There have been many debates rising from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which sprouted in 2013. This movement, along with some events that have unfolded over the last four years has initiated a curiosity and motivation in me to further look into the issues at hand. We are all (I assume) aware of the slavery period that transpired in the U.S. And to some extent I want to believe that we all can agree that this period has had some consequences on our present times and some of the challenges that we face with today. Whether we agree on what the consequences are and how to deal with them or not is an altogether different conversation.
I came in the U.S. about 20 years ago, and although I had some basic knowledge on the slavery period, after researching a bit I realized how ignorant I was on the matter, and to what extent it REALLY has impacted the present days.
Here, I will walk through some very brief history as well as some statistics (the accuracy and reliability of these may or not be contested, seeing how history may be told through different perspectives, as well as statistics may or may not be skewed to fit a said agenda. I will provide some of my resources for fact checking), as well as stating some of my point of views as an outsider, emigrant, and non-black now citizen of the U.S.
So we will begin with some history.
1619 (according to traditionally taught history), the first group of Africans were brought to America to be subjected to forced labor by the Americans who apparently were getting too tiresome and worn out by the harsh filed labor. This was the first group, but not the last. It was just the beginning of the slave period for Africans sold into it in the U.S.
African slaves were treated harshly (kindly put), and seen as less than human by their white American masters. Beatings and whippings were commonly used to ensure the slaves’ compliance with their white masters. People were bought and sold, treated like cattle, or as some kind of disposable items. This type of behavior was considered perfectly acceptable. Families were broken up and sold separately, African women were beaten, raped, and kept as sex slaves. Somehow Africans were considered much like animals unless one white master needed to fulfill his perverse “needs”, then and only then African women were perfectly suitable for their sexual fantasies.
Time went on, and so did slavery with all of its inhumane treatments. According to some historical accounts, there were some revolts in an attempt to rid of slavery but with no success. There was one, in particular, that seemed to have left a mark more than others might have in the past. This revolt took place in Virginia in 1831, and presumably, it resulted in approximately 60 dead whites. To the slaves’ demise, it, unfortunately, managed to make things worse (if that was even possible). The whites implemented more severe and strict black codes and laws to assure no more revolts would happen again.
In the meantime, some states up North were beginning to outlaw slavery. Slavery became illegal at state level in some of the states and the United States as a whole was trying to push for outlawing slavery at a federal level as well. A few states in the South were strongly against it, as slaves were the main labor force. Outlawing slavery would drastically affect their livelihoods and lifestyles. After the Mexican War, more complications arose from debates between the South and the North about whether the newly acquired territories should allow slaves or not. And after further conflicts in regards to import taxes and tariffs, as well as a presidential election won by Abraham Lincoln (which the South saw as a loss), 11 states decided to secede the Union, thus forming the Confederacy. This ignited the Civil War in 1860.
The Civil War went on for five long years, until 1865, when the Union finally won. In 1863 Lincoln legally emancipated all blacks, through the emancipation proclamation. Therefore at the end of the Civil War, all black in the South were now free men by federal law.
After the war, the South was left to its own demise and the rise of hateful groups sprouted everywhere; including the infamous Ku Klux Klan, which organized quickly and spread like cancer. They terrorized blacks and all who dared supporting or helping them. KKK members were police officers, businessmen, politicians, judges, lawyers, anyone and everyone that had been in the Confederate armies would have been part of this malicious group, whose goal was to keep the black where they “belonged”, and rid themselves of the carpetbaggers.
Following these and other challenges that came with the 13th amendment, which officially freed the slaves, two more amendments were made in order to address “equality”, citizenship and the right to vote. But where did this truly leave the blacks at that time? Were they really treated equally?
Abraham Lincoln himself believed that blacks and whites would not be able to peaceably live together and encouraged colonization of blacks to Africa. Regardless of all the amendments, blacks continued to be mistreated, segregated and laws to keep them subjugated to the white supremacists persisted.
The irony of the United States’ superior attitude towards prejudice and persecution, in the early-mid 1900s, was astonishing. The U.S. had the audacity to interfere and jump to the rescue of the Jewish people during WWI and WWII, using as the excuse to do so, inhumane treatment, persecution, and genocide. All while the U.S. could not manage to see how it was so wrongfully and equally inhumane treating its own people. And while Jews were given an entire country, financial support, apologies on top of apologies, and support and privileges from all around the world, especially the U.S., the blacks that had been treated like mad animals were simply “set free” to fend for themselves. Oh wait, they were given one year of support from the Union that included food rations, of which who knows how much of it really made it their way. And presumably 5 million dollars in support of new schools.
And while WWII was won with the aid of the U.S., and anyone speaking ill of Jews would be called anti-Semitic, the blacks in America were still trying to sit wherever they wanted on a bus. The fight for “equality” did not end with the Civil War, however. The Civil Rights movement started picking up in the 1960′. MLK and Malcolm X, are just a couple of the people fighting for equal rights and treatment at the time.
Fast-forwarding to today (2018), it seems prejudice and discrimination continues. It has continued after 1865 and after 1960.
Although the U.S. has now many black influential role model figures, including U.S. President Barack Obama, there still seems to be somewhat of a disparity amongst the blacks and whites. So what is really going on with our society in the U.S. as a whole, and what part do blacks of America have in it presently?
