Blood Done Sign My Name. Timothy B. Tyson. Quart. 1 Section 1. Racism in the United states is still a big problem despite slavery laws being abolished a long time before A black man (later to be recognized as a Vietnam veteran) was shot and killed in Oxford, North Carolina
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Timothy B. Tyson
Based on the evident religious influence and anti-racist point of view that Tyson so evidently suggests, he enforces this as a value taught during his upbringing by his fathers description of KKK rallies as “what hatred looks like.” We learn more about Teel (assassin) through his determined and violent nature. Some even said that he “would have been rich if he had stayed out of trouble” (P.49)Although there is no written record associating Teel as a member of the Klu Klux Klan, Tyson speculated that he was a very important member of it. (received support, seen at meetings)
Tyson provides the reader with first hand stories as reasons not to fear the Klan using his father and a friendly judge as examples. Their responses to intimidating threats by the Klan were almost whimsical as they roasted marshmallows on the burning cross in their front yard. He conveys the colloquial-ness of open racism with reverend Cole, who’s congregation grew into a racist army becoming actively violent. This resulted in people buying weapons for their personal safety.
Tyson shows his repentance as he tells the reader that he gave in to “white supremacy” at a young age by making fun of his (Afro-American)nanny’s son . “I knew that what I was doing was wrong” P.63 His father’s education, family and upbringing molded him into an advocate of civil rights, radically so that when saying the Pledge Of Allegiance, he would leave out: “with liberty and justice for all”(p.65) because he knewit wasn’t true. These details serve to explain Tyson’s very strong feelings towards civil rights.
We find out about the Birmingham riots which lead to his father, Vernon’s letter to the paper saying that “a 14 year-old boy spent his first night in jail… his only real crime is that he had the wrong mother.”(72) As a way to ease his congregation into racial equality, he invited a black minister to his church and received death threats from other civilians. It caused outrage in his congregation, but later received support.
To explain why his father moved, Tyson explains that the reverend before him had an affair with a woman of his congregation and was forced to leave by an angry husband. He places a critical view on religious entities stating “Falling into such dalliance, if that is what it was, is common enough among preachers to constitute a professional liability…and theological training does not transform a man into an angel.”(P.85) I agree with Tyson’s critical outlook on preachers as they do, in fact, have a reputation for having unexpected affairs; however, I recognize that this is not the only profession that breaks its own rules.
Tyson later discusses, Martin Luther King Jr.’s general image and impact at the time. He critiques the fact that the FBI was looking for ways to get him to commit suicide, and people would generally not support him. When he died however, people stated honoring him and his ideals. To close the topic of Mr. King, Tyson quotes him slightly deviating the topic stating that “the whole structure of American life must be changed.”(107) I (also) agree with the former proposal, politic and economic power need to be redistributed, as King so strongly suggested. Only then, will Americans begin to be stable as a society.
In this part Tyson explores the origin of the white supremacy feeling that he felt was instilled in the white folk. He later concludes that it came to be because all the black people he knew were house workers for their white counterparts. In his own experience he fondly remembers Mrs. Allen, a black woman who cleaned his house so his mother could teach during the day. At around 9 years old, Tyson had a conversation with her which he would remember every year on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. To calm down his “beloved Roseanna” he suggested to her that it could be for the best because “we [also] think it worked out for the best that they hung Jesus on the cross [because that way] he saved us all from sin.” (115)
The argument being made is that we have not only justified but in a way paradoxically congratulated ourselves for blacks’ suffering. Yes even though we put them through hell, in the end it got better and it wouldn’t have seemed that good of a gesture if it wasn’t that bad to begin with. I completely agree with Tyson on this one. As a race, we humans try to justify our actions so they match our morals so that we don’t feel a sense of hypocrisy and we can live with ourselves. This is called cognitive dissonance. When we are at this point the contradiction fills us with angst and anxiety for which we seek to match our beliefs. Looking back on this conversation Tyson points out that by losing Dr. King we lost a big connection to the black population. I agree because although we are far more integrated now, I feel that we would be more so if it wasn’t for his death.
After Teel being deemed innocent by the courthouse, black s in Oxford started an active march against white supremacy lead by Henry Marrow’s widowed pregnant wife and daughter and his close friend. This march became very calm for which a black spokesperson went and talked to the judge to reconsider and do something for black equality to which the judge answered with subtle racist demeanor claiming that “ the judicial system must serve the people not the system” (143) and the people(whites) had chosen the black oppression. The march soon became a silent one to which Tyson’s father responded by looking down and walking home in silence.
The argument being made here revolve around white injustice but also around black passiveness. I feel that the way the black community’s change in their response to white supremacy made people like Tyson’s father not only reconsider, but feel true sadness and shame for the injustice towards the black people. That calm, passive arguments make for strong claims. I agree with his argument only in cases where no one is using weapons. When weapons get involved not only do people get hurt, but things get out of hand and decisions are made that are bad for most others. I feel that Tyson is also showing us that people, like his father, the widow, his mother and everyone else, aren’t one dimensional. In real life we all have different stands on matters and our opinions will and can change over time without prior notice. Here he shows an uncommon point of view of white longing for racial equivalence even though he clearly shows us that he wasn’t this way since he was young.