By Eric Adams
He was a true American Hero and the entire country joins in mourning the lost. That comment often follows men who have made the transition from the physical world to the spiritual. In many cases American citizens of African ancestry are swept up in the media frenzy and we find ourselves joining the long list or mourners in spite of the roles they played while alive. We do this without having a full understanding of our actions. This scenario was once again played out after the announcement that ex-President Ronald Reagan had died.
As cameras span the crowds that lined up at the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C., you could not help but notice the substantial number of Blacks who were waiting on line to give their last respects to the ex-president. Giving our respect to the dead is something that we hold dear and important in our culture; however, this fact was not dear to the ex-president. While he was alive and serving out his role of president he did all that he could to besmirch the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his death. He did this by attempting to place legislative road blocks to stop Dr. King’s birthday from becoming a national holiday.
His disrespect for the dead did not stop there. The ex-president also played a major role to ensure that the racist Apartheid South African government continued to flourish and grow. Desecrating the spirit of those African student’s who lost their lives in the 1976 Soweto uprising. This fact was expressed to me by some of the students, who are now adults now, when I visited some of them in South Africa a few years ago. They were very clear on the role that our “American Hero” Ronald Reagan played.
Yes, as we mourn the passing of the falling “American Hero” let us not allow our teary eyes to cloud the vision of the reality that Reagan and Reagonomics had a devastating impact on our race. The impact can still be viewed today.
Ex-President Reagan gave our community another “American Hero,” Rudolph Giuliani. Yes for those of you who have forgotten, “America’s Mayor” was a lawyer with the Justice Department under the ex-president. In his role there he did all that he could to ensure Haitian refugees were prevented from entering the United States. There is no need to report on his legacy as Mayor of the City of New York, for we all know that it includes names such as Louima, Diallo and Dorismond.
All the draconian actions that followed his regime was buried with the rubbish at ground zero and New Yorkers of African ancestory joined other Americans in greeting him as the new “American Hero.”
We as American citizens of African ancestry must show our respect for the lost of a human being, but at the same time we must stay grounded in the reality of their legacies. It is important that we fully understand that the full extent of what it takes to be a true “American Hero.” After a close examination, I am sure you will find that that term has often been synonymous to oppression of people of color. The passing of these “American Heroes” are mourned throughout the country and the nation has a day of mourning.
The rotunda of our nation and state capitals become a location that has been reserved for the bodies of only America’s national “Heroes.” Ex-President Ronald Reagan’s body will lay in state in the same manner as other “American Heroes”, such as the racist FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and “segregation now and always” Senator Strom Thurmond.