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America's great racial divide--where is it heading?
America’s great racial divide—where is it heading?
More importantly, does America in general owe a continuing obligation to African Americans?
The more the conversation, the more deeply the resentment on both sides. The reality is it is a complex issue.
No one of good faith can’t be hugely upset over the shooting of the black teen in the back 16 times in Chicago last year by a police officer. The teen was running with a knife in his hand and was on PCB but still the outcome was terrible. It took a year to indict him and now the black community wants the head of the police commissioner plus the State’s Attorney because of the delay in releasing the video and the indictment. Added to the list is also the Mayor of Chicago whom they want out. Resentment abounds because the cop was still on the police force for a year until he was indicted. The newspapers fail to mention the contract with the police union prevents firing a police officer until he is indicted. Did they want to rush to judgment as in Ferguson before all the facts were in and a solid legal case could be developed? So they say the video recently released by the city should have been out long ago.
Today Newspapers and TV are not impartial nor for that matter were they in earlier times when they got the name “rags” and Hearst was actually inventing his own news just to get people to buy his papers.
Lest we forget when the community screamed off with the heads of everyone for the slow movement of justice in Ferguson. There for all the world to observe a black teen was shown in his cap and gown from school. They reported he was killed by a police officer who intentionally shot the innocent young teen in the back and killed him although it was also reported witnesses said he had his hands up to surrender. The President of the United States to show his anger, went on national television to practically indict the policeman and show his support for the black community. Riots followed. The president, being a lawyer and better understanding what would happen if you inflame the public before all the facts were in, disregarded all forms of wisdom by not advising people to wait for the full story or the law to prevail.
The policeman was fired and forever disgraced while a video was produced showing the short innocent young black teen to be actually 285 pounds and 6’4’’ shoving a minority store owner as he robbed him. Was he in reality a bully with lack of respect for others or the innocent young kid in the newspaper photo? The "proof" of the cops guilt was the friend of the young victim, who actually looked now like a line backer for the Chicago Bears. They were both in the store committing the robbery. Also many eye witnesses went on record under oath stating what never really happened. When the grand jury concluded, the actual facts came out: it showed no shot in the back and in fact no one saw Michel Brown with his hands up; they all lied! instead gun residue showed his hands were in the car wrestling with the cop’s gun. However the damage was already done and protests in the street by the black community resulted in violence and robbing of black stores as they were destroyed. What happened to the witnesses who all lied under oath to the grand jury? Nothing because the truth was no longer important. Black protest resulted in violence, damage to their own community as they put black merchants out of business.
To this day the black community uses Ferguson as an example not of what really happened by the police but as they perceive it to be, injustice at the hands of law enforcement.
Does the black community have a legitimate complaint and if so are they redressing it in the right way? Video showing the shooting of the black teen in Chicago running away from the police with a knife in his hand on the air a year after the incident has inflamed them. They decided to protest the late release of the video and close down some of the downtown streets of Chicago and the group ended up in Millennium Park and a few started to rip off the Christmas lights on the tree put up by the city to celebrate the upcoming holiday. On camera one protester said people should not be concerned with Christmas lights but with killing a black man. So vandalism is okay.
For black Friday, the largest shopping day in America, the militant head of the Chicago teachers Union sent out a robo call to all members to come downtown and block streets and stores in protest so the public would not shop. She was joined by church leaders who thought this was a good thing because after all hurting American businesses so they lose income and inconveniencing shoppers who want to celebrate Christmas is okay if your heart is pure. Shoppers have no right to buy things and merchants have no right to be in business that day because the protestors think, like the teen who was ripping the lights off the Christmas tree—you should think of black lives. What about the clerks in the stores working on commission who lost the income they might need to support their families? Well, that is unimportant as well according to them and the church leaders.
One black woman shopper tried to get into a store to use the bathroom and was prevented by the protesters on camera. So that must be okay as well. No bathroom breaks allowed.
