Not only is America incapable of admitting to its race problems. It has developed a whole new language of discussing race in a kindler gentler way so as not to offend those who would prefer not to think of themselves as racist. America used to at least recognize it had a horrible history regarding race. That too is changing as history books in some cases refer to “immigrant labor” as opposed to slavery. Bill O’Reilly, a self-proclaimed historian, refers to how “well-fed” the slaves were that built the White House. Slavery itself is being rewritten as a mere labor arrangement where the “workers” were provided free housing, food, and health-care. America is finding it harder to admit it even had a race problem.
For those willing to concede America once “had” a race problem. They consider it a thing of the past. Solved by the Emancipation Proclamation, or Brown vs The Board of Education, or this Civil Rights Act or that Voting Rights Bill. America has never solved its race problem or rids itself of systemic racism. It has only given it different names. Slavery was replaced by “The Black Codes”, which was replaced by “Jim Crow” which was replaced by redistricting and gerrymandering and voter suppression.
History meanwhile has ignored or forgotten the most heinous acts committed against people of color. We all know about “Custer’s Last Stand”.How many know about the “Devil’s Punch Bowl” in Natchez, MS where 20,000 Black men, women, and children died. Imprisoned by Union troops in a concentration camp after the Civil War ended. History doesn’t mention “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma where a thriving community was attacked on the ground and from the air. Over 35 blocks of property were burned and destroyed. Over 300 Black citizens killed and 800 hospitalized. 10,000 Black people were left homeless. Over 6,000 were arrested for up to 8 days. Despite the carnage, the official death toll was listed as “39” by the Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Orange County, Florida including Orlando, was claimed to have suffered the “largest mass shooting in American history” at the Pulse Nightclub shooting with 49 innocent people killed. As horrible as that was, it wasn’t even the worst mass shooting in the County as hundreds of Black people were killed and the rest of the Black population driven out of Ocoee, FL when some tried to vote in the 1920 Presidential Election. Ocoee stayed all-white for over 40 years afterward. America omits the inconvenient mass shootings in Elaine, Arkansas or E. St. Louis, Missouri or Mountain Meadows, Utah where Mormons dressed as Indians and killed 140 unarmed men and women. This is the history America doesn’t teach you when the victims are of color. It has redefined mass shootings to exclude more than a couple of shooters or apparently, race-motivated murder. It allows them to forget it had a race problem.
The problem that continues today stems from demographics. Those that wish to, “Make America Great Again” really mean to re-establish White control which is quickly fading. The reason they forcefully claimed “Barack Obama is the worst President in history” is not based on empirical data. They ignored the fact he saved an economy that was hemorrhaging jobs when he took office. He saved the auto industry. He served in grace despite the hate leveled against him. He established health care benefits for over 20 Million additional Americans. They conspired against him on his first day in office. For those who hate him, he has one inherent flaw. He is Black.
The secret to maintaining White control, even as White’s will soon be a minority in this country, is to control the vote. The tactics now closely resemble those used after reconstruction. Impose voter restrictions, enact poll taxes (although we now give them another name). Position polling places where it will be harder for some to vote than others. Provide limited access to minority voters hoping to dissuade them with long lines. America can deny the inherent racism in policies designed to disparately affect minorities; as long as we can claim it’s for another reason. We all know the almost non-existent voter fraud isn’t the real reason for these laws. What America can’t acknowledge is, that it’s all about race.
America has long not wanted to appear racist. Now I find that it no longer cares about keeping up the facade. Putting aside for a moment the racist background of President Donald J Trump, and his father Fred who was once arrested at a Klan rally. His Campaign CEO was Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, who proved that racism has gone mainstream. That he is racist is beyond dispute. His personal comments and those he approved of in the media outlet he controlled; showed his hatred of Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, Women and more. When Hillary Clinton discussed the specifics in a nationally televised speech, surely America would say this was too much. A man with his background cannot stand. After a couple of days of being a story, the storm faded as the media preferred to chase Trump’s evolving immigration policy and Hillary’s Emails. One Trump campaign manager was lambasted for an assault on a woman, another ousted because of his close ties to Putin. These apparently were terrible offenses. A racist heading up the Trump campaign, not a problem.
The list of things America won’t address because it can’t acknowledge its race problem is long. Unequal funding for schools. Disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of minority students. Voter suppression. Mass incarceration. Inequitable policing. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America, you have a race problem and it’s time you acknowledge it.
I heard two different numbers the other day and started wondering if there’s a scientific method to determine exactly how many white supremacists there are in America. The first number was provided by a presumably white Internet associate (I wouldn’t go as far as calling him a friend) who I communicate with regularly on a purported legal blog which seems to attract quite a few white supremacists. He insists that the only people that qualify as white supremacists are card-carrying members of the Klan and nobody else. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimated in 2016 that there were 3,000 active members at that time. Therefore his number was 3,000.
A real-life black friend recalled hearing a speech given by the Rev. James M. Lawson who estimated the number at 50 million. For those who don’t know, Lawson played a pivotal role in organizing the Freedom Riders working with students primarily from Fisk University and Tennessee State including Diane Nash and Congressman John Lewis. Lawson was a serious activist during the civil rights era and has some credibility on the subject.
There’s quite a difference between 3,000 and 50 million so I wanted to consider ways to narrow the gap, assuming the true answer is somewhere in the middle. I considered that there are other organizations besides the Klan that would qualify as white supremacists. I went back to the SPLC and looked at their designated hate groups, this doesn’t make them white supremacists as these groups include al sorts of haters and all the groups are not mostly white.
