When raving, foaming-at-the-mouth diehard White supremacist racists speak of crime, they often attempt to invoke the fear factor of Black Americans running wild in the streets committing all manner of crimes, especially against White people. The meme of Black Americans committing more crimes than White Americans is not only a lie, but an irrational fallacy. Add to the fact that many WS consider any crime committed by a Black against a White, as a hate crime, one would see how ignorant WS are when it comes to Basic Crime 101: the majority of crimes are intra-racial as opposed to the minority of crimes committed that are inter-racial.
When it comes to racially motivated crimes, anti-black crimes/hate crimes (bias) is very much more common than anti-white/hate crimes.
As for the scare-tactic of millions upon millions of Blacks committing crimes that constitutes believing the lie that crime is random.
In order to understand Basic Crime 101, where random crimes are concerned, the following would stand as logical fact:
“If crime was randomly distributed, about 70% of the victims of crimes perpetrated by blacks would have white victims.”
But, crime is anything but random.
IF crime victimization was random, that would mean that the victims would match each group’s proportion of the population. Non-Hispanic whites are about 70% of the US population, so if crime was random, this is what you would see.
In contrast if crime was random, about 30% of the crimes committed by whites would be against people of color.
There would also be more black-on-white crimes, but, crime remains moreso intra-racial, as opposed to inter-racial, concerning non-hate crimes.
Racially motivated white-on-black crime is more prevalant than racially motivated black-on-white crime, concerning hate crimes.
Also, keep in mind, if crime victimization was random, the victims would match their groups proportion of the population; but, due to residential segregation, crime patterns lend themselves to the sense that most criminals perpetrate crimes against those people with whom they are in close proximity: blacks on blacks, whites on whites, Asians on Asians, etc. That is one of the major reasons that crime in not random. Also to be factored into the equation: Blacks have more contact with whites than whites have with blacks, whether it is on the job; at a museum; at the movies; on public transportation; at universities; at the grocery store, or even in neighborhoods. Therefore, logically this shoots down the rabid white supremacy notion of excess black-on-white crime. Therefore blacks would have to leave their bantustans/segregated neighborhoods, to enter predominantly white neighborhoods. Therefore, logic dictates that crime is not random, and that blacks are not committing major acts of crime against whites.
Black citizens are approximately 13% of the U.S population. Whites (and you must include those who would be classified as “white” as well: Latinos, Arabs, etc.) are approximately 70% of the U.S. population.
Since there are ethnicities that self-identify as “white” the numbers of “whites” involved would soar, and work in whites favor (numberswise), not blacks, where crime is concerned.
IF each person in the population had an equal chance of being selected to commit a random crime, that would mean that more white/non-black people would be in a position to attack and harm black people more since there are more non-blacks in America.
IF each person had a chance to be selected for random violence, the scenario would be similar to the race-riots of the early part of the last century, where whites went into black neighborhoods, going from home to home, entering homes, pulling black citizens out of their homes and brutalizing and killing them. Just the same during the time of the Nadir of brutal lynchings against Black citizens. Now, those are examples of random crime. Terrorist crimes against Black women, men and children. But, the terrorist crimes against Black citizens, of lynchings and racial pogroms, are not the issue of this essay; it is what people think of when they hear the word “crime’ that is the essence of this essay: burglary, rape, arson, kidnapping, embezzlement, etc.
Understand also that if a person lives in their segregated neighborhood, the chances of them committing a crime in a neighborhood they know nothing about, goes down tremendously.
Person A lives in XYZ neighborhood. Person A decides to buy a gun to commit burglary with habitation. Person A does not have a car. A catches the bus to ABC neighborhood. A gets on the wrong bus; A has to change buses. A gets to the intended neighborhood at midnight. A is exhausted from riding the bus, for two hours, to get to the area he desires.
A knows nothing about the lay-of-the -land. A sticks out like a sore thumb. A is probably too tired to break and enter from catching all those buses. A is spotted by the cops cruising by because A definately does not live there because he is not of the same racial group that lives in that neighborhood, therefore, there is no way (as far as the cops are concerned) that A could live there because he is considered as not rich enough to afford the housing, not to mention not a member of the dominant group of those residing in that particular neighborhood.
A gets arrested and charged with:
_Carrying a Concealed Weapon (forgot to mention A had a snub-nose .38 in his pocket)
Since A does not live in that neighborhood, he would not know of the escape routes, the alleyways, the dead-end, cul-de-sac, one-way entry streets of that neighborhood. Since A had no way to “case the joint” out, he would be at a loss as to commit any crime since he would be out of his segregated territory/ homeland/bantustan.
Therefore, he would settle for committing crime against those who live nearest him.
That type of crime would be more than “random”. Crimes committed close to home/neighborhood; thought out; planned.
Random crime is more opportunistic, than premeditated.
If A lives in a poor neighborhood, and is of an ethnic/racial group that is considered “criminal” to begin with, if he commits crime in his neighborhood, against a fellow neighbor, in the eyes of the dominant group, his crime is looked upon as not just “random” at all.
His crime is looked upon as doing the dominant group a favor.
“Why should the dominant group try to kill off A’s racial group with extra-legal means, when A does it for them”?
The idea of going into an unknown terra firma to commit a crime would be more than daunting.
The A’s (and B’s [those of various racial/ethnic groups])of the world prefer to stick close to home and commit crime against those who live in the same neighborhood.
Going to a neighborhood they know nothing of is not only suicidal, it would be downright stupid.
Since most crimes are committed by those who live in the same neighborhood, the chances of whites suffering crimes from blacks, would be low, because residential segregation is still the law of the land, whether many Americans want to face that fact or not.
Therefore, most serious, or petty, crimes would be committed by someone who knows someone else; or else, lives within close proximity to that person:
-Friends of those acquaintances
Not many people go to far away neighborhoods to commit crimes unless there is an “inside” person who knows the area, building, times when people go out, times when they return, etc.
When it comes to crime, criminals mainly stick with what they know.
And being lazy, they will prey on the weakest of their group (be that group White, Black, Latino, etc.), instead of going where they will face bigger guns, bigger police forces, bigger neighborhood watch protection.
Crime is not random.
It is not done without a definate aim, without a fixed goal or purpose. If it were so, criminals would be willy-nilly picking just any target, not knowing what they would be going up against. (bigger guns, bigger police forces, bigger neighborhood watch protection; bigger odds.)
Crime is methodical, thought out, planned:
-the rapist who watches a single woman living alone, noting her coming and going;
-the burglar/robber who may be the live-in help, or the caterer who comes once a month to catered affairs;
-the murderer who plans to kill a business partner whose interest he cannot buy out for whatever reasons.
The huge bulk of crimes are not on-the-spur. They have method and intent behind them.
With the exception of “crimes of passion” (boyfriend who kills girlfriend because he thinks she is cheating on him), crimes are definately not random.
“If crime was random, most black criminals would perpetrate their crimes against white victims, not including victimless crimes.
Because (pardon the expression) there are more white people to pick off, after the blacks went through the blacks.
If crime was random most white criminals would perpetrate most of their crimes against whites (again ignoring victimless crime).
Because (pardon the expression) there are more white people to pick off, before the whites got to the blacks; because of population density means whites would wade through few blacks, (more whites per capita population) and blacks would wade through more whites (less blacks per capita population).
But, crime is anything but random.
IF crime victimization was random, that would mean that the victims would match each group’s proportion of the population. Non-Hispanic whites are about 70% of the US population, so if crime was random, this is what you would see.
In contrast if crime was random, about 30% of the crimes committed by whites would be people of color.
There would be more black-on-white crimes, but, crime remains moreso intra-racial, as opposed to inter-racial.
Racially motivated white-on-black crime is more prevalant than racially motivated black-on-white crime.
Also, keep in mind, if crime victimization was random, the victims would match their groups proportion of the population; but, due to residential segregation, crime patterns lend themselves to the sense that most criminals perpetrate crimes against those people with whom they are in close proximity: blacks on blacks, whites on whites. That is one of the major reasons that crime in not random.
Black citizens are approximately 13% of the U.S population. Whites (and you must include those who would be classified as “white” as well: Latinos, Arabs, etc.) are approximately 69-70% of the U.S. population.
Since there are ethnicities that self-identify as “white” the numbers of “whites” involved would soar, and work in whites favor (numberswise), not blacks.
IF each person in the population had an equal chance of being selected to commit a random crime, that would that mean that more white people would be in a position to attack and harm black people more since there are more non-blacks in America.
IF each person had a chance to be selected for random violence, the scenario be similar to the race-riots of the early part of the last century, where whites went into black neighborhoods, going from home to home, entering homes, pulling black citizens out of their homes and brutalzing and killing them? Now, that is an example of random crime.
