From the introduction
Interview with a mass murderer
worsening racism today
1. From the introduction
This is a show
about oppression and the damage it does to us. Most important is the
adult oppression of children. Everywhere in the world children are hurt
very early by the irrational behavior of adults. This causes severe
patterns of distress resulting in hurtful behavior.
Later in life
we re-enact these distress patterns on our own children or on each other
e.g. in sexist, racist, nationalist, totalitarian, anti-Semitic,
anti-Muslim, homophobic, age, handicap or class oppression.
In most of us
these patterns have become so chronic that we become defensive when
challenged and end up blaming the victims. We dare not face the fact
that in such systems we are both victims and oppressors.
There are few
places in the world where the main ingredients of oppression are as
blatant as in the relationship between blacks and whites in the USA.
From this tragedy we can all learn something about ourselves.
show, it is important to understand the damage we go through in a
Black or white,
we are born naturally open and curious with no inborn racial biases.
Then things go wrong. We hear things like "Niggers are dirty, stupid and
lazy. They belong on the bottom."
For the loving
and affectionate child this is irrational, confusing and hurtful. While
we are hurting our mind no longer thinks rationally and a rigid scar is
created on our thinking. After years of such hurtful messages we end up
accepting and internalizing these limited definitions of ourselves and
As seen through
the eyes of a foreigner this show is about how such racial attitudes
cripple our character, whatever our color. Though there is plenty of
racism in Europe, I was fortunate to have my childhood in Denmark during
years when I was not severely hurt by social insecurity and racist
I was also
fortunate that the first people I stayed with in America were not white.
Most European visitors stay first with white Americans, who warn them,
"Don't walk three blocks this way or two blocks that way," and
immediately frighten them into accepting white fear and rigid
was just the opposite. The first American home to take me in was a black
home on the south side of Chicago. With all their love, warmth and
openness, I immediately felt at home and saw whites only as cold distant
faces on TV or in hostile suburbia. Later, traveling into the white
world, I was no longer as vulnerable to its racist patterns of guilt and
118,000 miles and stayed in over 400 homes in 48 states. I had arrived
with only $40. Twice a week I sold my blood plasma to earn the money I
needed for film. Traveling in such a deeply divided society inevitably
was a violent experience:
4 times I was
attacked by robbers with pistols, 2 times I managed to avoid cuts
from men with knives, 2 times frightened police drew guns on me, 1
time I was surrounded by 10-15 blacks in a dark alley and almost killed,
1 time I was ambushed by the Ku Klux Klan, several times I had bullets
flying around me in shoot-outs, 2 times I was arrested by the FBI,
and 4 times by the Secret Service.
I lived with 3
murderers and countless criminals..... ...but I have never met a bad
That I survived
I owe to my stubborn belief in these words by Jose Marti:
You must have faith in the best in people and distrust the worst. If
not, the worst will prevail.
I hope you will
share my love for this country while you see the show.... ....and
afterward work together - black and white - to undo the hurt we do to
each other and thus heal the division and violence we inflict on our
society. To begin our painful journey toward that goal, let us take a
boat trip together....
2. Interview with a white mass murderer
In my vagabond
years in the 70's most Americans seemed to feel good about themselves
and I found hardly any Klan-activity.
increasing mistreatment of children I have seen since then, seems to go
hand in hand with the rise of the clan.
Today I meet
people far worse than the Ku Klux Klan.
recently I picked up Tommy, this dirt poor hitchhiker in Mississippi,
who told me that he and his two brothers had personally killed so many
blacks, that they had lost count of them.
- I don't
know if he killed the first two I got blood on me from, I know he busted
his head open real bad.
- Pete busted open his head real, real bad... Took a big whole piece
out of his head - and blood got on me then. That's cause I was holding
the dude. Every time his heart would beat, blood would squirt out about
5-6 feet, man. The guy ran about ten steps, then just fell - face first.
I'll even take you by the old post office tonight and show you it to
you, right where it happened. Then they got a big sign says 'No Niggers
Allowed' when you go in there on the highway.
What year is this?
