Dr. Ada Fisher: Way past mourning
In the second verse of The Negro National Anthem, written by black Republican James Weldon Johnson, it states:
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,Till now we stand at last …
How much in terms of attitudes has really changed for black Americans, minus the chains? What is needed is not a conversation about race but a change of heart, with the doors of opportunity truly flung open for those willing to enter.
One of my sons recently asked, “Mom, why is 17-year-old black Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed and shot dead, defined as a thug, but 21-year-old white Dylann Roof, who confessed to killing nine black worshippers June 21, 2015 in cold blooded murder, not described as a terrorist?”
I know evil when I see it and Dylann Roof is evil. Though the victims’ families may choose to forgive him, that is not for them alone to do but rests in God’s hands.
I stand squarely with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in believing Roof should be executed, for exorcisms and nothing else, as Shakespeare’s Macbeth notes, can wash the stains from his hands to bring back the lives he took.
Prematurely folks are piling on the Confederate flag rather than revisit the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech, even for those with whom I may disagree. Flags are a symbol of speech, whether for those of the Confederacy or blacks who adorn themselves with the black, red and green colors of liberation or the yellow of the Gadsden Flag adopted by many Tea Party affiliates with a snake noting “Don’t Tread On Me.”
When I was awarded recognition as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Women in America by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1984, it was not lost on me that here was the place where Mariam Anderson was denied the right to perform. She ended up singing on their steps.
Those who are afraid, like sharks, smell blood in the water. Illegal immigrants displaced workers from here and citizens mourn jobs which were never theirs or are becoming obsolete. College graduates panic when, after they take the easiest courses they can find to graduate, they end up with mounds of debt and no venue to parlay that degree.
Dylann Roof hasn’t prepared himself to succeed where his color alone won’t allow him to rule.
Increasingly the pulse of mourning is a palpable fear, as it has been for all of our history. Settlers came seeking escape from oppression. The U.S. continues trying to do something no other nations have accomplished in blending diverse peoples.
I am not going to hold white folks’ hands or embrace blacks to assuage guilt in failing to make folks take responsibility for their actions. I am not going to make nice and talk pleasantries when I know as a biologist that my question to my 11th grade teacher, John Henry Packenham, hasn’t been answered — “Why is it only within the human species that we find a classification of race?”
Race is a false construct designed to give a sense of superiority to one group based on their color and provide them with resources often denied others. It didn’t just start now but is as old as the pyramids, where the Sphinx’s broad nose was destroyed by the Nazis.
Rachel Dolezal, a white female per her kinsmen and previous head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, may be correct if we believe anthropology and Biblical descriptions of mankind’s origins in Africa. This would make everyone, including whites, African Americans.
My father, left us a book about his father, E.J. Fisher, “The Master’s Slave.” My mother was a griot, telling stories of her native American ancestry dating to the Pamunky Indians and Powhatan. But it was Mama’s remembrances of her walks with her grandma “Ginny,” who was a white nurse for the Confederacy, which intrigued me.
As Edmund Burke wrote “Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it.” Taking down the Confederate flag only serves to obfuscate a poorly understood time in American history.
Blacks in an old Negro spiritual sang, “No more weeping and a’wailing …” From my recent Israeli visit to the site of Masada, such remembrances constantly cause me and my fellow Jews to pledge “Never Again.” Don’t dare touch the Second Amendment, which allows me self-protection.
I have been called a “n—–” more times than I care to remember and had my opportunities limited by those of lesser character and abilities but often higher societal station. I never forget what has happened to me. I, like so many others, must fight against those who limit opportunities for others based on ethnicity, religion or other characteristics. We must not go silently to the slaughter but fight, “… marching on ‘til victory is won” to preserve this constitutional republic’s democracy.
Dr. Ada Fisher of Salisbury is Republican National Committeewoman for North Carolina.