Col. Writ. 12/17/03
Strom's 'love chile'
& American politics
By Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row
The news that America's premier arch-segregationist, Strom
Thurmond, the late Senator from South Carolina, was the
father of an African-American daughter, is as American as
Thurmond sat in the Senate longer than any other Senator
in the history of the Republic, and for most of that time, while
it became politically unfashionable to uphold segregation,
remained a stalwart white nationalist. It is a telling fact of
American political life that Thurmond had to keep the existence
of his Black daughter secret for fear he would lose significant
political support in his home state.
His daughter, the now 78-year old Essie Mae Washington-
Williams, with her cafe-au-lait complexion, is yet the spitting
image of her old man. And in press reports, she has expressed
love for him, a two-sided relationship of respect, and a seemingly
heartfelt, life-long concern for his welfare. She is today's
reflection of the dark underside of American history: white
fathers, and black babies, with few publicly acknowledging their
While some have suggested that this was proof of the
'humanity' of the man, the writer begs to differ. Thomas Jefferson
fathered several Black children, and kept most of them in bondage
to the end of his days. Even as he was producing children of a
Black woman, he wrote in his infamous *Notes on the State of
Virginia* of Blacks being akin to "gorillas", and beings who were
physically, intellectually, and artistically inferior.
George Washington worked, and whipped his slaves, and
according to Black oral history, fathered a son with one of his
female slaves, named Venus.
Patrick Henry, of 'Give me liberty, or give me death!' fame,
held scores of Africans in bondage! This lover of liberty would
write, "Would anyone believe I am the master of slaves of my
own purchase?" Most Americans don't know, and because of
warped history taught in primary schools, won't learn this.
The former French premier, Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929),
when a journalist covering the end of American Reconstruction
(after US Civil War) wrote, of Southern politics: "Any Democrat
who did not manage to hint that the negro is a degenerate gorilla
would be considered lacking in enthusiasm." [Fr. Eric Foner,
*Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution: 1863-1877*
(New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 32 (quoting Clemenceau's
book: *American Reconstruction* (1928).]
The Thurmond case reveals, at base, the political hypocrisy that
fuels much of American politics still. If arch-conservatives can
have secret Black babies, then, one wonders, how many of our
supposedly 'tough-on-crime' politicians really don't believe the
harsh rhetoric that they spout? How many know that the so-called
'war on drugs' is a cruel crock of horse-manure? Or that the
equally fallacious 'war on terrorism' is but a political stage play?
Politicians have perfected the art of telling their foolish
constituencies what they want to hear, instead of what they really
believe. How many are projecting useful masks for their own
political, professional benefit? What next? David Duke's
Vietnamese 'love child'? Ronnie Reagan's Mexican 'muchacha
What we have learned is that what politicians project to their
publics is one thing; what they believe is another! Politics is not
a science; it is an art; and all art is part artifice.
And thus we have a politics that fails to inspire us; which plays
to our deepest fears, and plucks our darkest urges. It is a false
politics, which doesn't even begin to resemble the lives we lead,
our hopes or our dreams. What if 'old Strom' had publicly
professed his love for his Black daughter during his 100 years
of life? What if he did so, at the height of the vicious struggles
being waged across the US south during the '50s and '60s?
What if he did it while he was a young man?
Almost certainly, if he had done so, we would never have heard
the name, Strom Thurmond, for his political career would have been
strangled at birth.
Yet wouldn't we live today in a different America?
Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues.
His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa
World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most
Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book
Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]
"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal
MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
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FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SPIRITUAL
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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa
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