“Hope is invented every day.” — James Baldwin

After watching the murder of George Floyd I began to lose hope. His death was like the single blow that finally splits a boulder. An enormous amount of despair began to flow from my inner being.

This despair of seeing Black death wasn’t reserved to a single death of this one individual. It was on top of every memory of each unnecessary death I’ve seen, read about or heard about. It’s every funeral I’ve attended of an individual killed by another individual.

Black on Black death. Blue on Black death. White on Black death. Just a cloud of death and hopelessness. I tried to explain how this is affecting my mental state of being to non-Black people, but many are unable — or simply unwilling —to accept it.

In the midst of this emotional hurricane my cellphone rang and my oldest son is on the other end of the call. He tells me he was walking to work on University Drive in College Station and a car drives by with fellow college students. One of the students yells out the window “Fyou N!”

He’s shaken by the experience because he has never had to deal with this type of hatred. He memorized the license plate and wanted to know what should he do? I had to remain calm and give him direction because he needs me to be strong.

When my mother died on April 20, 1987, I realized life wasn’t fair. That life experience hardened me in a way that still affects me to this day. No matter how life knocks me down I must find the strength to get back up. I’ve held on to this belief for 33 years.

As the call ended with my son I knew no matter what I did I couldn’t protect him from this ignorance known as racism. No amount of being good or reading or loving or helping or believing or preparing him or myself could stop hate. Hate built on a willful ignorance that refuses to acknowledge the root problem of inner fear that manifest itself in violence through words and deeds that lead to Black death.

Will I be able to get up this time? Will I be able to let love conquer hate? Is love passive or is it aggressive? Will the light of love shine bright enough to extract me out of the darkness?

Light doesn’t wait for darkness to retreat. Light pushes forward against the darkness and exposes the unseen. I can’t remain silent in this moment. I must invent that hope today that Baldwin spoke about so many years ago.

Eddie Glaude Jr. just released a new book about James Baldwin titled “Begin Again.” I encourage you to buy and read the book as America starts the process of getting back up after being knocked down again.

Samuel Collins III lives in Hitchcock.

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(29) comments

Charles Douglas

Great story! I can feel the anxiety and deep concerns through your words concerning what advice you wanted to give your son! Maybe, because many years ago I had a similar experience at 2oclock in the morning at a Lousiana dirt road cutoff in a deep fog when a bus driver let me off in the middle of a dark NOWHERE! A walked a mile in pitch dark and fog looking over the main highway with no traffic that early in the morning! I did not even know where I was going! An experience I will never forget as long as I live! Later two White cops pulled up on me! I won't say what they said. Scared? Lolo. Yeah! I was in the middle of KLAN Country in the sixties! The Lord was there to, so the two White cops dropped me off 5 miles away at the mouth of Grambling State's Campus. Well sir, I started walking again, not knowing where I was going or who could help me. ( No such thing as Cell Phones then. ) So I started walking in the dark & fog again ...just wandering, and here comes another cop car rolling upon me. This time it was a college squad car, and had two BLACK cops in it! I won't say on this forum what they said to me either! They cursed me out and wanted to know why I was in the girls area after dark! I always heard about power in a name! Jesus Christ, definitely. I however thought of another one very quick! I told them, "Listen, Coach Eddie Robinson is expecting me and there was a mixup with me getting Lost!!" Man you should have seen them apologizing and cleaning up their attitudes! Hate is a bad thing, and it is an acquired force of evil which we acquire by exposure, and submission to an evil process used to spread it throughout the world! Without devine knowledge of love tools used to fight hate off we will be victimized by the system which perpetuates hate! I'm preaching to the choir here I know! I won't say more about this story, but I hope, & prey the best for your son and your family!

Samuel Collins III

Thanks Charles. He is a great young man and he will be one of the leaders of the future.

David Smith

Video after video of white people..

Young

Old

Doesnt matter...

Getting beat up by roving gangs of blacks...

And your son got called a name.?

How about those name callers get out and beat the

---- out of him?

RacismI ISNT a one way street.

Yea I said it.

I grew up in the sixties... and you dont have a clue how good you have it

Kimberley Jones Yancy

Mr. Smith. One word...Wow!

Smh....

Gary Scoggin

David, thanks for illustrating the problem. Although the problem you illustrated was likely not the one you intended.

Bailey Jones

I remember the 60s - it was a time of racial and anti-government violence, chaos, fear, and uncertainty. I remember the vitriol, the dogs, the fire hoses, the bombs, and the riots. I remember 1968, when the two greatest lights of the decade were snuffed out.

