Local View: 'Anger' is called for when denouncing racism, injustices
"...sometimes it's beneficial to be dragged into uncomfortable situations or forced into interacting with people with whom we wouldn't ordinarily connect; sometimes a fierce debate on a taboo subject such as politics or religion can help both parties see a different side to an issue; sometimes being a person's nonjudgmental bridge to another cultural perspective can be viewed as an act of compassion and service. I know all that. But sometimes a man gets tired of wearing that façade Paul Laurence Dunbar spoke of so eloquently, and he just wants to detonate. Sometimes the life of constant smiling and pretending and interpreting can wear on the nerves."
— Ed Gilbreath, writing in January 2016 for Christianity Today in an article headlined, "The Angry Martin Luther King"
They call so many of us "angry," yet seem to forget that the most fundamental freedoms and rights we take for granted were won by the actions of those who got "angry" about an injustice and used that anger to produce a positive outcome.
Such is the legacy and history of Henry L. Banks, a community leader in Duluth, an advocate, and an "angry" black man.
I was not surprised that the July 14 letter to the editor in the News Tribune, "Anger won't woo anyone to your cause," would stoop to tone-policing via the media and would use the examples of local activists Steve O'Neil and Angie Miller. They themselves got "angry" at the plight of the homeless in our community, the domestic violence here, the rampant drug and alcohol abuse, and the racial disparities, and they used that "anger" to spur action and positive redress to social causes and systems that historically dehumanized circumstances — and individuals like Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie.
That Henry Banks has hit just such a nerve with his dedication to righting a historical wrong in our community raises my esteem of his "angry" actions and lets us know he is doing it right.
Stay "angry," Henry!
The whole point of the letter was what? Tone-policing a black man because white privilege says you can? The letter tried to lynch Henry Banks editorially on an issue white women also must address, but that doesn't work anymore.
There is every reason to be "angry" in the face of our current climate, continued oppression, and lack of change in racial issues and respect. The letter illustrated Henry Banks touched a nerve. And he can just keep on touching those nerves and making people uncomfortable in their complacency and apathy.
Let this attack on Henry Banks stand as a reminder that, yes, he is doing what needs to be done.
Anger can indeed draw people to your cause, as proved by the current reign of President Donald Trump and his Make-America-Great-Again devotees and their terroristic campaigns. Yet let a black man take his anger and channel it and use it to improve his community and question the disrespectful actions of others, and he is condemned by those who are indeed disrespectful. He is condemned as an "angry" black man. Be assured, Henry Banks is now ensconced in the good "angry" company of many of our civil rights leaders and local activists.
Stay "angry," Henry, and continue to challenge the legacies of racism, disrespectfulness, and oppression, using your voice toward creating a positive community response. Continue to build up the history of generations of nonviolent, "angry" ancestors whose voices and lives were snuffed out by "angry" violent actions, purposefully directed at devaluing and dehumanizing who we are as black people and our causes.
Those who criticize, we will pray for them that they open their hearts and eyes to realize that #Lovetrumpshate — but only when we utilize "anger" in positive actions, such as Henry Banks utilizes it to vehemently denounce racism, desecration, and apathy by systems that create the very reasons for his "anger."
Kym Young of Superior is a community human rights activist and self-described "very 'angry' black woman."