What’s wrong with them?

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Racism, Ugliness American Style
Tags: , ,

This is what I hear when Newt Gingrich (or fill-in-the-blank conservative politician talks about ending welfare):  What’s wrong with THOSE people and why do we have to PAY for them?

At the last GOP debate, Juan Williams, a well known African American journalist and moderator, had the following exchange with Newt:

JUAN WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic, and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?
GINGRICH: No, I don’t see that.

Then I read a post on it by Bob Cesca, one of my favorite bloggers.  Here’s what he wrote that got me thinking:

And one of the prevailing reasons why a portion of the African American population remains impoverished, and why much of the African American population experiences racial discrimination, is due directly to white oppression and subjugation for the better part of the lifespan of this nation.

It immediately struck me, reading this post how poverty is passed on from generation to generation (which I have noted several times before) and how much longer my ancestors have been free to pursue economic improvement compared to the average black person’s slave ancestors.  I’d always agreed with Bob’s statement but I’d never thought about it in quite this way before.  Let me explain what I mean.

My white ancestors ranged from the wealthy British who settled on colonial land given to them by a colony’s governor and ran a plantation to the shoeless and starving Irish immigrant arriving illegally on America’s shores with nothing but the clothes on his back or to the middle class German doctor who settled down and had 9 sons. None of whom were slaves.

They arrived as early as 1752 (maybe earlier this is the date I have for the German doctor). Using that date we’re talking about a span of 259 years or approximately 25 generations, from then until now. My last immigrant ancestor to come over was the Irishman in 1856.   So the least amount of time my white ancestors had been here would have been 155 years or approximately 15 generations.

Yes, I said 259 years or approximately 25 generations to 155 years or 15 generations for the white descendants to reach our current socioeconomic status in America. Note they started better off because they were mostly FREE people (at worst penniless but educated nonetheless, some may have been indentured but they would have been able to and many did work their way out of indentured servitude), so most of them had something from which to build.   Also note the white males were either naturalized or born-here citizens.

Compare that to the time African American ancestors were slaves and then free.   They were first brought here as slaves with no possessions or freedom of any kind around 1607. They remained slaves until Pres. Lincoln set them free in 1863. So slavery existed in the U.S. almost exclusively (but not entirely) limited to Africans for 256 years.  Essentially there were slaves in the U.S. longer than my ancestors have been free in the U.S.

Now lets look at the time period in which they were “free”.  During that time period from 1863 until 1968, they were free but not equal.  That’s  105 years of being second-class citizens on top of 256 years of being slaves.   That kind of beat down, the kind that lasts 361 years,  doesn’t go away over night.  It affected 36 generations.  AGAIN while my ancestors were pursuing economic prosperity from the day they set foot in America, the descendants of slaves weren’t allowed to even begin in the most limited ways because of Jim Crow laws and societal restrictions until 1863.  They weren’t completely legally free to pursue economic prosperity on an equal footing until 1968.

Some might quibble that African Americans became legally equal with the 15th Amendment in 1870 but I’m not buying it and neither should you. They had to be equal in every way legal in order to be able to compete.   So using legal equality beginning at 1968 to the present I’d say they’ve had all of 43 years….about 4 generations to improve their socioeconomic situation. Now during that 43 years was it an environment of perfect equality…were white and blacks on equal footing when it came to competing in our economy?  Far from it. Racism has been very real since 1968 regardless of what the law says.  So it hasn’t been 43 years of bliss.  And even if you think racism doesn’t exist now and hasn’t since 1968….we’re still talking about 43 years  to achieve the same socioeconomic prosperity, the same independence from subsistence that it took 259 years to do so in my family.

So when white voters moan and groan about having to pay taxes to support welfare (which is code for African Americans)  queens (which studies show do not exist), they are actually saying the following:

What’s wrong with BLACK people?  Why can’t they do in 43 years what we did in 259 years?  And why do we have to pay to help them at all?

Teh Stoopid, it hurts my brain.

 

Sources:

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/01/17/405238/gingrich-i-dont-see-why-calling-food-stamps-an-african-american-issue-is-insulting/?mobile=nc

http://bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2012/01/quote-of-the-morning-2.html#disqus_thread

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