America Has Never Been Equal
The Race of Life is not equal
The video above illustrates what this blog is about. America was not equal when she was born, and it may be the cause of her death. It's simple. America was born from racism and exploitation. She suffers from a hangover from her past. The only thing that can change her is a complete makeover.
We built our infrastructure on a foundation of race. The first African slaves brought to these shores came in 1619. The Dutch captured them from a Spanish vessel and sold them in New England. Those slaves were not chattel property. They served as servants or indentured slaves for seven years.
It was not until the 1700s when racial attitudes changed and slavery became about race. Francois Bernier came up with his classification systems for humans. The Colonists created certain laws that made it difficult to be a black person:
- A Virginia court sentenced John Punch to slavery.
- Elizabeth Key Grinstead won her freedom in 1656. Her English father baptized her in The Church of England.
- In 1662 The Virginia House of Burgess changed that. They passed a law with the doctrine of partus. It said that any child born in the colony would follow the status of its mother.
- In 1667, they changed the law about baptism.
- In 1668, they said a master could beat his slave.
- In 1669, they said it was NOT against the law for a master to kill his slave.
In the early 1800s, the inferiority of blacks was a universal belief. Carl Linnaeus came up with stereotypical descriptions of races that exist today.
- Americanus (Native Americans):
- and erect;
- hair black…
- wide nostrils…
- obstinate, merry, free…
- regulated by customs.
- hair black,
- dark eyes…
- severe, haughty, avaricious…
- ruled by opinions.
- black, phlegmatic…
- hair black, frizzled…
- nose flat;
- lips tumid;
- women without shame,
- they lactate profusely;
- crafty, indolent, negligent…
- governed by caprice.”
- eyes blue, gentle…
- governed by laws.”
This entrenched slavery and racism in America. After the Civil War, blacks prospered. Congress passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the constitution. They also passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Blacks voted. Many bought the property of their former slave owners. They used public facilities. Many owned businesses and some built towns that exist today.
It did not take long for whites opponents of progress to destroy those gains. Systemic racism and fear created by laws and violence stopped much of that progress. Laws created the system of Jim Crow in South. Between Hate groups like the KKK made sure that racial lines stayed in place. From 1882-1968 whites lynched 3,446 blacks. That was 73% of people lynched. Whites lynched 1,297 white people, most for helping blacks.
Before 1965 race riots were whites running through black neighborhoods destroying stuff. The cause could have been anything. Most started from an accusation of a black man accosting a white woman. From 1908 to 1919 the riots escalated. Historians call 1919 the Red Summer because of the number of riots and deaths.
This led to the integration of the military. After WWII, baseball and other institutions followed. This was the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. That was just over 50 years ago.
So, it vexes me when I hear people say, "Blacks have been here as long as everyone else. Why have they not advanced."
That is like a school principal taking a student in the 1st grade and keeping them there for 10 years. At the beginning of the junior year, that child becomes a junior and has to do the work of other juniors. It is insane. That is the attitude of many racist in America though. It is another layer of racism. It is also why we cannot have a conversation about race.
Systemic racism kept blacks from living the American Dream for over almost 500 years. Now, racism expects blacks to be on equal footing with whites and immigrants who had a huge head start. The only way to change this is for the country to change. We need to acknowledge our past and deal with the consequences it has caused in our present.
America has never been equal. It suffers from a slavery hangover. It is time to acknowledge this and talk about it.
© 2018 Bruce Bean