America’s Terrorism

A uniquely ugly variety…

From The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson:

Surrounded as he was by the arbitrary violence of the ruling caste, it would be nearly impossible for George or any other colored boy in that era to grow up without the fear of being lynched, the dread that, in the words of the historian James R. McGovern, “he might be accused of something and suddenly find himself in a circle of tormentors with no one to help him.”

By the time Lil George was old enough to notice, it seemed as if the whole world was crazy, not because of any single event but because of the slow discovery of just how circumscribed his life was turning out to be. All this stepping off the sidewalk, not looking even in the direction of a white woman, the sirring and ma’aming and waiting until all the white people had been served before buying your ice cream cone, with violence and even death awaiting any misstep. Each generation had to learn the rules without understanding why, because there was no understanding why, and each one either accepted or rebelled in that moment of realization and paid a price whichever they chose.

No one sat George down and told him the rules. His father was quiet and kept his wounds to himself. George’s teachers were fear and instinct. The caste system trained him to see absurdity as normal.

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