There is a certainty that comes with any argument involving race in today’s America. Mention, in any way, that America is still not a nation of racial equality and some Tea Party radical will accuse you of, “Playing the race card.” Somewhere between the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and the election of Barack Obama, much of white America has decided that everything is honkie hunky dory.
Well, it isn’t. Certainly blacks and other racial minorities, as well as women, have made great strides in the past sixty years. But the great ambition of being a nation in which all are created equal and have equal opportunity simply hasn’t been yet achieved and there is no shortage of evidence.
In spite of all the legislation there still exist a huge disparity of wealth between white and non-white America. Men still earn far more than women for performing the same jobs. The children of the educated will have a far brighter future than those of the ill-educated. The children of Norther parents will find it an easier world than those of Southern parents. Income, health, education, social and economic mobility, quality of life, environment and other factors are not the same for people of color, people with different sexual proclivity, women, or people of different geography. For much of the past one-hundred years a goal of the US Government has been to, with great success, narrow these divides.
It has not been without conflict or controversy, however. The conservative right has always opposed using the power of the federal government to correct the ills of our economic and social institutions and that war is being waged today as much as ever. Those who have will always be fearful of those who don’t have, just as they will always use what they have to keep the have-nots in their places. It is the very core of what conservatism means. Progress is measured not in change but in maintaining the status quo.
What sparked this diatribe was an online article containing a variety of charts and graphs showing the validity of what I have thus written. I’ll include two graphs and a link to the remainder. Click each graph to enlarge. For additional information click HERE.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews recently unloaded on the critics of President Obama stating that their criticisms and claims about the president are rooted in racism. While I don’t say that about all his critics I do believe the majority on the far-right are motivated by age-old racial bigotry and bias. So, what do you think? Take the poll and let us know.
I always found it interesting the ways Southern slave owners justified the enslavement of fellow humans. Just as amazing was how willing poor white Southerners were to defend a social and economic system that effectively also enslaved them. Poor whites were fervent supporters of slavery when in fact, many of them were economically far worse off than the average black field hand. Black slaves represented an economic investment for the owner so some degree of concern was shown that was never received by poor whites.
One key to understanding this is simply to consider the social ladder. Years ago a college professor of mine said that as long as there was someone further down the social ladder than poor white trash, poor white trash could be counted on to support the status quo.
What brought this subject to mind was a photo circulating on the Internet. It contained a quote from President Lyndon Johnson that explains the above statements and also why so many Americans often vote against their best interests. Myrl Shoemaker once said that any person who carries a lunch pail should be a Democrat. So if working people are best represented by the Democrat Party why do so many vote Republican? Well, according to Johnson the answer is:
“If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.”
How else can we explain the continued loyalty of working-class Republicans after the almost total collapse of the American economic system following eight years of Republican leadership at the national level?
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On Mother’s Day one or more thugs opened fire on a street parade in New Orleans, spraying the crowd with bullets, and wounding at least 17 people. I don’t recall it being a story on the Nightly News or receiving any major news coverage. Most of what I know has come from incidental headlines found on the Internet. Why the outrage over Newtown, CT or Aurora, CO but almost nothing above a whisper when 17 innocent people are the victims of gun violence in NOLA? Makes me wonder if race is playing a part.
FACTOID: At the height of American slavery nothing had more economic worth than the value of slaves except for the value of the American land itself. Slavery was truly ingrained in America’s economic system, North and South.
What yesterday’s elections teach us is yet to be totally known. But, in the short-haul we now know these things to be, “self-evident:”
You can’t trash and dismiss 47% of the electorate and expect their support.
Politicians, especially old white men, can’t utter misogynistic statements and expect to maintain the support of women.
Your political party can’t throw its money into supporting old white men with misogynistic beliefs and come away with noses that aren’t bloodied.
People of color in America are here to stay, are growing in numbers, and are increasingly active in the political process. Ignore at one’s peril.
A political party can no longer ignore the importance of young people. Exit polls show they turned out in even greater numbers than in 2008.
Talk radio’s audience is not indicative of the real America. Most Americans do not listen to the Limbaughs, Hannitys, and Becks.
Most Americans, male and female, abhor the misogynistic, hateful, and racist views of politicians like Allen West, Joe, Walsh, Todd Akin, etc.
Most Americans recognize extremism wherever it exists and reject it.
And finally, most Americans will accept the decisions made by the majority of the voters and will expect the losers to become the loyal opposition and the winners to set aside their ideological doctrines and party loyalties enough to address the needs of the people and the nation.
Now, let’s sit back and see if the Republican Party learns anything from yesterday’s defeat and if both parties can find a way to advance the future of America.
One area of American History that caught my interest in college was the history of America’s westward expansion. Like so many children of my age about everything I knew about cowboys and Indians came from watching Lash Larue and Hopalong Cassidy movies at the Lyric Theater on Saturday afternoons in the 1950s.