Is that right? Should all America be responsible now and forever for slavery in America, the segregation that followed and the consequences?
If one in three black men in America will at some point in their life go to jail according to statistics, was it caused by every white person alive today? While they believe there will be no equality until all have better paying jobs, better houses and education they won’t succeed until they cut the cord on what sets young black people on the wrong path.
The majority of crime against blacks is committed by other blacks. As stated in a previous article I wrote, the lack of a father figure is obviously one of the primary root causes. For all the protests by the community, very little effort is spent discouraging young black men from getting girls pregnant, not marrying them, and then moving off to do the same with other girls. For their part, the girls see the welfare system as their future and therefore have multiple children, getting benefits from government and dooming themselves for the future. Who raises these children? yes, cops sometimes do bad things just as judges, lawyers and others. However they protesters are going after a small fraction of the problems instead of addressing the bigger issue.
Boys go into gangs for companionship, shoot each other, sell drugs to each other and rob their neighbors. For their part the Black community does not cooperate with the police when crime occurs and makes it more difficult to identify the perpetrators. If a black juvenile dies at the hands of gang members they hold a vigil but little happens. Where is he rage in the community for what they are fostering? No one wants to help the police because that is not the system. They blame the police for not doing enough. However when occasionally a bad cop does something wrong-- and yes, it will happen but hopefully not that often,. the entire law enforcement community is blamed.
It does not help when a young black man who does commit a crime is caught, his family members immediately insist it was not him because he was a good boy and the public believes it. A photo appears of him in the paper in cap and gown and the public is in a rage which helps sell more papers.
Blacks believe prejudice keeps them from getting ahead. It might be noted the majority of football players are black, so too basketball players and a high percentage of baseball players. In the music industry black superstars are huge and there are more black actors in movies and on television then ever. Many make millions of dollars per year but no one in the black community has suggested some of the billions of dollars earned yearly by those who actually "made it" could be used in part to create new jobs with new black companies in the black community so that they were giving back something to help their own people move up.
Is this a racial idea? Is this inflammatory? No, because historically when immigrants came to America whether they were Irish, Polish, Jewish, Chinese, or any other ethnic or national group, as they did better and their life improved, many gave back something to help the next generation as they came here. Instead of black athletes having three magnificent and expensive cars, perhaps they could do with one less and invest in new black startup businesses and encourage black teens to work and get a better education.
Nothing will ever change until black kids stop joining gangs. They won't do that until they have fathers who spend time with them and nurture them. That won't happen if girls know they can get money from government if their boyfriend will not support them. Is that inflammatory? Not really. It is the hidden truth.
Very few people have taken the time to examine how all the injustice originally came about and who is responsible for it today, if anyone. Facts will show in the colonial days before America was free, Negroes were brought to America and sold by traders of other nationalities. Unfair? Sure. Unreasonable? Sure. However someone other than the colonists was doing it. Meanwhile our young country was a divided group of essentially British colonies each doing their own thing.
Many in the southern colonies because of the soil went into tobacco which required field hands. They became the slaves who were imported. It might be noted as we jump ahead to other times in our history Chinese men brought to America were practically enslaved to build a national railroad going West and many died in the cruelty that followed. It might be further noted before child labor laws that many died doing harder work than most adults do today and for longer hours when most were even not in their teens.
One can only look to Appalachia to learn what happened there and how many died in the coal mines due to black lung disease. Do residents of that area collectively hold America responsible because they were buying coal from that region to heat their homes even as miners died? Obviously not.
So do we take collective responsibility for the abuses to Negroes at least after we became a country? Actually again few understand the miracle that took place to create the United States of America. Revolutionary war brought together 13 independent colonies to fight tyranny. Contrary to public opinion, when the war ended, there were more problems than before. Each state was issuing their own paper money with varying values and changing over night; creditors often were cheated because the value of the money might decline or debtors were able to get local government to rule in their favor and bills were not paid. Veterans of the revolutionary war were not paid either because there was no real national government to get the funds to pay them for their military service. Colonies passed their own laws taxing imports from other colonies and the only national government was the Congress with no power to tax, pay bills where do much more than debate.