Understand also that if a person lives in their segregated neighborhood, the chances of them committing a crime in a neighborhood they know nothing about, goes down tremendously.
If crime was random.
But, most blacks and whites live in segregated homelands/bantustans.
Because of segregated lives, blacks would still commit black-on-black crime, and whites would still commit white-on-white crimes.
That the media plays up people’s fears does not help either, along with white supremacists, that blacks are “running amok”, because there are less blacks than whites in America to commit crimes against whites.
Blacks would have to go through a lot of Blacks in their bantustans, before they (Blacks) could even make a dent in black-on-white crimes.
So…..Black Americans are not out committing all the crimes in America, no matter how WS try to spin it into some frightening, spiralling, out-of-control crime epidemic. Blacks would have to go through blacks in their neighborhood, then leave their segregated bantustans, then advance across to predominantly white neighborhoods to even begin to commit the rates of crimes that WS scream about. If anything, white-run America has committed the most horrific crimes against blacks:
-disparity in the criminal (in)justice system;
-economic crime (Black women paid less than White men for the same type of job/same commensurate skills);
-environmental waste hazards dumped into Black neighborhoods, but, not dumped/located into white neighborhoods (think River Oaks, Rodeo Drive, Marin County, etc.)
Because of segregated lives, blacks would still commit black-on-black crime, and whites would still commit white-on-white crimes. Keep in mind that Blacks have more interaction with Whites, than Whites have with Blacks.
So, WS racist memes of black crime in America falls flat on its collective rectum.
Illogical, and irrational fallacy.
The figures would lend themselves to more Whites committing crimes against Blacks since there are more Whites in America than Blacks.
Numbers would put the crimes of white/black more in the area of Whites, than Blacks, since Whites outnumber Blacks in America.
Many of the so-called studies that indicate that interracial rapes involving a Black American male attacking a White female constitute a significant percentage of total rapes reported, while rapes involving a white assailant and black victim are comparatively rare—-should be looked at with a logical evaluation of said rapes.
Statistics such as these perpetuate the kinds of myths and stereotypes about black aggression and white victimization recurring throughout American history (and into the present):
Big-bad Black man attacking White woman, when reality has shown that Big-bad White males have overwhelmingly raped and attacked Black women, and contribute to the persistent belief that the paradigm rape involves a black perpetrator and a white victim.
However, studies have shown that rape is far more intraracial, and less interracial, than has commonly been believed. By looking at population distributions rather than simply at number of reported rapes, Robert O’Brien demonstrated that even though the number of black assailant-white victim rapes is higher than the number of white offender black victim rapes, (and we must also factor in the many Black women who do not report rape when the rapist is a White man) its relative frequency is not.
When one group in a population is smaller than another, members of the smaller group will experience a higher rate of interaction with members of the larger group than vice versa. After taking into account the distributions of whites and blacks in the general population and in the offender population, one can conclude that not only are rapes less interracial than would be expected; by looking at population distributions, they are actually more intraracial than many want to acknowledge.
Thus, the common myth/lie that Black Americans are more likely to rape White people than the reverse is unfounded, thus a fallacy. (1)
Therefore, White men are more likely to commit crimes (embezzlement, arson, murder, kidnapping, and yes!—rape) NUMBERS WISE/POPULATION WISE against whites and blacks, than say, moreso, than a Black woman would commit a crime against a White person (man or woman) NUMBERS WISE/POPULATION WISE.
At any given moment, there are more White men committing crimes in comparison to Black women. White men outnumber Black women 7-to-1, therefore, it is illogical to state that more Blacks commit crime than Whites.
Because Blacks are smaller in numbers to Whites, the figures on crime statistics can be misleading. A smaller population group will always have crime numbers skewed that mislead people to think that there are large numbers of that small group committing ALL the crimes in America.
Such misinformation would be lies and disinformation.
(1). See Robert M. O’Brien, The Interracial Nature of Violent Crimes: A Reexamination,
92 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY 817–35 (1987).
His theory is founded on the insight that because there are fewer Black Americans in the population than there are Whites, the relative frequency of blacks’ interacting with Whites will be higher than Whites’ interacting with Blacks in “asymmetrical” situations like rape. That is, “[a]ll minority groups, singly or in combination, are more involved in intergroup relations with a group
constituting a majority than the majority group is with them.” Id. at 820 (quoting PETER M. BLAU, INEQUALITY AND HETEROGENEITY: A PRIMITIVE THEORY OF SOCIAL STRUCTURE 22- 23 (1977)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
30 “To illustrate, assume that there are 10% blacks and 90% whites in a population of 1,000; then, if there are 10 black-white marriages, 10% . . . of the blacks would beintermarried, while only 1.1%. . . . of the whites would be intermarried.” Id. at 819. Id at 822.
Robert O’Brien, “The Interracial Nature of Violent Crimes”.
White supremacist. . .screaming about the ferocious black-on-white crime. Yeah right.
But, you’ll never hear them caterwauling about the hate crimes of white-on-black crimes, nor the continued crimes of structural racism that still have a continuous assault against the humanity of Black citizens.
WS care nothing about the white-on-black crimes. To WS, white-on-black crime is normal and okay. Just peachy.
And not just the past—-the present crimes as well.
Unless it is a possible white victim, WS have not the balls nor the humanity to accept the fact that much crime continues to remain within each racial group.
1954 Spark Records of Los Angeles was formed and became home to the R&B group the Robins.
1968 Frankie Lymon, the voice that helped launch rock ‘n’ roll as well as thousands of look-a-likes, died in his grandmoter’s apartment in New York Ciyt’s Harlem of a drug overdose. Though his youthful voice had lost its register, he was still recording and still hopeful. In fact,Frankie had a recording session scheduled at Roulette Records the next day. Frankie was only twenty-five.
1975 Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King’s album, Together for the First Time—Live, was certified gold today by the RIAA. It was the forst joint album for the artists, whose friendship went back to 1949 when Bland worked for King as a valet.
1976 Muddy Waters won the Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording award at the eighteenth annual Grammys. It was his third win in that category in five years.
1977 In an accident reminiscent of a despicable attack on Nat King Cole decades earlier, Ray Charles was assaulted onstage at a concert for disadvantaged youth by a lunatic who charged the stage carryig a rope and trying to strangle the blind vocalist.
1984 Michael Jackson won an amazing eight awards at the twenty-sixth annual Grammy celebration, including Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), shared with Qincy Jones; Record of the Year; Album of the Year; Best Rock Vocal Performance Male for “Beat It”‘; Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for Thriller; Best New Song for “Bille Jean”; Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male; and Best Recording for Children for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
1996 Stevie Wonder was honored at the thirty-eighth annual Grammy Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also won Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male trophies for “For Your Love.”
1998 The album Blues Brothers 2000, from the film of the same name, reached #12 pop. An all-star performance by the so-called Louisana gator Boys (actually B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Lou Rawls, Clarence Clemons, Eric Clapton, Grover Washington, Billy preston, and others) was a feature of the less-than-successful follow-up to the classic film, The Blues Brothers.
An 1812 map of Africa by Arrowsmith and Lewis, printed in Boston by Thomas & Andrews. Source: 
DRUSILLA DUNJEE HOUSTON (1876-1941)
by Runoko Rashidi
It is rare in the field of African historical research and writing, that
African women are prominently mentioned. The work of Drusilla Dunjee Houston
is not only worth mentioning, but should be highlighted as an early, pioneering
historical narrative displaying scholarly depth and superb documentation.
Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire Book 1: Nations of the
Cushite Empire, Marvelous Facts from Authentic Records was first published in
1926 in Oklahoma City. Houston intended this to be the first volume of a three
volume set that explored Nile civilizations and surveyed the strong influence of
Africa on Asian civilizations. She also examined the African background to
European civilization. African historians J.A. Rogers and Arthur Alfonso
Schomburg highly praised Mrs. Houston’s outstanding scholarship.
Drusilla Dunjee Houston was born in Winchester, Virginia in 1876. Her outlook
on race was instilled in her by her father, John William Dunjee, a “race man”
who counted among his colleagues, Frederick Douglas and Blanche K. Bruce.
At the age of twenty-two, Drusilla wed Price Houston, a store merchant. She
founded the McAlester Seminary in McAlester, Oklahoma. This was an educational
institution which she ran for twelve years. After settling in Oklahoma City,
Drusilla went to work as a journalist for her brother’s newspaper, the Black
Dispatch. She “aggressively” reported on cases of white atrocities committed
against Blacks in Oklahoma.
