Terror n. violence that is committed by a person, group, or government in order to frighten people and achieve a political goal.
Ever since 9/11, Americans have constantly been inundated with the word “terror,” whether it has come from our own government, certain media outlets or right-wing extremists forming militias in the deepest rural areas of the country.
Americans are told to look out for terror on airplanes, at stadiums, at shopping malls and even when traveling abroad with a US flag on your backpack. But it’s very interesting that a country so obsessed with terror can manage to casually ignore its domestic presence, especially when black people are the victims of it.
Recent events have led many black people to believe that we must constantly be on guard — whether walking down the street, standing in front of a store, driving in our cars or even attending church — and now, after a horrific encounter just outside of Atlanta last weekend, we can add our children’s birthday parties to that.
This past Saturday, cell phone footage captured an incident in Douglasville, Georgia, where white folks in a convoy of seven pickup trucks draped in Confederate flags clashed with black folks who were celebrating a child’s birthday party.
Some were allegedly armed, and at least one can be heard screaming the word “n****r” at the party attendees. The videos posted to Facebook don’t lie.
Melissa Alford, who posted the videos and was hosting the party, claims that one of the passengers in the trucks threatened that he would “kill y’all n*****s!” And when the police came, seeing the inflammatory flags and hearing the outrageously racist and threatening language, they said that there was nothing they could do, because the white folks hadn’t broken any laws.
That seriously begs the question of whether or not those same exact police would’ve found no broken laws had the situation been reversed and seven truckloads of armed black men were screaming threats at a white child’s birthday party in the deep South.
Of course, that question is rhetorical, as we all know those brothers probably would’ve found themselves in jail on the way to the white family’s house when one driver changed lanes without indicating.
Truthfully, the larger, more troubling question is: “Why must black folks always be confronted with prejudice and systemic racism when the system already has such a substantive and disproportionate effect on black communities?” Why can’t black folks simply throw a birthday party without being approached with symbols of racism?
Why can’t Black folks just be free?
J. Cole’s latest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, starts with a tune called “Be Free” in which J. Cole soulfully chants:
All we wanna do is take the chains off
All we wanna do is break the chains off
All we wanna do is be free
All we wanna do is be free
To non-blacks, the idea of breaking chains to gain freedom may seem like overdramatic hyperbole, but to live under racist oppression where state-sanctioned murders have chillingly become far too normal, freedom is the only word that really encapsulates the most intrinsic desire black folks feel all over the globe.
The freedom to not worry about driving while black. The freedom to know that wearing a hoodie isn’t automatically putting our lives on the line. The freedom to know that our killers can’t escape punishment because they wear blue uniforms. The freedom to know that we can throw birthday parties for our children without having to be threatened by a caravan of armed racists.
Authorities are still looking into this case to determine if anything “criminal” happened, but if there’s one thing that we can all agree on in light of this incident, it is that those people who claim the Confederate flag is not a symbol of racism are completely full of shit.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site ThisIsYourConscience.com. He’s an author of the book “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.