I felt safe in including the American Freedom Party which “exists to represent the political interests of white Americans.” They also want to return America to, “White Rule.” I added the American Renaissance and the Aryan Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seems to be hard to enter and leave with their motto, “Blood in, blood out!” They’re mostly a prison gang but run gambling and prostitution rings. The “Brotherhood of Klans” (different than the Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) has gone international and claims to have about 250 Canadian members who I’m not including in my total. Looking at the various Klan organizations alone, I was starting to suspect my associate may have misled me with that 3,000 number. It could also have been an honest mistake.
Working backward alphabetically there was; White Revolution, White Lives Matter, Vinlanders Social Club, VDARE, United Constitutional Patriots… By the time I got to the League of the South (they want to politically dominate black people and other minorities. I was ready to accept that the number of white supremacists affiliated with groups in the United States exceeded 500,000 as estimated by one source. Then I read something that was truly disturbing which was that most white supremacists don’t affiliate with organizations. It’s probably because of the dues.
Most white supremacists do not belong to organized hate groups, but rather participate in the white supremacist movement as unaffiliated individuals. Thus the size of the white supremacist movement is considerably greater than just the members of hate groups. Among white supremacist groups, gangs are becoming increasingly important. -ADL
That made sense to me, the average white supremacist isn’t marching down the streets anymore in his/her robe and hood. It’s your co-worker, your pharmacist, the bagger at your local grocery store… your minister. White supremacists look just like your white neighbor, and maybe your neighbor is one?
Instead of working from the bottom number and adding up. I wanted to look at the 50 million number and see if I needed to reduce it. I said to myself, white supremacists would likely do white supremacists things; like vote in their self-interest. In the past Presidential election. A white supremacist would likely have viewed it would be in their self-interest to vote for Donald Trump as opposed to Hillary Clinton. How many people voted for Trump? Just under 63 million people.
Now I am not suggesting that everyone that voted for Trump is a white supremacist. A lot of wealthy people who wanted to get a lot richer with his tax cut might have voted for Trump. Desperate coal miners and their families thinking Trump would put them back to work. Blacks for Trump? No that was just a couple guys with signs at his rallies. The point is that no good information could be gleaned by looking at Trump voters.
I went back to my hypothesis that white supremacists do white supremacist things. I looked at states where people voted to legalize voter suppression. Who wanted to ban Muslims? How many people were Birthers? Who thought “both sides” were to blame in Charlottesville?
I never got close to establishing an exact number of white supremacists in America. I’m positive that 3,000 was a terribly low estimate. I wish I could have proved the 50 million number was wrong beyond all doubt, but I couldn’t. Assuming Trump hasn’t gotten himself Impeached and is still the Republican Nominee, he may get 63 million votes again and all of them won’t be white supremacists. It will be true they don’t mind mingling with them, however.
Many of my blog pieces are inspired by “Morning Joe.” Given enough time, someone on the panel, most often Joe Scarborough will say something so ridiculous I have to respond. In the past few days, he’s talked about the number of increased Republican seats in the House of Representatives since President Obama first took office. He presents it as if it were because of Republican ideas and policies as if that were the reason. Not once did he mention Gerrymandering and redistricting, often in Unconstitutional ways according to the courts. Not discussed was the impact of Republican pushed bills suppressing votes wherever they have control. Many introduced the day after the Supreme Court gutted enforcement of the Voter Rights Act. That’s typical Scarborough propaganda and because it’s what he always does. It didn’t stir me to write.
What did get my attention was his assertion that the Constitution of the United States was powerful enough to withstand a Trump Presidency as it has withstood Nixon, Bush and others. It was that assertion that spawned this piece because the Constitution has not now or ever been mine.
There is a misconception that the Constitution considered Black people as three-fifths of a person. The Constitution neither said or did anything to supercede existing State laws which universally didn’t consider Blacks any portion of a person. They had no rights whatsoever and were governed by Slave Codes. What the Constitution did was allot additional Congressional seats to States, primarily in the South where slaves were counted for that strict purpose as being worth three-fifths of a white person. The Constitution also didn’t recognize at all “Indians not taxed” which was all Indians on reservations or roaming free. It’s not their constitution either. Republicans have made a hero out of the late Justice Antonin Scalia who favored a strict interpretation of the Constitution as “originally intended.” The Constitution originally intended to codify by its silence, the horrors of slavery and the total lack of power for Blacks and Native Americans.
When the Constitution does speak of race, it does so indirectly. Apparently race was just as uncomfortable to talk about then as now. It refers to, “other persons” or let the individual states determine who counted with language like, “such persons as any of the states now existing think proper to admit.” Its mention of slavery was couched in terms like, “persons held to service or labor.” There are those who defend the Constitution by saying it did not specifically affirm slavery. They feel it was somehow better to wink and nod at slavery and let the states take responsibility for what the Federal government would not. At best the Constitution ignored the plight of Black people. That’s why I can say it’s not mine.
The Constitution set up three allegedly co-equal branches of Government. The Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and the Supreme Court. When initially created. Every office in every branch was inhabited by a white male. While a great deal of diversity relatively speaking has taken place since then. Two branches have never ceded that control and the third only for eight years. During those eight years, it must be said that the Republicans in the Congress settled on a policy of obstruction and are now about the business of wiping out the legacy of the sole Black President.