- This is 91 now, fixing to be 92 and they got a sign saying 'No
- When you went out to kill them, would he talk about it all day
before or did you just happen to...?
- No, it just happened. It just was one of those things. He was going
down the street and he just felt like doing it. He'd seen them, so he
- Right here
is where this guy fell after my brother stabbed him. That may be the
cops. Right here is where he fell. I'll show you where he got stabbed
at. He got stabbed right on the other side of this telephone pole, right
here. And then he ran ten feet and fell. Let's go before the cops are
coming 'cause they are bad here at night time.
- What did
he actually say?
- He actually said 'I'm gonna kill me a nigger tonight'. He said it
all day long and when we'd come back from over the tracks Butch told
him, 'I bet you wont kill that one right there.' And this was a big
nigger, you know. And Pete says 'Bet me!'. And Butch says, 'I'll bet
you.' And he goes, 'Never mind about the betting.'
- He walked
over there and he says, 'Hey, did you meet your maker?' and he stabbed
him. The guy's eyes rolled to the back of his head and Pete twisted the
knife and then he pulled it out. The blood, when it came out, it hit me
- How did it
- He goes out and he kills niggers for fun. He tells me he likes to
see the fear in their face when they die. It was like when we was riding
down River Road I was telling you about how Butch called one over to the
car and Pete jumped out and shot him. Well, two of them split, and one
of them stayed there, you know, he was freaking out. I guess he was
young or something, you know.
started beating him in the head with some bottle that he had. And then
Pete started kicking him and stuff - and when they had him on the ground
bleeding and where he couldn't move, Pete just stomped him until he
died. The only thing I've never seen Pete do, was go out and run over
the niggers that he used to go out and run over. But I've seen blood on
the car and....like I said, I took T shirts and shirts and stuff like
that out from under the car after he ran them over. I've seen him beat
up many, many niggers many times and leave them for dead.
- How many
would you say?
- How many? More than I can count on my fingers and toes.
As always with
violent people, I asked about his childhood.
His eyes filled with tears when he told me how the three brothers had
constantly been beaten and abused by their deeply alcoholic parents.
who also had killed blacks, had once ripped out the womb of Tommy's
mother, his brother told me five years later.)
- From as
early as I remember I've got whippings from my mom. She used to come in
drunk.... She would hit you anywhere she could hit you. When she whips
you with a board, if you move and it hits you somewhere else, you
shouldn't have moved...
It is important
always to give such children of pain all the love and affection we can
In my travels I
have often been amazed how little caring it takes to make these
encapsulated and discouraged people raise their heads again and feel
better about themselves.
feel good about themselves will not hurt other people or even think
badly of them. Only people in deep pain wish to harm others.
All the violent
racists I meet these days have without exception been mistreated or
humiliated in childhood.
burnings and swastikas are just their inept cry for our help and
attention, and it takes so incredibly little nurturing from us to help
them out of their oppressive patterns. Five years later I found some of
Tommy's victims, such as April's family, who had been stabbed by Tommy
in their sleep.
lives needed similar nurturing not to be be destroyed by the paralyzing
fear and unforgiving hate they had developed toward fellow citizens.
easily such hatred perpetuates itself led the new black government in
South Africa to pardon all racial crimes committed under apartheid.
My friend Tommy
is beginning to understand that since he has never had anybody to help
him heal his pain, he had turned it outward against blacks in such a
horrifying way that he could describe how they tortured and murdered
every one of their victims and dumped them in Mississippi's rivers and
- Did you
usually get rid of them by throwing them in rivers and swamps?
- Oh, yeah, many times we dumped them in the swamps....
3. The worsening racism today
No whites can
fully comprehend the enormous psychological pressure of constantly being
told that you are worth less than us.
damage we inflict is when our victims begin to believe and internalize
our low expectations of them.
the world effective oppression will make the oppressed collude with
their oppressor, but nowhere have I seen it so crushing as in the US.
invalidations such as "You ain't shit, nigger" I constantly hear
reverberate in underclass families.
They instill in
each other our deep racist feelings for them and the gloomy prospects of
being banished to a permanent existence in the shadow of white society.
