Tuesday, November 28, 2023

America’s Second Revolution – Opportunity Lost.

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(ThyBlackMan.com) A widely held view is that various events and actions during the Civil Rights Movement, that period from 1954 to 1968,resulted in the US becoming a more humane, less color blind nation. A nation where its Black citizens would no longer be mistreated and held down.

A time when the American people divorced themselves from their ugly marriage of racial segregation and violence, discrimination and disenfranchisement. That whatever racism that had existed was now part of its past.

Black Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, and White Americans - America’s Second Revolution - Opportunity Lost.

That America’s citizens, Black, Asian, Mexican and White, were outraged and repulsed with the stories and images that they saw on the evening news and in local newspapers depicting Black citizens seeking freedom, justice and equality, being subjected to violence and all manners of evil. Images and stories of White American mobs lynching Black American men, women and even children.

Images and stories of Black men being tied to the back of pickup trucks and dragged to their deaths. Of high powered water hoses and attacked dogs turned loose by bigoted, morally corrupt police officers on women and children.

Of acid being poured on Black youth in public swimming pools hoping to cool off and have fun. Images and stories of Black Americans requesting to be treated with decency, respect and fairness like other Americans being dragged on the ground and hit with nightsticks by demented, barbaric, race crazed agents of the state.

Of burning crosses, bodies of murdered civil rights leaders and activists. Of nonviolent marchers kneeling in prayers as demented, barbaric law authorities unleashed violence, brutality, hate and pure evil.

Images of a bombed 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama one of many such bombings. This one however resulted in the cold blood murder of 11-year old Denise McNair, and 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson as they learned about the love of Jesus.

So many images, so many stories. So much blood, tears, death and evilness.

To address these images and stories as well as its history of discrimination, the Black Codes, Jim Crow laws and systemic racism, the US government passed civil rights laws and adopted various affirmative action measures. That America and its people had changed and that change had been for the better. America could now move forward into a post nonracial society where its citizens were now judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.

This portrait of the US is widely believed and present today. It is shared by many, Black, White and others. It is often referred to and referenced by individuals on both sides of America’s political divide.

However, the notion that America was able to move forward into a post nonracial society is anything but correct. There is no doubt that many American citizens were uncomfortable with the images that were being shown on their living room televisions.

However, there was no vast outpouring of rage by American citizens urging its government to act. They watched in silence, oftentimes in disbelief and then when it was over they watched Bonanza, Bewitched and The Andy Griffith Show.

There were some who raised concerns and questioned if Blacks were responsible for the repression and violence being directed at them because of their protests, marches and sit-ins. “They are deliberately disturbing the peace and breaking the law. They are creating the violence and are getting what they deserve.”

Dr. Martin Luther King in his book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

wrote, “White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation and all forms of discrimination.”

Equally incorrect is the belief that the US government when it enacted civil rights laws and affirmative action measures acted out of genuine concern for its Black citizens.

The US government until this day has never issued regret or an official apology for slavery. It has never formally conveyed to its citizens the brutality and inhumanity that Blacks were forced to experience during and after slavery in the US.

However, bipartisan efforts did take place which saw the enactment of civil rights laws and adoption of various affirmative action measures, the latter of which White women were the largest beneficiaries.

Yet, they were basically bones to appease and hopefully shut down the protest and marches. Actions meant to get rid of the images and the stories. There would be no serious efforts or commitment to address the effect of slavery and systemic racism that Blacks in the US had and were experiencing.

So why did the US government enact civil rights laws and affirmative actions measures? Clearly, it was not because of any outrage by its non-Black citizens.

During the 60s, the US was engaged in a high stakes cold war with the Soviet Union for strategic geopolitical control of the world. Both superpowers were attempting to enhance and extend their reach and spheres of influence into Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The US presented itself to the world as the ‘leader of the free world.” The Soviet Union in turn attempted to promote itself to the world as a classless, race-neutral bastion of workers and people united in progress.

