Tag Archives: civil rights

The 3/5 Solution

Once again we see the shock and horror that a black man has been murdered in broad daylight by someone legally hired and empowered by the state. YAWN.

Once again we hear the calls for peace and tranquility. Calls for “law and order”. Calls for patience . The questioning of “How did we come to this?” YAWN

The US did not “come to this”. This is who we are. As a nation. Our holy and worshiped founding fathers made it clear in the Constitution. Black men and women are 3/5th of a person. It was true then, it is true now.

Article 1, section 2 … Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons

Of course “all other persons” were the slaves. So the southern states could claim the black men, women and children were property. And then claim that those very same men , women and children must be counted as 3/5 of a person for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives.

So, at the outset of the Civil War almost 4,000,000 slaves added 2,400,000 “persons” to the total population of the slave states. Giving the slave states representation in Congress far beyond the actual number of “citizens”.

From day one black people in the United States have been considered less than “full” people. And that is the bare truth of the foundations of this nation. Like it or not.

So, when the KKK brutalized black Americans after the racists lost the Civil War, it should come as no surprise. And when Jim Crow kept blacks from getting uppity in the south, that should come as no surprise. And when black soldiers returning from WW2 were refused service at restaurants and denied the right to vote, that should come as no surprise.

What should be surprising is the strength of the myth. The myth that the US was founded on principles of freedom, democracy, blah,blah,blah. That has never been and never was the reality. It was and is “fake news”.

Now, you may say, but what about the Voting Rights Act and other Civil Rights acts? Don’t they show progress? To that I respond thusly.

If the US was founded and grew on principles of equality, why was there a need for a Voting Rights Act? Or special Civil Rights acts? Why did we need special laws for black men and women just to try to give them the same rights the rest of society enjoys? In the “land of the free” why was it necessary to write special laws giving “freedom” to citizens who should have already had it?

And, as we have seen, the Supreme Court has overturned even those laws. Since the Voting Rights Act was rescinded how many states immediately took steps to suppress and deny votes to black citizens? How many blacks were purged illegally from the voting rolls in Florida in 2000, giving the election to GW Bush? How many were purged in North Carolina and Georgia in 2016?

But the myth lives on. It is a nice myth. A comfortable myth. A myth that tries to place the suppression and murder of black Americans in a certain context. That context is this: The murder and suppression of blacks in the US is an aberration. A blip on the screen of democracy. A pimple on the otherwise perfect face of equality.

I disagree. Racism has been at the core of the American experience. The very core of the legal system. It is as old as the US Constitution and may never be erased. Racism is as American as violence. Both go hand in hand.

It is not just the south. In the north as well racism is a core value. Highways were built around cities effectively cutting off black neighborhoods from white ones. The attempt at segregation was halted by the practices of the banking industry. Schools in NY, for example, are among the most highly segregated in the nation.

So, let’s stop pretending. The 3/5 solution is still with us. Black men and women are not valued unless they can sing or bounce a basketball. Racism is not a southern phenomenon or an aberration. It is what America was founded on.

Is there a “solution”? There can be no solution when those in power do not see a problem. Or identify the problem as a “black” problem. Just another example of “uppity” Negroes not knowing their place. It has always been thus in America and I suspect may always be so.

I know if I were a black person in America I would go nowhere without being armed. I would suspect every police officer of being a potential killer. I would shoot first and ask questions later. I would know, not just claim, that my life is in danger every day. In fact, I remain amazed at the patience and willingness of most black Americans to work “within the system” when the system is so obviously corrupt. I would not have that patience.

Is there a “solution’? Not until we confront and destroy the myth. The myth of the “founding fathers” and the myth of “democracy” and the myth of “equal justice under the law”.

People die easy. A bullet . A knee to the neck. A chokehold. Myths are not so easy to kill. The 3/5 solution is on display every day.

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Filed under african-american, blacks, choke hold, civil war, Congress, crime, Education, government, North Carolina, police, police brutality, Politics, racism, SCOTUS, Secession, slavery, Society, Supreme Court, United States, violence

Why Do We Gotta Learn This Stuff?

Billy Bob Baker, sitting in the back row picking his nose in US history class: “Why do we gotta learn this stuff?” What history teacher has not heard that refrain from some of his or her students ?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama.

In much of Alabama Negroes could not vote. African-Americans and blacks could not register to vote. The state of Alabama had systematically and intentionally prevented minorities from taking part in elections. State’s rights.

The federal government was doing nothing to guarantee this right.

So. People marched. Peacefully. And the local and state authorities responded with violence. With billy clubs. With dogs. With tear gas. With beatings.

Because people marched for the right to vote. Peacefully. For the right to vote.

Today we have seen a resurgence of the “state’s rights” propaganda. In the 1950s and 60s it was a code word for racism. For keeping minorities powerless. For making laws about marriage, schools, drinking fountains, restaurants and even where a person could sit on a bus.

Take a moment to digest that. The state of Alabama,under the doctrine of “state’s rights” decided that some working, tax paying citizens could not drink at a public drinking fountain. Or use a restroom. The state of Alabama, and many others, decided that even though a person bought a ticket to ride a bus he or she could not sit in an empty seat on that bus unless it was in the back of the bus. Even though the law abiding working citizens paid taxes , the state of Alabama decided that these same taxpaying citizens could not participate in elections.

Let it sink in.
It is not ancient history. It is modern America. It wasn’t 1695, it was 1965.

“Why do we gotta learn this stuff?” Because ignorance breeds racism. Because ignorance of recent history allows one to be lead by the nose into another era of “states rights”. Another code word. Because your ignorance condemns you to be a pawn. Because the world is more complex than Fox Entertainment would have you believe. And to help you understand that no battle for civil rights is ever finished. Because if you remain ignorant you are easy pickings for the demagogues and racists. There are always politicians who will use the codewords to gain power over others.

Yes, Billy Bob. You gotta learn that stuff. Not just for yourself, but so the rest of us can live knowing that your ignorance will not help reactionaries turn back the clock of progress.

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Filed under blacks, Education, government, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, police, Politics, Republicans, Society