Sunday, March 6, 2016

Serious History: Before There Was a United States, There Was Slavery

Slavery was up and running long before we had a republic. It took a civil war to "end" slavery. That war is still raging, in ways big and small.

Justice Roberts wants a post-racial world. Sorry, John, fat chance.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to call slavery our country's Original Sin. (Boy, was I right.)

Slate's Rebecca Onion points to America's other Original Sin in its early incarceration of Native Americans, which predate our importation of African slaves from the West Indies.

Jim Wallis -- who I link to above -- also had a conversation with Roland Martin in which he said:
Wallis also explained that, “slavery never ended, it just evolved,” saying that “mass incarceration is the current evolution of slavery.”  He also noted that the “deliberate disenfranchisement” of prisoners, gerrymandering, and other forms of voter suppression are tactics used to keep certain “demographics from changing America.”
And of course we see that all over the place in Republican-controlled states.

It's helpful to read this brief history of slavery in colonial times.

What's clear after studying up on the issue is that the Black Lives Matter movement is a genuine outgrowth of how little black lives mattered in the colonial period, during the whole of the slave trade, right up to the habitual killing of young blacks in the streets of America today.

Jim Wallis drives home the hypocrisy of the reactionary statement, "All lives matter," when he points out nature of "the talk" that black parents have with their children:
In the book, Wallis points out that the majority of white Americans see the shootings and violence as isolated incidents, while most African Americans see them as part of their daily day-to-day lives. To make his point, the author includes his personal experience as a young man meeting Butch—a fellow custodian in Detroit, in America's Original Sin. He recalls eating dinner with Butch’s family and hearing about “the Talk” in which African American parents told their children to avoid police officers if they were ever lost. For Wallis, the advice from his parents was the exact opposite. “That difference of perspective told me I had indeed grown up in a different world,” Wallis told PW.
Black Lives Matter is a movement born of necessity. When whites counter with "all lives matter," they are denying responsibility for four hundred years of very bad behavior. If whites can't understand that -- and, naturally, this denial is a tenet of modern conservative thought -- then they are either ignorant or willfully so.

Guilt or innocence, ignorance or full knowledge, it's all beside the point. It's now incumbent on us all to clean up the stain, the heritage of slavery, because until we do, the violence, from microaggressions to shootings in the street, will continue unabated.

Of course all lives matter, but unless we deal with black lives, the "all" doesn't mean shit.

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