Southern man and oppression

Chapter 21




Southern Man,
you better keep your head,



don't forget what your good book said:



Southern change is gonna come at last!



Now your crosses are burning fast.
Southern Man.



Recording of a white man (on the left photo) who picked me up hitchhiking close to Mary's place in Alabama:
- What do you think about integration?
- I don't go for it at all. Let them be on his own and go ahead. Hell, I don't believe in mingling up with them, go to school or to church with them. I never had anything to say for or against the niggers. I never had anything against them. They can't help being a nigger more than I can help being white. They are a different race of people and let them be different.



- What do you think of Wallace?  (The segregationist who was right then running for president)
- He has nothing against the niggers as far as them being niggers' concerned. There is lots of niggers who vote for him....He gets lots of nigger votes...
- What did you think of Martin Luther King?
- He was nothing but a troublemaker...



The above recorded southern racist is a textbook example of the oppression we go through to become oppressors. The innocence of his childhood had systematically been oppressed by his parents' irrational injunctions "Niggers are dirty. Don't play with those children, they will stab you."



As with children throughout the South, his natural zestfulness and affection for others had been killed. While he was being hurt, his mind had shut down in a despairing accumulation of pain which over the years became chronic distress patterns.



Incessantly he now had to replay his unhealed distress experiences like a record stuck in the same track with "nigger, nigger, nigger." I knew I listened to the voice of history, for from people, who are so hurt that they have lost the ability to think freely, I learned about millennia of oppression.



The bombing of Mary's house was the extreme, but logical consequence of this oppression. I knew that if they as children had grown up in the North, they would not necessarily have ended up thinking and acting so evil.



And perhaps even less if they had grown up in Scandinavia: when I one day showed my pictures - among them the one of Mary in bed - to one such southern white, the extent of my crime against this apartheid system dawned on me.
As a "neutral" Scandinavian, I felt that Mary was extremely beautiful and attractive and therefore got quite a shock when I saw the disgust and deep distaste this white man expressed at the thought of being with this "dirty, dark, repulsive skin."



Little by little I realized that this negative view was rooted in white supremacy and had ended up becoming an internalized yet deeply held honest conviction which had infected not only the whites all over America, but also the blacks' own view of dark-skinned beauty.



The song "Southern Man" continued:            I saw cotton, and I saw a man.



Tall white mansion....



.....and a little shack.



Southern Man, when will you pay them back?



I heard screaming,



bull whips cracking,



how long, how long.....



 is it going to last?



Oh, southern man, yeah...



can you, can you, can you.... just one day?



Oh, Lilly Bell,



 your hair is golden brown.



I've seen your black man ...



....coming around.



I swear my god




one day I am going to cut him down.



I heard screaming,



bull whips cracking,



how long, how long?



Oh, Southern man!