You might ask, what of the court? The official arbiter of what is Constitutional and what is not. The Supreme Court is now and forever has been a hotbed of partisan politics. The Court gave us the Dred Scott Decision where Chief Justice Roger B Taney said, “The Founders Constitution regarded Blacks as so far inferior that they had no rights the white man was bound to respect, and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”
When no legal basis could be found to continue segregation in schools in Brown V Board of Education. They decided to desegregate schools but immediately muted their own decision calling for it to be implemented “with all deliberate speed” which set back desegregation for decades.
When the 1965 Voter Rights Act passed. The Supreme Court gutted the enforcement clause and as a result in the most recent election. Hundreds of thousands of voters were unable to vote that could have if not for their action. These are not the sole instances of the Constitution either being ignored or its meaning twisted on behalf of white people. One could make the case that every major piece of Civil or Voter Rights legislation was later weakened by the court. What good is the Constitution when it mostly serves one group? Not my constitution.
In America, the Constitution is revered. Elected officials and our military swear to uphold it. It was originally a compromise that protected the rights of slave states and the Electoral College is a remnant of those days. It acts eerily as it was intended when originally conceived. To provide an unnatural balance of power that serves rural and sparsely populated states and diminishing the power of the heavily populated centers. This is how we get a result where the popular vote doesn’t matter and white votes matter more than minorities.
Back to Morning Joe. The reason he can say the Constitution is strong enough to withstand even our worst Presidents. Is because he doesn’t stand to lose what some other Americans do. He will not be stopped and frisked or have his House of Worship surveilled. He will not see his community flooded with law enforcement, newly empowered to care even less about my life which matters even less than before. He will not lose his healthcare with no plan for replacement. His ability to vote is not at risk. No family member will be deported and hyper mass incarceration was never intended for him. His Constitution is doing for him what it always had. His Constitution… not mine.
I read a lot of blog posts, some from people I don’t always (or ever) agree with. I saw a recent post from Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Lawyer who often appears on MSNBC to discuss Constitutional Law issues. He posted about a white Georgia Police Sergeant who was fired from her small-town police force, allegedly for flying a Confederate Flag in her yard. The post itself wasn’t inflammatory, he concluded the woman likely had 1st Amendment grounds for a lawsuit. Then the comments began…
Only a few people had commented before I replied. Most were supportive of the woman and her rights. Dismissive of the “overly sensitive people” who filed the initial complaint and attacked the political correctness of the police department that fired her. The reason provided by their Internal Affairs department was that she “engaged in conduct that was unbecoming” and “brought discredit to the Roswell Police Department.”
I replied, “The flag does have negative connotations and does reflect poorly on the Department. Whether there is a sufficient legal basis to remove her may depend on her contract and whatever clauses exist and how vague they were. We are presuming the sole reason for her firing is flying the flag (which is legal) which may not be the case. There is a portion of the citizenry that would find her flying that flag offensive. I believe it is generally illegal to walk around naked in one’s home if visible to others with some constitutionally protected exceptions. Whether it should be offensive to others is debatable. That it is… is not.”
That’s when they came for me!
Olly: “There is a portion of the citizenry that would find her flying that flag offensive.”
“There is also a portion that are offended by the Rainbow flag. There are portions of our citizenry that are offended by any number of things for any number of reasons. Is there some objective standard that you can possibly think of that might protect you, me, your family, everyone from being arrested merely because someone took offense to an object they happen to have visible on their own property? Anything?”
Me: “She was under no threat of being arrested. She according to the article was dismissed because she reflected poorly on the department which I don’t doubt is true. I suspect she will ultimately win a lawsuit, be reinstated with back pay and continue to fly her flag. The “Heritage” she claims the flag stands for will win out. The offended will have no recourse as has almost always been true.”
Nancy: “So, true. She is the one offended and has no recourse against those with leukophobia. I firmly believe that bigotry is fear that grows out of ignorance. We have no hope of being other than a society of all kinds of bigots if we are offended by all things, try to remove any words and history associated with our fears, cease trying to understand the whys and wherefores of those with differing views. This is an America where freedom ceases and we are driven underground. It is why many left their countries in the past and now seek entry to America. What a sad state of affairs.”
Me: “I confess I had to look up “leukophobia,” because the fear of the color white never occurred to me as being an actual thing. Pray tell what is the effect of this fear gripping the nation? Has any minority truly achieved equal rights? Hasn’t gerrymandering, redistricting and voter suppression kept you in control despite changing demographics? The saddest thing I can imagine is a poor white person that has never experienced 10% of the affronts minorities have in the present let alone the past. You’re not driven underground. Redlining and restrictive covenants have ensured you got all the best places. Please elaborate on the suffering you have endured as a white person? Stop & Frisk? Hyper mass incarceration. Racial profiling? Lynching? Let me know when I get one right.”
Squeeky Fromme — Girl Reporter (who apparently idolizes the Manson family) wrote: “The “offended” will have the recourse that they have always had, which is, to “Get a life!” I am offended every time I hear somebody laud Trayvon Martin, but know what? I have a life sooo I get on with it.
If black people need something to get offended over, might I suggest the ridiculously high illegitimate birth rate among black women, and the way that black men have been made unnecessary in their own families by Democratic Party policies. That is something that blacks actually have some control over. Their own lives.”
If you know me, you know I actually enjoy engaging with idiot’s on-line. I picture them getting angrier while I get calmer and bombard them with information for which they have no logical argument.