Things are different now, and yet things are exactly the same. Surely there is less overt racism now, more opportunity, more freedom. But we are still in the streets. We are still in the streets because racial injustice still exists. Anger, as a response to injustice, is something that's hard wired into our DNA. We instinctively know what injustice is, and it makes us mad.

One difference now is that more of us can see it. You don't need to be the victim of racial injustice, or the perpetrator of it, to experience it now, raw and unfiltered. Technology has opened a window into racism that brings the reality of it into every home. We see the racists, and we see their victims. And the more you see - the more there is to see.

I'm sad for your son. I'm sad for our country. But I'm not hopeless - because I know that injustice creates righteous anger - anger creates action - and action creates change. This has always been our strength.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Samuel Collins III

Thanks Bailey. I am encouraged that good and light will prevail.

Bailey Jones

This came across my facebook page today, from the National Museum of American History. Today, July 4th, is the 110th anniversary of the Galveston Giant, Jack Johnson's, most famous fight. It seems fitting based on recent incidents:

Jack Johnson, faced off against Jim Jeffries. Called the "Fight of the Century," the match was heavily promoted as a battle for racial superiority. Jeffries was given the nickname the “Great White Hope.” Johnson won. He knocked Jeffries out after 15 rounds.

Race riots erupted in New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, Little Rock and Houston. Across the country, Black communities were attacked and Black people killed. In New York, a mob set fire to a Black apartment building, then tried to block the exits. In Pittsburgh, over one hundred Black people were arrested then beaten by police. In all, riots occurred in more than 25 states and 50 cities. Hundreds were injured and somewhere between 11 and 26 people were killed.

Harlem Renaissance poet, William Waring Cuney, wrote a poem about the occasion -

MY LORD, WHAT A MORNING

Oh, my Lord What a morning,

Oh, my Lord, What a feeling,

When Jack Johnson Turned Jim Jeffries'

Snow-white face Up to the ceiling.

Yes, my Lord, Fighting is wrong,

But what an uppercut.

Oh, my Lord, What a morning,

Oh, my Lord What a feeling,

When Jack Johnson Turned Jim Jeffries'

Lily-white face Up to the ceiling.

Oh, my Lord What a morning,

Oh, my Lord Take care of Jack.

Keep him, Lord As you made him,

Big, and strong, and black.

Dwight Burns

It is out duty to make sure the real history of this Nation is taught. Only then will future generations, no matter their skin color, feel inclusive in the American experience.

Samuel Collins III

Thank you for sharing this.

Charles Douglas

Mr. Jones ..I liked that poem. First time i've seen it. Hey, who was it that pardoned Ole Jack Johnson? I cannot get the name to roll off my tongue, but maybe you can help me out! I don't like to ask for help, not even when I was a kid, ..I know you can help me with this though, ...Lololo.

Bailey Jones

I think it was your president, Charles. The one thing he's done that we can agree on. And all it took was someone famous (Sly Stallone) to ask him to do it.

Kimberley Jones Yancy

Amazing article Sam! My heart wept. Praying for better days for our children.

Samuel Collins III

Thanks Kim.

PD Hyatt

All I will say is that racism is a two way street....It is definitely not a one way street like some try to portray....

Bailey Jones

PD - racism is just another form of tribalism. And tribalism is part of our DNA - something that everyone needs to recognize and deal with. Have I ever been discriminated against by a black or brown person? Yes, I have. Did it hurt my very delicate feelings? Yes, it did. But it didn't hurt my ability to get a job and provide for my family. It didn't hurt my ability to live in any neighborhood I could afford. It didn't hurt my ability to send my kids to decent schools and universities. It didn't hurt my chances of walking away from an interaction with the police. It didn't hurt my odds of obtaining justice in our court system.

That's the difference. One type of racism is personal. The other type is institutional and systemic. Can you see the difference?

Carlos Ponce

"Did it hurt my very delicate feelings? Yes..."

Bailey, if you look for racism you will find racism. Just shake the dust from your sandals and move on.

As for me, I never look for racism. And many things are classified as racism but they are not. When a "person of color" is involved it's too easy to toss in the race card especially when such is not merited. Was the NFL quarterback removed as starter because of his race or because the other guy was better? Chances are, it was the latter.

