Beyond the Burning House


After his death, Harry Belafonte disclosed that shortly before his murder, Dr. King lamented on his strides toward integration. Belafonte quotes King as saying: “I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house.”

Decades after this revelation, we as a people, sit at the literal steps of the burning house. The figurative fox and the wolf, to employ Malcolm X’s phrasing, are intertwined in a violent battle for white power amidst a four-hundred-year racial pandemic. This pandemic takes on a contemporary form in the present moment, it’s flames fueled by the media and its diversified participants. As a collective, we are led into this house under the guise of allyship, citizenship, and diversity, whereas our fate remains chosen for us by our adversaries: burn or be burned.

His story has shown us that the fox and wolf, in espousal to their ideology, will burn down the forest with them inside it; thus, it is imperative that their inevitable contention not become ours. To put things bluntly, the fiery battle between the waves of white supremacy should not constitute a direct concern for the African-descended. National attempts to lead blacks into a burning house occurred as insurance that we would burn along with the republic that abducted and raped its way into our bloodlines. A refusal to follow the lead of white supremacy enables the African-descended to employ the current climate as a constellation for our hereafter.

The metaphorical burning house is not just about physical death; rather, it proceeds with ambitions of cognitive genocide. What I mean here, is that positing the contentions of white supremacy as yielding collective detriment, promises to obliterate the black imagination. If we remain able to imagine a world where the foot of white supremacy is not on our necks, a world where we do not have to fight for the freedoms our adversaries bask in, we remain in route to change. We, as a collective, must devote ourselves to imagining a world beyond colonial rule, for if we can imagine it, we can rise in its image. All of what we see, from systemic racism to Wednesday’s act of terror first started with an idea, with imagination. Cognitive control over the oppressed remains the landscape of systemic power, and the lure to “join in” on what must cease to exist so we can breathe, sleep, and jog in peace, is an effort to brand the black psyche with the indelible scars of bondage.

Furthermore, while anti-black adversaries glare menacingly into the eyes of one another, we must look ahead. For their burning house is a chance for an integral new beginning. Beneath their burning house, are not only the asphyxiated bones of our ancestors, but our forty acres and then some.


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