For all the years I taught US History and Government a major topic was expanding the franchise in America and increasing the voter turnout. It is one thing to have the right to vote and yet another to get people to exercise that right.
Voter franchise history is America has been a rough road. In the beginning voting was something reserved white males who owned property. Somehow it was thought that unless one had a vested financial interest in the nation they couldn’t make good political choices. And women, well forget that. They weren’t considered inferior for nothing. Obviously, it was believed, the mind of a woman couldn’t hardly deal with the complexities of political issues.
Expanding the franchise has involved political struggle, civil war, great protest movements that some times resulted in violence, drawn out court battles, acts of Continue reading Getting Out the Vote→
When I was a child most of what I knew about Africa came from watching Tarzan movies and much of that was founded on very inaccurate and racist stereotypes. It really wasn’t until I took a series of African History courses in college that I came to realize just how little I really knew.
Even today far too many people base their knowledge of Africa on what they get from Hollywood films. I just came across a brief video produced by a group of young African men that attempts to dispel the common movie based stereotypes about today’s Africans. Unlike the Tarzan films, where Africans ran through the jungle wearing grass Continue reading Africa and the Movies→
I have the Power Of Attorney for an older friend, Charles, who is in a nursing home. Recently, Charles had become very concerned about getting a State ID. I told him that although he no longer drove, his driver’s license was still good for another year to use as identification. I told him it was a waste of $24.00 but he was insistent about getting a state ID. I took him to the BMV and the Clerk there told him he could wait another year as his driver’s license was still good. Finally, he said, “I heard on television that they won’t let me vote without a State ID.” The Clerk and I both reassured him that he couldn’t be denied his right to vote.
For years, I have encouraged him to cast absentee ballots but he wants to vote in person. I told him that I would take him to the Board of Election and he can still vote as he would if he were going to a precinct polling place, but he could do it early. Continue reading Lie, Buy, and Deny→
Everyday I tell myself I will not post anything of a political nature. But before the day is over some right-wing idiot says something so stupid or extreme I just can’t keep my typing digits in my pockets. For example, Romney lets lose his birther “joke” and then says it was just for fun and, “the crowd thought it was funny.” Well guess what, if he had told a joke about Obama loving watermelon that crowd would have again laughed. Apparently neither Romney nor his crowd would recognize a race joke if one tapped danced over its collective intellect!
There are few hotter topics in America today than immigration. However, just as throughout America’s history, immigrants play an enormous role in the day-to-day life of this nation.
Spend a few days in New York City and you’ll quickly discover that the city simply couldn’t function without a continuous flow of immigrants. They are everywhere and doing everything, much of it what native Americans refuse to do. They drive cabs, they wait tables, they labor in hot kitchens from fast food to haute cuisine. They are nannies, maids, laundresses, dish washers, gardeners, painters, and so much more.
Despite of all the arguments against immigration most American businessmen openly admit that consumer goods and services would be far more costly without them. Much of America’s food crops would simply rot in the fields and orchards if it weren’t for the immigrant labor force that brings in the crop. And it is not enough to argue that if welfare were slashed all those “lazy ass moochers” would be forced into the farms and fields. If every able bodied person in America were forced to pick peaches we still may not have enough people to meet our labor demands.
There is no denying it, America needs immigrants. Even in the military immigrants are relied on to keep the ranks filled. It is currently estimated that over 29,000 foreigners are Continue reading Foreigners in America→
A branch of the KKK in Georgia has made application to the state’s Adopt a Highway Program. It wants to be assigned a stretch of road where it can post its signs and be seen out picking up litter and being civic minded. In the interest of free speech I think Georgia should grant them their stretch and then immediately declare that stretch a litter free zone.
The following article by Chris Kjorness appeared earlier this month at reason.com. If you like the blues and musical history I think you’ll enjoy it.
How Sears, Roebuck & Co. midwifed the birth of the blues
Delta blues is as much legend as it is music. In the popular telling, blues articulated the hopelessness and poverty of an isolated, oppressed people through music that was disconnected from popular trends and technological advances. Delta blues giants like Robert Johnson were victims, buffeted by the winds of racism, singing out mostly for personal solace. The story is undoubtedly romantic, but it just isn’t true. “It angers me how scholars associate the blues strictly with tragedy,” B.B. King complained in his 1999 autobiographyBlues All Around Me. “As a little kid, blues meant hope, excitement, pure emotion.”
The tragic image of the blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta ignores the competitive and entrepreneurial spirit of the bluesman himself. While it is certainly true that the music was forged in part by the legacy of slavery and the insults of Jim Crow, the iconic image of the lone bluesman traveling the road with a guitar strapped to his back is Continue reading I Got Da Blues From Missuh Roebuck’s Catlog→