It is quiet in my house.
Normally, the phone is ringing incessantly by now. Calls from friends and relatives and students and work and the daily chores that must be dealt with. Usually, by noon I wish the phone would go away.
Ronald Harris (Courtesy Photo/LinkedIn)
But not today. Nobody is calling me and I don’t have the strength to call them.
The radio would be tuned to an NPR station by 8 a.m. so I could hear the morning news. It’s either the one in Washington or Baltimore, or even KPCC in Los Angeles via the internet, if I have gotten up late.
But not today. In fact, for now, it feels like I’ll never listen to the news again.
It is like that for much of Black America this morning, I understand. The one friend I have talked with says her/our networks of Facebook friends are silent as well. There is no chatter about children and grandchildren. No photos from exotic vacations. No funny sayings or jokes or words of wisdom.
She said she can’t bear to look at the Washington Post that was delivered to her door. She won’t go on any of the news websites.
It appears most African Americans are going through similar pangs. It is as though we are experiencing that reverent hush that comes with the passing of a relative, when people speak in muted voices and cloak themselves in the quiet as they grieve.
And in fact, a relative did die for many of us. Part of the dream of America that we thought we had achieved seems to have vanished overnight. It is as though when we had finally allowed ourselves to believe that ideal of America might be coming into view, the vision has been snatched away.
We knew this place, this country, wasn’t perfect. It’s never been perfect, that’s why we have amendments to the Constitution that outlawed things like slavery and allowed women and even White men to vote. It is why we have constantly appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce the tenants of that document so all Americans – all races, all genders, all ethnicities, all religions — can enjoy its promise
Hell, we know it is flawed because we’ve been fighting for perfect, ours and theirs, all our lives, all of our ancestors’ lives. We went to war and died and bled for her and she responded to our sacrifice with lynching, systematic imprisonment and oppression, segregation and unceasing discrimination.
She stole from us and our children and brutalized us and humiliated us and yet we believed and nurtured America.
And now, we feel betrayed, because everything it said it stood for has been revealed as a lie in the morally reprehensible, openly bigoted, man it has now elected as its leader.
In the end, I, and my friends, will allow ourselves a brief time to mourn. And then, we will do as we have always done.
We will fight like hell and turn this damnable nation around.
Ronald Harris is an adjunct journalism professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C.