Stacia L. Brown

From an outsider’s perspective, say, from the purview of a citizen whose great-great-grandfathers were land owners, voters, arbiters of the unamended Constitution, we spend a lot of time lamenting. We deflect our own savagery by blaming it on their ancestors. Our hearing turns conveniently selective when they insist that they are not their ancestors. They know full well that, after our brief exchange — wherein they will glumly wonder, How can black people be so unforgiving? — they will go home and turn a key in the lock of a house they’ve either purchased outright or will pay off before the age of 30. They know how easily they qualified for their low-interest mortgage. They know their parents’ pristine credit, ensured by their grandfather’s investments and assets, inherited from their great-grandfathers dividends, insured by their great-great-grandfather’s land ownership, made that possible.

And they know our great-great-grandparents — both of them…

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