There’s a lot going on in our nation today with the impeachment of Trump and the reelection campaigns as it correlates to racism. (This was written February 2020 for JSUP).
Welcome To Racism
The first time I ever really realized how real racism was is when I was 12. I’d experienced it before but during those times I wasn’t aware of what was happening. When I was 12 my family and I were riding to a relatives house for thanksgiving when a white man with a confederate flag in a pickup truck (stereotypical right ?) hit our car. My step dad hopped out FURIOUS as did the other driver when we noticed he was drunk.
I can’t remember everything that was said but I do remember him saying “I don’t give a fuck about you monkeys.” He then threatened to pull a gun out. My step dad got back in the car and called the police. Between the call and the arrival the driver flashed his gun twice. When the police came, a single middle aged white male, we were told that since the man didn’t shoot us we should just go home. This was in Huber Heights, OH.
Racism Is Alive and Well
What was your first encounter with racism ?
A lot of people are under the impression that racism is either dead or dying. That’s not true at all. The following is from a Twitter thread by Michael Harriot. (Excuse his typos because you know Twitter doesn’t let you edit, smh.)
“At the end of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment Abolished slavery, the 14th granted black people citizenship and the 15th guaranteed them the right to vote. A LOT of people believe this is when Jim Crow began. Those people are wrong. After the Civil War, black people freely registered to vote en masse. Voter registration was more than 90 percent in some states, especially in Southern states like Mississippi, where blacks outnumbered whites. Now that slavery wasn’t a thing, how could racists control blacks?
Well, they formed terrorist cells and started killing black people. If you’re ever read my description of Reconstruction, you know I don’t portray the massive black lynchings as separate events. It was an organized race war Which brings me to one my favorite but lesser-known episodes in Black History,You must remember that the racist traitors who declared they’d rather own slaves than be American were not yet Americans.
Georgia Peaches and The KKK
One of the provisions of Georgia being readmitted to the union was that former Confederates couldn’t vote or hold office. Well, who else was left in Ga? In 1868, 30 black men were elected to to the Georgia House and another 3 were elected to the state Senate. Rufus Bullock, a white man, was elected Governor. You know white people were mad. In fact, they got so mad that a burgeoning terrorist group came down to help: The KKK. (This may or may not be the genesis of the song “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”)
In 1868, the KKK and white supremacists in Ga removed the Original 33 from office. They literally overthrew the government. And for good measure, they started killing them. One quarter of the Original 33 were killed, And when black people [protested], the KKK killed them, too. When blacks converged in Camilla, Ga to protest, whites in Mitchell County stationed in hiding places opened fire, killing dozens. That was just a small taste. In 1868, white terrorists in Georgia murdered so many black people that the entire state was KICKED BACK OUT OF THE UNION. The Ga Supreme Court ruled, in 1869: “…There is no existing law of this State which confers the right upon the colored citizens thereof to hold office”.
Overthrow The Government
One of my favorite quotes about this reign of terror is that the Gov. Bullock “was obliged by the Ku Klux Klan to resign his governorship and, in his discerning contemplation felt it wise to leave the state.” That’s gangsta terrorist shit, right there. But This didn’t just happen in Ga. This terrorist violent overthrow of the government happened throughout the South. It was the evolution of white supremacy.
Death and terror might be the only thing worse than slavery. Ga. was finally readmitted back into the Union in 1870. In 1871, Congress passed the 3rd Enforcement Act, aka the KKK Act, which allowed the president to suspend habeas corpus to fight the Klan. (Habeas corpus is the right to not be detained without being charged. Nowadays, they only do it to black people). Again, this is not to recount the horrors, this is to show you that white supremacy has never decreased. It only morphs.
The Enforcement Act
The Enforcement Act didn’t really work though. But in the 1876 presidential election, white southerners killed so many people and suppressed so many votes…Congress was like: Look, we’ll remove troops from the South. Invest in railroads and let y’all do whatever you want to do to black people if yall let this presidential vote stand. It was called the Compromise of 1877 but most people know it as… The birth of Jim Crow. THIS is when the South began passing segregation laws. This is when separate but equal became accepted. White supremacy did not decrease. It evolved. After black soldiers came back from WWI, the fear of black equality returned. To be fair, blacks WERE doing disrespectful shit like looking white people in the eyes (Seriously, there are court records acquitting whites after they gave that explanation.)
The Red Summer
The Red Summer of 1919 was a new wave of terrorist lynchings that might be worse. Then after Congress addressed lynching, there was a second round of voter disenfranchisement using poll taxes, literacy tests and night “raids’. White supremacy did not DECREASE, it just changed with the times. Then came redlining, which barred banks from giving government-backed loans to black borrowers. This would lay the foundation for educational disparities for another 75 years.
Now that its (kinda) illegal to lynch, deny education and steal our vote, how did white supremacy morph? It became Voter suppression. In Georgia’s 2018 midterms, 127,000 votes disappeared into thin air. But curiously, no one can explain why it happened ONLY in majority-black precincts. It never made the news. Black voters are disproportionately purged from voter rolls, affected by voter ID laws and denied the right to vote for felony convictions. Why are black schools underfunded? The red areas in those redlining maps from the 40s are still pretty black: https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/
If you compare them to where police patrol, where schools are underfunded, or even where the worse drugs are sold, you’ll find that little has changed. But we still fund schools by neighborhood wealth. Those slave patrols eventually evolved into municipal police forces. It is the evolution of white supremacy. It has the same destination. I don’t worry about slave patrols, but my heart still speeds up when I see the police. And if you think I’m overexagerrating.
Think about this: According to the Haynes report on lynching, between 1889 and 1919, a little fewer than 80 black people were lynched, on average every year. [In] 1868, the Freedmen’s bureau counted 147 cases of murder by the KKK by that out of control Georgia lynch mob. In 2019, police killed 259 black people. Now, I’m not saying it’s worse for black people now than it was during slavery or Jim Crow. I’m not saying they’re using the same tactics. All I’m saying is this: Don’t think they stopped trying.”
Let’s Hear From You
What do you think about his assessment ? When did you first realize racism was a thing ? Tell us about a run in with it you’ve had.