The hope, I
found among blacks in the 70's, has everywhere today been replaced by
self-blame. Wilma, with whom I often discuss such issues all night in
her little shack between my campus lectures, expresses in black words
what my white audiences today think, but dare not say:
- They are
holding me down, I know that. My own kind are holding me back. I am
afraid of them. My life is endangered by my own people.
- Have you lost faith in black people?
- Yes, I have, because of the way they have treated my family, yes I
- Have whites never caused you any harm?
- Never, In Alabama and New York, I have never had trouble from the
whites. Always my own kind of people..
- Do you blame them for this, hold it against them? - Yes I do.
- But I told you before you must never forget the real...
- Yes, you call it internalized oppression, right? But I don't see it
that way. I think its just the nature of them to be that way..
- No, no, no!
- I don't think it is internalized oppression.
- But you must never lose faith in human beings.
- I have lost faith in them, yes I have.
- But it comes from up here, it comes from racism. When people are so
hurt, and you know that black people are hurt, they take it out on each
- Yes, but what you are talking about happened back in the eighteen
hundreds, it a 100 years ago, I know what you are saying and what you
are saying is true, but we have come a long way since then, doors have
opened for us since then. But we are holding one another back with
hatred, selfishness and what not. It is not the whites holding us back
now, we are holding each other back. The whites are not holding us back
now, maybe they did hundred years ago. So many doors have been opened.
- Wilma, you are talking the crap of the whites now, that is what
they are saying, who are the employers in this country, they are white,
and whom do they not give work?
- I know, I know, but I can only speak of what I am going through,
they are holding me down, my own kind are holding me back.
- That's how all blacks feel these days, and that's why they end up
causing each other more harm. When people hate themselves they take out
all this stuff on each other...
- I know, all I just want to is get away from them.
- Where will you go?
- I don't know yet, but I am working on it...
In the hope and
optimism of the 70's, I would never have believed that racism could
worsen so much that I would one day sit and defend the victims against
People can survive oppression if they are able to clearly identify their
oppressor and thus avoid self-blame.
This understanding let blacks see light at the end of the tunnel in the
A hundred years ago we lived in close physical integration with blacks.
But today we
have become so isolated from each other that blacks - whom we now
ruthlessly bombard with Bill Cosby fantasies about how they are free -
for the first time in history have difficulties identifying their
oppressor and therefore without hesitation look for the cause of their
growing pain within themselves.
And once we
succeed in convincing oppressed people that they are their own worst
oppressors, everything falls apart.
earnings nor sense of self worth are great enough to recreate the
nuclear family we constantly hold up as the only model, and the sense of
hopelessness and failure drives families apart.
shows that whites no longer feel so good about themselves either, it is
perhaps as difficult to find real love under the crystal chandeliers of
the self-made millionaire as among those confined to "shacking together"
in the glow of the kerosene lamp. For nobody who felt really good about
themselves could possibly oppress so devastatingly as we do today.
And the victim
is not only the black family, but increasingly the children.
We middle class
whites, who love to mention that one of our best friend is black -- to
attain moral stature and black recognition -- and who love to denounce
the more primitive racism of others -- we continually forget that bigots
like the Ku Klux Klan are deeply victimized "losers" who have themselves
been so shut out of the American dream that they are without any power
to affect the overall quality of black life today.
black universities often laugh at the Klan speech in my show, for they
know all too well that their pain and exclusion is not caused by a few
hooded nuts out in the woods, but by us - the great majority of "good"
law-abiding citizens - who are today silently forcing millions of blacks
into ghettoes, isolation, despair - and finally prisons and death.
In our white
guilt from not living up to our own lofty democratic ideals and
Christian values we escape into Bill Cosby shows to cover up for our
ultimate crushing of the black family.
Today more than
70% of black children grow up without a father and one in ten without
either parent - twice as many as when I first came to America - and
three times as many as under slavery.
grandmother increasingly becomes the life saver for many.
who here around year 2000 manage to succeed and get into college in
spite of this - the black family's worst oppression since the slave
auctions - often tell me that precisely the grandmother was their saving