"I Can No Longer Keep Quiet" 4
Sayings of an Angry Black Man

As told to Cliff Williams

If you grow up White in America, you don’t know what Black people go through. You’re never going to understand it, because you haven’t grown up that way. Even immigrants from India, Germany, and France don’t understand what growing up in America is like for African American persons. They don’t understand. Immigrants think we’re lazy, that we don’t want to work, and that we don’t have a work ethic.

No one can truly understand what we have gone through unless they walk in our shoes. But people don’t want to walk in our shoes. They want to condemn. 

All these preconceived notions are lies that have been told for centuries. People keep reiterating them.

America was based on lies and deceits. White folks keep saying the lies and the deceits to keep their power. Do you think that’s fair? That’s my question to White folks. Do you think that’s fair?

I’m not accepting the lies. I’m combating them.

When someone calls Black people lazy, I go to history. We didn’t become thought of as lazy until after we were enslaved. They didn’t call us lazy when we were slaves. Once we stopped being slaves, then we were said to be lazy. 

We African American males have it hard because we are seen as a threat and as violent. I don’t understand the threat part because we don’t have anything. We don’t own anything. We barely own our own homes or cars. So how are we such a threat?

The reason they think we are a threat is that if they give us a chance, we’re going to shine.

Most people don’t want to give us a chance, especially White males.

 Let’s switch sides and see if you can survive.

It’s hard for me to know that people don’t like me because of my color. That’s hard. They need to go to God with that, because I can’t change my color.

We Black folks have to fight for what we get. That’s wrong. We shouldn’t have to fight like that. We’re Americans just like everybody else. We shouldn’t have to fight for equal rights and civil rights and voting rights. We shouldn’t have to fight for them.

We are still treated like immigrants who don’t belong. That’s hard for me.

It’s hard to go forward when somebody wants to hold you back. 

Someone needs to take hold of the Black community and educate them. I’m talking about the same way they educate White folks. Give them the same books—equal off the playing field. Because it’s not equal. It’s still not equal today.

The one thing I’ve learned is that when you live in a society where there is an economic hierarchy—these people are higher, these people are middle class, and these people are poor—the middle class and the poor usually don’t make it. Only the rich make it. And that’s not fair. America is built on that. 

To White Christians: Do you think God doesn’t see it? We serve a God who sits high and looks low. And he can’t break his own laws. He said you’re going to reap what you sow. There’s going to be a lot of reaping for slavery and for the way things have gone on for centuries. If you don’t think that, you need to go back and read your Bible. God is a God who is slow to anger. He even has given you lots of time to get yourself together. But when God does destroy, when he does get mad, he just wipes things out. 

© 2023 by AJ  


Edited by Cliff Williams from a recorded and transcribed conversation with AJ on May 4, 2023. 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."

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