If it wasn’t for seven years of the blatant resurgence of racism in America then we might not need Hillary Clinton. Sadly Obama’s presence in the Oval Office allowed racial meanness to rise to the surface in Washington, DC and outside our nation’s capital. When we should have felt proud of America on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, when we should have been celebrating, we were instead seeing the festering remains of racism being exposed in far too many areas of American society.
The Supreme Court struck a huge blow when it said that certain southern states were no longer subject to clearance before they could change their voting laws. The GOP shamelessly began passing restrictions on voting in those same southern states where clearance had been used to guarantee racial fairness in voting. They justified their actions as necessary to circumvent voter fraud, which turned out to be almost nonexistent. They said they were not being anti-Black, they were just making it harder for Democrats to vote, but they knew, all the time, how important the Black vote was to Democrats. They got two licks in for the price of one.
We have seen all too many unarmed Black folks shot under suspicious circumstances by policemen. It begins to seem as if certain individuals join the police force to deliberately wipe out Black people, a sort of vigilante routine. I don’t know if there is a group that has planned this or if this is just lone racists acting on their own and I admit I may be seeing a trend where there is really only a series of terrible accidents, but we should not have racists on our police forces and if there is any way to root them out we should do it.
We have allowed Black folks to languish in poverty in our inner cities – and I don’t mean languish in a nice way – I mean it in a hopeless way. We have not found strategies to entice all young African-Americans into the schools and that is what we need to do. We also need to learn how to make school relevant enough that they will stay and go “all the way” through. We need to stop concentrating poor black, brown, and Asian people in our center cities and find ways, perhaps through real estate options, to intersperse poor Americans in more affluent neighborhoods where people can afford to help lift them up.
Yes, we have finally been made aware of how over-zealously and unequally the War on Drugs was conducted. We have been shocked by the staggering numbers of Americans of African Descent incarcerated for minor drug offenses and the role unaffordable cash bails have played in this. This was one of those cases where a program that folks thought would help solve a problem, exacerbated the problem and created new ones. I’m not sure it was intended as a “racist” policy, it was supposed to “scare people straight” in dangerous inner city neighborhoods, but, in retrospect, we can see that the enforcement of this program affected Africans-Americans far more than white Americans and either the program and/or the enforcement of the program was racist in the way it was implemented in the lives of real people. In this case a flawed answer intended to solve a social problem has produced terrible consequences and most of these consequences were visited upon Black people. If may take decades to turn around the effects of over-incarceration and inappropriately harsh sentencing.
We have also seen how we have allowed the South to revere the defeated Confederacy and to turn the white folks in Southern states into martyrs and heroes in a Civil War we should never have had to fight. We see how this has become another way to keep racial hatred alive – to remind Black folks of their “shameful” roots in our nation and to insure they don’t get “uppity”. How any of this shame accrues to Black folks is impossible to even imagine, unless you grew up in the South I guess.
Americans of African Descent have been here longer than most Americans, although not by choice. If they did not have black or brown skin they would have blended in long ago. Why can’t we get over this idea that the more pigment one has the less human one is? We have to all get past this. What will happen if we are confronted with a truly alien species?
Because the GOP has shown itself to be especially prone to letting “racial” traits and their own fears inform their behavior (or misinform it) we cannot elect a President from among the Republicans. If you consider all of the candidates for the 2016 election Hillary has shown the best understanding of what America needs to do to address fairness, equality, and opportunity for Americans of African Descent. I don’t think Bernie is any more racist than any of us, but I do think he believes his policies will lift all boats and perhaps doesn’t understand the unique obstacles Black Americans face.
I think it might be true that we are nicer when we feel more affluent, when our economy is humming along; but how long must these Americans, who have been here since our beginnings, be kept from the freedoms that should be theirs as well as ours. Clearly this particularly stubborn issue of “racism” did not disappear in more prosperous times, but there was a more generous spirit and it looked, for a while, like things might have turned a corner.
If the existence of all this hate and inequality and separation had not bubbled up from the depths it had been stuffed into, up into the light of day – that would be a bad thing. Let’s not try to contain it away from view of white eyes once again. Let’s try to solve this and heal America once and for all. At the risk of sounding corny perhaps that is what Hillary means when she talks about making America “whole”.
By Nancy Brisson