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When the Boogeyman Comes For You

Charles C Campbell is an educational professional with extensive expertise in educational reform, school design, and leadership training.

Who is the modern day boogeyman?


I don't know if my American brethren of a different hue truly hate people like me, but the idyllic institutional constructs created to supposedly share the dream of our founding fathers is so steeped in systemic racism and economic oppression that my American dreams has been nightmarish. The idyllic institutional constructs I mentioned is the simple cell that has morphed in my dreams into a complex microbe birthing a moral monster I find myself at war with in slumber and in the streets. When I was exposed as a child to the horrors of the slave trade, slavery, emancipation, lynching, the Black Codes, and Jim Crow laws I use to wonder if I would one day suffer the fate of fellow Chicagoan Emmett Till.

I suppressed my fear of moral monsters by taking interest in the mythology of Godzilla, and other frightful beings the Son of Svengoolie would feature on Saturday afternoons on TV. Nevertheless, I still wrestled as a child with James Baldwin's notion, "You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettoes without becoming something monstrous yourselves. Furthermore, you give me a terrifying advantage: You never had to look at me. I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me. Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced." That idea, that possibility, this reality is something I have hid from for so long. Rather than facing that fear, I dismissed and squelched the screams from my dreams as nothing but the boogeyman trying to get me.

Growing up I was fascinated with the mythology of monsters. I remember the two scariest things I saw on TV was the Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D and the world premiere of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. Each viewing, my mother warned me of the potential horror I would see. I didn't think it was a big deal because it was on TV. It cannot be real. Needless to say I was able to weather watching the legendary swap monster in but, MJ's Thriller…I was done after the first corpse rose from the grave. I didn't watch the video again until I was in college. What stoked the fear in me was the possibility of the monsters being real. For most monster fans, I guess the appeal comes from wondering what the prey will do to survive impending doom.

Throughout the history of humanity, there have been many iterations of the mythical being called the boogeyman. Heck why be sexist? There are even bogeywomen and even little badass boogey kids that suppose to roam the earth. These boogey-people's only purpose is to terrorize unsuspecting victims who unknowingly become ensnared, enslaved or entangled in situations so they can punish and or torture their prey because they are different from themselves.
Let's take Daddy Bouchon or Maître Bois" (Master of the Woods), who is an African and French amalgamated mythical being who will snatch you up if you are caught defiling nature. He tricks his prey by posing as an old ragged man with hoofed feet, or a deer, and maybe even a tree.

Caribbean folk believe in a boogeyman called the Ligahoo, a male shape changer who can morph into an animal-like werewolf and attack oblivious victims in the night and walk blameless in the daylight in its human form. Think of Jacob from the Quileute wolf tribe in the Twilight movies but much less sexier. The Ligahoo feeds on the blood or liver of animals or humans that crosses its path. Tales by the river claim that he is a man who sold his soul to the devil for power.
Don't get it twisted. There are tales of old about women who were equally nefarious and downright scary. Take for instance the Suriname Soucouya who is a shapeshifter. Also known as a Jumbie spirit. During the daytime, she is an old reclusive woman living probably at the edge of a town, village or your nearby suburb. At night, she sheds her skin, and flies around like a ball of fire. She is akin to the Adze, an organ-eating vampire from Ghana and Togo, which appears as a firefly, but if captured, transforms into a human. The whispers among town folks would say she could pass easily through keyholes, under doors or the crack of an open window. She then finds her victim and sucks their blood as they sleep. Because of her greedy nature, Soucouya would return every night until she sipped your life essence out of your body with the fate of either becoming like her, a soucouya or simply die and she saunters out of your home wearing your skin.
Another creepy creature is the "La Diablesse", the devil woman, who is often personified as a decrepit elderly woman, who steps out from nowhere with a cloven hoof from behind a tree on a mysterious road of some sort. She too is full of trickery. Sometimes she takes the form of a beautiful young 34–26–34 sized woman, to lure some unsuspecting sucker to his death or put the "juju" on him and drive the poor dude to madness. (Truthfully, I think she actually exists but just with a clubfoot or is pigeon-toed but I digress).

