I hear a lot of people talking about equity, equality, anti-racism, being color blind, etc. This has been a constant conversation in this country for as long as I can remember. When I have spoken to my Dad, he says these conversations are not new.
Even though we have been having these conversations for an exceptionally long time, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arberys’ death seemed to create a renewed sense of urgency for these ideals.
Every time I feel myself pulled into these conversations I ask the same question again and again. Why we can’t seem to gain the equity that we so rightly deserve?
Why Are We Still Viewed With The Same Lens That We Were Hundreds Of Years Ago?
My answer for this is very straightforward. More than half of this country is still angry that they lost their slaves. And why do I say more than half this country? The last 4 years proved that.
Why do I think this? Let's go over a quick timeline.
1619 - First Set Of Slaves Brought To Jamestown Colony (this is debated because, before this, slaves were brought here by explorers for personal use.)
March 4th, 1861 - First Confederate Flag Created
April 12th 1861 - Civil War Starts
May 9th 1865 - Civil War Ends
November 6th, 1865 - The Last Confederate Surrender
September 22, 1862 - Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation
January 1, 1863 - Lincoln made it official (but black people were still not free)
June 19th, 1865 - Slaves were finally freed in Texas
1865 - The first set of "Black Codes" were enacted in the South and eventually turned into "Jim Crow" Laws
December 18, 1865 - 13th Amendment (actually "freed" the slaves)
June 8th, 1866 - 14th Amendment (granted citizenship)
February 3rd, 1870 - 15th Amendment (guaranteed the right to vote)
1870 - Rise of the KKK
1877 - The last federal troops left the South
1896 - Plessy vs. Ferguson (separate but equal was established)
February 12th, 1909 - The first chapter of the NAACP was started
(Jim Crow Still Exists )
1919 - Red Summer
1920's - The great migration from the South to the North
(Jim Crow Still Exists)
June 25th, 1941 - National defense jobs were opened to Black people (they threatened to march, so Roosevelt gave in)
1948 - President Truman integrated the military
1950 - My dad was born :)
(JIM CROW STILL FUCKING EXISTS!!!!!!!!!)
1954 - Brown vs. Board of Education
December 1st, 1955 - Rosa Parks sparked the civil rights movement
November 14th, 1956 - Supreme Court Rules Segregation was illegal
September 9th, 1957 - Eisenhower signed the FIRST civil rights act
February 1st, 1961 - Woolworth's lunch counter protest
May 4th, 1961 - Freedom Riders
Mother's day, 1961 - Freedom Riders Bus was bombed in Anniston, Alabama
(MOTHAFUCKIN JIM CROW & THE KKK STILL EXISTS!!!!!)
August 28th, 1963 - The March on Washington
1964 - Summer of Freedom
1964 - Civil Rights Act signed by Lyndon B. Johns (officially ending "Jim Crow")
1965 - Voting Rights Act
February 21st 1965 - Malcolm X assassinated
March 7th 1965 - Peaceful protesters on the Edmond Pettus bridge were brutally beaten by the police (Bloody Sunday)
1966 - Stokely Carmichael coined the phrase "Black Power" in a speech
June 12th, 1967 - Loving vs. Virginia (ended all race-based marriage restrictions in the US)
April 4th, 1968 - Martin Luther King was assassinated
April 11th, 1968 - Fair Housing Act
October 22nd, 1973 - I was born (6 years after Loving vs. Virginia)
March 22nd, 1988 - Congress overrode Reagan's veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act
November 22nd, 1991 - Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991
April 29th, 1992 - Jury acquits the officers that beat Rodney King.
January 2008 - Senator Edward Kennedy introduces the Civil Rights Act of 2008
2013 - Black Lives Matter was founded
2013 to 2019 – Black men are killed by the police at 3 times the rate of white men
January 20th, 2016 - Donald Trump is elected to the office of the President of the United States, based upon a campaign of blatant racism
February 23rd, 2020 – Ahmaud Arbery is out jogging and is hunted by three white men, and shot dead
March 13th, 2020 – Breonna Taylor is shot dead in her sleep but Officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department, who are serving a no-knock warrant (the suspect had been apprehended hours earlier)
May 25th, 2020 – Officer Chauvin kneels on George Floyds neck for 9 minutes until George dies
Summer of 2020 – BLM protests are held on a global scale, sparked by the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd
January 6th, 2020 - The Capital Hill insurrection happens, where once again this country's racism is on display in the lack of police presence, insurrectionists behavior and Donald Trump's dog whistle to the crowd
2020 - (SURPRISE – WHITE SUPREMACIST HATE GROUPS STILL EXISTS!!!!!!)