Me: “There are many policies that have helped remove black men from their families. Kudos to you for recognizing that. We might disagree as to whether or not they are strictly Democrat Party Policies although many were. Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voter Rights Act in the 60’s. Republicans (many of them who migrated from the Democrat Party) have done more than their share. Lee Atwater and the Southern Strategy, Mass incarceration began during the Nixon Administration although every President since has contributed to it (including Clinton and Obama). I don’t know that Trayvon Martin was made out to be a hero. Just a representation that one ought to be able to walk home from a 7-Eleven.”
Paul: “enigmainblackcom — one should not be allowed to pound someone’s head into the sidewalk.”
Me: “I supposed we’ll never know exactly what happened as Trayvon was unable to tell his side of the story. One thing that’s certain is that the entire situation was of George Zimmerman’s creation, after he disobeyed the police dispatcher’s instructions not to continue to follow.”
Paul: “enignainblackcom — I cannot believe how many people think that the police dispatcher ordered him to not follow him, she only suggested. She has no power to order anyone.”
Me: “I didn’t say she ordered him not to follow or that it was illegal. I am saying that everything that happened after that point is a direct result of his actions. His behavior since the trial does nothing to improve his credibility.”
Squeeky: “Oh the heck with the “Southern Strategy” canard. More word salads. I assure you that Lakeesha of the Hood is not thinking about Lee Atwater when she is laid up in the sack doing some Willie Horton wannabe in the sack. Or the next thug baby daddy, or the next. Nope, she is thinking about “benefits.”
And the “mass incarceration” canard is another non-starter. My goodness, but the durn Mexicans can swim the Rio Grande and find work. They roof houses, or work in slaughterhouses, or restaurants. And most of them don’t even speak English. And the poor old black men who just can’t find nothing to do except sell drugs and rob stuff? Hogwash. they are criminals, and don’t give a hoot about the very black people they sell the drugs to. They can be in prison, or they can be in the neighborhood.
And Trayvon? Oh my, but silly-a$$ white people were putting on hoodies and trying to end the right of self-defense after Poor Old Trayvon. What a joke. The little thug was busting George’s head into the sidewalk, and got shot in the process. That was hardly just “walking home from the 7–11.” Good riddance to bad rubbish, IMHO.
But by all means, ignore what blacks do to themselves, and sit around whining about slavery and Rebel flags. Geeesh, but most parts of the country haven’t had slavery for over 200 years, and many places, never, and blacks are still blaming whitey for their woes.”
Me: That’s as comprehensive a collection of misconceptions as I’ve seen in one place in the history of ever. So much that I don’t want to try to address everything individually. I would say that your premise that because slavery ended over 200 years ago that it wasn’t replaced by other institutions that were highly effective in suppressing a people. Slavery didn’t end and then everything was okay. It was replaced by Jim Crow. Those that couldn’t document employment were interned and sentenced to labor camps in some areas and were literally still slaves. There was some immediate progress. Former slaves in some areas got to vote and during Reconstruction actually sent members to Congress. In 1876–7, after a disputed Presidential election, Democrats (they were the bad guys then) ceded the Presidency as part of a deal to have Federal Troops removed from the South. Reconstruction ended and Jim Crow began.
I won’t explain to you what Jim Crow was, you might consider it more word salad. When The Civil Rights Act and Voter Rights Act were passed in the 1960’s. Many angry Democrats (Dixiecrats) fled the party and became Republicans. Lyndon Johnson famously said that Democrats had, “lost the South for a generation.” He may have underestimated. Then came the Southern Strategy you so easily dismiss as if it weren’t a real thing. The widow Atwater was front and center at the Republican Convention, happy to see the resurgence of her late husband’s beliefs. The Republican Party has a coordinated and comprehensive pattern of Voter Suppression which goes far beyond Voter ID which I could agree with it there was no cost which would be an Unconstitutional Poll Tax. I know, more word salad.
I suspect you have no true concept of what systemic things are substantially responsible for the difference in economic achievement between blacks and whites in America. Even you might agree whites had a bit of a head start. You might research “Black Wall Street” where what was the most prosperous black neighborhood in the nation was shot up by whites and police and bombed from the air by the National Guard outside Tulsa, OK. You might research The Ocoee Massacre where all the residents of the town were either killed, burned out or allowed to leave after two black men tried to vote outside Orlando, FL. The city of Ocoee stayed all-white for over 40 years. This is in the same county as Orlando yet nothing is ever taught about this, even locally.
I submit we should have a White History Month where the parts of American History too inconvenient to talk about and never seen on Fox News or read on Breitbart can be taught. I submit you live in a bubble which you demonstrated quite eloquently.
Mespo: “At some point, you might want to stop blaming people who weren’t even born for other people’s troubles. You might even consider that some problems in the black community are its modern cultural acceptance of illegitimacy caused by the welfare state and a persistent refusal to cooperate with police in fighting crime. And then you might want to adopt the very American belief in self-reliance. Until then, you’ll be complaining to an ever shrinking audience. Every group has troubles; some learn to deal with them and others don’t. No one owes anybody anything in a capitalist democracy except what the law requires.”
Me: “If you read through the various posts responding to me. It is Black people who have been blamed for all manner of things. All the while dismissing any rationale which suggests a rigged system or unequal playing field. I believe heavily in self-reliance. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real barriers, purposely erected to slow our progress.”
Paul: “enigmainblackcom — the only thing standing in the way of blacks today is blacks themselves. They are their own worst enemies. BLM has done more damage to the race than anything since Birth of a Nation.”
Me: “What is it you think Black Lives Matter stands for?”
Paul: “enignainblackcom — it is not what BLM originally stood for, it is what it stands for now.”