Last and definitely not the least of old world African boogeyman stories are the worst form of Bey-Bey kids you could imagine…the Dwens. These rascals are said to be the lost souls of children who died very young or were stillborn. They are cursed to roam the world for eternity. Griots would describe them as being usually naked, wearing a big, broad-brimmed hat to hide the fact that, except for a tiny mouth, they are faceless. African elders would advise you to never shout out a child's name in open areas because the dwens will learn his or her name and seek out the place where that child reside to ensnare the poor kid, stealing them away into the wild to devour their soul and assume their being.

Europeans have their version of the boogeyman too called the Baba Yaga. No, I'm not writing about the movie character John Wick. As lethal as he was portrayed, the Baba Yaga is actually said to be a supernatural being of Slavic folklore who embodies sheer terror, and is the harbinger of death to all of those who choose to idiotically engage with him, her, or it in ways that they shouldn't even have to think twice. Imagine you see a pot of gold twinkling in the moonlight in a dark alligator infested swamp. Right in front of you is a big ass sign with huge letters warning you that the swamp is infested with alligators and brain eating parasites floating around in the body of water. You think there is still a chance you can get that pot of gold despite not knowing how to swim. This type of thinking is what will get you fucked up by the Baba Yaga.

In many monster or boogeyman tales, there is a way out of their evil clutches but you have to stick to the plan laid from times of old. For example, you might be scared as hell of monsters that dwell in alabaster colored houses. There's a silver bullet or I should say silver pen, black pen, or stylus that if you and many others join forces and lift that tiny powerful instrument of change between now and November 3rd and vote, you can smote the monster and witness a change around you like Thanos did when he saw fit to (I'd rather side with Tony Stark's approach) eliminate at least 50 % of what he thought was wrong. Understand that vestiges of the toil and trouble the boogey-people created will still be around to clean up but at least the boogeyman would be gone for a while. The book of spells that was used to create chaos, terror and fear in the hearts and minds of ignorant day-walkers will be in safekeeping. Ideally, the new Sorcerer Supreme will use their power to restore legal balance and hopefully create timely, equitable, progressive and sustainable change. Safeguarding this movement must be a top priority. Because there will always be cabals who either incite or invite a continuation of toil and trouble. The mission will be tasked to new moral monsters cloaked as fake news boogey-people. These moral monsters are supernaturally imbued with the ability to agitate the fears of people, like the ones I referenced earlier who refuse to pay attention to big ass signs at swamps warning them of the danger that awaits them. This kind of folk believe in the dream that scares me but empowers them to stand back and stand ready at perceived threats. Now that my third eye is open, I see the harm and peril that the boogey-people created. I know my rights and how they work or don't work for me. My sights aren't on the alligators in the swamp. They are of no threat if I heed caution. Instead, I am on the hunt to eradicate the moral monsters and their systems like Harriet Tubman. No more hiding from the beast that stalks. It's time to "whup that trick" with a flurry of "Holy Ghost Hadouken."

It's only a matter of time when some of my other American brethren fears or misguided patriotism bounces a check they wrote and lands them in the ICU on a ventilator (might not have one in some Mayberry counties) or hell in the waiting room of St. Elsewhere bleeding and/or suffering because the boogeyman he or she choose to sell their soul to has sold them out. While waiting for the help of a doctor, they are reminded by the triage nurse that hope is lost because the boogeyman actually eliminated the existing healthcare structures that could have been lifesaving. Stripped of dignity and feeling hopeless, that person can now only make do until other denizens come snack off the remaining morsels of fractured hopes and dreams. Ask yourself, what's worse than the boogeyman? Boo!

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I invite you to follow me for more future postmodern explorations.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Charles C Campbell

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