With these ever-increasingly perilous times at hand, we must survey the political situation and climate. President Trump got elected, in part, because he spoke his mind, even when it was not always politically expedient. Voters preferred the more genuine candidate.
With this in mind, let us be bold, brave, beautiful...and black!
Hence, the Black Political Party is forged. Now, before anyone accuses this party of discrimination, let us be clear: this party is for the marginalized, oppressed, and overlooked. We need not look to others for help, when we ourselves can be empowered!
As I listened to the speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave in Oslo when he accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1963, I noticed his unwavering faith in peaceful resistance to unjust laws. He spoke of nonviolent struggle, though militant in its goals, with the result of gaining freedom.
Then, I began to listen to the speech given when Barack Obama was the American president. I listened with shock as he swiftly began to turn to this notion of "just war." Did he actually put ancient philosophers above Dr. King??? He accepted his role of commander-in-chief as a status quo, regular president, not the great president he aspired to become.
If we are to move beyond the confines that violence is the answer to every threat, meeting violence with the threat of violence, then we have not become as advanced in peace as we thought we are.
The election of President Barack Obama seemed to usher in some form of a post-racial society, where race does not matter. Such was the majority of Hawaii, the place of the president's birth. Even when children are little, race does not seem to matter. It is only when a child's innocence is lifted that the realization of a society built on racial disfunction is recognized. One may realize the folly of racial discrimination. It is counter-productive to hinder a good number of citizens for no other reason except for the color of skin.
However, another issue pops up, something that is, in fact, sort of post-racial. It is the turning a blind eye to race, where there is the belief that race no longer matters in America. To be exact, such a belief is dangerous but is much better than being racially prejudice. To ignore race is to ignore a person's overall background. No, one should not prejudge, but neither one should not ignore race entirely.
So are we, as some may have hoped, a "post-racial" society? In part yes, because blacks now view racism in a more optimistic tone. We have seen the validation of the notion that we all can be anything we set our mind to be. Others of different backgrounds can say yes as well, because the election of a black man as president shows that America can still change and be more inclusive.
However, this historic election, when looking at history and current events, show that there are actually more acts of racism. This is part of the "backlash to progress" theory. This theory shows that when there is progress for equality, there is usually a backlash by those opposed to those changes in society. When looking specifically with blacks, there was Jim Crow after Reconstruction and the freeing of the slaves.
This was a backlash against the new freedoms all blacks would enjoy. When the thirteenth amendment was passed to free all slaves, there was the near-slavery institution of sharecropping. Jim Crow laws made the fourteenth amendment seem as if blacks were just second-class citizens. Finally, voter laws made the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution seem null and void to most blacks. Thus, the power of progress was in the law. The same was true for the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s in terms of the law, but it also was a correction to the backlash of Reconstruction.
Now, the backlash is also against the current president and against many of those who voted for him. Just take a look at how many new voter laws there are. Also, there has been heavy opposition to the president. From "You lie!" to to the opposition's number one priority of making the president lose the re-election, to many mocking him by using racially insensitive remarks or pictures, to the questioning of his patriotism and even his citizenship, we have witnessed just how brutal opposition to change can become. But how bad is the opposition really? Thinking of former presidential hopeful Herman Cain, and things can become even more confusing. However, the support of Herman Cain from Republicans show that opposition to the president mainly has to do with content than color of skin. Still, the way in which they opposed the current president has been very racially insensitive.
A post-racial America? Not quite.
