After all of these years and all we have been through together, we think it's appropriate for us to show our gratitude for all you have done for us. We have chastised you, criticized you, punished you, and in some cases even apologized to you, but we have never formally nor publicly thanked you for your never-ending allegiance and support to our cause. This is our open letter of thanks to a unique people, a forgiving people, a steadfast people, and a brave people: Black Americans.
We will always be in debt to you for your labor. You built this country and were responsible for the great wealth we still enjoy today. Upon your backs, laden with the stripes we sometimes had to apply for disciplinary reasons, you carried our nation. We thank you for that. We thank you for your diligence and tenacity. Even when we refused to allow you to even walk in our shadows, you followed close behind, believing that someday we would come to accept you and treat you like men and women. Your strength in the face of adversity cannot be understated. You are truly a great people, and we thank you so much.
We publicly acknowledge Black people for raising our children, attending to our sick, and preparing our meals while we were occupied with the trappings of the good life. Even during the times when we found pleasure in your women and enjoyment in seeing one of your men lynched, maimed and burned, some of you continued to watch over us and our belongings. We simply cannot thank you enough. Your bravery on the battlefield, despite being classified as three-fifths of a man, was and still is outstanding and beyond the call of duty. We often watched in awe as you went about your prescribed chores and assignments, sometimes laboring in the hot sun for 12 hours, to assist us in realizing our dreams of wealth and good fortune. You were always there, and we thank you.
Now that we control at least 90 percent of all of the resources and wealth of this nation, we have Black people to thank the most. You were there when it all began, and you are still with us today, protecting us from those Black people who have the temerity to speak out against our past transgressions. How can we thank you for your dedication? You warned us about Denmark Vessey. You let us know about Gabriel Prosser's plans; you called our attention to Nat Turner. And you even sounded the alarm when old John Brown came calling on Harper's Ferry. Some of you still warn us today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Now, as we look out upon our enormous wealth, and as we assess our tremendous control of the resources of this country, we can only think of the sacrifices you and your families made to make all of this possible. You are indeed fantastic, and we will forever be in your debt. To think of how you have looked out for us for hundreds of years and to see you still doing the same thing today is simply amazing. Thank you for continuing to bring 95 percent of what you earn to our businesses. That is so gracious of you.
Thanks for buying our Hilfigers, Karans, Nikes, and all of the other brands you so adore. Your purchase of these products really makes us feel that we are at least giving something back to you for your patronage. After all, in the past, the brands we put on you were quite painful, but those of today can be proudly worn because they give you as sense of self-esteem, right? But its the least we can do for a people who have treated us so well.
Your super-rich athletes, entertainers, intellectuals, and business persons (both legal and illegal) exchange most of their money for our cars, jewelry, homes, and clothing. What a windfall they have provided for us! The less fortunate among you spend all they have at our neighborhood stores, enabling us to open even more stores. Sure, they complain about us, but they never do anything to hurt us economically. You are a very special people. Thank you.
Oh yes, allow us to thank you for not bogging yourselves down with the business of doing business with your own people. We can take care of that for you. Please don't even trouble yourselves with it. Yes, you were very successful at it after slavery ended and even as recently as 1960, but you know what happened when you began to build your own communities and do business with one another. Some of the "lower ones" of our kind burned you out time and time again. So, why bother? In todays business environment, your own people will not support you anyway. You just keep doing business with us. It's safer that way. Besides, everything you need, we make anyway, even Kente cloth. You just continue to dance, sing, fight, get high, go to prison, back bite, envy and distrust and hate one another. Have yourselves a good time, and this time we'll take care of you. Its the least we can do, considering all youve done for us. Heck, you deserve it, Black people.
For your labor, which created our wealth, for you resisting the messages of trouble-making Blacks like Washington, Delaney, Garvey, Bethune, Tubman and Truth, for fighting and dying on our battlefields, we thank you. For allowing us to move into your neighborhoods, we will forever be grateful to you. For your unceasing desire to be near us and for hardly ever following through on you treats due to our lack of reciprocity and equity-we thank you so much.
We also appreciate your acquiescence to our political agendas, for abdicating your own economic self-sufficiency, and for working so diligently for the economic well being of our people. You are real troopers. And, even though the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were written for you and many of your relatives died for the rights described therein, you did not resist when we changed those Black rights to civil rights and allowed virtually every other group to take advantage of them as well. Black people, you are something else! Your dependence upon us to do the right think is beyond our imagination, irrespective of what we do to you and the many promises we have made and broken. But, this time we will make it right, we promise. Trust us.
Tell you what. You don't need your own hotels. You can continue to stay in ours. You have no need for supermarkets when you can shop at ours 24 hours a day. Why should you even think about owning more banks? You have plenty now. And, dont waste your energies trying to break into manufacturing. Youve worked hard enough in our fields. Relax, have a party. We'll sell you everything you need. And when you die, we'll even bury you at a discount. Now how's that for gratitude?
Finally, the best part. You went beyond the pale and turned your children over to us for their education. With what we have taught them, it's likely they will continue in a mode similar to the one you have followed for the past 45 years. When Mr. Lynch walked the banks of the James River in 1712 and said he would make you a slave for 300 years, little did we realize the truth in his prediction. Just 13 more years and his promise will come to fruition. But with two generations of your children gone through or education systems, we can look forward to at least another 50 years of prosperity. Wow! Things could not be better and it's all because of you.
For all you have done, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Black Americans. Youre the best friends any group of people could ever have!
All other Americans.
Philadelphia New Observer,
November 18, 1998.