1619 to 2021 - WE ARE STILL FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY!!!!!!
Was that a quick timeline? No it wasn't, and you know why it wasn't, because white America has been doing everything in its power to remind us that the end of slavery was not by choice; it was by force. Therefore if their "property" was going to be taken by force, they would make sure that they did everything in their power to remind us that we will NEVER be free.
So What Did This Country Do Once The Slaves Were “Freed”?
When the slaves were freed, it became very apparent to those who had lost their "property", that they were not going to be able to go back to the days of slavery. This country was at a loss, it had no idea what to do with the 3.5 FUCKING MILLION SLAVES that had been set free.
Remember, slavery was a big business - 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the America's, only 10.7 million survived the middle passage and of those 10.7 million, 388,000 made it to the US. Now think about that for a second; we went from 388,000 Africans being held in captivity in this country to 3.5 million free men and women by the time slavery ended.
They no longer had a nearly no cost, abundant workforce. But what they did have, was 3.5 million people that they didn't want to coexist with. 3.5 million people that they considered less than themselves in every way.
388,000 is manageable for 15 states that are trying to suppress a whole population. But 3.5 million is a terrifying number to try and subjugate. And that's precisely what they aimed to do. Since they could no longer own us on paper, they would own us through legislation and unbridled hate.
So, they scrambled to find a way to keep them under "control"...............
How They Took Their Hate From 15 States To A National Obsession
Welcome the KKK and the hate groups that sprang from their putrid loins.
The rise of the KKK came about not to "protect" the innocent white citizens from the ferocious and terrifying Black man. Instead, it was seen as a possible solution for an issue that they were terrified could overtake their way of life.
Any progress that Black Americans made in this country was slowed down due to white fear. They have been and are still afraid of the rise of the Black man. Part of that fear, I'm sure, comes from fear of retribution. Wouldn't you be afraid of a group of people that had been treated like chattel since the 1600s? Terrified that these people will finally right he wrongs in the same manner that they were held in slavery; through murder, rape, torture, experimentation, death, and dismemberment.
But the problem was the majority of Black people weren’t looking for retribution, they were simply looking for a better way of life for themselves and their families. They believed it when they were told they would receive 40 Acres and a Mule. They believed that they would finally be seen as equal when the Civil Rights Act was signed. And in that slowly waning belief, their hope never died.
Just as much as Black people hoped for equality, This country and a large majority of white America was trying to do their best to kill that hope through fear, intimidation, rape, annihilations of whole community’s and of course death.
For many people, the first time they saw the KKK was in a film called the Birth of a Nation. It portrayed the KKK in a heroic light, the last bastion of hope against the evils of the freed Black man.
This film helped the country re-embrace the KKK, which had faded away after the Civil War. This, of course, helped to renew the terror in the Black community's hearts. They continued to strike fear across the South until the 1930's when they once again faded into the background.
But of course, they would not stay dormant for long. Once it became clear that the civil rights movement was here to stay, they came out of the woodwork like the cockroaches they were inciting fear and panic.
Somewhere along the line, Neo-Nazi/White Power groups emerged and put their stamp on this country. Again this country became accustomed to and comforted by the presence of hate groups. Of course, the government went ahead and labeled them “hate groups”. Yet you didn't see the government trying to annihilate these groups like they did Civil Rights leaders, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther organization.
At some point, we began to see that the Neo-Nazi had a new cousin; the white nationalist. This group brought a new look. One that was cleaner, crisper and more pleasing to the public. Their message was less hate and death and more preservation of their "way of life." It came across as working together but separately, between the races for the common good. "You stay on your side of the aisle, and I'll stay on mine." Many of these groups believe that the races should live separately, take care of their own, and the most important part - do not mix in any way.
“Things have shifted over the last couple of decades. People wanted to think that, post-civil rights era, issues of racism had been pushed to the margins,” Schram tells The Graduate Center.
“We wanted to highlight that white people were never really all that accepting of the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. I think a lot of this came to a head when [Barack] Obama was elected. It was a watershed moment that led to a change in the structure of politics in our society.”
HOW WHITE NATIONALISM MOVED FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER OF AMERICAN POLITICS
The rise of white nationalism is in direct relation to the fear of the Black man is not new. Over time this movement has changed how they look, how they operate, and how they convey their message, but the one thing that has not changed is the hate.
And Of Course The Government Had To Put Their Stamp On Racism
All of these actions by the government, local officials, police officers, and racist white Americans have been for one purpose and one purpose only. And that was to find a way to maintain white superiority in this country. But also to institute enough laws to hobble the Black community into:
1. being so dependent on the charity of the government that it proves we could never take care of ourselves
2. Set up a system of oppression that even the most liberal person could not argue with it because once again, it was "proven" that we could not take care of ourselves
3. Convince the Black community itself, that the only option would be to return to a time when their lives were dictated by white people.
