Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Anglo Americans Can Be Proud Of African Americans

Anglo and other Caucasian Americans have a big problem that overcoming likely will predict the outcome of the American Experience.  Many of us disrespect and downright consider inferior fellow Americans of African origin.  This is seriously impeding us from forward movement in perfecting our democracy.  Let me give some of you a differing perspective to consider about racial origin and history.

First, to respect and advocate for the equal citizenship of African Americans does not mean we in any way diminish the huge contributions our Euro-origin migrants and founders have made to society.  Euro civilization gave us the demise of the dark ages, the end of  autocratic rule of the Holy Roman Empire and the creation of the Reformation and Enlightenment.  Our Anglo forefathers were persecuted by the traditionalists of Europe, causing our migration to what became the Colonies and the United States of America.  This is huge and a history to take pride in.  These things have created much good in the world, especially here in the Land of the Free and the Brave.

Yes, we have a stain on our history; a huge open sore that must be closed and healed.  We brought with our fantastic history a practice in which we take no pride; Slavery.  We weren't alone in the world in the practice but we were major offenders.  We fought a terrible Civil War over this practice and many families paid a painful price, but we ended the practice.

But ending slavery did not end beliefs of many among us that those to whom we granted freedom to were of an inferior social order,  so different from those of us of Anglo and Caucasian origin  and therefore that they should live separately from those of us with our backgrounds.  But the former slaves were persistent in their belief of equality of skills and character and pushed hard to find a place in a society that was far from welcoming to them.  Fellow Anglos, this took great character and courage on their part;  they stood up to continued discrimination in uncountable forms and carved out a place for themselves  many if not most of us find admirable and amazing.

During slavery, our African American brothers and sisters literally built our agricultural economy with their hand and back breaking work; today, probably the finest on the whole planet in terms of productivity and quality to sustain human and animal life.   They also built with those same hands most of the buildings in our early cities and created an urban life that is the envy of the world, even with today's neglect of their upkeep and maintenance.   Forced labor in both cases but the quality and energy they gave to an unwelcome task is to be admired.   They are owed gratitude for enduring this indignity and physical pain.  Yes, they even built the buildings in our national and many of our state capitals which housed their oppressors and facilitated their domination.   For this they were initially offered "Forty Acres and a Mule",  though this feeble attempt at reparations was quickly rescinded.

Once freed of overt domination, our African American brothers and sisters, while continuing be experience discrimination and limitation on their freedom, nonetheless persisted in building a society replete with grace, beauty and incredible talent. Read your history about an initial surge of African American participation, only the males among them during Reconstruction.  And then the quick dissolution of their participation with the advent of poll taxes and literacy tests whites were not subjected to.  While limited in education, economic opportunity and social mobility compared to their Anglo counterparts, these proud and brave Americans gave graciously to the whole society.  They gave amazing literature.  Astounding, soul enriching music.  Brilliant humor.  Athleticism beyond any other ethnic group and intellectual, scholarly accomplishment far beyond reasonable expectation of an oppressed people.   And so much more.

Yet, further attempts through legislation and public policy such as school integration, civil rights to give equal access in the economic and social life of America and voting rights designed to make black participation in political life more attainable were all quickly compromised by white Americans.   A minority of Anglo racists crafted the details of policy compromise and avoidance while a majority white population remained silent and thus, complicit.  Laws changed but Anglo attitudes of bigotry and resentment of  equal rights continued unabated.

Many Anglo/Caucasian Americans still today, after over 60 years of work by policymakers, do not want to go to school with them, live next door to them or socialize with them.  I think because they fail to understand that in spite of discrimination, outright hate and public expressions of contempt more prevalent today than in our prior history, our fellow Americans of other pigmentation contributed as much to what is good in our society as we did.  And yes, they overcame more discriminatory hurdles to do it.  Clearly there is not the will to treat our fellow citizens as equal partners in building America and furthering this great democratic experiment.

More public policy has to be put into place to reverse the erosion of rights and accelerate the acceptance of African Americans into full civic and social participation.    I am convinced that the only way to make amends for the evil done by our forefathers and silently accepted by us today is for massive truth and  reconciliation initiatives in conjunction with economic reparations to help our black brothers and sisters equalize education services, rebuilding of civic places and services as well as  housing and home ownership and income.  But I am also advocating for reparations that include lower income Anglo, Hispanic and other minorities. 

Effective communications on the benefits we all will enjoy with equalization of these elements of American life can greatly enhance the likelihood of success, if not outright acceptance of reparations.  With more well educated and economically comfortable African Americans will come a burst of economic growth for the whole economy and society.  Yes, it is the economy Stupid !  When the white middle class experiences a growing economy and more consumer spending and access to economic power, resentment can diminish if not disappear.  Integrated upper and middle class communities have proven this works.  It is our working and lower class communities where much of the racism and bigotry festers today.  They need a jump start and reparations and making the economic life of America more fair for all of us is a way to do it.  Where will the money come from?   The !% and corporate America hoarding the American dream.

We can put aside our guilt and shame now and accept objective truth.  We are all in this together, not all of us by choice.  But going forward, we continue to be in this together, like it or not.    We are much better off with combining talents and building a better society where we might all flourish. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Forty Acres And A Mule Denied

Right after the end of the Civil War, freed slaves were promised Forty Acres and a Mule by General Sherman, who likely didn't have the authority to offer nor grant such a reparation.  The offer was quickly withdrawn.  Never to be resurrected.

We now are in remembrance of MLK's assassination in Memphis fifty years ago.  Many really nice gatherings around the country are being recorded for this tragic event.  Lots of speeches.  Community breakfasts.  A whole lot of lip service.   But nothing else.

We are in the throws of full blown public racism now.  Racists empowered by a crude and racist President are speaking and acting.  Some violently.  Many with verbal toxicity.  All with hate and resentment.  What to do about this?

Every few years a new reparations movement gets started by a few people.  Then quickly silenced and forgotten.  And the failure of America to maintain a just society for all remains, though seldom acknowledged.  The disparity in civil rights, employment opportunities and voting rights between Anglo and African American  people continues to widen.  The social and economic chasm between our groups enlarges.  And public hate and disrespect has become normal after many decades of suppressed expression.

It seems to me that we need a social compact to close the gap at least in the sphere of economic opportunity and social disparity.  The first order of business, when we remove overt racists from political/public leadership, must be a national initiative to remove employment discrimination, electoral suppression and civil rights denial based on ethnic (and gender) background. We must have reconciliation commissions active in every community to foster dialogue and educate ignorant racists.  Give them a chance to recant and reconcile.  If they can't or don't, ostracize them, quite frankly.

Then as a society we must redeem ourselves and our inherited history of racism by providing financial reparations to those clearly damaged by our racist system; the proof of the damage is in lousy education, substandard housing and neighborhood services and economic deprivation.    This process of identifying the damaged and providing reparations in the key areas of life must be administered by a commission of African Americans, not white people enjoying the privilege of light pigment.

The hard core racists will rebel.  Don't let them hurt any of us.  Put the rebellion down quickly with Federal force if necessary.  Then, we move on and try our best to be a decent society of all of us.  We can create the 21st century of 40 Acres and a Mule.