As you read this, I need you to do something for me, okay?
Imagine that you’re a Black person here in America who just delivered a passionate speech concerning the President of the United States, and then demanded the president’s impeachment.
Still with me?
Okay now, I need you to imagine yourself going into your office the next day, checking your voicemail, and then hearing the following disturbing messages back-to-back.
VOICEMAIL #1: “Hey, (insert your name here). We’ve got an impeachment for ya. It’s gonna be yours. It’s actually going to give you a short trial before we hang your [n***a] a$$.”
Doesn’t bother you yet? Okay…what about this one?
VOICEMAIL #2: “You ain’t gonna impeach nobody, you [n***a]. Try it, and we’ll lynch all you [n***as]. You’ll be hanging from a tree. I didn’t see anybody calling for the impeachment of your [n***a] Obama, when he was born in Kenya. He’s not even an American. So [f**k] you, [n***a]!”
Now are you bothered? If not, that is a problem, and more than likely – you are the problem.
These were the voicemails that U.S. Congressman Al Green (TX-9) shared with attendees at a recent town hall I attended, after he checked his voicemail messages directly after calling for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.
It is no secret that Trump has re-ignited some of the worst parts of America’s past; giving the green light for racists and White supremacists to spew their incendiary and hate-filled rhetoric, while conjuring up old wounds that have not even come close to healing, related to the barbaric act of lynching.
Researchers have determined that over 4,000 Black people were lynched in about a dozen Southern states between 1877 and 1950. In a 2015 report released by the non-profit group Equal Justice Initiative called “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror,” the group found that the number of Blacks who were lynched in Southern states in the 19th and 20th centuries was significantly higher than what had originally been reported.
In the report’s summary, the Equal Justice Initiative concluded:
“Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatized Black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. These lynchings were terrorism.”
To date, I have not seen or heard of the Department of Justice (DOJ) actively trying to locate the individuals who left these threatening messages on Congressman Green’s voicemail, but I am not surprised, especially when you consider who President Trump tapped to head up the DOJ – Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.
Congressman Green released a statement in response to the incident, saying:
“Since I have called for the impeachment of President Trump, some ugly things have
been said. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the many people who have approached me, called and left positive messages with my office, as well as supportive sentiments on social media. While many of these communications were received from Americans who do not support the impeachment of the President, they also do not support threatening anyone with lynching.”
Hello America! Welcome to the world of Black people in this country (sigh). Although we have been trying to tell you this for centuries, let me say it again: This is what racism looks like!
You want me, and others like me, to stop talking about racism and White supremacy, yet we have to constantly be bombarded with incidents like this, or narratives and rhetoric about “super-predators” or “welfare queens” or “entitlement programs”, as if we, the most sensible amongst us, can’t recognize what dog-whistle rhetoric sounds like. Give me a break!
Sadly, this is something that has historically been an acceptable practice by White law enforcement officials, businesspeople, judges, elected officials and even “so-called” ministers, who have been members of the Ku Klux Klan, or other White supremacist affiliations. It still exists today, but now the difference is, many of the members of these hate-filled organizations, aren’t wearing white sheets and cone-shaped headgear.
Don’t believe me…let’s rewind back to 2015 so we can talk about the very first time the U.S. Senate formally apologized for blocking anti-lynching bills in the United States. People praised the fact that the Senate passed this resolution apologizing for their failure to act on this brutal act of lynching that was terrorizing Black people in this country, but I didn’t praise the act at all.
For one, I despised the fact the resolution only passed by a voice vote, which means none of the senators went on the record with their vote. But more importantly though, my biggest issue with the passage of the resolution, was that out of the 100 senators who voted, only 80 were co-sponsors of the resolution. Who were the 20 who refused to co-sponsor this resolution, and why didn’t they want to go on the record with it?
You’ve heard me mention, time and time again, how Ida B. Wells is my (s)hero, who used her influence, as both a publisher and journalist, to tackle one of the traumatic issues of her day – lynching. She got especially more engaged with the issue, after receiving word that her good friend Tom Moss, the father of her goddaughter and successful businessman, had been lynched. She quickly realized that lynching was being used as a tool to enforce White supremacy, and she used her newspaper, called the Free Speech, to urge Blacks to fight back against lynching by boycotting Memphis’s new streetcar line and by leaving the city, which many Blacks did.
As Blacks, none of us should be afraid to speak truth to power, and none of us should be intimidated or threatened with physical violence or retaliation, when we choose to do so either. My prayers are with Congressman Green, as he deals with the backlash of calling for Trump’s impeachment. Like Ida B. Wells, I’ll continue to be a watchman on the wall that can’t be hidden or silenced, for Congressman Green and others like him.
Remember that although today is a different era, many of the mindsets still remain, and I am confident more now than I have ever been that…
There are No More Sheets: The Covers Are Off in America.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org