Her interest in ancient Africa and historical research was triggered by the
1915 publication of The Negro authored by W.E.B. DuBois. Her life-long pursuit
of Africa’s past and her devotion to her race places Drusilla Dunjee Houston in
the foremost ranks of Pan-Africanist historians.
On February 2, 1941, in Phoenix, Arizona, Drusilla Dunjee Houston died from
tuberculosis. “At the time of her death, she was working on another book on
Some Geneological Background on Drusilla Dunjee Houston From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. John William Dunjee (also John Dungy or John Dungee) (1833 … panafricannews.blogspot.com/2007/02/drusilla-dun…
1954 The Moonglows’ magical “Secret Love” ($1,500) and the Royals classic “Work With Me, Annie,” (#1 R&B) were issued. The Royals went on to become Hank Ballard & the Midnighters.
1961 Aretha Franklin made her pop chart debut with “Won’t Be Long” on Columbia Records. It reached #76 and became the first of seventy-four hits for the “Queen of Soul” over the next thirty-three years.
1980 Michael Jackson was awarded the Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Grammy at their twenty-second annual event for the song “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.”
1982 More than twenty-one years after their last chart single, Fred Parris & the Five Satins reached the pop charts, rising to #71 with “Memories of Days Gone By.”
1993 After fourteen weeks at #1, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” became the longest-running chart topper, eclipsing Boyz II Men’s 1992 smash, “End of the Road.” Additionally, the 4 million selling single was #1 in more than a dozen countries. It became the second-largest-selling single in U.S. history, behind only “We Are The World” by USA for Africa.
1997 The Four Tops received the Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award at the eighth annual Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s ceremony at New York’s Hilton Hotel. Also, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles reunited to accept a Pioneer Award.
1998 Janet Jackson was a guest on The Rosie O’Donnell Show and discussed the question on the world’s collective mind—-the position on her body of of her tattoos.
—-Frances E.W. Harper, “The Slave Mother, A Tale of Ohio”
Aqualtune. Nanny. Dandarah. Zabeth. Carlotta. Margaret Garner.
Theirs are just a few of the known enslaved Black women who struck a blow for freedom against the savage monstrosity known as slavery.
Everywhere in this hemisphere, many, many Black women resisted chattel slavery; resisted the sexual abuse and exploitation that was their lot in life; resisted the life of perpetual bondage that sought to crush and annihilate the humanity of themselves, the men in their lives—-their children.
Many Black women fighters for freedom knew that they took a chance in prevailing against their enslavers, but, they knew that if they did not work to break the chains of bondage forged by the greed of slavers, not only would they remain enslaved—so, too, would their children, and their children’s children, and those children’s children.
When people think of resistance against enslavement, so many people picture a Black man, but, not a Black woman.
But, as the many Black women I wrote of, Black women did not stand by as if they had no agency, no resolve, no fortitude to bring down the institution of slavery.
All across this hemisphere, Black fought in whatever way they could to free themselves, and for many Black women, no tactic used in resistance to enslavement was trivial or insignificant, no matter what the costs it brought. Running away, fighting, breaking tools, poisoning owners, malingering—whatever it took, these were the many paths Black women would go down to free themselves from a lifetime of servitude to parasitical, leeching slaveholders.
“Mothers who departed with their children confronted special difficulties. It was not easy to feed, clothe, care for, and protect young children while on the run. The physical burden of carrying babies or youngsters four or five years of age was extreme, while the seven- or eight-year-olds had trouble keeping up and often tired quickly. One runaway mother took her child despite his being “sick with a sore mouth and cannot speak.” Mothers themselves often suffered from maladies. Thirty-year-old Matilda, a New Orleans black who absconded in 1832 with her seven-year-old son, had a tumor on the side of her neck. A number of the women who ran away with their children were city slaves or had recently arrived in the city. They planned to hide out, get to a suburb, or sneak aboard a sailing craft or steamboat. The owner of jenny, a mulatto servant who departed from his house in the French Quarter carrying her two-and-a-half-month-old baby, would, the owner believed, attempt to embark on a steamboat.
“Pregnant women also ran away. Twenty-one-year-old Lucille, a Louisiana woman who set out in 1833, was “in an advanced stage of pregnancy.” “The captains of vessels are requested not to give her shelter,” the New Orleans widow who owned her threatened, “under the pain provided by the law” to punish the captains. Nancy was seven or eight months pregnant and was limping because of a sore toe when she ran away in 1834, shortly before Christmas. Twenty-eight-year-old Jane, or Jinny, a mulatto slave, was “with child” when she absconded in 1835. The runaway Martha Ann, Virginia slave owner John J.Minter said in 1850, “expects to be confined in six or eight weeks.” He had purchased Martha Ann—-an eighteen-year-old mulatto—-only two months before.” (1)
Many people do not envision a child resisting enslavement. But, many did—-more than we will ever know. As Zabeth desired freedom, so too, did many little Black children thirst and hunger for it as well:
“Perhaps even more heartrending were children running away to find their mothers and fathers. Their chances of success were very remote, as eight-,nine-, ten-, and eleven-year-olds usually wandered in vain seeking their parents. Invariably they were caught and returned to their owners. By the time they reached their early to mid-teens, however, their chances improved but only slightly. The runaway notices did nit mention the motives of slaves who absconded, but for youngsters, the owners surmised that they were attempting to follow a mother or father or uncle or aunt or grandparent who had been sold. How Peter, age fourteen or fifteen, made if from the farm in northern Virginia to the mountains of Alabama without being detected seems a remarkable feat in itself. He was jailed in Tallapoosa County, however, and the jailer sent a letter to a Richmond newspaper asking his owner “to come forward, prove his property, pay expenses and take him away.” Nothing was said about why the youngster was running toward the heart of the Deep South, but it surely had to do with a search for his family. (1)
Black women used many devices to escape or to keep themselves or their family members being sold into slavery. One way to fight against slavery had to have exacted a heavy toll, physically, and psychologically on Black women who were mothers who refused to allow one more enslaved child to enrich the blood-smeared coffers of the slave master and his family. Therefore, infanticide happened, and we will never know the toll it had to have taken on many a Black mother who chose to take her child’s life rather than to allow her or him to live a life of enslavement:
“Reports of black women’s resistance posed a particularly threatening psychological challenge to white men, whose patriarchy rested not only on the subjugation of all nonwhites, but also on the social, economic, and political subordination of all women. Of the psychological challenge that enslaved women’s resistance presented, Darlene Clark Hine observes:
A woman who elected not to have children—or, to put it another way,
engaged in sexual abstinence, abortion, or infanticide—negated
through individual or group action her role in the
maintenance of the slave pool. To the extent that in doing so
she redefined her role in the system she introduced
a unit of psychological heterogeneity into a
worldview, which depended, for its survival, on homogeneity,
at least with respect to the assumption of its ideology. (2)
Black women endured unimaginable hardships and cruelties during slavery in their struggle for daily survival. At times, however, the desire to live gave way to the recognition that survival demanded a price that they were no longer willing to pay. Such recognition served as a catalyst to armed resistance, murder, or suicide. In this state of mind, Black women acted not as the allegedly grateful and compliant wards and seducers of slaveholders, but as warriors in the fight to end slavery.
The violation of enslaved women often was very public. Consider for example the following description of enslaved women’s work environment:
“Ma mama said that nigger ‘oman couldn’t help herself, ‘fo she had
to do what the marster say. ‘Ef he come to de field whar
de women workin’ and he tell gal to come on, she had to go. He would take one
down in de woods an’ use her all de time he wanted to,
den send her back to work. Times nigger ‘oman had children
for marster an’ his sons and some times it was
fo’ de ovah seer. (2) (3)
During the course of the day, week, month, throughout the year, enslaved Black women on plantations were chosen randomly to perform sexual acts with slave owners, their sons, and overseers. Such conditions rendered their terror of rape to the realm of the ostensibly mundane.
Many Black women rebelled against their sexual abuse and their being faced with the possibility of a master selling them. Because Black women were routinely publicly violated, it is understandable that in their efforts to resist, they were willing to reclaim, at all costs, their always already publicly exposed, publicly abused bodies.
