The End of Slavery Was Not The End of Slavery
I was born in the deep south.
The city was Jacksonville, Fl.
The year was 1949.
It was a time and place where racism thrived.
What I didn’t know until recently is just how bad Florida’s racism was. In my recollection, states like Alabama and Mississippi got most of the bad press so I thought of them as the real offenders but Florida, it seems, was just as bad if not worse.
Florida has a checkered past. It is recognized as the first location where free people of color first arrived in the early 1500’s and is also home to the first settlement of runaway slaves, Fort Mose. The Fort is situated two miles north of St. Augustine and was established under Spanish authority in 1738. It was a safe place for slaves to settle after escaping from plantations in the north. According to history, these liberated slaves bravely fought alongside the Spanish against English invasion.
Contrasting that, however, is the fact that Florida is the place where slavery first began in the Continental US (1526) and where it was practiced for decades even after the Civil War. Though history offers a flicker of decency in the early years, slavery and racism dominate the record.
I was surprised to learn that the U.S. Sugar Corporation was federally indicted for enslaving black sugarcane workers through debt peonage on Florida plantations as late as 1942. I wasn’t taught that bit of history in school but you can read about it here. The indictment was ultimately quashed on procedural grounds but it and the reasons for it are on the record.
The horrors of that historical fact should be unacceptable to any decent, fair-minded, rational person. Seventy-seven years is a long time to NOT figure it out, but that’s how long sugar cane farmers flouted the 13th Amendment of the Constitution with their slavery workarounds.
It begs the question. Do slavery loopholes still happen today? If businesses, aided by sentimentally aligned policymakers, could get around the law for seventy-seven years, is it improbable to think the same mindset could be driving segments of the business community today?
Innocence By Ignorance
As a youngster growing up in Jacksonville, I didn’t know enough to ask these questions. I was innocent but only because I was ignorant and I was also immersed. I was surrounded by racism. Things were better in Jacksonville than on the plantation but not by much. You didn’t need to look hard to find the evidence of Jacksonville’s racism everywhere: public transportation, public facilities, education, politics and even the workplace.
Racism was the norm. It was accepted. It was entrenched.
It was also laced with attitude. Instead of humility, privilege produced a sense of superiority. If you were white, privilege and position were birthrights. No need to earn it. It was automatic. I don’t need to argue how wrong that is but the other side of that coin was even worse. If you were any other color, privilege and position were always out of reach.
In my earliest years, there was very little public debate about these disparities. I didn’t become aware of the tension surrounding the issues until the Beatles came to the Gator Bowl in September of 1964. A few days before the show, the band members learned that the venue was segregated and refused to play if that didn’t change. Organizers didn’t like it. They were good-ole-boys in a racist system but money speaks and they stood to lose a lot if the Beatles didn’t show. They relented.
It made the news and it made me think.
Again, events like this raise many questions. How could the Beatles see the horrors of Jim Crow Laws but Southern Christians couldn’t?
How could so many so-called Christians demean even one soul created in the image of God much less a whole group?
The Law Be Damned
There’s nothing logical or scientific about the matter. Even Biblically, Jim Crow laws can’t be justified but in spite of that, racist mindsets persisted especially among Christians. When I attended Bible College in later years, one instructor stood in the front of our class and openly taught the superiority of whites to blacks. This was in 1974. The Civil Rights Act signed ten years before, the same year the Beatles toured the Gator Bowl, had no bearing on what he taught several years after the fact.
The instructor’s attitude was the norm and reflects an obstinate resistance to equality in America. It was “the law be damned” and “the Bible be true” mindset as if the Bible taught racist ideas.
Like water, the sea of humanity will find its own level if bigotry will get out of the way. That reality was foreign to this instructor and to many others like him.
No, white supremacy did not represent the “official” position of the school but I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that many pulpits adamantly preached the same sentiments throughout the South.
There’s an important observation to make here. What the law says and what people believe, are two different things. Laws cannot change hearts. Belief and sentiment were endorsing racism even when the law didn’t allow it. That still happens today but is easily denied because you can’t see a person’s heart.
