Dear new and potential Black liberal gun owners.
Maybe you should be more like your grandparents…
It took the election of Trump and about 900 hate crimes (and counting) for you to realize something that they knew for their entire lives. That your life is worth fighting for. So now should be the time to get to know those people who have dealt with White (and jitterbug) aggression for all of their lives.
But something has been bothering me. That line about how we aren’t our grandparents? Do you really think you are tougher than they were?
Let me tell you about my grandparents. My grandfather had guns stacked near almost every entrance of their house. He hitchhiked from South Carolina to Philadelphia during the height of Jim Crow and managed to build a thriving, multi-generational business.
My grandmother had a garden. She canned her own food and made everything from scratch. And between the two of them, there was enough food, guns, bullets and vicious dogs in and around their suburban Philadelphia house to last through a month-long siege.
My step grandmother on my mother’s side was a sweet little old lady named Aunt Evelyn. She was a Block captain in West Philadelphia who grew flowers in the vacant lot across the street because she wanted to make it more beautiful. And she also carried a .25 pistol in her bra, because “If some jitterbug steps to me, I got something for him.”
They weren’t special, either. If you look at our history after the Civil War, you will find countless stories of self-defense against incredible odds. Many of them, like Sylvester “Mr. Man” Carrier , were doomed. With them, one can only measure success by the numbers of men they took with them to the grave. Some of them weren’t. This Christmas, ask around. You’ll find some stories in your family that will embarrass the hell out of you, but you’ll also be inspired.
Look. Our grandparents killed and butchered hogs. They would wring the neck of a chicken on a daily basis and watch the headless body run circles in the yard.
You go to Trader Joe’s, buy a vegetarian hog substitute made out of sticks and seeds with a pinch of hog essence, and search through the dairy section looking for grass-fed, free range, stress free organic eggs.
They dealt with night riders, crooked law enforcement, landowners that were trying to gouge them and a general population that felt that they had every right to kill them if they were challenged in any way. And they endured. For generations they managed to stay alive. If you think that, because you’ve seen pictures of lynchings and read Before the Mayflower, you can fathom what they faced, you’re wrong.
Below is a very incomplete list of your grandparents generations, standing up to white supremacy in ways that you could only fantasize about. And I don’t mean marching and having sit-ins, as heroic as they may have been.
TRM Howard. This brother was a gifted surgeon in Mississippi who was basically the pro-Black Bruce Wayne of his small, affluent and independent Southern Town (Think Black Wall Street of the Delta). He kept machine guns in his Trunk, and an armory in his house. So, when Medgar Evers, Field Secretary of the NAACP, began to investigate the death of Emmet Till, with Till’s mother Maimie, guess where they stayed. At TRM Howard’s compound.
About that town. It was independent and well protected. And it wasn’t the only one. The South was peppered with places like it. They came to be known as Haven Towns, and Akinyele Omowale Umoja documents them in his book, “We Will Shoot Back”.
Now, back to Black Wallstreet in Tulsa Oklahoma. What if I told you that you’re thinking about it all wrong. Yes, it was a racist attack. Yes, bombs were dropped. But you forget, ignored, or just don’t know about the hundreds of men who stood up to protect the young man from lynching. You forget the valiant stand they took at the edge of their town, and the countless lives that they saved in the course of their sacrifice. They were your ancestors too.
There’s a lot that I’ve wanted to say. There are more resources for Black gun owners than at any other time our history. Black gun owners, Black firearms instructors, Black personalities and new Black organizations.
But if we’re gonna make this work, you need to chill with the disrespect.
It’s a shame nobody told you that most of your heroes had guns. Medgar Evers… Fannie Lou Hamer… Rosa Parks, they were fighters. Frankly, you can learn a thing or two from them about the nuts and bolts of getting through the day when people want you dead. Don’t ever forget that we stand on the shoulders of great men and women.