In one heartbreaking example, an ex;enslave recalled, “I knew a woman who could not be conquered by her mistress, so her master threatened to sell her to New Orleans Negro traders. She took her right hand, laid it down on a meat block and cut off three fingers, and thus made the sale impossible.” While the woman in this account was made bereft of the full use of her right hand for the rest of her life, she did seize ownership of her own body, which rightfully belonged to her. The horrific and perverted circumstances provided a context in which self-mutilation could become an act of resistance. However, it is important to note that continual resistance to the mistress’s attempts to conquer her most definitely preceded this rash act. (2)
Slavery apologists were hard-pressed to defend a system that so traumatized Africana people, that in desperation, rage, and defiance some enslaved Africans would run away, mutilate themselves, murder, and, at times, such as in the case of Margaret Garner, actively decide to take not only take their own lives but also the lives of their own children. The Garner case provides a particularly useful example of the influence Black female resistance had on the development of ethnological, proslavery arguments. In fact, Margaret Garner’s contemporary importance as a symbol of the antislavery cause rivaled that of Dred Scott and Anthony Burns—men whose stories are very well-known, while Margaret’s had fallen into oblivion. Yet Margaret’s story disappeared until resolutely, beautifully, and lovingly resurrected over a century later by Toni Morrison.
Slavery sought to dehumanize every aspect of enslaved Black women’s lives. A country that at every turn, at every minute, at every conceivable way created and maintained a system that denounced, diminished, degraded, defiled the grisly torture and sufferings that millions of Black women endured.
But, enslaved Black women refused to let the slave holder, the racist pseudo-scientist of that day, the apologists for slavery to have the last word.
Black women may have been enslaved in body, but, they were never enslaved in mind.
In their acts of insurgency, Black women fought back against assaults upon their humanity that was a constant barrage of lies that they were inferior, lies that they were not human, lies that they were not women.
Black women were determined to fight against the disrespect of their humanity.
Even unto this day, Black women still have to fight against the legacy of centuries of the hatred of not only of Black people, but, most of all, the hatred of Black womanhood.
For in their resistance to racist, sexist, exploitative and enslaved tyranny, Black women showed their “obedience to God”.
A legacy they passed on to future Black women.
1. “Runaway Slaves: Rebels On the Plantation,” by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, Oxford University Press, 1999: Chapter 3: “Whither Thou Goest” -Mothers and Children,”, pgs. 64-65.
2. “Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence,” edited by Maria Ochoa and Barbara K. Ige, Seal Press, 2007. “Chapter 4: Messages of Pain: I Will Do A Deed For Freedom”: Enslaved Women, Proslavery Theorists, and the Contested Discourse of Black Womanhood,”, pgs. 281-297.
3. We Are Your Sisters, 25; Aunt Jane: Rawick, vol. 8 Perdue L. Charles, E. Barden Thomas, and Rovert K. Phillips, eds. Weevils In The Wheat (Charlottesville, 1976).
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.
You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone!.
You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!
“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”
I grew up watching episodes of the acclaimed TV series The Twilight Zone. Many of the stories centered on how people handled finding themselves in improbable situations, usually of the supernatural, situations that were out of the ordinary. The series was a mixture of fantasy, suspense, science fiction, or terror, and always often with an unexpected twist at the end of the episode. The series host was the late Rod Serling, whose narration intro is the most remembered part of this great TV program. Serling’s creative vision made Twilight Zone a critical success in late night television viewing. Then there is that famous piano riff , which was written by composer Bernard Hermann, a moody theme that remains in the mind decades later. Just a few of the beginning notes are enough to make one say, “Ah, ha. Twilight Zone.”Most of the series episodes were filmed in half hour increments: Seasons 1-3, and Season 5. A few were full hour episodes: Season 4. Besides Rod Serling himself, the TV series boasted a who’s who of writers, many of them famous in their own right: noted sci-fi authors Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury; others writers on the series were the following: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Jerry Sohl, George Clayton, Reginald Rose, and even Earl Hamner, Jr., who would go on to fame years later with the TV adaptation of his family life entitled, “The Waltons.” Many episodes also featured adaptations of classic stories by such writers as Jerome Bixby, Lewis Padgett, Ambrose Pierce, and Damon Knight. It also starred many actors and actresses who would go on to fame in their own right: Robert Redford, Peter Falk, Carol Burnett, Charles Bronson, William Shatner, Sebastian Cabot, Cloris Leachman, Ed Nelson, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leonard Nimoy, and Billy Mumy to name just a few.The series popularity yielded two revival series, one produced by CBS, later in syndication in the 1980s and another on UPN from 2002 to 2003. A movie entitled Twilight Zone: The Movie was released in 1983, starring Vic Morrow (who would die from a helicopter accident while filming a scene), Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, Scatman Crothers, and Kevin McCarthy, who himself played in an episode from the original series.There is also a book on the series:
This year, 2009, marks the 50TH Anniversary of The Twilight Zone, when it debuted on CBS-TV on a Friday, October 2, 1959. After five seasons, the show ended June 19, 1964. The Twilight Zone was arguably one of the most popular and enduring television shows ever. My Top 10 favourite episodes are as follows:-“It’s A Good Life”-“The Four Of Us Are Dying”-“On Thursday, We Leave For Home”“I Am The Night, Color Me Black”-“The Monsters Are Due On Maple Strret”-“Number 12 Looks Just Like You”-“The Invaders”-“Eye Of The Beholder”-“Long Live Walter Jameson”-“Living Doll”Honorable Mention: “The Purple Testament”, “Jess Belle”, “Time Enough At Last”, “The Shelter”, “To Serve Man”, “The After Hours”, “A Most Unusual Camera”, “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up”, “Nightmare As A Child”, and “Mr. Denton On Doomsday”. For more on this great series, visit the following links:NPR : The Twilight Zone, Present at the Creation From 1959-64, Rod Serling used The Twilight Zone’s eerie stories as a way to … Listen to The Twilight Zone introduction from the show’s first season. … “He had said, ‘You know, you can put these words into the mouth of a Martian and …THE TWILIGHT ZONE: THE SYFY CHANNELTHE TWILIGHT ZONE MUSEUMHere is an episode fom the Twilight Zone. Entitled The Four of Us Are Dying, it is a tour-de-force that features one of the greatest character actors of that era: Harry Townsend.Here is my No. 1 favourite TZ episode It’s A Good Life (starring Billy Mumy; series writer: Jerome Bixby): Enjoy!THE OFFICIAL BILLY MUMY (pronounced “Moo-me”) WEBSITE: http://www.billmumy.com/THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959) AMAZON REVIEWS: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052520/amazon
Aunt Amy was out on the front porch, rocking back and forth in the high-backed chair and fanning herself, when Bill Soames rode his bicycle up the road and stopped in front of the house.
Perspiring under the afternoon “sun,” Bill lifted the box of groceries out of the big basket over the front wheel of the bike, and came up the front walk.
Little Anthony was sitting on the lawn, playing with a rat. He had caught the rat down in the basement–he had made it think that it smelled cheese, the most rich-smelling and crumbly-delicious cheese a rat had ever thought it smelled, and it had come out of its hole, and now Anthony had hold of it with his mind and was making it do tricks.
When the rat saw Bill Soames coming, it tried to run, but Anthony thought at it, and it turned a flip-flop on the grass, and lay trembling, its eyes gleaming in small black terror.
Bill Soames hurried past Anthony and reached the front steps, mumbling. He always mumbled when he came to the Fremont house, or passed by it, or even thought of it.
Everybody did. They thought about silly things, things that didn’t mean very much, like two-and-two-is-four-and-twice-is-eight and so on; they tried to jumble up their thoughts to keep them skipping back and forth, so Anthony couldn’t read their minds. The mumbling helped. Because if Anthony got anything strong out of your thoughts, he might take a notion to do something about it–like curing your wife’s sick headaches or your kid’s mumps, or getting your old milk cow back on schedule, or fixing the privy. And while Anthony mightn’t actually mean any harm, he couldn’t be expected to have much notion of what was the right thing to do in such cases.
That was if he liked you. He might try to help you, in his way. And that could be pretty horrible.
If he didn’t like you … well, that could be worse.
Bill Soames set the box of groceries on the porch railing and stopped his mumbling long enough to say, “Everythin’ you wanted, Miss Amy.”
“Oh, fine, William,” Amy Fremont said lightly. “My, ain’t it terrible hot today?”
Bill Soames almost cringed. His eyes pleaded with her. He shook his head violently no, and then interrupted his mumbling again, though obviously he didn’t want to: “Oh, don’t say that, Miss Amy … it’s fine, just fine. A real good day!”
Amy Fremont got up from the rocking chair, and came across the porch. She was a tall woman, thin, a smiling vacancy in her eyes. About a year ago, Anthony had gotten mad at her, because she’d told him he shouldn’t have turned the cat into a cat-rug, and although he had always obeyed her more than anyone else, which was hardly at all, this time he’d snapped at her. With his mind. And that had been the end of Amy Fremont’s bright eyes, and the end of Amy Fremont as everyone had known her. And that was when word got around in Peaksville (population: 46) that even the members of Anthony’s own family weren’t safe. After that, everyone was twice as careful.