Me: “That wasn’t an answer to my question. I’ll try again. What do you think Black Lives Matter stands for now? I submit the original purpose hasn’t changed. Just the onslaught of negative publicity allowing people to ignore their message.”
Mespo: “There are short cuts purposely set up to speed your progress as well like college preferences, hiring preferences, affirmative action and the like which mitigate the historical discrimination. That never gets talked about.”
Steve (an ally): “There are short cuts purposely set up to speed your progress as well like inheritance laws, life insurance to avoid probate, legacy preference, and the like which suggest a rigged system or unequal playing field and which mitigate what you see as reverse discrimination. That never gets talked about.”
Me: “What I like about having responded to this one post about the right of one Georgia police sergeant to fly the Confederate Flag in her yard is being called on to address a wide range of issues. I don’t know that I accept the term “short cuts” when what actually happened was providing limited access to education/jobs/business opportunities that were historically denied. I’ll start with the colleges. At the end of slavery, a combination of efforts by the Freedmen’s Bureau and the establishment of Land Grant Colleges gave some black people the opportunity to attend college. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU’s) were initially almost the only school’s black people and they did a relatively good job of educating initially teachers. Later doctors and dentists with the majority matriculating from two Medical schools, Meharry in Nashville and Howard in Washington, DC. Land grant colleges were initially intended to educate Americans in science and agriculture. The first beneficiaries were schools like Kansas State, Texas A&M, Rutgers and Cornell. Their funding was based on the Morrill Act of 1863 (slavery was still in force). A second Morrill act was passed circa 1890 which created a number of state-owned schools for the education of black people. Some private schools like Fisk University founded in 1866 already existed. To be clear, the establishment of many black schools were a way to have an alternative to ending segregation and were the result not of a new special program but one that had existed for 27 years and benefitting white people only with tax dollars that black Americans contributed to.. When desegregation finally came to public Universities (being implemented with “all deliberate speed”) the pace was so slow and admissions so few that Affirmative Action programs for colleges and universities were established to get those schools to do what they were not inclined to do on their own. In general, the percentage of blacks admitted were less than that of the population so instead of being a “short cut”.It set admission levels artificially low, a percentage most schools were not inclined to exceed. A case can be made that some black students were admitted that were unprepared for a college curriculum. I submit it had little to do with intelligence but was a reflection of the inferior resources of the segregated schools they came from including books, facilities and more. “Separate but equal” was a slogan but never a reality.”
(I would have continued but I reached the maximum number of characters for a reply.)
The conversation is ongoing. I did leave out some posts solely for length, certainly not because of any persuasive arguments I was afraid to print. The point is that some white people are living in a separate reality in which Black people have so many advantages, gained at the expense of white people and their upset about a changing demographic under which their reign will end. I avoided calling any of them racist because historically they would shut down, call me the racist for having the nerve to call them out. I’d like to think a couple of them at least considered some of the uncomfortable facts I brought up but I suspect like one person, they consider it all “word salad.”
P.S. The on-line, mostly anonymous names have not been changed to protect the innocent. It’s scary that most of them are, lawyers, judges, legal secretaries, or have some connection with the legal system. Of course, they don’t represent all white people. Then again 63, 000,000 voted for Trump?
America is a great country and therefore needed a great history, the one that existed just wouldn’t do. Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America, it was quite inhabited when he landed. Not only had the Indians been there long enough to have been considered Native Americans. Africans had visited American shores multiple times as indicated by Christopher Columbus and others.
The biggest stain on the legacy of America is its original sin… slavery. Of the early Presidents of the United States, twelve owned slaves during their lifetime, eight while they served as President. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that “all men were created equal” while having owned over 600 slaves over his lifetime and taking one for his long-term mistress at the age of 14. Even if you consider that a girl of that era might be considered a woman and not a child, someone you own cannot give consent. The potential penalty for saying no is too high; being sold away or even death. There is only one word to describe a master taking a slave for a sexual relationship which is rape.
Most of the revered “Founding Fathers” were slaveowners. John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, and a few others were not. Fourteen of the twenty-one white men generally considered as the Founding Fathers owned slaves including; Ben Franklin, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Washington. Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” while he simultaneously deprived slaves of theirs. He couldn’t even justify his own position which he admitted in a letter to John Alsop of the Society of Friends (Quakers). He shrugged off his ownership of slaves as a matter of convenience.
“Would any one believe that I am master of slaves by my own purchase? I am drawn along by the general inconvenience of living without them. I will not — I cannot justify it, however culpable my conduct.”
Given the fact that almost all of our early leaders held slaves captive, also bought and sold them. The men who the country needed to build up as heroes, had their flaws minimized or erased. The whole institution of slavery and the way it was practiced in America was literally “whitewashed,” made to seem not as bad as it was. Along with diminishing the heinous nature of slavery, the myth of the good slave owner was created and deemed applicable to almost all who owned them. That myth was born of necessity as the truth would not do.
One of the criteria that made one a good slave owner was whether they freed their slaves after death. Jefferson freed only two, one of whom paid him $200. George Washington freed his slaves after death (the only President that did) although his death did not free Martha’s slaves. She freed hers within a year as each slave had a great incentive to see her dead which would result in their freedom. George was therefore considered a good master. He happened to have notoriously bad teeth. His dentures were not made of wood as most stories say but of human teeth taken from his slaves we’re to believe he loved so much. Surely an important man like himself had greater need of those teeth than his slaves?