For the record, The Bible teaches us to love our neighbors and if you can’t bring yourself to do that, you should at least be tolerant (Rom. 12:18).
And if tolerance is too hard to swallow then you should at least be law-abiding (Rom. 13:1) but not even the laws of the land had much effect on the racist attitudes of the Jacksonville in which I was raised or the various Southern locations in which I lived.
I grew up engulfed in this atmosphere. It was a forest that was difficult to see.
I couldn’t understand the apparent cruelty but I couldn’t quite see it either. I was on the privileged side of the equation and that naturally induced the wrong attitude. I did nothing to deserve the privilege, and in my heart I knew that, but like most people in similar situations, intuition warned me not to rock the boat.
It’s difficult to think of yourself as part of a group who abuses, torments, mischaracterizes and terrorizes another group of humans only because they are a different color? Being unhappy with the flow of society is one thing. Changing the direction is another. It’s emotionally difficult to commit fully to one direction when you know it will inevitably need to change.
Compounding my ignorance and blind acceptance was the fact that my Dad was from Mississippi.
Before I say more, you need to understand that I mean no disrespect to my Dad. He’s my Dad and he fed and clothed me in my youth but, unfortunately, he was completely racist.
I loved my Dad. Or maybe I should say I tried to love him or, better yet, I wanted to love him but he wasn’t an easy person to love. From early on, I wanted him to be the man in my life. Every child wants that but for me, it never happened. He did have a caring side. He diligently looked out for our neighbors and never missed an opportunity to visit the terminally ill. To the family, however, he was critical, demanding and at times just mean.
I believe he wanted what was best for us, good intentions and all, but he apparently missed the one class in school that taught how to express familial interest.
Maybe his family caused him to be calloused. It’s difficult to say. His Dad was hard but his mother, my grandmother, was the sweetest lady you could know. “Never a disparaging word” applies.
Maybe racism had something to do with it. The Bible does teach sowing and reaping. If you sow misery in the lives of others, it’s bound to come back around and sure enough, he was miserable for much of his life. His misery spilled over onto the entire family.
No matter how you interpret his relationship to the family, though, there was no mistaking the racism. His conversations about African Americans included pejoratives that were delivered in belittling tones.
No, he never committed murder. I genuinely don’t believe he could but he wasn’t too bothered when Martin Luther King caught a bullet and according to his word, he was aware of lynchings during his boyhood days in Mississippi. Thankfully, he never admitted to participating in such barbarous activities but he was there, he was aware and he said nothing.
Guilt by silence.
In later life, he mellowed considerably but he was at his worst during my most impressionable years. My Dad was my first exposure to White Supremacist ideas and life in Jacksonville was where I witnessed those ideologies play out in everyday life.
I wish I could say racism represented only a small vein in the culture of the day but throughout my youth and early adult years, it was all around. It was always hanging like a cloud. It wasn’t always discussed but it was experienced every minute of every day.
- I never had childhood playmates who were African American.
- I never attended an integrated school with the exception of my last two years. There were two or three African American students in my high school but I only know that because their pictures were in the yearbook. I never remember seeing them at school.
- The only African American homes I visited were in rundown, out of the way areas with little municipal infrastructure and no road maintenance at all. The visits were never social. Pick up something or deliver something, always work-related, and leave.
- We had a maid before I began elementary school and I can remember wondering why she worked in our home. I was sure there had to be better more promising jobs. I was naive. I didn’t realize how limited her educational options were or how few opportunities were available regardless of her qualifications.
- I never remember entertaining or socializing with African Americans. None of our friends or neighbors did either.
- I also don’t remember seeing African Americans in the restaurants we patronized.
It was almost like African Americans weren’t there but they were. There were plenty in Jacksonville but, unless you were at work, you didn’t see them.
It wasn’t until I was 32 or 33 that the first African American family moved into my Dad’s neighborhood. The Lord must have a sense of humor because they moved next door to my Dad. I didn’t live with Dad at the time but we still visited occasionally and it was interesting to see him put on a smiling face for the neighbors. Thankfully, he behaved himself. He was neither rude nor insulting.
