Some pseudo-historian in Louisiana was asked to comment about slavery during Black History Month. His main point was “that was then, this is now; we are past all of that.” He did feel compelled to throw in “if slavery were so bad, why did 90% of the slaves stay in Louisiana after they were freed?”
Let me make a wild-ass guess to answer this “gentlemen’s” question. Let see: slaves were forbidden, by law, to learn to read or write. Since they were slaves, they had no money. The local code said it was “okay to lynch niggers.” And the only place they knew was a radius of several miles from where they were at that moment.
I can just imagine their thought process. It probably went something like this: “Hey, I’ve got an idea! I got no money. I can’t read or write. White people would as soon see me dead as look at me. I think I will take off walking and head out to a new state where things will be, I don’t know, . . . different. Now which way is that other state, maybe I’ll just ask the next person I see.”
“Maybe the Devil I know is better and I’ll hunker down right here where I know a few people and check out the lay of the land first.” Now that seems more like it.
Folks, racism against Black people is alive and well. If it is nowhere in your sight, just look on the Internet. Google up “nigger” or “dumb nigger” and see how many hits you get.
The amazing thing to me is the source of this racism. Let me take a number of other wild-ass guesses: When this country was being founded, most people considered anybody who didn’t look like them to be a barbarian and inferior. (Think about how we treated the indigenous people who were here before we came.) That’s kind of normal. But along came a number of innovations. Indentured servitude was one. People in England (white people!) signed away their lives for a number of years to finance a trip to the new lands. They essentially became slaves but with a time limit and some cultural boundaries as to what they could be asked to do. Then, the next thing you know there were people being sold off of ships from Africa, wherever that was. Those people did not speak English or any other civilized tongue. Clearly they were subhuman barbarians, so buying them as a form of less-expensive labor seemed reasonable. Plus the Church and the Bible okayed this, heck the Bible endorsed and and provided rules for treating slaves.
So many people became slave owners. I believe a majority of our Founding Fathers were slave owners. George Washington famously freed his slaves. Thomas Jefferson famously did not (fuck them, yes; free them, no). It was a common syndrome in the South, where there were the greatest numbers of slaves and the smallest white population, of being fearful of a slave revolt. (I wonder why slaves would revolt if their lives were so wonderful? Who can tell what goes on in the mind of a subhuman; that is if they have minds.) At the beginning of the Civil War (not the War of Northern Aggression; it was the South that was the aggressor) the greatest fear at the start of the war was that Lincoln was going to free the slaves (Lincoln being a well-known “nigger-lover;” you can read all about it in the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL).
So that war got fought, some of the slaves (only those from secessionist states, now) were freed and low and behold, white folks became prejudiced. Jim Crow laws (including those wonderful vagrancy laws) were created to control all of those freed slaves who were slavering for revenge upon honest, God-fearing white folks.
And so it went. Animus piled upon animus, all based in fear. Because if you yielded to it and really looked you’d know that those slaves were real people who just happened to have darker skins than yours. And what was done to them was an abomination and you approved of it either explicitly or implicitly. They started out as captives in wars but then ended up “sold down the river” in Africa only to be “sold down the river” in the U.S. Their languages were stripped from them. Their cultures were stripped from them. Their religions were stripped from them. Their families were stripped from them. They were treated woefully and with great violence.
If you really stopped to think about how you would feel if that had been done to you, or any member of your family, you would feel outrage, immense outrage, too. And to be the sponsor of all of that misery would be unthinkable. So, you, who are a good person (you know this in your heart, bless your heart) don’t think about that; you think about how subhuman “they” are, how unlike us they are, how “shiftless and lazy” they are, how undeserving they are.
And if you, like that moron in Louisiana, think we are past that, think again. Our politics is punctuated with words like “lazy” and “hammock” and “Kenya” and “Muslim” and “birth certificate” to tap into that current of fear, that current of racism.
The U.S. is post-racial, my ass.