Racism and Black History, pt. 2
Welcome back to our series on racism in America. Some may wonder why we would be discussing racism as a Sunday Message. Racism is a spiritual issue. Plane and simple. Take the politics out of it.
We need to resolve it spiritually. Look inside and see where your race issues lie. Then move forward from there.
Remember, we are all one. There is only Good, and we are all part of that good. It is of us and we are of IT.
SO, please look at this issue as a spiritual issue, keeping ego and domestication out of the discussion, out of your heart.
And so, I hope discussing this information will open your heart to what is true in our country and world. If we are all one, then there should be no racism.
But since it is present, we have some work to do.
We must seek to understand, each and every one of our brothers and sisters.
So, let’s continue our look at Black history and how it helped to get us where we are in our country today.
Two weeks ago, we looked at White Privilege.
Last week, we looked at early years of slavery. With the Emancipation Proclamation, and later Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1865), nearly four million slaves were freed.
But all these Amendments did little if racism is still so prevalent. It was and is more a moral issue than a legal one. Legality helps get us on the right track and helps to remind us where we needed to be.
The treatment of Africans and African Americans didn’t improve much. After being freed, they often found themselves tied to their former masters, working as sharecroppers because jobs, housing and food were not available to them. The promise of 40 acres and a mule did not happen to most.
And job opportunities were fewer to those looking into the booming manufacturing industry because of the increase of Irish and Italian immigrants taking those jobs, as well as the discriminations towards Blacks.
The Black Leaders didn’t help their cause either, as they often discriminated against their lighter skin colored brothers and sisters and vice versa.
But they DID chip away at the discrimination. They fought in both world wars, in some ways proving again that they were equal to their white brothers. They weren’t treated the same during their service, or when they returned, as we discussed last week. Those Service members were discriminated against by the GI Bill, if you recall…it was only for white GI’s.
They DID continue to prove that they were not ignorant or unable to learn. Some distinguished members of learned society gave us a variety of inventions, for example:
That ironing board we all know, and love was Invented by Sarah Boone in 1892
Carbon Light Bulb Filament invented by Lewis Latimer in 1881 allowed for longer lasting lights.
Automatic Elevator Doors, Invented by Alexander Miles in 1887
That Three-Light Traffic Light we try to beat was Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923
As a postgraduate researcher at Columbia University in the late 1930s, Charles Drew invented a means of separating plasma from whole blood, allowing it to be stored for up to a week, far longer than had been possible at the time. Drew also discovered that plasma could be transfused between persons regardless of blood type.
Refrigerated Trucks, necessary for our ice cream as well as other food items, Invented by Frederick McKinley Jones in 1940
The Electret Microphone, Co-Invented by James E. West in 1964
Home Security System, Co-Invented by Mary Van Brittan Brown in 1966
Color IBM PC Monitor and Gigahertz Chip, Co-Invented by Mark Dean c. 1980 and 1999
Many more inventions were patented by Blacks. You might want to check that out.
Even though many members of the Black community moved forward in economic progress, it was hardly near what most whites were doing. They had to work harder to move forward, as we mentioned in our earlier Messages.
The Voting right act of 1965 was another hope to be the springboard to equality for the people of color. But it was not. Voter suppression, Jim Crow laws, literacy test, poll tax, physical harassment often kept the people from the polls.
White men who could not pass the literacy tests were able to vote due to the “Grandfather Clause” allowing them to participate in voting if their grandfathers voted by 1867
The grandfather clause was ruled unconstitutional in 1915. Poll taxes were abolished in 1964 with the 24th Amendment and literacy tests were outlawed under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But did it stop voter suppression? No, and voter suppression continues to be a tool used to deter Black Americans and other minorities from voting today.
Congress did not provide enforcement for the 15th Amendment immediately, which didn’t help. And Tennessee was the last state to formally ratify the amendment in 1997, finally!
Additionally, the 19th Amendment did not guarantee Black women the right to vote. According to National Geographic, “In fall 1920, many Black women showed up at the polls.” In Kent County, Delaware, their numbers were “unusually large,” according to Wilmington’s News Journal, but officials turned away Black women who “failed to comply with the constitutional tests.”
Historians note an important difference between the motivation of white suffragists, who were working primarily with gender equality in mind, and black suffragists, who saw voting rights as a key part of racial equity and a means of uplifting their communities.
They continue to fight for equality and had made progress until recent events that have led to marching and in some cases, violence.
The progress after the Voting Rights Act came to a halt after the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder, changed the way the Voting Rights Act was implemented nationwide. Since 2010 before the decision, 25 states have put into place new requirements such as voter ID laws, closing polling places and cutbacks to early voting,
It seems in recent years we have moved backwards in our effort to be “all men are equal”
Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch wrote that the recent killing in that, “despite gains made in the past 50 years, we are still a nation riven by inequality and racial division.”
In 1968, the Kerner Commission, a group convened by President Lyndon Johnson, found that white racism, not black anger, was the impetus for the widespread civil unrest sweeping the nation.
As Alice George wrote in 2018, the commission’s report suggested that “[b]ad policing practices, a flawed justice system, unscrupulous consumer credit practices, poor or inadequate housing, high unemployment, voter suppression and other culturally embedded forms of racial discrimination all converged to propel violent upheaval.”
In fact, Fifty years after the Kerner Report’s release, a separate study assessed how much had changed; it concluded that conditions had actually worsened. In 2017, black unemployment was higher than in 1968, as was the rate of incarcerated individuals who were black. The wealth gap had also increased substantially, with the median white family having ten times more wealth than the median black family. “We are resegregating our cities and our schools, condemning millions of kids to inferior education and taking away their real possibility of getting out of poverty,” said Fred Harris, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, following the 2018 study’s release.
Anti-Black violence was growing. More and more vigilante attacks were terrorizing the Black communities.
More than 200 anti-lynching bills failed to make it through Congress. Per the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, more than 4,400 lynching’s—mob killings undertaken without legal authority—took place in the U.S. between the end of Reconstruction and World War II.
Incredibly, the Senate only passed legislation declaring lynching a federal crime in 2018.
It’s taken marches and riots and raised fists and bended knee. Now, with the Black Lives Matter movement, maybe, just maybe, we have turned the corner.
This has been and will continue to be an interesting year. With the pandemic, the extreme weather, the killings and marches and yes, even riots, maybe we can actually see the other side of humanity.
But if we genuinely believe we are all one with Spirit, we need to do more, or we will lose our humanity.