Work Was An Escape
But getting back to my earlier years, it wasn’t all bad. I’m happy to say that I was getting exposure to realities of a different nature at the same time and these experiences not only ran counter to the racism, they also left indelible impressions.
As a youngster, I worked a lot. I think I had my first job when I was twelve but it wasn’t because I was particularly motivated or energetic and I also wasn’t being forced into child labor. It was my choice and it was an escape.
The situation was my Dad loved gardening and thought I should love it too. I didn’t. I hated it but if I hung around the house for too long when school was out, he would find endless “fun” things to do in the garden and he was one of those parents who didn’t believe in giving an allowance, not even if you worked for it.
He also beat the hard-work drum constantly. Hard work, hard work, hard work. Show up early and stay late. He worshipped hard work and he lived what he preached. The sad thing is he worked hard all his life and got little from it in the end. I developed many ideas about hard work, work conditions and work rewards not from what he taught me but from the example of his experience.
His work, rather than rewarding, added to his misery and he expected us to be like him.
It was a no-win situation. I wanted to please my Dad but I felt like I was drowning just thinking about the garden. And whatever work I did, I wanted to earn a little money. I didn’t think it was wrong to be nicely rewarded for a job well done.
Being the perceptive guy that I am, I eventually caught on to the fact that my Dad was approving when I found work outside the house so that’s what I did. I looked for work elsewhere and was willing to do anything to stay out of the garden.
My only motive was to avoid gardening but he thought I was showing initiative. He was happy. I was happy. Win-win.
But, again, back to my story. I did many different jobs in my youth. I worked at a fast-food restaurant, a couple different grocery stores and did odd jobs at a local motel. They weren’t great jobs but there was little gardening involved and I got paid.
There were a few other jobs and one was at my Dad’s place of employment. That was great because he provided transportation and while at work I was the boss’s kid.
Being related to the boss provided no special privileges. At work, Dad was hard on everyone so I was held just as accountable as anyone else but it did give me clout with the other employees. Another win.
I wouldn’t say I was a great fit for the job. The place my Dad worked sold jewelry, china, flatware; a lot of upmarket items. Very expensive. All the merchandise was delicate and I didn’t have a light touch. I think I destroyed several things, unintentionally, before they found suitable functions for me.
More to the point, in the course of my work, I had contact with several African Americans. I didn’t just know of them and see them at a distance. I worked with them, alongside them and this was a first. I don’t recall African American employees in any other job but there were several at my Dad’s place of employment and two of them I remember very distinctly even though it was fifty plus years ago: Sam and James. I worked with these two men side by side and got to know them quite well.
Proximity Changes Perception
What I realize now is that once you get close to a person it changes the perception. It never occurred to me to think of either of these individuals as “those people” or a “different class” or as “less than” me. In fact, I wasn’t even on their level.
Dad was on the command level. I was on the receiving end of those commands, the same as Sam and James. We were shoulder to shoulder. It’s only natural to develop an affinity for the people who share the same level.
Both men were intelligent, engaging, hard-working, resourceful and I learned a lot from each. I enjoyed working with them and they made lasting impressions.
Sam took care of gift deliveries for the stores. There were six stores in all and Jacksonville is a massive city. He planned the deliveries, about 50 or 60 a day, occasionally more, and I was the runner. He drove and I ran the packages to the door and got signatures. We made a good team.
Sam planned the daily routes and navigated the Jacksonville maze efficiently. We got back each day on time with all packages having been delivered. It wasn’t an easy task.
The best part is we had great conversations.
Sam hunted wild boar and kept me entertained with his hunting stories during the long rides between deliveries. He also coached a little league team which made me realize he was a get-involved kind of person, a leader.
I enjoyed working with Sam and it was a sad day when he moved to a different organization and a better job. Not sad for him but for me.
Sam broke the stereotype. He was intelligent and motivated, and instead of languishing in a job that paid little, included no benefits and offered no upward mobility – like most of the white people that worked there – he got qualified and moved on to greener pastures.
It wasn’t until many years later that I put it together but Sam was the exact opposite of what racism claimed and the whites were exactly what he was not.
James broke the mold too. He wasn’t just interesting, he was extraordinary.