It was in that environment that James Madison along with Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and George Washington realized change was needed. Was the public really in favor of it? Not at the time. Most were in favor of some amendment to the articles of Confederation but definitely not changing it. However a new convention was finally held to tackle the issue with few of those attending realizing the aim of Madison was to replace the entire document and change our country forever.
One must understand that there was no cohesion and everyone hated the idea of a central authority with power because they thought of the King of England. In the months to follow, a document was crafted together mainly by Madison who had been writing most of the Federalist papers anonymously and also acting behind the scenes getting support from the delegates.
So why is this important to the central issue of the abuses by slavery that followed? It is interesting to note that while Madison had a slave as did others in the family, he personally did not favor slavery. Nor did Jefferson although both were from Virginia, a colony with slaves. However what must be understood and is ignored today is that in order to create United States, agreement had to be reached by the delegates attending from all the colonies to sign off on the document being created and then only after that, nine states had to ratify it to become the law and the Constitution of the United States to be in effect. Rhode Island never even sent delegates to the convention. So when slavery was brought up, it was immediately realized that the northern colonies would agree to end it, but there would be no union because the southern states would not in case if it were abolished and end their livelihood. The best they could do was ban future importation of new slaves after a date that was then debated and then set by them. No mention was made of existent slavery or the end of it.
However many other matters of even greater importance caused turmoil and needed compromise as well because large colonies not did not want to allow smaller ones with lesser population to have as great an influence in the legislative body. Therein lies the compromise created : two houses of Congress with one having equal representation and the other by proportion.
Virginia the home of several early presidents was deemed to be too large compared to many of the other future states and Madison, in order to gain the support of other colonies, had his delegates agree to cede some of the Virginia territory for future States. Still other issues came up as to how we would control the person who was elected head of the government and was his appointment for life. Eventually the system of checks and balances as we know them came to be part of the document as well.
Thankfully by the way when Washington was elected president, he was not pretentious and did not want to be called “Excellency” or viewed as a King. “President” was fine and he set an incredibly good example by deciding not to run again after his second term because as the most popular person in America, he could have had a lifetime job as president setting a very bad precedent.
For his part Madison found some people staunchly against the new government at the convention including Patrick Henry famous for his "give me liberty or give me death” speech as well as others who tried to undermine everything that was being done. In the end some were insisting that certain rights of the people should be restated and included in the document but rather than delay it further with more debate and an uncertain future, Madison with the aid of Washington and Benjamin Franklin persuaded each colony to sign the document—not that they approved it, but this was what was then passed along as the Constitution of the United States for the states to ratify or reject.
For his part of Thomas Jefferson was overseas at the time and hearing from Madison regularly, he didn't like the document because of the lack of a Bill of Rights and suggested Madison instead just call for a new convention and start all over and get the job done right as though it were that simple. While those two were dear friends, one can only wonder what Madison thought when he read that since he spent months on it in person, behind the scenes and writing anonymously in the Federalist about each Article to get it passed although he did not favor it all either. This was the best they could get and starting over was unthinkable. So slavery was left out as were many other things or we would never be a country today and would have ultimately been taken over by one of the great powers at the time.
We may consider politics today to be nasty but what followed in order to get the States to ratify the Constitution was worse. Eventually to gain more State support it was agreed to add those rights of the people but rather than do the document all over, that it be added as an amendment where in today we have the right of free speech among other "inherent rights".
