|By Clyde Lewis
I have heard this statement many times: "I should not have to feel guilty about what happened to blacks and other minorities in the past. My ancestors never owned slaves, I am sick and tired of hearing blacks say that they are discriminated against, this is the 90's we are treating people better now." It's time to understand that even in the 90's hate groups exist. They also have a right to speak their minds. Sometimes they are more vocal and more forceful, than someone who is passively silent. Silence is acceptance.
In common everyday language, denial means contradicting something that someone has already asserted. Sometimes denial is fear of the truth. Fear of hearing something that we know will agitate and perhaps violate the "safe" and "protective" shield we construct to avoid the ugliness of the world around us.
In Times of political correctness it becomes necessary to show that all the New speak that is out there, is used to put a mask on what really is happening. All the pretty little words cannot hide the ugliness that continues to this day in the United States. It is funny how at the end of one millenium we have not yet come to grips with our hatred of each other, Our mistrust of one another. We have continued to find people who appear to be different suspicious, and the object of our ridicule. Those who sympathize also get labeled and so many people fear standing up and defending the defenseless. So the best we can do is use pretty words in order to show that we are working on our prejudice attitudes. Pretty words will never erase the bigotry and hatred that many still have for those who are different. Saying the N-word excuses us from using the word nigger and does nothing to keep it from being used in jokes, songs, and at KKK rallies.
Neither the media, nor government, nor doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, nor the clergy have a monopoly on anxiety about the races. Many Euro-Americans have decide to move into compounds, in Idaho, Washington State and Montana because they believe that African Americans are gearing up for an all out extermination of the white race. Perhaps they think that they want revenge for slavery. However it goes both ways. A much higher percentage of Blacks believe that White Americans have a plan to exterminate them, and with good reason.
When one decides to talk about African Americans and how they are treated in this country, one always has to dodge the "guilt trip" debate. When past and present atrocities are opened up like a pus filled wound the uncomfortable feeling of being an ugly white person emerges. The intent of speaking about these issues is not to pass judgement or to force a guilt trip. The intent is to realize that if we keep silent about such atrocities we are only enabling them to continue.
The real ugly white person is the ignorant white person. The person who always has the opinion that when a Black American says that he or she is treated unfairly that they are merely pointing the finger at the Whites for their involvement in slavery. This is untrue. Being white myself, I do not know for sure if it isn't a small part of it, but I do know that in the modern era those who have power have targeted African Americans many times after slavery. Targeted them for experiments, intelligence tests, eugenics, and genocide. It is also a matter of record that discrimination still exists in the United States. Our Human rights record has gone unchecked. What has been touted as a model in human rites is now looked upon by other countries as a sad reminder of how we can point the finger at others while our example is tarnished with the truth.
The Human Rights watch of 1999 recently had this to say about the United States and our failure to practice what we preach, when it comes to racial harmony:
"The United States has long regarded itself as a beacon of human rights, as evidenced by an enlightened constitution, judicial independence, and a civil society grounded in strong traditions of free speech and press freedom. But the reality is more complex; for decades, civil rights and civil liberties groups have exposed constitutional violations and challenged abusive policies and practices. In recent years, as well, international human rights monitors have documented serious gaps in U.S. protections of the human rights of vulnerable groups. Both federal and state governments have nonetheless resisted applying to the U.S. the standards that, rightly, the U.S. applies elsewhere."
The report goes on to say we address the issues of racial discrimination and civil rights violations but do nothing to combat these problems in this country.
"In the Clinton administration Americans have a leadership willing to recognize some core inequities-racial, gender and other types of discrimination, for example-but nonetheless unwilling to incorporate key international human rights principles fully into U.S. domestic policies and practices, as described below. At the same time, senior figures of the congressionally dominant Republican Party and many state-level governments-which are bound by U.S. obligations under human rights treaties-have denounced international standards as intrusive while advocating policies that effectively infringe upon the human rights of citizens and new arrivals."
Law enforcement and their treatment of minorities were cited in the report as well.
"In 1998, as in previous years, the U.S. failed to address human rights criticism absent sustained national and international attention-and sometimes even then. Conservative politicians and their allies, often using ugly rhetoric, led successful efforts to craft or maintain policies that excluded unpopular or controversial groups-convicted criminals, immigrants, and members of certain minorities, among others-from full protection of their human rights, despite the protests of U.S.-based rights groups and liberal members of Congress. "Get tough" anti-crime policies, which enjoyed significant public support, became the vehicle for many of the most serious abuses. As a result, abusive police officers or prison guards too often enjoyed impunity"
Once again minority racial groups continued to be over represented among those sentenced to death. More Blacks spend time in prison. Harsh criminal justice policies continue to fall disproportionately on black Americans. Now you may understand why there is a persistent complaint of racial discrimination from Black Americans. After hearing these figures, you can see how the "slavery" argument is a lame attempt to feel good about ourselves and how White Americans whose ancestors did not own slaves are above all of the talk about Blacks whining, constantly about their problems. Their problems are very real.