He didn’t have a specific title or function. He wasn’t the delivery or packing or mailing guy, he was the catch-all employee. It wasn’t because he couldn’t fit in anywhere. He did catch-all because he was immensely capable. James could do anything. When he needed an extra hand, I was the guy they called on to help out.
James did whatever anyone else couldn’t get done and a few things more. He was an incredible craftsman too, although they rarely used him for those skills.
I had occasion to visit James’ house a couple of times and seeing where and especially how he lived was revealing.
His neighborhood was typical. You almost needed GPS to find it and when you did, it was difficult to believe people lived with such neglect.
The residents in his neighborhood paid taxes too. Why were the roads in such bad conditions? The area fell under municipal responsibility. There was no excuse. Was the neglect due to oversight or was it intentional?
Instead of a broken-down shack, however, James’ house looked like a palace. It wasn’t big but it was beautiful in every way. The roof, the siding, the paint, and the fence were pristine. Even the vegetable garden was perfect. The rows were straight and every plant was nurtured to perfection. If you saw a picture you’d think it was photoshopped and James did it all. He never paid anyone to do the work.
The garden alone had to make my Dad jealous.
Again, James broke the stereotype. Even the numbing effects of racism couldn’t diminish the qualities and character of the man. He was a shining testimony to racism’s lie. Sadly, James’ potential was never realized. Jim Crow laws, black codes, wouldn’t allow it.
Racism taught me one thing and these two men were sending a completely different message. I didn’t quite catch on as a young person but the story doesn’t end there.
Missionary To Africa
I got saved when I was thirteen and a few days after, maybe a week, God called me to be a missionary in Africa. No, this is not usual. It is customary for people to think long and hard about a calling before making a commitment. Not me. I knew God had called and I said so immediately but I was on my own. There was no one in my life that believed it or encouraged it.
My Dad hated the idea. He was angry the day I got saved and fought me about being a missionary up until a couple of years before we left for South Africa. I was thirty-four when he finally acknowledged my call but there was a lot of negativity that went on during the twenty years before.
When I first told Dad about my calling, he said I couldn’t qualify. Naturally, I asked why and he said:
You’re not smart enough.
At the time, that really hurt and I had no defense. I was just thirteen, didn’t have a great track record in school and who at that age can argue against a Dad?
But, as God would have it, Dad didn’t have the final word.
Here again, the experience helped formulate philosophies for later life. I eventually realized that a Dad should be respected but only God should be believed. It seems strange to say but Dads can be wrong. In fact, it is inevitable. A good Dad isn’t one who is always right but rather one who is humble enough to know he can be wrong and willing to admit it when he is.
I have to cry a little when I say this but I don’t think my Dad ever figured that out or if he did, it was too little too late.
My salvation and calling created a rift between me and my Dad. It wasn’t just an opinion fight: he had one and I had another.
I was elated the day I got saved. It was an incredible experience and naturally, I wanted to share the news with my Dad. When he poured cold water on my enthusiasm (he was actually quite mean about it), I knew one of us was wrong and it wasn’t me. Dad couldn’t accept my salvation and, as much as I loved him, I couldn’t deny it.
His agitation was a mystery to me. I didn’t understand it but I never doubted my salvation then or at any time after. The divide was permanent.
What I learned later is that my Dad grew up attending a Baptist church but, sadly, never made a profession of faith until he was 65. Part of the reason he left Mississippi was to escape the Baptists. I only discovered these facts much later, as an adult, but once I discovered this, it all made sense. It was no wonder he hated it when a Baptist led me to the Lord and I then became a Baptist missionary.
As time went on, the separation between us widened. I no longer thought of his beliefs and philosophies as ironclad. It was a good thing. It enabled me to think for myself and I began carefully weighing the ideologies I’d been taught against the realities I faced. Dad taught me several ideas that I’ve since discarded. At the top of the list was racism.
It’s almost as if my eternal salvation opened the doorway to deliverance from supremacist fallacies. I was sorry for the difference with my Dad but I am happy to be free of the arrogance that comes with such thinking.
Are We There Yet
Shortly after the George Floyd murder, the protests began and it was very clear that the public had been galvanized. Maybe now something could be done to bring about change, but what. This was the question for many people.
