. What is so crazy is that schools are more segregated now than ever before. The separate but equal edict solved nothing and the Warren decision has been a demonstrative flop. We wobbled to the schoolhouse door and we toppled over in the end. In 1964 and 1965 absolute redemption of the black race was promised and secured with the Civil Rights Bill and Voting Rights Bill. Surely, now our wobbling and wobbling days are through except they weren’t. Dr. Martin Luther King realized those measures were simply broken promissory notes of injustice. The wars in Vietnam brought no freedom for our brothers. They either returned home in black body bags or addicted to narcotics because overt injustice causes one to want to escape. Then our communities were flooded with drugs, armories were unloaded onto our streets. They killed a King and we burned our own communities. The powers maintained control while our communities wobbled along even toppled as we wobbled.
We lost our vision our leaders were silenced, or captured in vice or corruption. No one to save us from us but us but we no longer seemed capable of leaving our agony or despair. Yet a voice called out in 2004 he was not a voice we heard before. We will wobble no longer, topple no longer. He called for a new America, one built on hope and change. Barack Obama was his name. He was acceptable to us in so many ways and acceptable to the reasonable was the aim of his game. So then our brothers and sisters secured the major win the wins, as a matter of fact of all-time, America Black and White elected a bi-racial President in 2008. No doubt Blacks will get justice and equality of rights for sure now. We’ll be equal in all manner and more, ain’t no stopping us now. Nope, police brutality increases, racial rage against blacks is unleashed, and blacks have receded both politically and economically. How is that even possible? Well, as Don King would emphatically declare, "Only in America baby, Only in America".
So now it's 2020 our victories are stained historically with prejudice and racism. I think I'll go back to the old wise saying if these were our friends, who in the hell needs enemies. I think we should consider that winning in America is truly for whites only and still just a few token blacks. That way we need not get our hopes of change elevated to levels of impossibilities. We can just keep wobbling along in America.