This is an excellent piece by Alpha Unit, who is a Black woman. When I asked her to contribute to the site, I told her that I wanted pieces that in which the author was saying something completely new and different, not the same old stuff everyone else writes about. I also prefer stuff that is disturbing and provocative. Something that really makes you think.
I don’t know if she normally writes that way, but pretty soon, she started producing exactly those kind of pieces. In this piece, she has moved a long way along the road to liberation – she has learned exactly how her enemies think, and she has been able to put herself in their shoes. Most humans never reach such a high state of internal development. May she continue to grow and learn.
In The Name of Love
In the spring of 1961, I was assisted into the world by a black midwife, in a town in Mississippi known for its antebellum mansions and for a cemetery with rolling tracts of crosses marking the final resting place of scores of Confederate soldiers. In 1961 not only was Mississippi the poorest state in the country; it was probably the worst place in America to be black.
Men like my father and grandfather had no rights that any white man was bound to uphold. For crossing a white man you could end up dead. And no white person would give a shit if you did.
A few years later, in the summer of 1964, three young men ran afoul of white rule in Mississippi–as others had before them. They didn’t make it out of Neshoba County alive. James Chaney was black; his companions, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were Jewish. James Chaney had been born and raised in Mississippi.
These three young men were there to help local blacks organize in defense of their constitutional rights, including the right to vote. They came to Neshoba County to investigate the arson of a church that had been used as a meeting place for civil rights activists.
And in 1964 Mississippi, this was an attempt to subvert the natural order of things and put blacks on equal footing with whites. This was, therefore, a threat to whites. And the blood of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner would have to be shed that white blood could remain pure.
This made perfect sense to some. In order to demonstrate my love and loyalty to my Family, don’t I have to make sure that your Family never catches a break? Don’t I have to make sure that your Family suffers unrelenting humiliation and abuse? Grinding your face into the dirt on an ongoing basis is my way of protecting my loved ones.
This had to have been what deputy sheriff Cecil Price was thinking as he ordered the three men out of their car and into his own. The carloads of other men were, likewise, thinking of their parents, siblings, and children. Olen Burrage, who offered his farm as the ideal burial place for the bodies, was also defending his own.
As they beat James Chaney within an inch of his life and shot him, they did it with the full knowledge that they were protecting themselves and their families. And as they shot Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner point-blank through the heart, they knew it was for the common good.
What these men sought was to cleanse the state of Mississippi of this pollution being brought in by outsiders, this challenge to what was self-evident: that in no way was a black man as good as a white. They were upstanding Christian men. Love guided their actions. Love of God, of country, of family. Love of their people and their race.
Who among us would have acted differently?