I was out for a morning bicycle ride and noticed a quote someone posted in front of their house which expressed what they thought might be the solution. The quote read:
The best way to eliminate racism is to define it, identify it and then dismantle it.
That’s a cleverly worded statement but is it really that simple. Racism’s been around for centuries and presents in many different ways. Even more true, it mutates often, like HIV. It’s difficult to dismantle something you can’t put a finger on. The following information includes a few more of my experiences and additional observations I’ve made. It demonstrates the many ways racists tend to mask their intentions.
The South African Experience
When we first arrived in South Africa (March 1986), the country was on the verge of civil war. Apartheid had been running its course since 1949 and the locals were resisting. Three months after we arrived, a car bomb exploded in front of the “Why Not Magoo’s Bar” on the Durban beachfront killing three and injuring sixty-nine. We lived approximately seven miles from where the blast occurred. We heard it but had no idea what it was till the next day.
Bombings like this had become the norm but it hadn’t always involved bloodshed. The ANC, allied with a few other anti-apartheid groups, had been attacking government installations, initially with no intention to harm human life, since 1960. When the primary leaders were imprisoned, the modus operandi changed. Resistance was transferred to younger more radically minded individuals and bloodshed ensued.
It’s not pleasant reading but you can find a list of these clashes on Wikipedia.
The conflicts also took an unexpected turn. Instead of attacking government installations, anti-apartheid groups began inflicting injury on each other. This naturally raises questions. Why would two groups, both wanting the same thing, begin attacking each other.
Much of the inter-group violence occurred between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Inkata Freedom Party (IFP). Both groups wanted to end Apartheid but were very different in makeup.
The ANC was a party that coalesced several racial/ethnic groups under one political banner. In fact, anyone of any color or background could partner with the ANC. The IFP represented only the Zulu Nation. You could find ANC supporters all over South Africa but IFP supporters, while great in number, were far less widespread.
The Zulus, situated along the country’s eastern coast, had a long history of dominance in the region and saw the ANC as spoilers. They didn’t want other parties intruding on their political base. Sadly, the Apartheid government secretly funded the IFP to incite fighting and bloodshed between these groups for several years beginning as early as 1980. It is another example of racism’s bad intentions and the willingness to do anything reprehensible to avoid achieving equality, and it explains of the lot of the bloodshed too.
The ANC-IFP conflict was a mini civil war that left some 2000 dead, considerably more injured and countless homes destroyed. By fueling the conflict, the Apartheid government hoped to create the appearance of ungovernability. It provided an excuse to keep Apartheid in force.
We lived close to the center of the conflict and it was scary. There were places you just did not go for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.
It is ironic that the men who fed this flame and purportedly wanted the best for all South Africans were supposedly God-fearing Christian people.
Abetted By The Reagan Administration
It is important to note that the US didn’t place economic sanctions on South Africa till 1986 and Congress had to override Reagan’s veto of the bill to put the law in force. It is also true that Reagan obstructed compliance with the sanctions once the bill was signed into law. The Government Accountability Office reported a “shocking lapse by top Reagan administration officials, who failed to apply elementary enforcement procedures in carrying out the anti-apartheid law.”
Why would Reagan allow this? Racism wasn’t openly stated but in hindsight it seems there was a strain of white supremacy at work?
His publicly stated reason for vetoing the bill was it would put additional hardship on the black people of South Africa and would work against his plan of constructive engagement. We call that smoking-screening. The black people of South Africa had suffered for decades in Apartheid’s stranglehold. It couldn’t get any worse. Nothing Reagan did made any difference.
Reagan also viewed the Apartheid government as a bulwark against the advancement of communism and that idea really boggles the mind. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not a communist. I’ve never been tempted to be a communist. I’ve never thought communism was a valid political philosophy. I’ve never even met a communist in or outside the US so I’m not in favor of communism. I don’t know anyone who is but communism is invariably the card Reagan and Reagan-types, before and after him, play repeatedly to justify their policies.
Reagan didn’t need to work so hard against communism. It was self-defeating and already in free-fall when he gave it a push. I’m sure it would have toppled without his help but mentioning it was a great fear-mongering tactic especially since less acceptable motives needed to be hidden.