Thomas Jefferson may have done more to promote cruel practices related to slavery than any other American. He negotiated and fought for inclusion in the Constitution that the import of slaves from Africa wouldn’t end for at least twenty years, (Article One: Section Nine). People have spun this as an attempt to begin the process of ending slavery. In truth, it was a protectionist measure to increase the value of domestic slaves in areas with an abundance like his native Virginia and Maryland to the detriment of states like South Carolina who imported the bulk of their slaves. Jefferson’s policies promoted the forced breeding of slaves with the systemic rape of females whose children were ultimately sold to stock Southern plantations. The actual end of slavery didn’t take place for fifty years after the act by President Jefferson ended the International Slave Trade. That act enriched him far more relatively than any current violations of the Emoluments Clause.
The best case for a good slaveowner among the founders would be John Jay. Jay’s father, Peter, was one of the largest slaveowners in New York. As early as 1777, John Jay proposed the abolition of slavery there. He helped establish the New York African Free School which he supported financially during his lifetime. When Governor of New York, he signed a bill that established that children of slaves would be born free in 1799. Yet he profited from the slaves he owned, and as well as he may or may not have treated them, they lacked freedom. His slaves could earn their freedom through good works and of course, providing a sufficient return on their investment. He might not have been the worst slaveowner, may have been one of the best. But does that make him good?
“I purchase slaves and manumit them at proper ages and when their faithful services have afforded a reasonable retribution.”
The truth is that the curve on which slave ownership is measured goes only from bad to worse. No slave, under the best of circumstances was exempt from the possibility of being sold away, separated from their families, at the whim of their master. They were subject to having their mates selected for them to breed the best slaves for sale or forced to submit to their master’s desires. They could legally be beaten, or killed, and had to live each day of their life carrying that weight. America typically only scratches the surface of the history of it becoming a great nation. It was slavery that made much of that possible yet slavery is a painful sore whose scab dare not be ripped off. There never was such a thing as a good slave owner, only some not as bad as the rest.
In his most recent attempt to get Republicans to defend him against a looming Impeachment. Donald Trump reminds them that they are witnessing, “a lynching.” Let’s be clear. If you don’t end up dead at the end of the day, you haven’t been lynched.
“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN” Donald Trump
Lindsey Graham, who used to be John McCain’s friend and tried to claim some of his integrity by osmosis. Backed the President up in a statement by saying that what is going on is a “political lynching.” Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court called the investigation into him a “high-tech lynching.” Democrats were too afraid to face the possibility of being called racist so they opted instead to be sexist and misogynistic.
While some people debate whether anything other hanging counts as a lynching (most now agree that shooting and other causes of death count). It’s quite clear that if nobody is dead, nobody got lynched.
If it wasn’t so sick it would be amusing to see the biggest bully on the planet, throwing a pity party trying to rev up support. People who have been lynched have mourners. Family members that have experienced tremendous loss and buried their loved ones, assuming the body was left to be found or in the case of mass lynchings, distinguishable from other bodies. I could point you to the Ocoee Massacre where two men tried to vote and white people shot or burned out the whole black population of the town. Ocoee (a stone’s throw from Orlando) had no black residents for 40 years afterward). That was a lynching.
Donald Trump has disparaged the entire continent of Africa calling them “shithole countries.” He literally left Puerto Ricans to die after a hurricane by making George Bush’s effort after Katrina look Herculean. Trump visited, laughing and threw paper towels. He tried to ban Muslims, put Hispanic children in cages, and now wants us to feel sorry for him because his crimes and abuse of power and being investigated.
His next move after his claim of being lynched was likely the golf course, making him the first lynched person to demand a mulligan. There and everywhere else he goes, he’ll cheat and lie and beg for protection from people he doesn’t give a damn about. Eventually, he’ll get on Twitter and lash out at others. On a good day, he might destroy a political career or cause someone else to suffer. That same Twitter is now mocking him for evoking the imagery of lynching, applying the term to one of the most privileged people on the planet. Trump should be made to see pictures of people who’ve actually been lynched but he’s likely too sensitive to endure it. There’s no situation ever comparable to lynching. Impeachment is far behind in comparison and Trump is fully deserving.
What is most likely to happen now is that an army of surrogates will support Trump’s use of the word lynching as Sen. Graham has already done. The opinion shows on Fox News will do the same, trying to make it acceptable to their viewers as well. Kamala Harris said what it would do well for them all to remember:
“Lynching is a reprehensible stain on this nation’s history, as is this President. We’ll never erase the pain and trauma of lynching, and to invoke that torture to whitewash your own corruption is disgraceful.” Kamala Harris
Hakeem Jeffries added:
“Thousands of innocent African-Americans were murdered during the lynching epidemic.
They were viciously slaughtered because of the color of their skin.
The House impeachment inquiry is mandated by the Constitution.
At the end of the Civil War, there were between 3–4 million slaves in America. They were freed in stages. The Emancipation Proclamation, announced January 1, 1863, in the middle of the war; freed only those slaves in states that seceded from the Union. That action immediately freed between 25,000 to 75,000 slaves in territory already held by the Union. Slaves in Confederate-held territory were still slaves, they had to escape to Union-held territory to gain their freedom.
For all practical purposes, the war ended April 9. 1865 when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. States had to sign individual surrender documents with the last of those signed May 26, 1965. About 250,000 slaves in Texas had technically been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation but until the end of the war, there was no one to enforce it so they stayed slaves except for those who escaped. They gained their actual freedom on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers notified them the war was over. The delay was part of an agreement to allow the slaves to harvest the cotton crops before telling them they were free. Juneteenth is now officially recognized as a holiday or special observance in 46 of 50 states.