Someday Anthony might undo what he’d done to Aunt Amy. Anthony’s Mom and Pop hoped he would. When he was older, and maybe sorry. If it was possible, that is. Because Aunt Amy had changed a lot, and besides, now Anthony wouldn’t obey anyone.
“Land alive, William,” Aunt Amy said, “you don’t have to mumble like that. Anthony wouldn’t hurt you. My goodness, Anthony likes you!” She raised her voice and called to Anthony, who had tired of the rat and was making it eat itself. “Don’t you, dear? Don’t you like Mr. Soames?”
Anthony looked across the lawn at the grocery man–a bright, wet, purple gaze. He didn’t say anything. Bill Soames tried to smile at him. After a second Anthony returned his attention to the rat. It had already devoured its tail, or at least chewed it off–for Anthony had made it bite faster than it could swallow, and little pink and red furry pieces lay around it on the green grass. Now the rat was having trouble reaching its hindquarters.
Mumbling silently, thinking of nothing in particular as hard as he could, Bill Soames went stiff-legged down the walk, mounted his bicycle and pedaled off.
“We’ll see you tonight, William,” Aunt Amy called after him.
As Bill Soames pumped the pedals, he was wishing deep down that he could pump twice as fast, to get away from Anthony all the faster, and away from Aunt Amy, who sometimes just forgot how careful you had to be. And he shouldn’t have thought that.
Because Anthony caught it. He caught the desire to get away from the Fremont house as if it was something bad, and his purple gaze blinked and he snapped a small, sulky thought after Bill Soames–just a small one, because he was in a good mood today, and besides, he liked Bill Soames, or at least didn’t dislike him, at least today. Bill Soames wanted to go away–so, petulantly, Anthony helped him.
Pedaling with superhuman speed–or rather, appearing to, because in reality the bicycle was pedaling him–Bill Soames vanished down the road in a cloud of dust, his thin, terrified wail drifting back across the heat.
Anthony looked at the rat. It had devoured half its belly, and had died from pain. He thought it into a grave out deep in the cornfield–his father had once said, smiling, that he might do that with the things he killed–and went around the house, casting his odd shadow in the hot, brassy light from above.
In the kitchen, Aunt Amy was unpacking the groceries. She put the Mason-jarred goods on the shelves, and the meat and milk in the icebox, and the beet sugar and coarse flour in the big cans under the sink. She put the cardboard box in the corner, by the door, for Mr. Soames to pick up next time he came. It was stained and battered and torn and worn fuzzy, but it was one of the few left in Peaksville. In faded red letters it said Campbell’s Soup. The last can of soup, or of anything else, had been eaten long ago, except for a small communal hoard which the villagers dipped into for special occasions–but the box lingered on, like a coffin, and when it and the other boxes were gone, the men would have to make some out of wood.
Aunt Amy went out in back, where Anthony’s Mom–Aunt Amy’s sister–sat in the shade of the house, shelling peas. The peas, every time Mom ran a finger along the pod, went lollop-lollop-lollop into the pan in her lap.
“William brought the groceries,” Aunt Amy said. She sat down wearily in the straight-backed chair beside Mom, and began fanning herself again. She wasn’t really old, but ever since Anthony had snapped at her with his mind, something had been wrong with her body as well as her mind, and she was tired all the time.
“Oh, good,” said Mom. Lollop went the fat peas in the pan.
Everybody in Peaksville always said “Oh, fine,” or “Good,” or “Say, that’s swell,” when almost everything happened or was mentioned–even unhappy things like accidents or even deaths. They’d always say “Good,” because if they didn’t try to cover up how they really felt, Anthony might overhear with his mind, and then nobody knew what might happen.
Like the time Mrs. Kent’s husband, Sam, had come walking back from the graveyard because Anthony liked Mrs. Kent and had heard her mourning.
“Tonight’s television night,” said Aunt Amy. “I’m glad I look forward to it so much every week. I wonder what we’ll see tonight?”
“Did Bill bring the meat?” asked Mom.
“Yes.” Aunt Amy fanned herself, looking up at the featureless brassy glare of the sky.
“Goodness, it’s so hot. I wish Anthony would make it just a little cooler–“
“Oh!” Mom’s sharp tone had penetrated, where Bill Soames’s agonized expression had failed. Aunt Amy put one thin hand to her mouth in exaggerated alarm. “Oh … I’m sorry, dear.” Her pale blue eyes shuttled around, right and left, to see if Anthony was in sight. Not that it would make any difference if he was or wasn’t–he didn’t have to be near you to know what you were thinking. Usually, though, unless he had his attention on somebody, he would be occupied with thoughts of his own.
But some things attracted his attention–you could never be sure just what.
“This weather’s just fine,” Mom said.
“Oh, yes,” Aunt Amy said. “It’s a wonderful day. I wouldn’t want it changed for the world!”
“What time is it?” Mom asked.
Aunt Amy was sitting where she could see through the kitchen window to the alarm clock on the shelf above the stove. “Four-thirty,” she said. Lollop.
“I want tonight to be something special,” Mom said. “Did Bill bring a good lean roast?”
“Good and lean, dear. They butchered just today, you know, and sent us over the best piece.”
“Dan Hollis will be so surprised when he finds out that tonight’s television party is a birthday party for him too!”
“Oh I think he will! Are you sure nobody’s told him?”
“Everybody swore they wouldn’t.”
“That’ll be real nice,” Aunt Amy nodded, looking off across the cornfield. “A birthday party.”
“Well–” Mom put the pan of peas down beside her, stood up and brushed her apron. “I’d better get the roast on. Then we can set the table.” She picked up the peas.
Anthony came around the corner of the house. He didn’t look at them, but continued on down through the carefully kept garden–all the gardens in Peaksville were carefully kept, very carefully kept–and went past the rusting, useless hulk that had been the Fremont family car, and went smoothly over the fence and out into the cornfield.
“Isn’t this a lovely day!” said Mom, a little loudly, as they went toward the back door.
Aunt Amy fanned herself. “A beautiful day, dear. Just fine!”
Out in the cornfield, Anthony walked between the tall, rustling rows of green stalks. He liked to smell the corn. The alive corn overhead, and the old dead corn underfoot. Rich Ohio earth, thick with weeds and brown, dry-rotting ears of corn, pressed between his bare toes with every step–he had made it rain last night so everything would smell and feel nice today.
He walked clear to the edge of the cornfield, and over to where a grove of shadowy green trees covered cool, moist, dark ground, and lots of leafy undergrowth, and jumbled moss-covered rocks, and a small spring that made a clear, clean pool. Here Anthony liked to rest and watch the birds and insects and small animals that rustled and scampered and chirped about. He liked to lie on the cool ground and look up through the moving greenness overhead, and watch the insects flit in the hazy soft sunbeams that stood like slanting, glowing bars between ground and treetops. Somehow, he liked the thoughts of the little creatures in this place better than the thoughts outside; and while the thoughts he picked up here weren’t very strong or very clear, he could get enough out of them to know what the little creatures liked and wanted, and he spent a lot of time making the grove more like what they wanted it to be. The spring hadn’t always been here; but one time he had found thirst in one small furry mind, and had brought subterranean water to the surface in a clear cold flow, and had watched blinking as the creature drank, feeling its pleasure.
Later he had made the pool, when he found a small urge to swim.
He had made rocks and trees and hushes and caves, and sunlight here and shadows there, because he had felt in all the tiny minds around him the desire–or the instinctive want–for this kind of resting place, and that kind of mating place, and this kind of place to play, and that kind of home.
And somehow the creatures from all the fields and pastures around the grove had seemed to know that this was a good place, for there were always more of them coming in every time Anthony came out here there were more creatures than the last time, and more desires and needs to be tended to. Every time there would be some kind of creature he had never seen before, and he would find its mind, and see what it wanted, and then give it to it.
He liked to help them. He liked to feel their simple gratification.
Today, he rested beneath a thick elm, and lifted his purple gaze to a red and black bird that had just come to the grove. It twittered on a branch over his head, and hopped back and forth, and thought its tiny thoughts, and Anthony made a big, soft nest for it, and pretty soon it hopped in.
A long, brown, sleek-furred animal was drinking at the pool. Anthony found its mind next.
The animal was thinking about a smaller creature that was scurrying along the ground on the other side of the pool, grubbing for insects. The little creature didn’t know that it was in danger. The long, brown animal finished drinking and tensed its legs to leap, and Anthony thought it into a grave in the cornfield.