The irony is, without the abuses of Colonialism and particularly Apartheid there would be no political vacuum for communism to fill.
His record also indicates he was biased toward blacks especially if they were poor.
The Southern Strategy
Reagan’s presidential campaign, like Nixon’s before him, implemented what was known as the Southern Strategy, a plan to use race-baiting to win over white southern voters. Bush, who immediately followed Reagan, used the same approach.
Racism was illegal by this time but racist sentiments could be morphed in subtle ways to achieve the desired end. Nixon advisor, John Ehrlichman, described the strategy in these words:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon Whitehouse after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against war or black but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
Shortly after the Nixon Presidency began, 1970, the prison population was 357,292. By the end of the Reagan Presidency, the prison population had more than tripled to 1,179,200 and a disproportionate number of inmates were African American.
Reagan campaign strategist, Lee Atwater, explained the Southern Strategy in these words:
You start out in 1954 by saying nig..r, nig..r, nig..r. By 1968 you can’t say nig..r, that hurts you. It backfires. So you say stuff like forced-bussing, state’s rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now. You’re talking about cutting taxes. And all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and the by-product of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.
The strategy was also fueled with “War on Drugs” rhetoric and the laws that came out of these emotional appeals targeted mostly the African American drugs of choice like crack cocaine. Sentencing disparity between Crack and Cocaine was huge. Penalties for Crack were 100 times greater than Coke before 2010 and are still out of balance at 18 to 1 even though there is no chemical difference between the two drugs.
Coke was largely ignored because it was the more sophisticated suburban drug. The inner city was the target.
Bush followed the same pattern as Nixon and Reagan, and Clinton fell into the trance as well delivering the two-punch knockout: mandatory sentencing and three strikes. Clinton did apologize later, but by then it was too late.
The unfairness of the laws is attested to even by those on the right. Newt Gingrich, a staunch Republican, said coke and crack should both be penalized the same. There is no difference.
But fair or not the police were saddled with the responsibility of enforcing these laws and it would naturally create ongoing angst between them and the most targeted community, African Americans. It’s not surprising that many police develop an underlying distrust toward blacks. The hood is where you find crack and that’s the most frequent touch-point for swat teams across the land.
There are plenty of drugs on college campuses and in boardrooms but these locations get a pass.
Is racism still kicking? Yes. Is it systemic? Absolutely.
Though subtle, several laws enacted since the end of the Civil War were intended to reduce or eliminate the rights granted in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution. That applies even to legislation enacted following the 1964 Civil Rights Act. From poll taxes and literacy tests in the post Civil War era to the “War on Drugs” and voter suppression in recent history, the black community is targeted and their freedoms limited.
Prisoners Or Slaves
The “War on Drugs” created another problem: an increasing number of inmates. This influx of inmates overextended the capacity of the penal system. New prisons were required and this represented a business opportunity. It was only natural that the prison system was privatized and then expanded to deal with the increasing number of inmates.
Private businesses, of course, work on the principle of supply and demand. Success is based on supplying commodities for which there is a demand. When the demand dries up, profits fall.
In this case, imprisonment was the supply and prisoners were the demand. Without prisoners, prisons would fail so being good businessmen, prison corporations negotiated contracts requiring States to produce a constant stream of prisoners. In other words, States were required to keep the prisons full.
But, it doesn’t stop there. By placing prisons in proximity to other businesses, prisoners could become low paid employees requiring no more benefits than the prison system supplied, all paid for, of course, with government money.
It’s worth mentioning that America, which only represents 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s prisoners. Of those prisoners, African American males, who represent 6.5% of the U.S. population, represent 40.2% of the prison population. The other 60% are mostly a mix of American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Latino. In other words, the poor.
Once again, unfair laws put African Americans and other minorities into legalized slavery in the recent past and mostly during Republican administrations.
Voter Rights Manipulated
In spite of these facts, many view racism as a thing of the past especially since the election of Barak Obama. Once he became President, the assumption was that America had finally shed its racist inclinations. But is that really true? Data from the election and legislative responses from several States, tell a different story.
