"I Can No Longer Keep Quiet" 3
Sayings of an Angry Black Man
As told to Cliff Williams
I think it was Oprah who said, “We gotta know where we’ve been before we can move forward.” I believe that. You have to know where you came from to move forward. I have to go back to search my own heritage. I did research on my mom’s side, and it seems like my great-grandmother was enslaved.
My family moved to Chicago during the Great Migration from a town just outside Jackson, Mississippi. My mom was the first family to buy a house—the house I’m living in right now. My family has been in this house for fifty-two years.
I’m grateful to be where I’m at, a strong black man who can speak for himself. Strong and healthy and resilient. That makes me happy. Really happy. I didn’t think I would make it this far. I thought life would take me out first, because it was so hard. But no. There was a purpose for all that has happened. There was a purpose for going to college. There was a purpose for my mom to live as long as she did. The purpose was growth and development through the hard times. I did not see it as growth at the time, but that’s what it was.
If I had given up, I would never have gotten as far as I am now. I would not be in the place where I am now. I’m in a good place. A good place to learn. And I just keep growing. I’ve seen God’s hand in me. Even though it hasn’t been easy, I see God’s hand in me.
I keep learning because you can never stop learning.
Right now I’m not in a church. Church has not been a good experience for me. So I’m taking some time off. I was at a White church that just didn’t get it. I couldn’t stay.
I’m not going to bite my tongue when talking about racism. You can’t talk about racism with some people. People stay where they’re at. You have to challenge ideals, and I wasn’t able to challenge those people, so I decided to leave, because they were so set in their ways. They don’t think that Black people have been through hell. They just don’t get it. I can’t bite my tongue anymore.
It takes a lot for White people to change, because everything has been whitewashed, like it was okay. But it’s not okay.
White folks need to hear the truth. And the truth always calls out whitewashing and lies. You need to accept the truth so that you are not a victim of your own delusions.
God says that you’re going to reap what you sow. The harm from slavery has to be taken care of. It was a horrible thing. I say to the White community, God can’t break his own laws. You’re going to reap what you have sowed. You gotta take care of the harm from slavery.
When one culture is above other cultures, they think they know best. They don’t give the other cultures a chance. That’s when you are going to have issues. Just because you think something should be done in a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the right way for people in another culture. You’re forcing your stuff and your ways on another culture. And that’s not the way it should be done.
© 2023 by AJ
Edited by Cliff Williams from a recorded and transcribed conversation with AJ on October 28, 2022. AJ is an African American man who lives in Chicago. He was in his mid-fifties when we talked.
For a list of other sayings in this series, with links, go to "I Can No Longer Keep Quiet."