The 13th Amendment was the document that officially freed slaves nationwide. It was passed by the House of Representatives on January 31, 1865, and President Abraham Lincoln signed a joint resolution for ratification. On April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated and Vice-President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee became President. Johnson had remained loyal to the Union although he held staunchly segregationist views. He replaced Lincoln’s first Vice-President on the ticket for Lincoln’s unexpectedly shortened second term as a concession to those with Southern sympathies. Ratification of the 13th Amendment required a certain number of states to individually agree which occurred December 6, 1865. As part of each Southern state’s agreement to be readmitted to the Union. They had to agree to the terms of the 13th Amendment and it was this on a state by state basis that actually freed most of the slaves in territory not held by the Union. So what happens to 3–4 million people without property or jobs?
You rarely hear about the hundreds of thousands of slaves that starved to death. In historian Jim Downs’s book, “Sick From Freedom,” he concludes that a quarter-million slaves either slaved or suffered serious illness from lack of food.
Many of the slaves stayed on their existing plantations and agreed to work for wages. The sharecroppers were offered unfair agreements under which most actually owed their former masters at the end of the year and were forced by indebtedness to remain, free in name only. Others were sent to “contraband camps” near Union bases. The nation mostly looked the other way as former slaves faced starvation and disease. Many expected slaves to simply die out including one white religious leader whose name has been lost in time.
“Like his brother the Indian of the forest, he must melt away and disappear forever from the midst of us.”
In many areas of the South, the newly freed slaves outnumbered white people. Having received the right to vote, run for office, own property, and more. The Reconstruction Period saw great advances for some freed slaves while others were faring far worse. They were only able to make those gains because of the continued presence of federal troops. One of the reactions was the formation of terrorist organizations including the Ku Klux Klan who sought to keep blacks from voting and to address any form of insult they felt the need for action. Tuskeegee Institute estimates the Klan killed over 1,500 people (including 300 white) between 1865–1867. The other reaction was individual states imposing “Black Codes” with the encouragement of President Andrew Johnson who saw this an issue of “states’ rights” and not the business of the federal government.
The Black Codes were simply an effort to reimplement slavery as best they could under the law. Mississippi and South Carolina issued the first Black Codes. In Mississippi, former slaves were required to show proof of employment each January. If they left their employment before the end of the year. They would forfeit their wages and were subject to arrest. In South Carolina, if blacks worked in any other occupation besides farmer or servant, they were subject to an annual tax. Failure to pay would lead to forced servitude on a plantation. Blacks were unable to own guns and knives.
Preventing blacks from voting was one of the major themes of the Black Codes. Laws were passed requiring ownership of property. Poll taxes and unpassable literacy tests were en vogue. Other measures including scaring voters away or just killing them,
The 13th Amendment eliminated slavery except for those convicted of crimes. The Black Codes encouraged America’s first efforts at mass incarceration with the result being hundreds of thousands of blacks being forced into slavery under the guise of law and order. Vagrancy violations were punished by forced work, orphans were sent to plantations against their will. Parents had to demonstrate their ability to support their children or they could be removed, ultimately sent to a plantation. Legalized slavery by another name.
Republicans reasserted some control and passed a Civil Rights Act (over Johnson’s veto) and the14th and 15th Amendments which granted some measure of equality. Any rights gained were only sustained by the continued existence of federal troops which were hated by the Southerners hindered by their presence. After a contested Presidential Election in 1876, Southerners agreed to let Republicans win the election (Rutherford B. Hayes) that was almost certainly won by Democrats, in return for the removal of those federal troops. To complete their end of the bargain. Hayes gave us, “Posse Comitatus” which ensured those federal troops could never return. That gave way to a wave of terror, caused the end of Reconstruction, and the introduction of Jim Crow laws which replaced the Black Codes.
One could make the case that ending slavery was conducted like the end of segregated schools, “with all deliberate speed.” Slavery was replaced by the Black Codes which was replaced by Jim Crow. Many of those laws have been replicated in more subtle forms including the ability to suppress votes of “urban” voters whether by redistricting or outright suppression. Modern-day mass incarceration and the lack of will to restore voting rights is another means to the same end. Knowing America’s history is one way to recognize patterns and fight the reimplementation.
“That which is brought forth follows the belly (womb)”
This was the legal doctrine that made any child of an American female slave a slave as well. It meant any white fathers had no financial responsibility for their progeny. They were free to rape their slaves at will as there were no laws against that either. With no concern for any children that might come from the forced union. In fact, there was a market for mulatto and octaroon children who would be purchased to work as domestics. Some owners (Thomas Jefferson) used their half-white slaves as their concubines, finding them more attractive the closer they were to white. Sally Hemings was Jefferson’s wife’s half-sister, the product of her father raping a slave. Then again the master might sell their offspring to keep the peace with their wives who might be annoyed at little slave children running around who favor their husbands.
English common law held that a child’s legal status followed the father. Men could be forced to provide at least nominal support for even their illegitimate children. English courts preferred for the fathers to take responsibility, sometimes providing apprenticeships, so the community didn’t have to care for the child. Those laws no longer applied across the ocean. The colonies went rogue and adopted new laws in 1662, freeing them of any responsibility for the tan slave children they were creating. It also kept the number of free black children low as any child born to a female slave was also a slave.
