The Idea

There’s a person who has sent me articles about how the Irish were at one time persecuted. The message this person has been trying to send to me is, “you don’t see the Irish blaming their problems on racism”. I’ve been hoping that a light would pop on in this person’s mind, helping him/her to see the big difference between the Irish’s situation and the situation of being a person of color, especially Black, in America. It doesn’t appear that any such light will pop on. So, I will explain why the persecution of most groups of people in this country was and is, so much different than that of Black people. And for the record, Black people and people of color do not complain to receive your damn pity. And guess what, if the racism against Black people stopped, immediately you’d see some differences in attitude. But it would take a generation or two to undo generational poverty, hatred and the mental mindset that comes with generational racism. I would love to live one day of my life and not feel or experience or read what the system of racism and hatred has done to another Black person, or any other person of color. Do I think what I write will change this person’s attitude about why racism against Black people in this country, became and continues to be different from the persecution of most, if not all, other groups of people in this country? No, I don’t.

First, let me again acknowledge that there’s no doubt that every group of people on this planet has had their time under persecution. But in this country, the outcome of racism and hatred towards Black people has had and continues to have a lasting, profound effect, not only on Black people, but on everyone in this country. Forgive me for sounding a little bit annoyed, but having to still deal with the topic of hatred and racism gets old.

Some time ago a group of people came to this already occupied land and claimed it for their own. Many of them came from different parts of Europe (What one thing did most of them had in common?). Some came as free men, and some came as indentured servants. There was so much land and so much work that needed to be done. How would they proceed? They didn’t have enough indentured servants. Besides most of the indentured servants escaped and were able to hide in plain sight (I wonder why they’re able to do that). The Europeans decided to enslave the Indians to do their hard labor, but that idea just didn’t work. The first reason it didn’t work was because the Indians knew the land better than they did and could escape. After all it was their country. Second, a significant number of Indians died from diseases that the Europeans brought to this country. And finally, the Indians decided that they would rather die than become slaves.

So, the people from Europe had to come up with another idea. They noticed that a few of their citizens, who had made the long journey with them, had uniquely dark skin. So, they came up with “the idea”. They heard of some other dark-skinned people. So, they went and stole these dark-skinned people, mostly from a place called Africa. They had an “idea” to enslave them. Sometimes a greedy chief would sell some of his own people, but it was cheaper for the White man to steal and kidnap slaves. And for good measure they even enslaved some of their dark-skinned countrymen who were formerly freemen or indentured servants. The Europeans instituted a brand of slavery that was different than the indentured servant system. It was mean and brutal. Mentally they convinced themselves that the dark-skinned people were less than human. Doing this allowed them to physically and mentally mistreat the slaves without feeling guilty. They even preached the righteousness of beating slaves in their churches.

Thousands of miles from Africa, there was nothing the Africans could do. They didn’t know the land, the language, and because of their dark skin, they stuck-out and most of the time they didn’t get very far when they ran away. For slave owners it was a simple system. If you had black skin, you surely belonged to someone. However, some of the dark-skinned women began to have babies and those babies weren’t so dark (I wonder who was having sex with the dark women). At the same time the beatings, raping and the negative stereotyping of the Black male slave continued. Yes, they raped Black male slaves. In some sad ways the effects of these rapes, beatings and negative stereotyping affects Black folk until this day.

When slavery had done all the ugly damage it could do, some guy named Lincoln was instrumental in getting rid of the institution of slavery. However, it accelerated the institution of racism. Not having black slaves to beat up on and mistreat, caused many of the different groups of Europeans to fight amongst themselves. Then one of them said, we all have the same color skin, let’s call ourselves White people and we will own and run this country. In fact, let’s make a law prohibiting people with colored skin to come here until we outnumber them by so much, that we can never be overtaken. The original United States Naturalization Law of March 26, 1790 (1 Stat. 103) provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national citizenship. This law limited naturalization to immigrants who were free white persons of good character. It thus excluded American Indians, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks, and Asians. It also provided for citizenship for the children of U.S. citizens born abroad but specified that the right of citizenship did “not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.” It specifies that such children “shall be considered as natural-born citizens,” the only US statute ever to use the term. The effects of this law can be seen today. White people by far, outnumber everyone else in this country.

A lot of people from white-skinned countries come to America, drop their accent, change their names and receive the benefits of being White. People of color cannot receive the complete benefits of this country, by changing our names. Most of us are born and raised here so the only accent we have are the ones from places in America, such as the South, Texas or the East or West Coast. The fact that people of color can’t come to this country and hide like other groups of people with white skin can, is one of the reasons why people of color and especially Black people, STILL have to deal with racism and hatred on a daily basis. Englishmen, the Polish, Irishmen, Italians and any other white-skinned group of people, although they shouldn’t have to, do have the option of dropping their accents and changing their names to blend in and share the American dream. In the last 30-40 years, white skinned Bosnian people (there are darker skinned Bosnians) have been the latest group of people able to come to this country and blend in. A lot of people of color work hard and still have to deal with hatred and racism. When was the last time, in this country an Englishman, the Polish, Irishmen, Italians and any other white-skinned group of people had to deal with system of hatred and racism, by corporations, the educational system and law enforcement? No one is saying that many White people haven’t worked hard for what they have, but to really believe that the system in American wasn’t designed so that White people could succeed easier than people of color, you must be living on a river in Egypt called denial. However, I do understand; everyone one wants to believe that they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. This makes it easy for the so-called self-made man, to look down on any group of people living under the hell of ongoing hatred and racism. He will always ask, why don’t people of color and Black people just stop complaining and do like my people did? I’ll say this to that: we just didn’t think of “the idea” of slavery before you.