As to slavery there would have been no way to form any United States if the North split from the south over the issue at that time. As it was, while a treaty was signed with England ending the Revolutionary war, British troops were still stationed in parts of America and would not leave. The Spanish were threatening to close the Mississippi River to traffic in America while we had no standing Army or Navy. We were weak and vulnerable and creating a country was more important. However doing so by no means ended the vulnerability of our young country because during the term of our second president, John Adams, we almost went to war with France over a bribery issue caused by its representatives and the fact that they, along with England were capturing the ships of American merchants on the high seas since we were trying to be neutral in their war. As everyone recalls, we were shortly going to have a new war anyway with the British again in 1812 when they burned down our capital under the term of James Madison.
It might also be mentioned that during the term of our second president John Adams, an Alien and Sedition act was passed providing for jailing of anyone who criticized the president or congress. Interestingly enough by that time Madison and Jefferson had parted ways with the Federalists who included Adams and started their own Republican party which wanted lesser government. Jefferson, who would soon be our third president, was worried he would be on the those arrested since the new law was only protecting those who were Federalists and did not include Vice president Thomas Jefferson.
So what should be rather obvious, the United States was not on firm footing for quite a long time and it would have been impossible to successfully take up the issue of slavery when southern states were depending upon it, although unfairly and to the detriment of part of the people.
Prejudice has been instilled in people since time immemorial. Starting with religion, for centuries Jewish people the world over were killed or deprived of their rights for no other reason than their faith and the belief by Christians they killed Jesus who was also Jewish. Even today there are still remnants of prejudice and in the not-too-distant past such prominent schools of higher learning as Northwestern University had quotas on the number of Jews who could attend. America itself refused to allow Jews who were trying to escape Hitler to immigrate. Do Jews collectively believe all Christians must forever pay penance? Obviously not.
When World War II started, America unfairly put all Japanese Americans into concentration camps for fear they would all turn against us. It did not matter that many were young people, born here, and totally loyal. It took several years before they were released but meanwhile they lost their properties and jobs. Do Japanese Americans feel America and its citizens today collectively owe them something? Doubtful.
What about the Chinese killed in building the railroad going west across America?
Of course the prime example are American Indians who lived here before the white man arrived and treaty after treaty was broken as the white man moved West and took over. Do we give back all the land to them and move away?
Consider the prejudice that took place during the election of John F. Kennedy because he was Catholic. Americans were told we can't elect a Catholic because our leader would be beholden to the Pope. Nonsense!
The greatness of America means people of little means and all faiths can rise and achieve great things. This has obviously included some members of the black community as one of our great generals, Colin Powell is black and there are other examples in business, professional life and in entertainment. If we look back at New York city during the turn of last century and saw immigrants from all over the world working night and day to get ahead, it is obvious they came here for the American dream. They were not looking for a free ride. They wanted to get ahead, learn our language, absorb our culture and be part of the melting pot not come here and complain about our values, our morals or our way of life. Sure prejudices remained and some did not make it but that did not stop them from trying and some did in fact achieve greatness.
So collectively Americans of today and tomorrow owe no lasting indebtedness to people who came here from other countries many years ago whether as free men or slaves, whether religious or not, whether rich or poor. America is for everyone who wants it to make this their home but there are always going to be bad people and even more good people who unfortunately have bad ideas as Patrick Henry who thought it a bad idea if there was a United States of America with a president.
The African-American community would do much better to build bridges than blame others for everything that goes wrong. There will always be bad cops just as there will always be bad citizens, bad politicians, bad school teachers, bad leaders and others. What we need is for members of the black community to work harder get young people to want better education and to try to climb the road to success and not look for the free ride. It will not be available to everyone as it is not available to every person of any other color. Not everyone will make it but blaming white America which will be majority Hispanic in the years ahead is not building bridges.
People have a right to protest and voice their opinion as that is guaranteed but to do it to hurt others or deprive them of their livelihoods or way of life is no more fair then what they are complaining about. The young man who thought it was okay to tear down the Christmas lights put up to celebrate the holiday was wrong. Such action only encourages more prejudice and divides people just as the Teachers union president was wrong thinking it is okay to close down business and deprive people of their livelihoods. That is not the kind of “ education” the union should be backing.