Young Harold Ford (known as "The Prince"),
who ascended to his
father's congressional seat at the age of 26 in 1996, would
have us believe that, during this period of murderous white
mob violence, a white couple from Memphis would both decide
to become Black, and to subject their children to Jim Crow schools
and lynch law justice. It defies all reason - an amazing fiction
concocted in Harold Jr.'s head for purposes unknown.
Grandmother Vera attended all-Black Booker T.
Washington High School. In 1934, at age 19, she married Harold's
grandfather, N.J. Ford, a somewhat darker Black man. Together,
they launched the family funeral home and political dynasty.
Nobody questioned Vera's Blackness. As Wendi Thomas reports,
"Vera was named the Tennessee
Mother of the Year, ‘the first black woman ever so honored
in Tennessee,' the Nashville Banner wrote in 1976."
Vera's death certificate, like those of her parents,
John and Lottie, identifies her as Black.
There is a level of corruption that even the Ford
family of Memphis have never stooped to - until now. Harold
"The Prince" Jr. has submerged himself in the muck,
and all but one close family member has dived in with him in
order to save his senatorial campaign. None say that Vera ever
fessed up to being white. Retroactively, they now say it was
assumed. "She looked white," (indicted)
son state senator John Ford told reporter Wendi Thomas.
Actually, we don't think she looks white - however,
we have eyes trained for this sort of thing. But that's not
the point. The Ford's collective violation against Black people's
history in this country is far more disturbing than the pretensions
and self-debasement of one Black family. They make a fiction
of their own family history, and thus allow others to extrapolate
larger fictions, to further confuse the Black and white public
about the real nature of African American's past and present.
There is really only one definition for the people
who became African Americans: those who were eligible to be
legally sold as chattel, and whose children were condemned to
also be chattel for slavemaster scum. The "one drop"
and "one-sixteenth" Black blood rule was simply a
commercial arrangement, that allowed white men to exercise their
sexual privileges among the slaves while carrying no parental
obligations. As a result, the United States became the
only country in the world in which rich and respected men routinely
sold their own children - an abomination almost beyond comprehension,
one that challenges normal notions of human behavior.
Because of the high cost of slaves in the U.S.
- the driving force in this grotesque social arrangement that
led to child-selling - and because the United States had a large
and heavily armed white population, there was no need to create
a mulatto class with privileges recognized by the white rulers.
Unlike elsewhere in the African Diaspora, the "one drop"
rule reigned. All of the "one drop" or more people
were herded together, to be sold during slavery, and Jim Crowed
in its aftermath.
However, in this centuries-long process, a people
came into being: African Americans of many hues but sharing
the same references and history. During slavery, all could be
sold. Afterwards, all could be lynched, and all were segregated
- unless they "passed," which usually required leaving
the region where everybody knew who was who and where they came
from. But most did not, because of their ties to their land,
family, community and collective aspirations.
distinct people emerged from the cauldron, a people who developed
their own institutions in opposition to white institutions,
and their own view of the world. A people with a sense of community
that had been forged in - among the many oppressions of slavery
and Jim Crow - the sexual oppression of Black women that created
the multi-hued African American group.
Vera Ford belonged to that group, as did her parents,
John and Lottie. They did not "pass" but stayed within
the community. Now, her grandson, the despicable
and underbrained brat who wants to be a senator, is casting
her out, claiming she was white.
Of the Ford family, only aunt Barbara Ford Branch,
a retired lawyer who lives in New York City, seems to have an
ounce of pride in her family or her people. "I will not
let them try to make my mother something she wasn't," Ms.
Branch told the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Wendi Thomas.
However, Ms. Thomas, who is Black, strays into
nasty territory when she introduces the now-familiar white line
that race is a "social construct." Of course it is.
But this "construct" has vast social consequences,
that led to annihilation of peoples (most Native Americans,
all Tasmanians) and to the creation of new nations of people.
The "social construct" term has been interpreted by
white popular media as meaning "socially irrelevant"
- which is a convenient way for them to say race doesn't matter,
so get over it. But the centuries of slavery and racial oppression
that have been justified by the "construct" are not
irrelevant. They are facts.
These cumulative events - the lives, struggles
and accomplishment of millions of people who came to call themselves
Black Americans - have created a unique people in the world.
Vera Ford was one of them, as were her parents.
Harold Ford Jr. desecrates their graves, and should
hang his head in shame. But he won't, because he is shameless.
Glen Ford and Peter Gamble are writing a book
titled, "Barack Obama and the Crisis in Black Leadership."