Revenge Fantasies in Crisis 8.6

Amidst the photos of black children that populate this issue, there is content that clearly articulates (at multiple points) revenge fantasies. While most didn’t actually happen (are just that, “fantasies”), the first instance of this genre is in the “Crime” section of the “Along the Color Line” column (273)—the same story appears in the opinion section as well (280-1). The opinion section sees this event as “one variation on this grim theme” of people not being tried/convicted for lynching murders. The irony here is that a black man killed the white man who (allegedly) raped a 12yo girl while accompanied with the sheriff. The author points out that the jury considered this as “justifiable homicide,” ending with the idea that justice wouldn’t have been achieved through the court system—i.e. the white man would have been acquitted or not been “sent to pay for the penalty for his crime.”

This current event joins a slew of other instances of revenge fantasies. The “Letter Box” houses a scenario in which a Samson-like figure with “a modern machine gun” confronts the “Knighthood of Dixie” (probably a KKK affiliate) (301). The NAACP advertisement (291) and the “Of the Children of Peace” editorial seem to envision a world in which children, the next generation, overthrow the yoke of racial injustice/prejudice. This is not a violent revenge fantasy, but still something that will “explode the ‘might makes right’ tradition” and end “organized murder of men”—both national war efforts and racial violence epitomized by state-sanctioned lynching. And, in “Goodwilla” and “Our Baby Pictures” children are discussed in terms of war: “soldiers” and “units” designed to “reach the maximum efficiency and service.” Their cause? A potential world in which the black community achieves the most reasonable, yet perhaps the ultimate, revenge: to end racial injustice and achieve equality.

The last instance of a revenge fantasy can be seen in the “War” article (296). A child prays to the “Lord of Hosts” asking to “Give me back my father!” The Lord decides to answer the “prayers of the mothers and the children” by ending war and giving back the ability to connect to the earth. The seraphim, the messenger, answers that certain people are thanking the “Lord of Battle” for his actions that “revenged” them. Ethiopia is rejoicing; “joy lights [the] face” of the middle easterner; and Haitians (?) “weep” for the fallen yet “rise and give praise that the string is broken and the feet are still in the house of their enemy.” Hearing this news, the Lord of Hosts pulls back into inaction, leaving the prayers of mothers and children unanswered, reasoning that “As they have sown/ So shall they reap./ Let it go on.” In this vision of war, the irony is that justice means letting war continue. This idea, made more concrete in the next article, is that colonization started a competition for foreign lands which was fueled/funded by slavery and the slave trade which led to the accumulation of wealth over which the European powers are fighting (299-300). These are the seeds that sowed WWI, according to the author. This issue of the The Crisis, then, is advocating for war—at the very least understanding the death and destruction it has wrought as deserved, perhaps as an ultimate justice for the world.