Both nations attacked each other for hypocrisy. When the US criticize the Soviet Union for human rights violations, the Soviet Union would counter with “are you still lynching your Negroes.”

The US government, in particular its intelligent community, was sensitive to the negative effects the images and stories of the mistreatment of America’s Black citizens might have on Third World nations, in particular those in Africa. In an attempt to counter the negative stories and images of treatment of its Black citizens, the US government enacted civil rights laws and affirmative action measures.

It was done out of necessity. It was clearly not done out of remorse, compassion or as an act of atonement.  This fact was not lost on Dr. King nor was it lost on Malcolm X.

America’s Black citizens had marched and prayed requesting that they be treated with respect, dignity and humanity like all other Americans. It would have been great if the images and stories of the violence and repression that they faced would have compelled the US government and its non-Black citizens to come to a great acknowledgement and reckoning of their treatment and America’s ungodly past.

It would have been great if a genuine effort was undertaken by the government to transcend America’s sinful past. That the US government would have used foresight and courage to move America and its people forward.

That the leadership of both major political parties united as Americans would have addressed the American people in a special joint session of Congress the US government formally apologized to its Black citizens and other people of color. That during that special joint session of Congress and in various forums after the US government detailed in depth the history and efforts to segregate, discriminate and disenfranchise its Black citizens and other people of color. Where it highlighted the social and economic consequences of segregation and discrimination.

Where it expressed its sincere dedication and commitment to immediately dismantle all forms of systemic racism and never again allow racism to be a policy of the US government or any of its political subdivisions.

To address the social and economic disadvantage Blacks and other people of color experienced due to racism, the US government in conjunction and cooperation with the corporate and business community, faith based and nonprofit organizations and educational institutions would embark on a radical and revolutionary transformation of the US. In particular, the transformation would take Blacks and other people of color forced to live in segregated intercities and other areas being systematically relocated to other areas across the US.

It would be a disbursement of people and not wealth, However, in the process it would have a huge impact on eliminating poverty and economic disparity based on race in the US.

The relocated people would receive assistance in making the relocation. The communities that they were relocated to would receive assistance to help the transition be as seamless and humane as possible for both the newly relocated and the people in the community where the relocation was occurring.

Americans of all persuasion would be called on in an act of patriotism as well as the best tenets of Judeo/Christian faiths to embark on the great endeavor. An endeavor never tried before in the history of the world. One in which the world and its people would be watching in awe and inspiration.

During the 60s and 70s the US put trillions of dollars into such programs as Urban Renewal and Model Cities. Programs that basically kept Blacks and other people of color as well other urban poor on intercity reservations. Reservations for the Blacks, Browns, the poor and the despised. What should have occurred with foresight and courage was the relocation of as many people from those intercity reservations to more sustainable and affluent communities. Communities in which the relocated families after a generation or less would have seen their cycles of poverty ended.

Such a program would have cost the US government and its taxpayers a fraction of what it has spent and continues to spend placing bandaids on the cancers left from systemic racism.

If such an approach had been used in addition to the huge cost saving, America today would be a post racial society where people are truly judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. A far less segregated nation in contrast to how America looks at 11:00 AM on Sunday mornings and its schools on school days.

The wide economic disparity gaps that exist throughout America today would be significantly reduced. In addition, conceivably the US political system and American democracy would also not be one giant sneeze away from intensive care.

The Soviet Union’s demise might have been quicker. Africa, Latin America and Asia would have been able to look not just at the glorious words of American most hallowed documents but the bold actions of the US government and people in dealing with its race issue in charting their own destinies.

Unfortunately, what could have been a defining moment in this country’s history, a second more glorious revolution turned out to be a missed opportunity that will continue to plague and very well work to bring it to its knees.

Staff Writer; Al Alatunji

Question? Comment? Regarding the above article. Feel free to send a message to this address: Alatunji@ThyBlackMan.com.


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