Everywhere on the news is the name, "George Floyd." There is the viral video of a white woman strangling her dog to fake-call the police on an African-American Birdwatcher. Ahmaud Arbery's murder was covered by a whole police department. 157 years after Emancipation, 56 years after the Civil Rights movement, and 7 years after the Black Lives Matter movement, why can we still find cases like this?
Like Malcolm X said, "to understand, you must start at the beginning." The beginning here is the introduction of slavery into the New World. This is not the beginning of racism nor is it the beginning of anti-blackness, which existed in Eurasia long before Columbus met sea, but it will serve our purpose duly.
Explorers landed in Africa and found a population willing to sell prisoners of war or prisoners of debt for the treasures the white man brought with him. Warring tribes employed the help of the white man to subdue their enemies in exchange for permission to take the prisoners to a new land. These forgotten many were taken away with no mind for their humanity; after all, these were just "monkeys serving a purpose." The first slaves set foot on the New World defying the land that the Indians had kept consecrated for years. The innocent population on the British Colonies saw these people and may have had pity but any remorse was soon wiped out by the idea that these weren't humans; they were a lower race; they were as much property as Cattle could be. With their innocence or with their bloody hands they took the slaves in; the lower race; the property. the ideology of racism in America was born.
These inferior people were kept inferior so they may serve their purpose in inferiority and never wonder one day that they may be equal to their master. Reading? what use is reading on the field? Math? the only math they needed to know was how to count their cotton. Gathering? "Oh boy, those negroes must be cooking a rebellion." Their efforts worked, as even if any escaped their rule, they would either be returned swiftly or accused by the white woman for a quick lynching. They justified their actions amongst themselves. If they had never seen a free black man then the black man must have a master. If they had never seen an educated black man then, of course, the black man must remain illiterate. If they had never seen an interracial couple then a biracial child must be a sin under God. "We are innocent and only fulfilling God's word," they told themselves. Of course, they had never heard of Africa where there were free black people—unless they were colonized by masters of nations. Nowhere was the Black man free, and nowhere should he have been.
Over time, some of these "negroes" escaped unto a better life, escaping the traps of the enemy and being delivered to the hands of the affectionate. To school, they went, to read, they learned until suddenly, they were equal to the white man. More people saw this, "what a wonder!" "an educated negro?" "he can read?". The men, the women they had brought in chains many years ago who could not even understand their language were now respectable people. Abolition was born. What we did not know then was racism just had a makeover. These men and women fought for the end of slavery and they achieved it. The south fought to keep their slaves and the North fought to keep the Union together, and the south its inferior. Nobody was really risking their lives for the negro's freedom just as we discovered during reconstruction: America's greatest and most consequential failure in racial equality.
The Negro was still subdued in the foreign land, both in the North and the South, though one more lenient than the other. The South openly expressed and embraced its racism with Jim Crow, Segregation, and voter suppression while the North kept its hidden through district placement in schools. While Jim Crow aimed to keep Black people in their own bubble with no hope of escaping poverty, the school placement system did exactly the same thing. When I first moved to the United States, everything met my expectations except my school (and leadership but then, my expectations for that were low); my school is so terrible that I have not learned anything in any class but my AP language class—I've taken 8 courses since I arrived. The south kept Black Children in Black Schools while district placement kept and keeps poor kids in poor and terribly funded schools. The majority of poor kids if you do not already know are Black Kids—the poorest high school in the nation, Tomorrow's Builders Charter School, is 99% black.
How many times have you heard of an invention by a black man? Excluding MLK, mention one black Nobel Prize winners. There are people in these categories but how many times have you heard of them. These poor black children live in poor neighborhoods, go to poor purely segregated schools (my school is 92% Black and 0.8% white the rest are Hispanics and Asians), get a poor education, either don't go to college or go to poor colleges to get a poor degree, get a poor job or go to prison and have children in these poor neighborhoods again.
Yes! That is a house in America.
This cycle is kept alive by the fact that you probably knew most of everything I've said in this article so far, just as Amy Cooper knew what would happen if a white woman, the epitome of purity, the banner of white righteousness, called the cops on an "African-American man" who was "threatening her life". The reason these things happen is not because of the south, who could be easily rebuked as racists, but the North who had themselves believe they fought for equality and equality was here. The reason these things happen is not linked to the KKK or the Neo-Nazis but that white person who has black friends, black relatives and believe they must be immune to anti-blackness. The reason these things happen is because of those who think by for voting Obama, they had uprooted all racism in the world. These things happen because people still have to ask, "am I racist?" as if they do not know what the word means or they do not know who they are. These things happen because of the Asian-Americans (supposedly a minority) who only cared about racism when our president called the Pandemic a "Chinese Virus", who will waste no time to say, "I am not a virus" but will snare at someone holding up a sign that says "Black Lives Matter" even after African-Americans' effort for the immigration act of '65 that allowed them into the country.
Racism is a war inside and an action outside. Amy Cooper says, "I am not a racist"; surely she doesn't think she is; she isn't a part of the KKK. The policeman who killed George Floyd surely understood the history of Police Violence against African-Americans. The murderers of Ahmaud Arbery knew the Glynn County Police Department would be complicit to cover up their crime. Like Martin Luther King said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s greatest stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Klu Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice: who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
These videos we have seen are not the first or last of their time. These things happen every day; the pandemic has only kept us on our screens long enough to acknowledge it. The true strength of racism comes from pretentious equality. It is sad that the racism that is big bad and bold enough to see is a mere minority.