man000984. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers, 1890-1996. MS-01082. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d10866k8v
Sometimes I get so mad I can barely control myself. It's almost as though I've become possessed. My body terperature changes, my skin feels differently, my breath which is ordinarily merely warm becomes hot, my nostrils become flared, my body has an almost imperceptible tremor, my teeth grit, my lips are parched and peely, I'm going in every direction even if I'm sitting, my mind speeds along at such a rapid rate of speed I can only get short glimpses of what I'm thinking, my entire body becomes taut and a scowl takes over my countenance that I can see even without gazing into a mirror. Over the past few months I have observed this phenomenon taking place more and more frequently. It rarely lasts more than a few moments but I do notice it in spite of the shortness of it's duration.
I do not think that I'm unusual in this way. Somehow I feel that it must occur with many others and I would bet that many of those others have noticed it with themselves. I am equally certain, with the others, that this feeling is prompted by something which is especially bothersome. I have spent time attempting to isolate what the cause or causes might be and I think I have found the solution—not the solution to the phenomenon itself but only the solution in as far as what brings it on.
I'm not a psychologist and I'm definitely not a psychiatrist and I do not claim to understand all of the forces which causes me to "tick" in the manner in which I do. I am, however, bright enough to figure out some things for myself and that is what I have done with this.
I want to tell you a story--maybe more than one story—I don't know at this point just how this is going to evolve but as you read this or after you will have read it see if it doesn't make^small amount of sense.
I was born and reared in Mississippi. All of my people were country
people. To get to my people place in the country required going down a paved highway to a blacktop turnoff and proceeding a few miles to the turnoff to the big gravel road which eventually brought one to the big red gate which gave entry to the dirt road which, when it rained, was almost impassable. That dirt road branched off to numerous dirt roads which led up to many different homesites generally traveled only by the people who lived back in that place. That portion of the road was generally overgrown and the house set so far back in the countryside as to make it all but impossible to hear anything other the the whistle of the old locomotives which passed a mile
or so away.
There was a garden with butter beans, crowder peas, potatoes, tomatoes, okra and all sorts of other stuff like corn, greens, and stuff like that. None of these things had any pesticides applied. This was the kind of food that you now pay a fortune for in health food stores. We ate a lot of buffalo and cat and gar fish. There was also a lot of pork. We fried bacon in lard and my grandfathers favorite meat was salt pork--"strick of
lean and strick of fat." He ate that every day and so did the rest of
us in some form or fashion. We were never sick. My grandfather live to be 96 years old. My folks moved to town and that's when we started dying
off. They continued to eat the same foods but they only lived half as
long. I've been sick for so long I don't remember when I was well but, then, I moved from town to the city and civilization and with the latter, there is a lot of negative baggage.
To be around so many people who don't know you and who feel that they have the prerogative to define you is very stressful. It becomes even more so when many of them choose to define you in a strictly racial way. The occasion of such definitions increase from town to city to metropolitan area. Its a matter of numbers.
I watched the program on CNN"s "CROSSFIRE" which addressed the March 3,
1991 brutal beating of Rodney Glen King. As sickening as the actual beating scene had been, the behavior of Pat Buchannan and Maurey Hannigan, California Commissioner of the Highway Patrol was even more so.
Everyone who saw that news report of the actual beating was affected by it. Responses ranged from shocked to outraged to embarrassment to guilt. Uo one that I've spoken with or have heard speaking of it have conveyed the slightest suggestion that it generated a cause for jocularity with the lone exception of Pat Buchannan. I hope that some of you who are reading this saw that episode of Crossfire so that you'll know that I'm not making up anything. I well understand his role on the program as representing the views of law and order, right-wing, conservatives. I further understand that he not only represents that view on the program but those same views mirror, in larg part, his own. As outrageously bigoted his comments usually are and indeed were during that program, the attitude he brought to that show was most revealing. Throughout, he managed to find something to joke about, to laugh about, to trivialize.
As I sat there and watched him demean what had happened to Rodney King and, in effect toss it off with a shrug with such comments as: "Rodney King took a beating he won't soon forget..." and smile and laugh about it, well, I'll tell you, I got so mad I could hardly control myself. If I could've reached through that television screen and gotten my hands around his laughing neck, there's no telling what I might've done. But that's not really what I want to tell you about.
I heard on the news a few nights ago that a young black man, I cannot think of his name, but he's a second year player in the NBA, was arrested for having a gun in his car. That happens to a lot of black men. Why do they carry guns? They almost have to. Wherever we go we're at risk. We must deal with the ordinary criminal activity which everyone must deal with but we are called upon to deal with the extraordinary criminal activity which
most don't even know exist and more. He have to deal with all of those racist organizations which have vowed to kill us, we have to deal with those few policemen (believe me, there are only a few but we don't know which few they are) who harrass and beat and kill us. When we have a problem we don't know whether we are going to compound our problem by calling the police or not so we must be prepared to take care of ourselves and in being so prepared we position ourselves to be arrested for carrying concealed weapons. Then
theres the anxiety factor. I'll tell you about that next week.