Category Archives: Race

The soul of a country

Slavery
The art of the deal!

 

People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”
— Donald Trump

A hundred and fifty years ago, a war was fought for the soul of this nation. On one side was the belief that this country should be a place where all people are free. On the other was the belief that one man should be able to own another. That is why the Civil War was fought, Mr. President. It is simple to understand, I promise you. Really, it is.

Of course, many from the South, your Attorney General being one, will tell you that the Civil War was a war of aggression, that it was about state’s rights vs. the tyranny of the federal government, and all that. So I can see why you might be confused, and wonder if maybe we could have just made a deal. I mean, for a deal maker such as yourself, anything is possible, right?

But here is the thing. There was a deal on the table: end slavery. That was it. That was the deal. End the practice of treating people like chattel. The South could have agreed to this and the war could have been averted. But instead, the South got up from the table and went home. No deal. Slavery was so important to the southern economy that the South would rather have created its own slave nation than give it up. And the rest, as they say, is history. You should read it sometime. Get a picture book if the words are too hard. Have Ivanka read it to you as she’s tucking you into bed. It’s important.

But what about a compromise, you say? Isn’t that the art of the deal? Come back with a counter offer until both sides reach an agreement? But what would have been agreeable in this case? The deal was no slavery. Not some slavery. No slavery. There is no possible compromise in a situation like that, unless you think that some slavery is acceptable. Is that what you think, Mr. President? That some slavery would have been acceptable to avert a war?

Make no mistake, even Abraham Lincoln struggled with this question, and wondered if perhaps preserving the Union at all costs was more important. But as this excerpt from a letter to his friend Joshua Speed makes clear, he believed in something more:

As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

We already know what you believe, Mr. President. We already know how you read it. There is little doubt in your interpretation that all men are not created equal. That, indeed, all men are created equal except. We hear about it whenever you give a speech to your supporters. Make America great again for everyone except. The rules should apply equally to all except. We welcome everyone to this country except. Every citizen should vote except. And so on.

Wars are fought for many reasons, and one reason is when except is not an option. The Civil War was fought because “all men are created equal except” was not an option. We continue to fight that battle as you aggressively seek to eradicate the accomplishments of our first black president. Because, as we know, in your world anyone can grow up to be president except. But that is not an option. It was never an option. It will never be an option. Some things are worth fighting for, Mr President. Some things are worth going to war over, even dying over. The soul of this country is one of them. There is no deal that can erase that, whether you understand it or not.

9 Comments

Filed under Politics, Race

And we are still two nations

So, the verdict is out on Tamir Rice. What more is there to write than what I have already written: here, and here, and on, and on

1 Comment

Filed under Race, Uncategorized

Racism, and that which we can never know

Twelve Years a Slave came in the mail from Netflix a while ago. It sat resolutely on the counter for a week or two collecting dust, and then I sent it back unwatched. I will probably never watch it, even though I have written some thoughts about it. The Kindle edition of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book Between the World and Me is sitting in my wish list. That I will certainly read some day. Just not today. I have read Black No More, by George S. Schuyler, and Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison; both provided to me years ago by my wife, who incidentally is usually identified as ‘black’ even though she is in actuality Panamanian by descent. I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People by Brit Bennett is very much worth the few minutes it takes to read it. I started reading The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois a while ago, but it has been languishing as of late. There are a couple of works about Malcolm X that I am currently reading, but more for my interests in civil disobedience and radicalism than in what they have to tell me about race and racism. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Race

Oh Baltimore

I guess this needs repeating:

To those of you who cannot understand why a certain group of people could be enraged to the point where they would loot and otherwise destroy their neighborhood, close your eyes for a minute and consider what you would do if:

You belonged to a group of people who, statistically, were 25 times more likely to be shot by your local “peace” officers than anyone else, and…

If the police were 25 times more likely to KILL you, then consider how much more likely they would be to stop you, harass you, beat you, and otherwise rub your powerlessness in your face, and… Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Race

Judge, jury, and executioner?

“I never broke the law. I am the law!”
–Judge Dredd

In the United States and, indeed, most other countries that claim the mantle of being “civilized,” there is a deliberate chain of events that is designed to unfold between the presumption of quilt and the actions stemming from that presumption. That chain of events is lengthy, and it is lengthy by design. It is lengthy by design so that every opportunity can be made by the accused to refute the presumption of guilt before the state can accord a punishment that will have irrevocable consequences. This applies to everything from petty larceny to the death penalty. Especially the death penalty. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Race

Strange Fruit, post Ferguson (a poem)

Adapted from the Billie Holiday song to fit modern events…

American towns bear a strange fruit
Blood on the eaves and blood from pursuit
Black bodies still in the afternoon breeze
Strange fruit lying on the ground indeed

An urban scene or rural house
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
The scent of gunfire bitter and fresh
Then the sudden smell of fear and death

There is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for The Man to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

1 Comment

Filed under Race

To shoot a boy

So, it would seem that a group of citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, do not like it when an agent of the local government charged with enforcing the peace allegedly guns down a boy who was fleeing for his life. Because when you strip away the layers of race, that is what you remain with: A boy who was fleeing for his life was gunned down by an officer of the law. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Race