I can see them in my mind’s eye even now. White cotton and polyester dresses neatly pressed. Thick, white orthopedic nursing shoes. Pristine, white gloves and hats. They were the elders. The mothers of my very Black, very Southern, very Baptist church. When they spoke, you listened. Even if you were 14 and “smelling yourself” and not really all that interested in what these women you called old-fashioned were saying, you listened. Their words were an unforgettably constant refrain in the soundtrack of my childhood.
“You will always reap what you sow, Chile.”
“It ain’t what you say, it’s what you do. You only know folks by the fruit they bear, Baby.”
I’m reminded of these women when I’m forced to think about the disaster that is this 2016 Presidential Election season, and particularly Friday’s incident in the heart of Chicago’s West Side, where Donald Trump attempted to hold one of his now notoriously violent rallies and promptly canceled because of the massive number of brave protestors who came out to stop his Make America “Hate” Again tour. You see, I’m 40 now, and I have a little bit of life behind me so I know that those little ole church ladies were right. You DO reap what you sow. And you DO know folks by the fruit they bear. And I would argue that the images we are seeing today—of Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination to run for president, inciting violence against protestors in rallies across the country—is one of the greatest reapings this country has seen in a long while. What’s happening today is nothing but the monstrous, poisonous fruit of seeds buried so deep in our systems and culture that some of us forgot that they were even there. Seeds of white supremacy and racism and xenophobia. Seeds of greed and materialism, of colonization mindsets and ethnocentrism. Seeds of hate.