As with every day since the first African was kidnapped, violated, and inserted into the machinery of transatlantic enslavement, this is a day of mourning. The African Diaspora continue to mourn the abuse and death of that first African, and the numerous others that followed – our prophets, states(wo)men, scientists, and paupers. In the United States, this “the land is freedom and justice” is evidence of the lacuna in humanity created by transatlantic enslavement – in the places and spaces that are to offer protection, safety, justice, and, dare I say, hope, there is instead a rancid emptiness. Breaona Taylor’s death is a reminder that for original peoples and African Americans, every drop of freedom has had to be fought for and won over and over and over and over again in a perpetual Sisyphus ritual, and that every grief-filled tear had its genesis settlers’ arrival and the kidnap, rape, looting, and pillaging of our ancestral homes, the earth, and our bodies. We are reminded that every ounce of justice has had to be meticulously chiseled out of the stone hearts of those who have chosen greed and wanton violence as their way of being-in-the-world – egregiously creating and feasting on the misery of those they deem as ‘Other’. We are reminded that every breath we take is an act of resistance – defiance against the secret oath that Hilliard d’Auberteuil in the 18th century made public in his statement: “Policy and safety requires that we crush the race of blacks by a contempt so great that who ever descends from it even to the sixth generation shall be covered with an indelible stain” (quoted in Hutton 2007 p. 132).
The “contempt so great” was the foundation of whiteness – white supremacy and white ideology, which twist and corrupt the fabric of humanity. “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,” this teaching would begin at younger and younger ages for the generations that followed d’Auberteuil. The stain of whiteness has had trans-generational impacts: humanity denied – silencing moral intuit and promoting acquiescence to societal brutality. d’Auberteuil hopes for an indelible stain on Black lives revealed the oath already taken by many before him and enveloped those who came after him – the lives of those he would have called his own, descendants of European colonizers who would come to understand themselves as White. The indelible stain, whiteness.
State violence is a whiteness apparatus with impunity. Today, we mourn.
HUTTON, C. 2007. The Creative Ethos of the African Diaspora: Performance Aesthetics and the Fight for Freedom and Identity. Caribbean Quarterly, 53, 127 – 149.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar-Hammerstein II. 1949. You’ve got to be carefully taught. Show tune: South Pacific.