Black Folks Invented Civility, and it Takes More than a Smile

By S. Christopher Emerson

At the risk of picking the low-hanging fruit, I just wanted to issue this reminder to the good people that just because wight folks, especially wight politicians, speak in even, humble tones and occasionally smile while exacting deviltry on the people, that doesn’t make them “civil.” Too often recently I have seen people apply the term “civil” to describe the now-fortunately dead, and hopefully burning in wight people hell George HW Bush who was a hellion for people of color. How Sway? When you blithely cause even more pain, fear and loss for people who are in need of security and shelter and resources, “civil” ain’t what you call that.

In reference to a theroot.com article entitled “Civility is for White Folks,” an opinion that attempts to capture the “good riddance” sentiments of Black folks and people of color toward the life and death of former US president George HW Bush, but with the perspective of “civility” rather askew. Let’s not get ahistorically carried away here with colonized language.

Black folks, the first people ever, born of Africa, taught the world how to be civil out of the need to preserve and advance humanity. People of color are famous for being civil, and infamous for being civil when white folks were not, and next thing you know… Colonialism and slavery. We have been historically taken advantage of by white folks in the act of being civil for anywhere from seven centuries to a couple millennia. And y’all want to form your mouth to say “civility” is for white folks.

Why do you think the O’Jays would go through all that trouble to sing that wondrous 3-minute mother wit cautionary tale “Backstabbers?”

*singing* “What they do? Smilin’ in yo’ face…”

“All the time, they hate yo’ race…”

Some argue that the very fact the white folks still occupy positions of power when surrounded by the people of color that they have enslaved, raped, colonized and assimilated is civility run amok.

I feel the author diminished the foulness and impact of GHW Bush’s dealings in service of an inherently racist nation. George HW Bush himself exacted some hellish oppression against people of color as the Director of Central Intelligence, navigating Iran-Contra devilment and the War on Drugs as the US VP, vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, helmed the Gulf War for oil and more, dealing death in our communities shipping drugs and guns in our neighborhoods as tools of destruction. See, cuz’ the devil will pee on your head and tell you it’s raining.

Now this nuanced notion of “civility,” which the writer is attributing to white folks, again lacks depth. If anything, the aforementioned “civility” is being mistaken for the disposition and antics of the genteel at best. This includes whites who smile in your face, stab you in the back, take your home, deny you for a loan, tell your manager, try to get you fired, lie on you and get you lynched or call the cops on you (same thing) and sprinkle crack on you, malign you name and say you deserved it after you’re dead.

That ain’t civil.

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