The white vote had little bearing on the elections of 2008 and 2012. Obama’s campaign mobilized a new block of approximately fifteen million voters comprising a coalition of Asian American, African American, Hispanic American, young and poor. White voters hadn’t elected a Democrat to the office of President since 1964. Clinton won predominantly through the African American vote and white voting trends remained the same in the case of Obama.
This new block of voters was a problem for Republicans. The appropriate response, of course, would be for Republicans to make their case in campaigns and introduce fair legislation but that’s difficult for several reasons. It would break with the status quo. Fair legislation for minorities would be an about-face for Republicans. How would they explain a turnaround? Additionally, there are difficulties that naturally occur in legislative processes.
All politicians avoid specific campaign promises and legislation takes time to enact and even more time to implement. The results may not be apparent too quickly and with party politics, you never know what spoiler the opposition might introduce next.
The safe bet is to hold ground and that is the attitude reflected in remarks by Lindsey Graham:
The demographics race we’re losing badly…(Republicans are) not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.
His objective is clearly aimed at saving the party not the Republic. With Racism no longer legal or tolerated, and subtle references recognized for what they are, the easy way to save the party became voter suppression: legal sidesteps to eliminate voters, particularly minority voters.
Following the Obama election, 180 voter restriction bills were introduced in 41 different States all of which were legal and all of which were designed to suppress minority votes. Between 2016 and 2018 more than 17 million names were purged from voter rolls across the United States. Most of those purged were minorities. Problem solved!
Every politician has one supreme task. Serve the American public. Not some of the public. Not the best part of the public. Not the people they like or favor. Not the lobbyists and not the party. When everyone isn’t served equally, everyone suffers eventually.
One way to serve well is to protect the principle of One-Person-One-Vote, a long-standing mainstay of American Democracy. Voting isn’t a privilege, it is a right. Every individual has a say in how the country is run, i.e, if the system isn’t manipulated.
If there is a question about your registration, you can go to this website to check your status or to register.
Truth About Republican Politics
In my early years, I naturally developed an affinity for Republican politics. I was too young to really understand the issues but my Dad was Republican and that’s all he would allow. I can remember my Dad’s very heated, high volume arguments with individuals who favored Democrats. As far I know Dad voted only Republican in every election.
The same divide that led me to question my Dad’s racism naturally led me to question his politics and that brought me to where I am now. I never vote for the party. I vote for the individual. Voting only along party lines is a cop-out. The idea that nothing gets done without a party majority is nonsense. Politicians often claim that but it’s a ruse. The reason politicians fail is they lack the ability to mobilize voter sentiment and they don’t want to do the hard work of making convincing arguments.
No legislator will refuse to pass laws the public wants.
Dad wasn’t the only one-way voter in my life, though. Every church I attended, the Bible College I attended and every colleague were Republican, loudly so, mouthily. It’s as if the Republican party has become the Baptist church of politics.
There may have been the occasional Democrat along the way but they never stood out. What do you call someone who votes for one party only and always: mindless, lazy, irresponsible, partyphile? I don’t know but voting only along party lines is an insult to the framers of the constitution and trivializes the fundamentals of American democracy.
The party-first approach is often driven by a person’s individual sense of what is or isn’t moral and Republicans use this to their advantage. They call themselves “Conservatives” and give lip service to many sensitive topics for Christians in an effort to claim the moral high ground but the reality is they bend the law repeatedly at will and act surprised when caught. They use religion to smokescreen their bad behavior. The list of offenses is long and well documented:
- Nixon, the prayer breakfast President – Watergate
- Reagan, the man upstairs President – Irangate along with his misguided and unbalanced war on drugs
- Bush (W), the most openly religious President – WMDgate
- Trump, the family Bible President – Russiagate, Ukrainegate
I’m not denying the Christianity of any of these Presidents (although one or two I seriously question) but each one used their religion in a calculated manner to garner votes. Is that how it should work? Must a candidate declare he is Christian for me to know he is decent? Dropping names is easy but it isn’t the best way to measure a person’s character even when “Jesus” is the name they’re dropping.