If you need one more example, please think about this:
Black people have been in this country for over 400 years
But they have only been allowed to vote for 55 of those years
Vote, you know that shit that helps human beings put other human beings into office so that, person can enact laws to make the average citizen's life better. Not only make someone's life better but, it would put people in office that look like you and hopefully come from your ethnic community.
Sound reasonable right?
WE’VE ONLY BE ALLOWED TO DO THAT FOR 55 YEARS!!!!!!
And even now, we still contend with new forms of voter suppression aimed at the Black community.
So let me update my statement:
Black people have been in this country for over 400 years.
And 0 of those years have they had the ability to vote freely without impediments in most states!
Need more proof?
look at the ethnic diversity in the Senate, Congress, since their inception:
Total Number of Senators and Representatives since 1789 - 12,415
BLACK AMERICAN - Since 1870...............32
ASIAN AMERICAN - Since 1959...............9
LATINO AMERICAN SENATORS - Since 1859................12
NATIVE AMERICAN SENATORS - Since 1827...............4
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
BLACK AMERICAN - Since 1870..............153
ASIAN AMERICAN - Since 1957...............40
LATINO AMERICAN - Since 1831...........98
NATIVE AMERICAN - Since 1825............17
Total Number of Minority Senators and Representatives since 1789 - 365*
THAT IS 2.9 FUCKING %!!!!!!!
*because some of the above people were bi-racial, they were counted twice. so the count is roughly off by 5 – 10 people.
Honestly, I could do this all day, but I’ll wrap it up with the below:
We Were Never Truly Freed
When the slaves were “freed,” it was NOT out of the kindness of slave owners and the government's heart; it was through sheer force.
They didn’t wake up one morning and say, “enslaving human beings is wrong; let me fix it,” and then let us go.
No, they begrudgingly woke up after a bloody and divisive civil war. This was a war in which slave owners and the Southern government fought tooth and nail to keep us in bondage FOREVER, and they were forced to let us go.
When they went to bed that night and the nights that followed, they went to sleep wishing that we were still being forced to work their land, tend their children, clean their clothes, cook their meals, forcedly bear their children, and die under their direction and hand.
So they devised a plan to enslave us again and get free labor because, in their minds, “that’s what God intended.” Remember, this is the same white god that we have been spoon-fed since the first days of slavery. The same god that they told us said, “you didn’t have a soul. Therefore, you couldn’t go to heaven like them”.
This plan was to create laws so small in offense but so large that the slightest misstep would trap us like the wild animals they thought we were. Once we were caught, we could again provide “slave labor” through prisons.
They didn’t care about age. We could be 80 or 8 as long as we provided free labor to build “their” nation.
Whenever we got too happy, too comfortable, too prosperous, too “human,” they made a concerted effort to put us in our place. That place came in the form of riots, lynchings, burnings of whole towns, and once again, their favorite pastime, the raping of our women.
But we continued on, determined to carve a life for ourselves out of nothing, and we did it. Even under Jim Crow, we did it.
And once again, their fury over us not rolling over and dying turned into redlining, denying us homeownership, segregation of everything, violent and deadly voter suppression. Because lest you not forget, they never EVER wanted us to be free.
So many of us fled in terror, not a happy migration to the North. Where we were met with a different form of hate. But as different as it was, it was still hate, backed with an unending supply of racism.
We were pushed into the ghettos; again, we were met with redlining, denying us homeownership, segregation of everything, violent and deadly voter suppression. This came along with the typical rage when we gained a step in the world.
But we refused to be beaten, so we built our communities, created art, made music to move nations and generations. We got college educations in safe spaces. We took care of ourselves and our own. But even in that, we still believed in love and forgiveness, so we opened our hearts, pushing for change and inclusion.
Have we reached the promised land of equality? No, because we forget we were never expected to be free. And that kind of hate doesn’t die so quickly; it doesn’t slink away quietly in the night when it thinks it has been beaten. It lays awake listening to our joy, our prosperity even in the face of oppression, and it waits; it devises new ways to hold us down.
People behave as if what is going on is new. No, this is but a drop in the bucket of our history, but we will not let it continue.
This is our time, this is the time for a revolution, this is the time to let the world know that you can not, you will not beat us.
We will fight just as hard for our human right to equity as you have to keep us enslaved.
Your hate may have survived for over 400 hundred years but so did our ability to move mountains.
Our will is stronger than your hate.