Having done research about the history of segregated churches, I now see how divisive Jim Crow had become. During and after the time of slavery, blacks and whites worshipped together. However, the systematic and deliberate use of segregation in the South caused even the churches to comply with such an evil set of laws. Thus, the final dagger of "deconstruction," (the end of the Reconstruction period following the Civil War and rise of Jim Crow) in America was the segregation of churches. Hence, the segregation in America, on some level, was by force rather than choice; the people at the top imposed their will of hate on the masses. That actually creates hope that churches of similar beliefs will one day join hand in hand in the table of brotherhood (and sisterhood) regularly. Having mentioned this, it is also important to note that at least when it comes to the black community, once progress is made, there are attempts to take back such progress as much as possible. Take slavery for example. After the slaves were freed, and three ammendments were passed to change the Constitution in terms of the abolition of slavery, citizenship, and the right to vote. However, the former Confederate states found ways around the last ammendment. Hence, the era of Jim Crow was born.
After the last part of the Civil Rights laws were past, and the 1968 presidential election was underway, then-candidate Richard Nixon appealed to the "silent majority," who were fed up with the turmoil of the 1960s. Part of this were the protests against Vietnam. Silently, however, much of it was about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This was when the South shifted their support to the Republicans. With this new strategy, some of the economic progress stalled or even degressed.
The most recent example was the election of our current president, Barack Obama. Being the first African-American in the highest office of the land, there was a sort of euphoric feeling that America had moved past race, and that we were becoming a "post-racial society." However, history point to an unexpected future. Where there hope for bi-partisanship, bitter divisions took place. Debate over issues turned into down-right ugliness, and President Obama seemed weakened. With the Affordable Care Act being passed into law, the other political side used "Obamacare," as well as thr slow economy, as rallying cries to usher in a historic sweep of Congress. With the Tea Party by their side, the opposition blocked many important bills, including those dealing with the "debt-ceiling" and "fiscal cliff." Progressed stalled. In other words, there was a "backlash to progress." This progress does not involve itself with every policy the current president makes. It does, though, include being able to work together to solve tough issues. It also includes the president getting a level of respect warranted by his position.
Thus, the historic victory of the 2010 Republicans in the House, along with the subsequent opposition to nearly everything the president would propose (including Republican ideas) could have been predicted using this "backlash to progress" model. This may even be used for other traditionally progressives issues. One thing is for certain: the next time there is another historic mark of progress for blacks (maybe better economic conditions or less crime or more education), expect a backlash, and be prepared for it.
There might be a misconception that churches have always been segregated by race in America, especially in the South. However, immediately after the slaves were freed in the South in the 1860s, there were, in fact, many mixed-race churches, even in the South. However, subsequent decades ushered in Jim Crow laws, so that blacks were separated from whites. This began around the 1890s.
There were, of course, many blacks who decided to separate themselves from the whites in order to avoid the control of the white church population. This reason for separation proves the harsh reality of intergration. Many times, integration goes hand-in-hand with assimilation into the mainstream of society. After the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which declared the "separate but equal" notion of Plessley vs. Fergusson unconstitutional, integration was considered the way to go, especially in the school system.
What many did not realize is that, like integrating Major League Baseball, black businesses and other strongholds of the black community, would suffer. When Jackie Robinson and other professional baseball players began to integrate the all-white MLB, it marked the end to Negro League Baseball. Sadly, integration turned into assimilation into the "mainstream" society with less power, money, and influence. There was no concession to allow any kind of merger between the two professional leagues, as had happened in baseball, football, and basketball. Tragically, the Negroe League faded away without even one team transferring to MLB.
Hence, the irony of the solution to potential inequality through subjugation of one race is made evident: separation of the races can avoid the more powerful one from taking over the less powerful one. This has been shown in the most the important institution African-Americans have ever possessed: the Black Church. Imagine Dr. King trying to lead the civil rights struggle with an all-white religious ruling class structure. It would have been with greater difficulty to accomplish racial equality in the 1950s and 1960s. Laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 greatly empowered the African-American community. However, a community much tread cautiously when integrating and assimilating into a broader society, in order to make sure they benefit from the move instead of loosing ground.
Note: The author does not wish to promote segregation; instead, the hope is to increase understanding of the needs of minority groups.
Bennett, James B. Religion and the Rise of Jim Crow in America. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Princeton University Press, 2005.
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