Looking into some statistics and data regarding the distribution of blacks in the U.S., it seems the ex-Confederate states are the ones that predominantly host most blacks in the U.S., including Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South and North Carolina. I also found that the incarceration rate is quite unproportioned to the actual U.S. population. There are approximately 40 million blacks in America roughly 200 million whites. So basically, less than 1/4 of the U.S. population is made up of blacks, yet the prison and jail population is quite the opposite. As a matter of fact, there is approximately one white person incarcerated per every five blacks. In other words, there are 275/100k whites and 1408/100k blacks incarcerated –according to statics from the U.S. Department of Justice. Interestingly enough, and to my surprise, the so-called Democratic states have a higher percentage of blacks incarcerated compared to the ex-Confederate states. For example, California and Illinois are reported to be at 8.8:1 (black:white), New Jersey at 12.2:1, Minnesota at 11:1, while Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama are at 3:1, 3.2:1, and respectively 3.3:1. This leaves me scratching my head for a bit.
And meantime, the poverty rates in the U.S. also seem to reflect a similar trend. While median U.S. income is at 65K for whites, 39k for blacks (lowest of all demographics), with Asians placing highest at 81K. As well as poverty rates are at 8.8% amongst whites and 22% amongst blacks (again worst of all). To top it all off, 66% of black children, compared to 33% of white children live in single-parent families. This does not reflect how much the fathers are present or not but it gives a rough idea of the dynamic of families.
So what is really going on here? What really happened when slavery was abolished? And why was it REALLY abolished?
It takes much digging and research and even then I am not sure we would be able to get to the very bottom of the truth. I decided to gather some clues from events that coincide with the timeline of abolishing slavery. And I am listing some here:
- Compulsory schooling – factory model schooling
- 1857 Rothschild banking crises caused by the Panic of 1857
- 1857 J.P Morgan returns to the U.S. and enters the banking business
- The economy recovered with the American Civil War in 1861
- In 1862 the U.S. starts printing banknotes – banknotes are made of 75% cotton
These are just a some of many. If history is researched from all perspectives with no bias and an open mind, we can find much more information than what we are fed in our traditional compulsory schools. After looking into some of these historical events, during, leading up to the war, and thereafter, we may be able to come up with some plausible assumptions and conclusions.
I have no doubt that there are good, genuine people out there that sincerely want to better our world. I have no doubt we are misinformed and misguided and at times stuck in our ways and beliefs due to all of the indoctrination and information we are constantly spoon fed.
Nevertheless, if we want to start seeing and understanding even a small percentage, of what is going on now (and yes, I do mean a small percentage, because there is so much going on and so many things that are hidden – be it for “security”, or for whatever other reason – that who really knows the truth behind everything) we do need to do some digging and look at things without prejudice ourselves.
We don’t need to put ourselves in a box and call ourselves by any denominations, such as democrats, republicans, liberals or conservatives. We need to look at facts from all perspectives and form our own opinions regardless of the popular beliefs.
Thus, if we step back and look into the past (as reasonably as possible) and all the information we can get our hands on, as well as looking at the present situation and facts with all of its flaws and challenges, we may be able to find some solutions to attempt and better our current and future outcomes.
For example, I understand and see that black people have been treated unjustly and discriminated against for a very long time and we can very well argue that it is still happening today. What now? Do we wait for apologies? Do we expect and wait for the so very prosperous oppressor to hand us down some help? Then we will wait in vain. While we wait and expect the U.S. government and the system to accept and recognize their responsibility and accountability for where we are today as a society, the oppressor, that has been making itself comfortable at the expense of many (especially the black people in the U.S.), is getting more powerful, is sharpening its tools and coming up with new tools and resources to continue to oppress and retain their power (because, as a smart person I know once said “power does not give up power”) …while the oppressed stay just as such!
Why then not take a page from the book of some of the communities and peoples that have found some ways to bring one another up? The Jews, for instance, are forbidden to charge interest to each other, when extending loans. They help one another “come up” in the society they want to prevail in. Yes, they have had the support of the entire world and there are many variables and factors and may be somewhat of an unfair comparison, but the fact that they help each other (whatever that may mean) remains.
In the Indian American communities, families focus on one family at a time to help them succeed and thrive financially and economically and have a strong sense of community (i.e. shop at each other’s stores). I believe this is exactly what we need here in the U.S. amongst our black communities. A stronger sense of community.
Yes, we all know what the oppressor has done. Yes, it is despicable, even more so when we have reasons to believe blacks still continue to struggle with discrimination, sometimes in ways, we do not even realize are happening.
But now, we must take matters into our own hands. And I don’t mean to get out and riot, with torches and bats, and masks and hateful chants. The complete opposite. And by no means, do I for a second believe that this is or will be an easy task. It is difficult for most of us to change our way of life in the smallest form, especially if and when we see no immediate gratification. The oppressor counts on this. A sense of community and helping one another is the key to lifting the blacks up as a people.
Community and media.
Media is used in such ways to bring us to hate one another, to separate and conquer. Whether it is through direct news media outlets, entertaining movies and shows, and even the music we listen to. Many of us discount the huge effect and influence that these mediums have on us and regard them as “harmless” entertainment, not realizing the immense negative impact they have on all of us. I strongly feel that if we engage in strengthening our communities, educating, informing and helping one another, it will decrease the hate and anger that lingers, as well as all the destructive behaviors that plague us and are encouraged and pushed through the popular media outlets.
I recognize that simplifying the solution to two words as community and media may appear too elementary. However, nobody says that purely because something may seem fairly straight-forward it isn’t complex in its implementation. The exact plan of execution cannot be laid out in a couple of pages or even formulated by one person alone (this is where the community comes into place) however, it must begin somewhere.
I cannot begin to understand what it is like to walk in a black man’s shoes in America. But this will not deter me from seeing things as they are from my perspective and wanting to be a part of the solution. We are where we are as people; circumstances and many different elements and forces at play have placed us all where we are today, with whatever skin color we may have. Matters not! We shall use history and past accounts to learn from and to change things to make this a better world for all its people of all colors. We shall do it now, and we shall do it together!
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