The moment was just too powerful to contemplate fully.
Recently, U.S. President George Bush was seen holding hands with a man. In the public. With cameras from all over the world recording it. And it was a Black man at that.
Who outed George Bush?
I’m just kidding, of course. Well, sorta kidding.
Anyway, picture this:
On July 8, 2003, Bush was in Senegal, West Afrika. On Senegal’s Goree Island is a large stone fortress that was once used for the beating and starving of enslaved Afrikans about to be put on slave ships. It is a horrible place, full of chains and fear, and the wailing of the captives can still be heard, if you listen.
Untold millions of us came through there. Your DNA may have come through there.
Part of the stone building is called “The Door of No Return”. It is an opening in a stone wall next to the sea, and it was the last land that our ancestors set foot on, before the white slave ships swallowed us up.
And so in the media recently there has been this image of George Bush at this massive stone structure, standing in that passageway that still holds the cries of millions, in his photo-op light blue shirt, open collar, no tie and no jacket, looking out to that sea, holding the hand of Senegal’s President, Abdoulaye Wade, brown as a kola nut and sharp to the nines in his white on white.
All kinds of energy and ideas radiate off that one picture in all different directions–
Is this George Bush, seen visiting a slave dungeon, the same George Bush you and I know so well? George Bush, the unelected president of the United States who got into office partly because his supporters kept Black folx from the polls?
George Bush, who is so ignorant that he once asked the president of Brazil if there were any Black people in his country? George Bush, who loves Aunt Jemimas like Condoleezza Rice, who immediately jumped in to make excuses for Bush making that ignorant statement rather than distancing herself from it?
George Bush, who, as the governor of Texas, was responsible for the execution of so many Blacks of clear innocence and so many other Blacks of doubtful guilt?
George Bush, who is about to cut the legs out from under the Head Start program, one of the most successful federal programs affecting Black folx?
George Bush, who is leaving so many Black children behind with his “Leave No Child Behind” bill?
George Bush, who talks out the side of his mouth about creating jobs while about 3 million jobs have been lost since he took office? George Bush, who opposed the mild affirmative action program at the University of Michigan?
George Bush, who would privatize his own mama if he could make a dollar off the deal?
— That George Bush? Who did not even have the decency and respect of that moment in Senegal to wear a tie as he stood in that awful passageway next to the President of another nation?
George Bush’s words in Senegal about the “horrors of slavery” were high-sounding, but looking at the picture, it was impossible to read his face.
Bush condemned slavery. He reminded me of Ronald Reagan, who as president said that South Afrikan apartheid was “abhorrent”. Notice that Reagan didn’t say he didn’t like apartheid; in fact, his policies in support of apartheid show he did like it — he just said it was abhorrent.
Bush was holding the hand of a man because in Afrika, thoroughly heterosexual men hold hands. It is a sign of friendship. I have done it myself when I was in West Afrika. But I can just imagine what that macho Bush whispered to his macho staffers afterward.
You can bet that Bush did not volunteer to hold no man’s hand. But I predict that such acts by heterosexual men will spread from Afrika to the U.S. It is already spreading in Europe. And once again I thank God for Afrika’s deep and abiding cultural strength, growing still despite the Continent’s continual debasement in the media and elsewhere.
Remember the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court case that finally and rightly legalized the private sexual activity of homosexuals? If Bush, the macho, gonzo, “all-man” president, who just got a nut from seeing his soldiers kick butt in Iraq, can hold another man’s hand less than two weeks after that case, can same-sex marriages be far behind?
One of the gay male plaintiffs in that Supreme Court case was Black, one was white. One of the men holding hands in that Senegal passageway was Black, one was white. Hmmmm.
In Senegal Bush said: “For 250 years the captives endured an assault on their culture and their dignity. The spirit of Africans in America did not break”.
Now wait just a m-f minute. Did I just hear Bush call us over here “Afrikans”? Not African-Americans but “Afrikans”??
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson surprised folx when he used the civil rights slogan “We shall overcome”. Richard Nixon knocked folx to the floor when he spoke of Black capitalism and called it “Black power”.
Now we got Bush, about the worst president in recent memory, calling us not African-Americans but “Africans in America”? We give them hand-holding and they co-opt our most progressive name. Something ain’t right about that deal.
As I said, all kinds of energy and ideas radiate off that one picture in all different directions.
So much so that it will take some time to fully contemplate it all. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what Huey Freeman has to say. You know Huey Freeman. The bad little guy in “The Boondocks” comic strip. You know he’s gonna have to add his 2 cents in.
Because as our great psychiatrist Frances Cress Welsing would say, all this does not compute.
YEMI TOURE writes a syndicated column called “The Remix–Comment on Media, Culture and Politics” and is a free-lance writer. His web site is www.urbanrainbow.org/hype. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org