The following are my thoughts that I gathered after our second day of being in El Salvador. Since our return, I have had a full on reflection and will be posting that soon. Until then, I present this to you for your reading pleasure and mental stimulation.
One hundred years after Bro. du Bois chronicled our souls, the Negro, the Colored, the African-American, the Black man is the still the Seventh Son. Matured past our adolescence, we are comfortably into our adulthood, yet we still don our nascent veil. The second sight has colored and dominated our American experience with, yes more bad than good, more ugly than beauty. Yet, our half-brothers and sisters were still baffled when Sis. Michelle stated that she was proud of our country for the first time in her adult life.
America the beautiful, “father of the free world”, has still left his bastard children, the sons and daughters of fake love and forced sex, in this awkward space where we are acknowledged in public but not so sure if he penciled us in to his will. That’s why a customs form in a Salvadoran airport gives this Seventh Son pause. The form asks for nationality. A first time traveler away from my earthly father’s land, this was a new experience for me. I have always existed in a situation where I had to qualify my claim to my American name with a “Black” or “African”. So in reading the form, everything in me says to follow suit with business usual and write “Black”. But I know the expectation is to simply write “American”. Such a funny thing for my fatherland to engrain in me! In my own home, I am not valued as an equal child, but the rest of world still sees me as a privileged son of my American household. I cannot even begin to protest their assumptions or even try to explain myself. And how can I? Nobody is even asking!
And truthfully, it is unfair for me to think they would or even should consider to ask. Why should they make distinction between Americans? After all, all of us Americans do invariably prosper from the repression of our Salvadoran siblings. Moreover, how can I expect a consciousness of American racial woes to arise in their minds when the bruising construct of race has not wholly shaped their social inequalities? I mean not to present the case that El Salvador is free of racial oppression; the complete destruction and denunciation of the indigenous peoples, speaking of the Spanish language and usage of the American dollar goes to show the extent of White imperialism and manifest destiny. But at least in El Salvador, at least on the basis of skin color, there is no difference in appearance between those who removed baggage off the plane and those who sit in the National Assembly. In my American father’s house however, those who removed the bags off the plane might have looked liked the Salvadorans, starkly contrasting in appearance to the majority of our legislative body.
It is clear then that for my Salvadoran siblings, what has more stratified their society has been class and access to power. And, in many ways, it was my American father who created this stratified society. And so, understandably, I am not conceived of as the illegitimate child but as just another member of the big house that so forcefully dictates who lives and dies in their land; all on the basis of money.
It’s interesting then to note that for Los Salvadoreños , their struggle for justice in their civil war is akin to Seventh Son’s civil rights movement (after all, we were all in some doing battle with Daddy Sam). That considered it is greatly refreshing to witness how the Salvadoran people honor the life and deeds of their martyr and wartime hero, Monseñor Romero. These celebrations are carried out with great fervor, passion and conviction. It excites me to celebrate the life of a man, so committed to his calling, to his community, to his Christ. Yet I sigh with the knowledge that a nation will never gather in such a consistent and mighty way for our martyrs. Nat, Malcolm, Huey and Pac will never get that turnout. And in the days we celebrate Martin, some members of the Seventh tribe celebrate it by turning their guns on each other while the heir-apparent of the American empire wholly forget about such a day.
All the same, I stand and march in solidarity with my Salvadoran siblings in great pride that someone will honor justice, regardless to my color. But, my Blackness weighs on my mind when the heralded member of my Seventh tribe, the (false) harbinger of the post-racial America, my great hero Barack Obama is seen as the face of American oppression. To me, he is savior; intelligent and left enough to be the change we’ve waited for. But in the Salvadoran mind, he is still a force of domination. No space to question his relation to the nation’s crimes. No time to parse out his personal politics. He’s only expected to do the right thing (like Spike Lee) or forever be written as complicit in crimes against humanity. This is a great tension, but a real one.
In many ways, Obama’s tension is the same burden of the seventh son. Our twoness has always been the veil we could hide under. But not now. Our veil is coming off in this swiftly globalizing world as we become legitimized at our earthly American father’s table. Never mind the fact this place never acted as our home. In the new world, where we are the enemy by default, our only hope for redemption comes in cleaning up our father’s mess. We, the bastard child, bare the sins of our father nation across the world.
Going forth in this adulthood of Black America, we must define a new solidarity of marginalized peoples across the world. People who suffer, people whose history suffered, people who are knowledgeable of suffering have a great obligation, the solemn duty to look beyond the mindset of social stratifications , practiced and inherited from our forefathers. It is incumbent upon us that when it comes to justice, we look beyond race, beyond nation, beyond the social remnants of our earthly father and instead turn to our Heavenly Father. We must become agitators for change. When we do this, the Seventh Son becomes fulfilled as a child at the table. Yes, we are disturbing the comforts and thoughts of our America father’s perfectly controlled empire. But who better than us? We create a new paradigm of patriotism; one where we call our father’s wrong out because we as a peoples who have been shunned by our father cannot bear to witness it again in the lives of another. This is the calling of the Seventh Son. This is the splitting of his veil and making his consciousness the mainline consciousness, the only consciousness that matters; the counsciousness dedicated to justice