The BBC reports that about 500 people marched yesterday in the St Andrew’s Day Anti-Racism March, organized by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, to mark the anniversary of the British act to abolish the trade. I have to wonder as I do each time I read about anti-racism rallies outside the U.S. why there are no similar events organized on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps it is the partly due to the fact that so few Americans really know the history of the transatlantic slave trade, or the debates in the U.S. about it, including the following quote from Abraham Lincoln in 1858:
“I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about the social or political equality of the white and black races – I am not … in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to inter-marry with white people.”
“There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”
And, then again, in 1862, while President Lincoln said:
“If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it, and if I could do it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would do that also. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.”
(Thanks to Richard Woodley at The Fifth Column for reminding me of these quotes.)
It seems to me that what Lincoln shares with some of the contemporary advocates of racial inequality, biological and otherwise, is what historian George Fredrickson calls the arrogance of race.
Children are socialized to value Lincoln with the penny from an early age with the piggy bank–$$$. If you live in Washington State, you are socialized to worship Washington (they value an “honest” history so much—a history through a lens of white supremacy that is, which is a distorted teaching that is more dangerous than beneficial to everybody…even though George himself supposedly couldn’t tell a lie)—George is on the seal, the flag, which is in all schools and flown everywhere. Repeatedly, the public schools are named after Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, Jefferson, and on and on…. Yes, there is a “Capital Hill” and even Mt. Vernon. The irony of Washington…”we didn’t have slaves”…and some how even Lincoln is a hero too. Let’s not go into tribal relations…. This nation, as some scholars have noted, can’t even give an apology for its past wrongs. And those who would demonstrate in favor of recognizing the end of slavery in this nation would be “evil doers”…. With the passing of Thanksgiving, an after note, however, it should be recognized equally that the Pilgrims at least gave the nation John Brown—oh, but he was a terrorist….or an evil doer? Probably an evil doer in current times (to get the language straight). But a jolly tune for the musically inclined if interested or those who like artists who addresses political issues, etc.…that seems to address the post in a round about way also…:
Lets not forget that the Civil Rights movement fixed racism. And King has a Monday in January, can we really ask for anything more?
I agree that overcoming the challenges of recognizing MLK day as an official holiday is a major milestone in U.S. history—but yes, I think we can ask for more…much more. (I assume there is sarcasm in that question) But it would be nice if Malcom, Du Bois, Douglass, Jacobs, and others would be recognized also, if not at least taught in the schools early. What would happen if Lincoln were replaced with Douglass on the penny? Here’s more on the Washington flag, the official website for the State flag says: “…The flag of the state of Washington is a symbol of the authority and sovereignty of the state and is a valuable asset of its people…” at: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.theus50.com/images/state-flags/washington-flag.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.theus50.com/washington/flag.php&h=212&w=320&sz=21&hl=en&start=1&tbnid=hjcN5vw_W4YtaM:&tbnh=78&tbnw=118&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwashington%2Bflag%26gbv%3D2%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den .
I think we both know that holidays wouldn’t change anything, Malcolm was on the stamp and I cannot say we are better off for it. I think the biggest current travesty is the lack of black leadership, outside of academics who are largely ignored outside the academy. The only voices for change are popular culture and from what I have seen most of that is in comedy.
Will, I see what you’re saying and wish I could give you a high five, however, I am not in favor of blaming the victim—so I can’t. How about a one thumbs up on the rest? I think this nation overall, lacks any type of decent leadership. Good leadership either lacks color or is a neon rainbow that has respect for nature overall. But, we should not forget the political prisoners (former and present), of any group…It’s the America’s way of keeping any potential solidarity weak and fragmented…just my thoughts.
Actually, I should clarify even more—because there really are people, including scholars, out there trying to make a difference and paying penalties of various sorts. But the nation lacks a decent leadership at the macro level or one (or several) that has any significant impact at the macro level. There is some potential as fairly recently demonstrated by the undocumented (and documented) communities….
I apologize if it looks like I am blaming the victim. I certainly don’t mean to. However, White People cannot be bothered to look at a topic like racism without the African American community bringing the ideas to the forefront. Since the news media cannot be trusted to portray black people as anything other than dangerous, ,my only recourse is African Americans need to start resistance again. I am by no means blaming them for their situation but change always comes from the oppressed group.