Joshua Roberts / Reuters
The truth is, black people — slaves — built this country and created much of its wealth during its early years. The institution of slavery was a huge money maker for the American colonies. The wealth of the Southern colonies was in the billions of dollars at the height of slavery and up until the Civil War.
(If you want to understand history and why we are still here in 2017 fighting about whose country it is, just visit the powerful new exhibit
The Mere Distinction of Colour at President James Madison’s home, Montpelier. It uses slavery to connect the past to the present though the lens of the Constitution.)
Our history continues to haunt us. Call it karma. Call it chickens coming home to roost. The fact is that America started with codified, lawful racism in the form of slavery and then legalized Jim Crow segregation.
We are not that far from that racist past. Just look at the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. As we all watched the protests and violence in real time, the likes of former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke walked the streets of Charlottesville with other white men, talking about “taking their country back” and saying they felt emboldened because of President Donald Trump’s election.
We should all be deeply concerned about the state of race relations in 2017 America.
Race and racism continue to be this great nation’s birth defect: It is our weak link. It is our Achilles’ heel. It is our dividing line. And if we are not careful, it will be the landing place for a foreign invader who is united in its goal to exploit our division.
Saturday, we watched yet another American president, Donald J. Trump, and a southern governor, Terry McAuliffe, call in the National Guard, declare a state of emergency and make nationally televised speeches calling for calm and unity.
Trump’s statement has being widely condemned for being tepid and weak, in that he refused to condemn white supremacy directly and instead referred to
“many sides” having issues.
The problem is that we have all seen this too many times. We have read and heard the words of politicians and corporations condemning racism and hatred as they themselves do not practice diversity in their offices, on their staffs or in their c-suites.
The problem is not just a group of alt-right radical white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. The problem is the rest of us who do not think that this has anything to do with “us.”
We have to start telling the truth. Because the truth is the only way forward for healing.
America is at a critical crossroads. These types of incidences will not just be limited to Virginia. They will spread on campuses. They will rear their ugly head in corporations — in fact,
a white male Google engineer was just fired for producing a sexist “manifesto.
Joshua Roberts / Reuters
We must ask ourselves who are we and how far have we come when it comes to race relations. And we must summon the courage to change. The fact is many white Americans have lost jobs, they have lost wages, they are poor. I get it. But so, too, are many Americans of color in the same boat or worse.
White people have to begin to actually see color and stop saying that they do not.
The alt-right neo-Nazi groups are alive and well. Hate is saturating our social media. Hate is invading our college campuses. Hate is penetrating our communities and our corporate cultures. Hate is even infiltrating our churches.
Charlottesville is our wake-up call, America. It’s time to do the work. It starts just like an AA program: The first step is admitting we have a problem.