Christian or not, there is no excuse for manipulation. The end does not justify the means especially if you’re Christian but the voting public is repeatedly taken in by the Christian-moralistic rhetoric employed in campaign after campaign and then shocked when the lies are revealed.
There is something terribly wrong with assuming being Christian makes any person a good choice for the Presidency. Becoming a Christian gives you a new heart and the ability to move in a better direction. It doesn’t transform anyone into the best choice for the job. Any job! No person is automatically the right choice because he or she is Christian.
And even if a candidate’s ideas are great, any politician who fails to move his vision through proper channels is in the wrong job. If his ideas can’t bear public scrutiny, maybe they aren’t such good ideas. There’s no place in government for people who can’t make convincing arguments and lead through public debate.
Good ideas or not, though, there’s no excuse for lying and cheating to get into office or to carry out one’s vision. When politicians think they are smarter or better than the American people, they don’t belong. We need fairminded leaders, not Ayotolas.
Even the Republican platform is misleading. They decry Big Government and then employ government by subterfuge. That shouldn’t happen in any government of any size.
Recent Administrations Reflect Racist Sentiments
With all the Black Lives Matter activity coming to the surface, talking heads are responding and they’re doing exactly what you’d expect, saying whatever is necessary to dismiss racism’s reality.
Since Jim Crow laws were abolished in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act, they reason, there are no longer any hindrances to the advancement of colored people. On the surface, the argument sounds great but don’t jump to conclusions to quickly.
Following is a list of executive orders and acts aimed at reducing discrimination dating all the way back to 1883:
- The Civil Rights Act of 1883 prohibited favoritism in federal employment.
- Executive order number 0948 prohibited discrimination in federal agencies based on race, creed or color. The order was issued in 1940.
- In 1961 Executive Order 10925 was issued requiring that positive steps be taken to eliminate workplace discrimination in federal workplaces.
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibited the payment of different wages to workers doing the same work based on sex.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Commission became operational in 1965.
These are just a few examples of legislation implemented to equalize the human workplace, forget society in general. Many more iterations of these laws have passed through Congress in the years since and I doubt we’ve seen the end yet.
A good question to ask is why is there no end to this issue? Why is the problem not yet solved?
Many laws have been enacted over the last 150+ years to abolish slavery – and the racism that accompanies it – but instead of going away, it mutates. The reason for that is clear.
Racism is a heart issue and enacting laws to abolish it has no direct effect on the heart. Laws may define a racist environment – what you do, where you go, how you get there, who you relate to – but heartfelt ideas are resilient. There is no direct connection between the law and the heart.
So what is really happening?
It’s simple. People respond to anti-racist laws the same way they respond to tax laws: look for loopholes. There are endless ways to avoid compliance without breaking the law. People do it all the time, especially when money is involved.
One way to change that is not charity but fairness. We need to view people, all people, the way farmers view seeds. Farmers don’t nurture some seeds and neglect others. They do their best to treat them all the same. Farmers know that each seed has potential but that potential can only be realized when all of them are exposed to the right environment.
The racist response to the minority communities is the equivalent of throwing a hand full of seed on a wooded lot with uncleared brush and expecting each seed to tough it out. The miracle is a few seeds germinate and thrive, but very few. The bulk is lost forever.
Racism takes the naturally endowed potential of God-given life and smothers it while at the same time cursing it for not doing better.
The measure of racism’s waste is the great number of individual people of color who have risen to the highest levels in many fields: politics, medicine, academia, art, law and more, in spite of hindrances. If so many could crack through the hard surface of racism, how much more could have been achieved without racist restrictions?
Sadly, racism’s waste is double-edged.
Effort spent oppressing another person is lost to everyone. One community is deprived of opportunity: better schools, more promising career options and on the off chance they qualify anyway, they are considered last for opportunities. The other community spends so much time making sure they retain all the opportunities, they pursue none of them fully.
It’s like playing football with only one team on the field. There’s no real test so no one really wins.
Laws to counteract racism wouldn’t be necessary if we would each hold ourselves accountable and Jesus told us how to do that.
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
- Love your neighbor as you love yourself
- Love your enemies
The bottom line is if you don’t stop blaming, you’ll never start changing.