According to the most recent figures from the Department of Justice, 8.3 percent of black men aged twenty-five to twenty-nine were in prison in 1996, compared to 2.6 percent of Hispanics men and 0.8 percent of white men in the same age group. Black Americans constituted a disproportionate share of the prison population: 48 percent of state prisoners, 30 percent of federal prisoners, and 42 percent of jail inmates, according to 1997 statistics, the most recent data available. The rate of imprisonment for black men was 8.5 times that of white men. According to a U.S. Department of Justice analysis, if current rates of incarceration continue, one in three of the next generation of black men will spend time in prison at some point in his life.
The question is why is this happening? Where have we gone wrong? Why does it seem like blacks commit more crimes than whites. Are they angry? Or is it because of a White conspiracy? Once again the "anger over slavery" argument comes up again. After reading all this, doesn't that argument seem lame?
Once again I have to show you that it is not just slavery that blacks have in their past that dehumanizes them but other things that have always been hidden or ignored because the subjects are ugly moments in our History.
The Truth is that the United States was the first industrialized nation to enact racial purification laws. Many in early American history had this idea that Blacks were stupid, Jews were greedy, and Mexicans were lazy. Stereotypes that oddly enough have remained with us for at least 100 years. In the 1960's Columbia University Professor Henry Garret believed that people of African decent are 200,000 years behind those of whiter complexion. In the midst of the Civil Rights movement he condemned desegregation, and said that any White that had sex with a Black was breeding down. This man was not a Klansman or a neo-nazi, but a respected professor.
University of Delaware researcher Linda Gottfredson got $174,000 dollars in grant money from our Government to study the relationship of race and job performance. William Shockley a Nobel Prize winning electronics pioneer seriously made a proposal offering to pay Black persons with low IQ scores cash incentives of $1,000 per point below 100 to have themselves sterilized.
There is also the story of the Notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Study of 1932. In which 200 poor Black men with syphilis were studied over a long period of time, without being treated. None of them were told they had the illness. As many as 100 of the original 200 died of the disease, and the wives and children of the men routinely acquired the disease. The government office that supervised this barbaric act still exists today, The centers for disease control.
Not only do Black Americans have to deal with these ugly truths about their past, but they also have to live in this country knowing that there are organized hate groups that still believe that violence against Blacks is the only way to avoid White extermination.
Everyone knows about the Infamous Ku Klux Klan and what they have done in the past, and continue to do today. But there is another Group that has been quiet as of late but has been behind a number of horrible acts against blacks. That group is called The White Aryan Resistance or WAR for short.
Tom Metzger, is a TV repairman from, California, and is considered America's most notorious hate monger. His nearly 30-year career in the radical right has included affiliation with the John Birch Society in the 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, White Aryan Resistance during the80s and 90s. Tom and his son John lead WAR.
On the night of November 12, 1988, a neo-Nazi skinhead gang in Portland called the East Side White Pride attacked three Ethiopian immigrants with a baseball bat and steel-toed boots; Mulugeta Seraw was killed. Investigation into the murder revealed links between the skinheads - three of whom were convicted of murder and the White Aryan Resistance. Tom and John Metzger have appeared on Several Radio and TV Talk Shows, and John was responsible for an onstage brawl in November of 1988 on the Geraldo Rivera show. The fight left Rivera with a broken Nose.
Apart from the organized racial hate, there are cases of racial hatred that turn deadly everyday as in the brutal and degrading June 1998 murder of James Byrd, a black man in Texas, whose killers dragged his beaten body behind their pickup truck until he died.
February is Black History Month. A month set aside to learn more about African Americans. Let's take the time to admire their strengths. How they remain strong through adversity. From the Emancipation to the late 60's it was difficult for them to keep their sites on the American dream. Many persevered in spite of such adversity and injustice to them, they were a very proud, persistent, and productive people. In spite of such social restrictions as separate water fountains, back door services, and back-of-the-bus travel. But the fact remains that in a time where the foreign enemy is like the flavor of the month, we as a nation try to find the enemy in our own back yard. We use certain tools, and use certain groups as subversive examples. In January of 1989 The Minneapolis police department smashed down the door of an Elderly Black couple, using flash bang grenades which accidentally set the house on fire killing both old people. Someone had given the cops a tip saying that the house was a drug house. They didn't find any drugs. The Chief of police justified the killings of two innocent people by saying, "This is War." It most certainly is. Only if you want it. Only if you are silent. Silence is acceptance. If you do not act you are enabling those who wish to continue the reign of terror. Keep in mind the catch 22. They have freedom of speech too. They have protection of the law. Sometimes they are the law, The clergy, and your best friends. They hide behind political correctness. They hide behind the constitution, the flag, and justify it with the help of God. Your only protection is keeping your mind at Ground Zero. The truth is in your heart.
Copyright 1998-2007 Ground Zero Media, Clyde Lewis, and John Hart. All Rights Reserved.