Not talked about in proper society were the children of free white women and black slaves. White women who weren’t sure what color the child might be could get a legal abortion those days. “Cottonwood” was a remedy known to slaves who sometimes refused to have children after being raped or as often as the masters would like. Some women would be forced to have over a dozen children if they survived as death during childbirth was relatively common. The rare slave would be offered their freedom if they produced enough children. Sometimes the dark child of a white woman was abandoned or given away. Usually just sold off although technically they were legally free.
There was a growing population of free blacks in America. By the year 1810, over 10% of blacks in the upper Northern states were free. In Virginia at the same time, just over 7% of blacks were free; mostly through manumission but a few being born to white women. Then cotton increased the need throughout the south for labor and suddenly slaves weren’t being freed so much but sold. The price of domestic slaves had gone up because America had made importation of slaves illegal. That move, spearheaded by our old friend Jefferson but envisioned in the Constitution (Article One: Section Nine) was about protectionism and making Virginia slaveholders who had excess slaves rich but harming South Carolina slave owners who had been importing cheaper slaves from Africa.
Partus Sequitur Ventrem is a Latin term but its application was uniquely American. The Founders codified into law a means to further dehumanize those who they enslaved, walking away from all responsibility. Another lesson in American history.
I’m working on a novel, it’s at least historical fiction although it straddles a couple of other genres including sci/fi fantasy. It covers a period of time between the early 1800s and the present so it required a lot of research. It also takes place in four continents of which I’ve only been to two of them so, “a lot of research” is a bit of an understatement. My plan is to be traditionally published which means getting representation by a literary agent, finding a publisher, editing, editing, and more editing. The bottom line is the novel might not see the light of day for two years or more if ever. I’ve found I can’t keep the history I’ve uncovered inside me that long. It’s like the song lyric, “I’ve got a praise and I’ve gotta let it out!”
Most of what is forcing its way to the surface is American history although from time to time I might let a little European, African, or Central American history slip out. I thought I had a good grasp on American history but I’ve found almost everything I thought I knew was wrong, especially if it had to do with slavery. I’ve taken to asking the question, “How did slavery impact that situation?” The answer almost always turns out to be that slavery had a great impact. An example would be the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The act provides that US Troops cannot be deployed to enforce domestic policies on American soil. My presumption was that it was to prevent a military coup as happens in other nations. I watched an episode of “West Wing” titled Posse Comitatus in which the fictional President Jed Bartlet had to work around the act to assassinate a despot who had visited the United States. No mention of slavery whatsoever. One day I asked myself what did Posse Comitatus have to do with slavery? The answer was it was implemented to ensure that Federal troops never return to the South where they had protected the freed slaves after the Civil War. Another low spot in history, the Compromise of 1877 allowed for the removal of those troops which ended Reconstruction and ushered in Jim Crow.
American history is like that, what’s taught puts the best spin on things so we can still look to the Founding Fathers as heroes and not see them also as flawed men. George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth buy had dentures made of teeth pulled from slaves among other materials. Thomas Jefferson gave each slave family one blanket every three years (except when he was President when the overseer of Monticello gave them none). The Constitution which established that the International Slave Trade could be ended after twenty years was not setting the stage for ending slavery. It was an allowance that South Carolina could keep importing African slaves before Virginia and Maryland slaveowners could implement protectionist measures to keep the value up of domestic slaves, often forced breeding involving marriages approved of by the masters or flat out rape.
I keep plugging away on my novel. But forgive me if from time to time a little history slips out because I can’t keep it contained.
As mug shots go yours wasn’t bad. I never did understand people that smiled or laughed when being booked. I suspect you might have been suffering disbelief at the fact that during a dispute with your husband of one year. You called 911 but it was you that got arrested. It may be sinking in that the fact your husband is white and you are black just might be a factor in why the officers found him to be more credible.
I thought your demeanor during the arrest was admirable. You were cooperative, polite, you didn’t cry which would have made it an awkward situation for everybody. I sincerely hope you and your husband get past this though the publicity won’t help. I wrote about you in January 2018 after you were fired by Fox News. I shamefully say I wasn’t very forgiving of you for all the times you had negative things to say about black people (Oprah, President Obama, etc.) and wholeheartedly took the Fox party line. I acknowledged I was being petty but I’m sincerely saddened you now find yourself in this situation.
Regarding your arrest, it must have been confusing after you called 911 and got taken to jail. The officers took one look at the scratches on your husband’s arms and determined you must have been the aggressor. It’s completely reasonable that he could have gotten scratched while you were acting in self-defense, but the police didn’t see it that way. They took the word of your white husband over you.
According to the 911 call, he put you in a chokehold, took pictures of scratches she said she didn’t cause. You said he instructed the children how to lie when the police arrived. They were in the background along with the husband at various points beating you.
It must be hard after all those years as a Fox commentator, always taking the side of the police, then one day finding the cuffs being placed on you. Even as your hands were behind your back and they were snapping them on you asked, “Am I being arrested?” Yes, Stacey, you were.
I wasn’t there and don’t know what happened. I wish you the best in all future endeavors. I do wonder what you thought about on your ride in the back of the patrol car? When you were having your mug shot taken? Placed in a cell? You likely thought you didn’t deserve to be arrested. You were innocent. Why didn’t they believe me?
You were quite fortunate in that black men and women have been shot under similar circumstances. Arrest notwithstanding, you seemed to have been treated with respect and will live to see another day. You claimed you couldn’t afford a lawyer and asked for a public defender. Your husband eventually bailed you out after two days in jail.
This is a side of life you haven’t been exposed to before and it had to make you at least wonder if race played a role in the outcome? This education may have been painful, what lessons are learned will be up to you. Good luck.