He didn’t like those kinds of thoughts. They reminded him of the thoughts outside the grove. A long time ago some of the people outside had thought that way about him, and one night they’d hidden and waited for him to come back from the grove–and he’d just thought them all into the cornfield. Since then, the rest of the people hadn’t thought that way at least, very clearly. Now their thoughts were all mixed up and confusing whenever they thought about him or near him, so he didn’t pay much attention.
He liked to help them too, sometimes–but it wasn’t simple, or very gratifying either. They never thought happy thoughts when he did–just the jumble. So he spent more time out here.
He watched all the birds and insects and furry creatures for a while, and played with a bird, making it soar and dip and streak madly around tree trunks until, accidentally, when another bird caught his attention for a moment, he ran it into a rock. Petulantly, he thought the rock into a grave in the cornfield; but he couldn’t do anything more with the bird. Not because it was dead, though it was; but because it had a broken wing. So he went back to the house. He didn’t feel like walking back through the cornfield, so he just went to the house, right down into the basement.
It was nice down here. Nice and dark and damp and sort of fragrant, because once Mom had been making preserves in a rack along the far wall, and then she’d stopped coming down ever since Anthony had started spending time here, and the preserves had spoiled and leaked down and spread over the dirt floor, and Anthony liked the smell.
He caught another rat, making it smell cheese, and after he played with it, he thought it into a grave right beside the long animal he’d killed in the grove. Aunt Amy hated rats, and so he killed a lot of them, because he liked Aunt Amy most of all and sometimes did things that Aunt Amy wanted. Her mind was more like the little furry minds out in the grove. She hadn’t thought anything bad at all about him for a long time.
After the rat, he played with a big black spider in the corner under the stairs, making it run back and forth until its web shook and shimmered in the light from the cellar window like a reflection in silvery water. Then he drove fruit flies into the web until the spider was frantic trying to wind them all up. The spider liked flies, and its thoughts were stronger than theirs, so he did it. There was something bad in the way it liked flies, but it wasn’t clear–and besides, Aunt Amy hated flies too.
He heard footsteps overhead–Mom moving around in the kitchen. He blinked his purple gaze, and almost decided to make her hold still–but instead he went up to the attic, and, after looking out the circular window at the front end of the long X-roofed room for a while at the front lawn and the dusty road and Henderson’s tip-waving wheat field beyond, he curled into an unlikely shape and went partly to sleep.
Soon people would be coming for television, he heard Mom think.
He went more to sleep. He liked television night. Aunt Amy had always liked television a lot, so one time he had thought some for her, and a few other people had been there at the time, and Aunt Amy had felt disappointed when they wanted to leave. He’d done something to them for that–and now everybody came to television.
He liked all the attention he got when they did.
Anthony’s father came home around six-thirty, looking tired and dirty and bloody. He’d been over in Dunn’s pasture with the other men, helping pick out the cow to be slaughtered this month and doing the job, and then butchering the meat and salting it away in Soames’s icehouse. Not a job he cared for, but every man had his turn. Yesterday, he had helped scythe down old McIntyre’s wheat. Tomorrow, they would start threshing. By hand.
Everything in Peaksville had to be done by hand.
He kissed his wife on the cheek and sat down at the kitchen table. He smiled and said, “Where’s Anthony?”
“Around someplace,” Mom said.
Aunt Amy was over at the wood-burning stove, stirring the big pot of peas. Mom went back to the oven and opened it and basted the roast.
“Well, it’s been a good day,” Dad said. By rote. Then he looked at the mixing bowl and breadboard on the table. He sniffed at the dough. “M’m,” he said. “I could eat a loaf all by myself, I’m so hungry.”
“No one told Dan Hollis about its being a birthday party, did they?” his wife asked.
“Nope. We kept as quiet as mummies.”
“We’ve fixed up such a lovely surprise!”
“Well … you know how much Dan likes music. Well, last week Thelma Dunn found a record in her attic!”
“Yes! And we had Ethel sort of ask you know, without really asking–if he had that one.
And he said no. Isn’t that a wonderful surprise?”
“Well, now, it sure is. A record, imagine! That’s a real nice thing to find! What record is it?”
“Perry Como, singing You Are My Sunshine.”
“Well, I’ll be darned. I always liked that tune.” Some raw carrots were lying on the table. Dad picked up a small one, scrubbed it on his chest, and took a bite. “How did Thelma happen to find it?”
“Oh, you know just looking around for new things.”
“M’m.” Dad chewed the carrot. “Say, who has that picture we found a while back? I kind of liked it–that old clipper sailing along–“
“The Smiths. Next week the Sipichs get it, and they give the Smiths old McIntyre’s music-box, and we give the Sipichs–” and she went down the tentative order of things that would change hands among the women at church this Sunday.
He nodded. “Looks like we can’t have the picture for a while, I guess. Look, honey, you might try to get that detective book back from the Reillys. I was so busy the week we had it, I never got to finish all the stories–“
“I’ll try,” his wife said doubtfully. “But I hear the van Husens have a stereoscope they found in the cellar.” Her voice was just a little accusing. “They had it two whole months before they told anybody about it–“
“Say,” Dad said, looking interested. “That’d be nice, too. Lots of pictures?”
“I suppose so. I’ll see on Sunday. I’d like to have it but we still owe the van Husens for their canary. I don’t know why that bird had to pick our house to die … it must have been sick when we got it. Now there’s just no satisfying Betty van Husen–she even hinted she’d like our piano for a while!”
“Well, honey, you try for the stereoscope or just anything you think we’ll like.” At last he swallowed the carrot. It had been a little young and tough. Anthony’s whims about the weather made it so that people never knew what crops would come up, or what shape they’d be in if they did. All they could do was plant a lot; and always enough of something came up any one season to live on. Just once there had been a grain surplus; tons of it had been hauled to the edge of Peaksville and dumped off into the nothingness.
Otherwise, nobody could have breathed, when it started to spoil.
“You know,” Dad went on. “It’s nice to have the new things around. It’s nice to think that there’s probably still a lot of stuff nobody’s found yet, in cellars and attics and barns and down behind things. They help, somehow. As much as anything can help “
“Sh-h!” Mom glanced nervously around.
“Oh,” Dad said, smiling hastily. “It’s all right! The new things are good! It’s nice to be able to have something around you’ve never seen before, and know that something you’ve given somebody else is making them happy … that’s a real good thing.”
“A good thing,” his wife echoed.
“Pretty soon,” Aunt Amy said, from the stove, “there won’t be any more new things. We’ll have found everything there is to find. Goodness, that’ll be too bad “
“Well–” her pale eyes were shallow and fixed, a sign of her recurrent vagueness. “It will be kind of a shame no new things
“Don’t talk like that,” Mom said, trembling. “Amy, be quiet!“
“It’s good,” said Dad, in the loud, familiar, wanting-to-be-overheard tone of voice. “Such talk is good. It’s okay, honey don’t you see? It’s good for Amy to talk any way she wants. It’s good for her to feel bad. Everything’s good. Everything has to be good . .
Anthony’s mother was pale. And so was Aunt Amy–the peril of the moment had suddenly penetrated the clouds surrounding her mind. Sometimes it was difficult to handle words so that they might not prove disastrous. You just never knew. There were so many things it was wise not to say, or even think–but remonstration for saying or thinking them might be just as bad, if Anthony heard and decided to do anything about it. You could just never tell what Anthony was liable to do.
Everything had to be good. Had to be fine just as it was, even if it wasn’t. Always.
Because any changes might be worse. So terribly much worse.
“Oh, my goodness, yes, of course it’s good,” Mom said. “You talk any way you want to, Amy, and it’s just fine. Of course, you want to remember that some ways are better than others . .
Aunt Amy stirred the peas, fright in her pale eyes.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “But I don’t feel like talking right now. It … it’s good that I don’t feel like talking.”
Dad said tiredly, smiling, “I’m going out and wash up.”
They started arriving around eight o clock. By that time, Mom and Aunt Amy had the big table in the dining room set, and two more tables off to the side. The candles were burning, and the chairs situated, and Dad had a big fire going in the fireplace.
The first to arrive were the Sipichs, John and Mary. John wore his best suit, and was well-scrubbed and pink-faced after his day in McIntyre’s pasture. The suit was neatly pressed, but getting threadbare at elbows and cuffs. Old McIntyre was working on a loom, designing it out of schoolbooks, but so far it was slow going. McIntyre was a capable man with wood and tools, but a loom was a big order when you couldn’t get metal parts. McIntyre had been one of the ones who, at first, had wanted to try to get Anthony to make things the villagers needed, like clothes and canned goods and medical supplies and gasoline. Since then, he felt that what had happened to the whole Terrance family and Joe Kinney was his fault, and he worked hard trying to make it up to the rest of them. And since then, no one had tried to get Anthony to do anything.