Charles Douglas

That particular Quarterback who started all these kneeling protests out with the 49ers, did not have an issue with how people were treated by police until he got beat out of his starter's role. Everybody has a right to complain or freedom to complain, but if that was a hot issue for him, I wondered why he waited until he was riding the bench BEFORE he spoke up and out about it. I've been in similar situations in my life, one was when I was employed by a fortune 500 company who would not allow African-Americans to take a coffee break twice a day like it was allowed for others! I was in my younger days fresh from overseas, had a wife, baby, and a mortgage. I tried to get help to protest, ...could not, so I did it alone! It was a secure job too, but sometimes you have to put your behind where your mouth is, or quit talking! The supervisor came in and saw me drinking one of those nasty red can of Cokes, sitting by myself at 9am break time. He asked what I was doing? I told him. He said YOU don't have a break! I said I do now, and if I leave I better see every other employee who are sitting in "break shacks" adjacent to this one leaving with me or you and this company are going to have problem, and I mean it!!! Supervisor said, " Doug, I'm going to ask you one more time to leave and go back to your job!" "There is no such thing as a coffee break in this company's policies!" I replied, " I ain't going!" "Now what?" He slammed out of the building where I sat alone nursing that nasty red Coke, ( They did not have Diet Coke then ) and walked to the front offices of the Refinery, and reported everything which happened and they called a big Department Head meeting! They knew they had a problem, because it was not the first one they had with me! ( I won't go into those ). I just got fed up with overt RACISM, and I decided to do something about it, even if I had to do as Ms. Rosa Parks did years before then. She did what she could! Queen Esther, and David, along with Ms. Parks acted with that measure of faith God supplied to all men, and let the chips fall where they may! They, like myself got fed up! The ending of my little escapade led to a whole new established company policy allowing all employees the SAME break privileges! Not only that it set off a series of promotions which landed me into a well paying salary position with travel and presentation privileges in different parts of this state, and other states as well! My career there lasted many years until I took up another career and spent years in it as well! You can't hurt who God is helping, and you can't curse who God is blessing! [wink]

Carlos Ponce

Not that quarterback, Charles.

Bailey Jones

Charles, I used to have a very racist aunt in Arkansas that I write about. She never in 90 years ever referred to African Americans except with a certain 6 letter word. She worked from the 1940s to the 1980s up in South Bend at a rubber and plastics plant. She once told me the story of when "the civil rights" came to the factory.

A group of blacks was brought up from Louisiana to integrate the plant. They had a black supervisor. They were all in the same union. One day everyone was taking their smoke break - whites on one side of the parking lot, blacks on the other. And the black supervisor comes out and yells to the black workers, "You --- get back to work!" The break wasn't over yet and my aunt tore into him for not giving those black workers the same union break as the white workers got, including suggesting that he perform a certain act with the factory's product, which was fire hoses. As racist as she was - and she was the most racist person I have ever known - the union came first. She ended the story with "and we all got along just fine after that."

Charles Douglas

Mr. Jone> My gut feelings are ..many people are afraid of what they don't know, and who they don't know nothing about! It is easy to draw conclusions about people you don't know! Some people have had that problem with me, and frankly I have had the same reservations about others, but when by necessity after I got to work around them or interface with them for some reason, everything was different. They were nothing like I imagine them to be before spending time with, or around them.

Virginia Stone

Thank you, Bailey Jones, in just a few words you make the difference clear that systemic racism is more damaging to life and living than personal racism.

Bailey Jones

I believe you are correct, Charles. Twice in my career I've been able to break the color line by hiring POC and women into all or mostly white corporations. It's a big deal until someone does it, then it's just the new normal. Once an organization becomes aware of the economic value of having a diverse workplace, they embrace the idea wholeheartedly. Usually.

David Smith

Just stating the facts

Ted Gillis

We appreciate posts with few words.

Martin Connor

Excellent piece as always Sam. It’s unfortunate some people want to rebuke this by crying it’s a 2-way street without even opening their eyes to the fact it had been a 1-way street for over 200 years.

Samuel Collins III

Thanks classmate. HHS 1989!

David Hardee

I have Joined the Woodson Institute. I recommend it to all that desire to get on the path to integrate our society rather than promote segregation (racism), join. link is below:

https://woodsoncenter.org/team_members/robert-l-woodson-sr/

Mr. Collin's has laid out a good pattern to emulate in facing "life is not fair".

This story has a side and perspective that resonates with those who have similar experiences and understand racism (several anecdotal stories told).

The preparation of progeny to successfully encounter challenges is necessary no matter one's race, class, culture, etc.

Being prone to have more challenges or repetitive challenges is usually a result of choices. The high priority by blacks on racism as the preeminent challenge is appropriate but success to handle it is basically the same as any other. I.e. Be alert, avoid the potentials, and react appropriately will normally be successful. And if unfortunately, you find yourself trapped, flee or fight.

We need good guidance to get the integration of our society. Woodson is amazing, sincere with logic avoiding emotions.

David Smith

Thank you Gary.. you are correct..

I was NOT advocating his son get beaten up.

I was comparing the slur to the current situation of cold cocking white people.. as young as 12( the latest) and the helpless elderly

Neither are acceptable

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