Mary Sipich was a small, cheerful woman in a simple dress. She immediately set about helping Mom and Aunt Amy put the finishing touches on the dinner.
The next arrivals were the Smiths and the Dunns, who lived right next to each other down the road, only a few yards from the nothingness. They drove up in the Smiths wagon, drawn by their old horse.
Then the Reillys showed up, from across the darkened wheat field, and the evening really began. Pat Reilly sat down at the big upright in the front room, and began to play from the popular sheet music on the rack. He played softly, as expressively as he could–and nobody sang. Anthony liked piano playing a whole lot, but not singing; often he would come up from the basement, or down from the attic, or just come, and sit on top of the piano, nodding his head as Pat played Lover or Boulevard of Broken Dreams or Night and Day. He seemed to prefer ballads, sweet-sounding songs–but the one time somebody had started to sing, Anthony had looked over from the top of the piano and done something that made everybody afraid of singing from then on. Later, they’d decided that the piano was what Anthony had heard first, before anybody had ever tried to sing, and now anything else added to it didn’t sound right and distracted him from his pleasure.
So, every television night, Pat would play the piano, and that was the beginning of the evening. Wherever Anthony was, the music would make him happy, and put him in a good mood, and he would know that they were gathering for television and waiting for him.
By eight-thirty everybody had shown up, except for the seventeen children and Mrs. Soames, who was off watching them in the schoolhouse at the far end of town. The children of Peaksville were never, never allowed near the Fremont house–not since little Fred Smith had tried to play with Anthony on a dare. The younger children weren’t even told about Anthony. The others had mostly forgotten about him, or were told that he was a nice, nice goblin but they must never go near him.
Dan and Ethel Hollis came late, and Dan walked in not suspecting a thing. Pat Reilly had played the piano until his hands ached he’d worked pretty hard with them today–and now he got up, and everybody gathered around to wish Dan Hollis a happy birthday.
“Well, I’ll be darned,” Dan grinned. “This is swell. I wasn’t expecting this at all … gosh, this is swell!“
They gave him his presents–mostly things they had made by hand, though some were things that people had possessed as their own and now gave him as his. John Sipich gave him a watch charm, hand-carved out of a piece of hickory wood. Dan’s watch had broken down a year or so ago, and there was nobody in the village who knew how to fix it, but he still carried it around because it had been his grandfather’s and was a fine old heavy thing of gold and silver. He attached the charm to the chain, while everybody laughed and said John had done a nice job of carving. Then Mary Sipich gave him a knitted necktie, which he put on, removing the one he’d worn.
The Reillys gave him a little box they had made, to keep things in. They didn’t say what things, but Dan said he’d keep his personal jewelry in it. The Reillys had made it out of a cigar box, carefully peeled of its paper and lined on the inside with velvet. The outside had been polished, and carefully if not expertly carved by Pat–but his carving got complimented too. Dan Hollis received many other gifts–a pipe, a pair of shoelaces, a tie pin, a knit pair of socks, some fudge, a pair of garters made from old suspenders.
He unwrapped each gift with vast pleasure, and wore as many of them as he could right there, even the garters. He lit up the pipe, and said he’d never had a better smoke; which wasn’t quite true, because the pipe wasn’t broken in yet. Pete Manners had had it lying around ever since he’d received it as a gift four years ago from an out-of-town relative who hadn’t known he’d stopped smoking. Dan put the tobacco into the bowl very carefully.
Tobacco was precious. It was only pure luck that Pat Reilly had decided to try to grow some in his backyard just before what had happened to Peaksville had happened. It didn’t grow very well, and then they had to cure it and shred it and all, and it was just precious stuff. Everybody in town used wooden holders old McIntyre had made, to save on butts.
Last of all, Thelma Dunn gave Dan Hollis the record she had found.
Dan’s eyes misted even before he opened the package. He knew it was a record.
“Gosh,” he said softly. “What one is it? I’m almost afraid to look . .
“You haven’t got it, darling,” Ethel Hollis smiled. “Don’t you remember, I asked about You Are My Sunshine?”
“Oh, gosh,” Dan said again. Carefully he removed the wrapping and stood there fondling the record, running his big hands over the worn grooves with their tiny, dulling crosswise scratches. He looked around the room, eyes shining, and they all smiled back, knowing how delighted he was.
“Happy birthday, darling!” Ethel said, throwing her arms around him and kissing him.
He clutched the record in both hands, holding it off to one side as she pressed against him. “Hey,” he laughed, pulling back his head. “Be careful I’m holding a priceless object!” He looked around again, over his wife’s arms, which were still around his neck. His eyes were hungry. “Look … do you think we could play it? Lord, what I’d give to hear some new music … just the first part, the orchestra part, before Como sings?”
Faces sobered. After a minute, John Sipich said, “I don’t think we’d better, Dan. After all, we don’t know just where the singer comes in it’d be taking too much of a chance. Better wait till you get home.”
Dan Hollis reluctantly put the record on the buffet with all his other presents. “It’s good,” he said automatically, but disappointedly, “that I can’t play it here.”
“Oh, yes,” said Sipich. “It’s good.” To compensate for Dan’s disappointed tone, he repeated. “It’s good.”
They ate dinner, the candles lighting their smiling faces, and ate it all right down to the last delicious drop of gravy. They complimented Mom and Aunt Amy on the roast beef, and the peas and carrots, and the tender corn on the cob. The corn hadn’t come from the Fremont’s cornfield, naturally–everybody knew what was out there; and the field was going to weeds.
Then they polished off the dessert–homemade ice cream and cookies And then they sat back, in the flickering light of the candles, and chatted waiting for television.
There never was a lot of mumbling on television night–everybody came and had a good dinner at the Fremonts’, and that was nice, and afterwards there was television and nobody really thought much about that it just had to be put up with. So it was a pleasant enough get-together, aside from your having to watch what you said just as carefully as you always did everyplace. If a dangerous thought came into your mind, you just started mumbling, even right in the middle of a sentence. When you did that, the others just ignored you until you felt happier again and stopped.
Anthony liked television night. He had done only two or three awful things on television night in the whole past year.
Mom had put a bottle of brandy on the table, and they each had a tiny glass of it. Liquor was even more precious than tobacco. The villagers could make wine, but the grapes weren’t right, and certainly the techniques weren’t, and it wasn’t very good wine. There were only a few bottles of real liquor left in the village–four rye, three Scotch, three brandy, nine real wine and half a bottle of Drambuie belonging to old McIntyre (only for marriages)–and when those were gone, that was it.
Afterward, everybody wished that the brandy hadn’t been brought out Because Dan Hollis drank more of it than he should have, and mixed it with a lot of the homemade wine.
Nobody thought anything about it at first, because he didn’t show it much outside, and it was his birthday party and a happy party, and Anthony liked these get-togethers and shouldn’t see any reason to do anything even if he was listening.
But Dan Hollis got high, and did a fool thing. If they’d seen it coming, they’d have taken him outside and walked him around.
The first thing they knew, Dan stopped laughing right in the middle of the story about how Thelma Dunn had found the Perry Como record and dropped it and it hadn’t broken because she’d moved faster than she ever had before in her life and caught it. He was fondling the record again, and looking longingly at the Fremonts gramophone over in the corner, and suddenly he stopped laughing and his face got slack, and then it got ugly, and he said, “Oh, Christ!“
Immediately the room was still. So still they could hear the whirring movement of the grandfather’s clock out in the hall. Pat Reilly had been playing the piano, softly. He stopped, his hands poised over the yellowed keys.
The candles on the dining-room table flickered in a cool breeze that blew through the lace curtains over the bay window.
“Keep playing, Pat,” Anthony’s father said softly.
Pat started again. He played Night and Day, but his eyes were sidewise on Dan Hollis, and he missed notes.
Dan stood in the middle of the room, holding the record. In his other hand he held a glass of brandy so hard his hand shook.
They were all looking at him.
“Christ,” he said again, and he made it sound like a dirty word. Reverend Younger, who had been talking with Mom and Aunt Amy by the dining-room door, said “Christ” too but he was using it in a prayer. His hands were clasped, and his eyes were closed.
John Sipich moved forward. “Now, Dan … it’s good for you to talk that way. But you don’t want to talk too much, you know.”
Dan shook off the hand Sipich put on his arm.
“Can’t even play my record,” he said loudly. He looked down at the record, and then around at their faces. “Oh, my God…”
He threw the glassful of brandy against the wall. It splattered and ran down the wallpaper in streaks.
Some of the women gasped.
“Dan,” Sipich said in a whisper. “Dan, cut it out–“
Pat Reilly was playing Night and Day louder, to cover up the sounds of the talk. It wouldn’t do any good, though, if Anthony was listening.
Dan Hollis went over to the piano and stood by Pat’s shoulder, swaying a little.
“Pat,” he said. “Don’t play that. Play this.” And he began to sing. Softly, hoarsely, miserably: “Happy birthday to me… Happy birthday to me…”
“Dan!” Ethel Hollis screamed. She tried to run across the room to him. Mary Sipich grabbed her arm and held her back. “Dan.” Ethel screamed again. “Stop–“
“My God, be quiet!” hissed Mary Sipich, and pushed her toward one of the men, who put his hand over her mouth and held her still.
“–Happy birthday, dear Danny.” Dan sang. “Happy birthday to me!” He stopped and looked down at Pat Reilly. “Play it, Pat. Play it, so I can sing right … you know I can’t carry a tune unless somebody plays it!”
Pat Reilly put his hand on the keys and began Lover in a slow waltz tempo, the way Anthony liked it. Pat’s face was white. His hands fumbled.
Dan Hollis stared over at the dining-room door. At Anthony’s mother, and at Anthony’s father, who had gone to join her.
“You had him,” he said. Tears gleamed on his cheeks as the candlelight caught them.
“You had to go and have him …”
He closed his eyes, and the tears squeezed out. He sang loudly, “You are my sunshine … my only sunshine … you make me happy … when I am blue …”
Anthony came into the room.
Pat stopped playing. He froze. Everybody froze. The breeze rippled the curtains. Ethel Hollis couldn’t even try to scream she had fainted.
“Please don’t take my sunshine … away …” Dan’s voice faltered into silence. His eyes widened. He put both hands out in front of him, the empty glass in one, the record in the other. He hiccupped and said, “No–“
“Bad man,” Anthony said, and thought Dan Hollis into something like nothing anyone would have believed possible, and then he thought the thing into a grave deep, deep in the cornfield.
The glass and record thumped on the rug. Neither broke.
Anthony’s purple gaze went around the room.
Some of the people began mumbling. They all tried to smile. The sound of mumbling filled the room like a far-off approval. Out of the murmuring came one or two clear voices:
“Oh, it’s a very good thing,” said John Sipich.
“A good thing,” said Anthony’s father, smiling. He’d had more practice in smiling than most of them. “A wonderful thing.”
“It’s swell.., just swell,” said Pat Reilly, tears leaking from eyes and nose, and he began to play the piano again, softly, his trembling hands feeling for Night and Day.
Anthony climbed up on top of the piano, and Pat played for two hours.
Afterward, they watched television. They all went into the front room, and lit just a few candles, and pulled up chairs around the set. It was a small-screen set, and they couldn’t all sit close enough to it to see, but that didn’t matter. They didn’t even turn the set on. It wouldn’t have worked anyway, there being no electricity in Peaksville. They just sat silently, and watched the twisting, writhing shapes on the screen, and listened to the sounds that came out of the speaker, and none of them had any idea of what it was all about. They never did. It was always the same.
“It’s real nice,” Aunt Amy said once, her pale eyes on meaningless flickers and shadows.
“But I liked it a little better when there were cities outside and we could get real–“
“Why, Amy!” said Mom. “It’s good for you to say such a thing. Very good. But how can you mean it? Why, this television is much better than anything we ever used to get!”
“Yes,” chimed in John Sipich. “It’s fine. It’s the best show we’ve ever seen!”
He sat on the couch, with two other men, holding Ethel Hollis flat against the cushions, holding her arms and legs and putting their hands over her mouth, so she couldn’t start screaming again.
“It’s really good!” he said again.
Mom looked out of the front window, across the darkened road, across Henderson’s darkened wheat field to the vast, endless, gray nothingness in which the little village of Peaksville floated like a soul–the huge nothingness that was evident at night, when Anthony’s brassy day had gone.
It did no good to wonder where they were … no good at all. Peaksville was just someplace. Someplace away from the world. It was wherever it had been since that day three years ago when Anthony had crept from her womb and old Doc Bates–God rest him–had screamed and dropped him and tried to kill him, and Anthony had whined and done the thing. He had taken the village someplace. Or had destroyed the world and left only the village, nobody knew which.
It did no good to wonder about it. Nothing at all did any good except to live as they must live. Must always, always live, if Anthony would let them.
These thoughts were dangerous, she thought.
She began to mumble. The others started mumbling too. They had all been thinking, evidently.
The men on the couch whispered and whispered to Ethel Hollis, and when they took their hands away, she mumbled too.
While Anthony sat on top of the set and made television, they sat around and mumbled and watched the meaningless, flickering shapes far into the night.
Next day it snowed, and killed off half the crops–but it was a good day.
1983 Michael Jackson’s Thriller album reached #1 and stayed there for thirty-seven weeks, selling more than 40 million copies. It was #1 in every western nation.
1985 Tina Turner won Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Vocal Performance, all with the million-seller, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” at the twenty-seventh annual Grammys.
1985 “Chuck Berry is one of the most influential and creative innovators in the history of American popular music, a composer and performer whose talents inspired the elevation of rock ‘n’ roll to one of music’s major art forms.” Such was the tribute as Chuck was honored by the twenty-seventh annual Grammy Awards NARAS committee when they bestowed upon him a Lifetime Achievement Award. Also, that night, Jimmy Cliff became the first Jamaican artist to win a Grammy as the Best Reggae recording category was instituted. He won for the song, “Reggae Night.”
1990 Cornel Gunter of the Coasters was shot and killed while in his car in Las Vegas. He was scheduled to perform at the Lucky Lady Hotel that night.
1992 Aretha Franklin received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Bobby “Blue” Bland was honored at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s third annual Pioneer Awards in New York.
1994 Toni Braxton’s self-titled album reached #1 pop almost eight months after its first release. She was influenced by Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Quincy Jones.
1997 Soul divas Whitney Houston, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, and CeCe Winans sang a medley from Waiting To Exhale at the thirty-ninth annual Grammy Awards, held at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
1998 The Five Satins were honored as pioneers at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Awards in New York City. Gladys Knight & the Pips received a Lifetime Achievement Award (presented by Stevie Wonder) and the O’Jays received a Pioneer Award as presented by Gerald Levert, son of the group’s lead singer, Eddie Levert.
1984 British jazz/R&B singer Sade charted in England with her debut “Your Love Is King,” reaching #6. It would be almost a year before she would become known in America, but for a different song, “Smooth Operator.”
1986 Dionne Warwick presented her cousin, Whitney Houston, with the Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female Award at the twenty-eighth annual Grammy Awards.
1992 Boyz II Men, who performed in their trademark ’50s high-school matching garb and who would go on to be the most successful vocal group of the ’90s, won the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category for their Cooleyhighharmony album at the thirty-fourth annual Garmmy Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York City. Natalie Cole, however, was the big winer, with Grammys for Record of the Year, and best Engineered Album (nonclassical).
1992 James Brown and Muddy Waters each won the coveted Lifetime Achievement Awards at the thirty-fourth annual Grammy Awards. Unfortunately for Waters, it was bestowed upon him almost nine years after he died.
1992 Tina Turner’s British TV biopic, The Girl From Nutbush, aired on BBC1 in England.
1993 As if the previous year wasn’t enough, James Brown was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the fourth annual Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards in Los Angeles. The award was presented by MC Hammer. Also given Pioneer Awards that night were Floyd Dixon, Lowell Fulsom, Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Erskine Hawkins, and Martha & the Vandellas.
1997 Sade was arrested in Montego Bay, Jamaica for disorderly conduct, disobeying a policeman, and dangerous driving. In that particular incident she obviously was not a “smooth operator.”
1999 Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx, Cindy Birdsong, and Patrica Holt, better known as Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, appeared together for the first time in thirty-one years singing a stirring “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Awards in Los Angeles. The group was presented its award by five-time Grammy winner, Lauryn Hill.
BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS · A BLOGSITE FOR THE PRAISING OF ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL AND SUBLIME IN HONOR OF ALL BLACK WOMEN. "ONLY THE BLACK WOMAN CAN SAY WHEN AND WHERE I ENTER, IN THE QUIET, UNDISPUTED DIGNITY OF MY WOMANHOOD, WITHOUT VIOLENCE AND WITHOUT SUING OR SPECIAL PATRONAGE, THEN AND THERE THE WHOLE. . .RACE ENTERS WITH ME." ANNA JULIA COOPER, 1892