There’s a cultural backdrop where Black Americans from the beginning of times lived under suspicion. The sentiment of this backdrop is racism that we observed from Our founding fathers, our legislation’s and judicial system. A narrative in a film American History X, directed by Tony Kaye illustrates the brutal realities of a mindset in American culture associated with a belief that one race of people is humanly superior to another race of people. It also replicates a nation that is founded on slavery and white privilege. Among these illustrations, it is our nation legislation’s that are predominantly race motivated by a culture that created laws like separate but equal, stand your ground and coupled in an industry that is obsessed and nearly erotic intensity with guns as the manifestation of manhood. African Americans were born with their backs against the wall where they can’t even dress with the same kind of freedom that their white peers do. Throughout American history requesting equal protection by African Americans and other minorities has been a journey of camels going through the hole of a needle.
Our Founding Fathers & Racism
Our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson with his leadership of a slave-holding society and the reality of his ownership of fifty slave plus his wife’s inheritance of one hundred and thirty-five slaves could never reconcile the ideals of freedom, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, as he writes “The former race had not the moral fiber, intelligence, and industry necessary for citizenship in the society of the latter…On the other hand, if the races should not destroy one another in civil war, the black must eventually interbreed with the white, destroying the intelligence and beauty of the superior race”. (McColley). Equally guilty flip flop hypocrite, was Abraham Lincoln: On Race “I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and
political equality of the white and black races (applause); that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” 1858 Senate Campaign Speech (September) Quoted from Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States. New York: Harper Collins, 2003: p. 186 Credit to: San Diego City College Professor Robert Schultz. Jefferson and Lincoln statement reflect distinctions that they draws between whites and African Americans. In an Article by Heather Andrea Williams Compartmentalizing Slavery: “How white Americans constructed a fictitious distinction between white and black emotions” the author writes’ It is fair to say that most white people had been so acculturated to view black people as different from them that they did not perceive the existence of slavery in America as a problem, and when exposed to slaves, they barely noticed the pain that they experienced.
This distinction will later have physiological influence on whites to view black and other minorities people as different from them that they will not perceive the negative impact of slavery or racism in America as a problem. In contract to the American History X, its Charllottesville Fire and Fury. Same mentality that we seen in a film scene were Derek his interview by a reporter after a murder of his father, when asked “how he fell …in his response he allude to blacks and other immigrants as parasites and attaches AIDS, welfare and immigration as problems fit to this communities. Derek goes further as he elaborates that his father was murdered putting a fire in f***g N***r neighborhood he should give a shit about and moreover a fucking drug dealer who probably collects a welfare check. Also in a different scene when Seth ask Danny; Who do you hate? his answer was “I hate everyone that isn’t white because their burden to the advancement of the white race”. This depiction of N***r neighborhood and blacks as criminal savages equates to the same racial distinction stigma held by Jefferson and Lincoln. It is not a conceited to see this stigma of racism in our nation, consequently as Trump fail to condemn terrorist act by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio after his car plowed into crowds, claiming a life of 32 yrs old Heather Heyer and leaving 19 others injured. Prominent white supremacist David Duke was quoted that marching in Donald Trump’s name at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA. “ represents a turning point for the people of this country,”. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” the former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said at the rally. Washington Post
From inception our laws were writing to support white nationalism as they focused on power and privilege, moreover these laws were protected by the constitution. Our nation had opportunity at different periodic time line in our history to correct the stigma of slavery and racism. The Trial of Celia the slave girl bears witness to this core parables of legal racial stigmas that gravitated for centuries. In Celia case Missouri Slave Code” of 1804 will be made no distinction between slaves and other personal property. A court had an opportunity to protect Celia as a woman under Missouri statute of 1845, article 2, section 29 which declared it a crime “to take any woman unlawfully against her will and by force, menace or duress, compel her to be defiled” (Williamson 85). With the States battle over morality of slave ownership many understood that the court’s decision in this case held significant implications for the economic and social foundations of slavery. (McLaurin 67).
With a favorable decision for Celia that might hold a precedent, our nation had a chance to express and incorporate blacks equally into legal definitions. However, with ideal culture of supremacy to protect the privileged and maintain the status Que, the courts defined state’s argument by legal proclamations that separate rape of a slave as a trespass on the property by its owner. A culture that was displayed in Charllotteville, is a culture that can be define by set of attitudes, values, goals, and practices rooted in America laws. Driving by thoughts of ethnocentric, Southern states felt that the federal government had no right to interfere with their states ‘rights (slavery), (Worthington) and through Compromise Act of 1854 and 1877 a new generation brand of based politics culture- founded on racism was born in 1861 and culminated in the formation of the Southern Confederacy to which our President Trump cannot speak against.
After the civil war, to ridicule the African American Jim Crow laws were initiated and created more disparities of language in our Justice System. These laws help to maintain and create a racial class system in the American society. One group of people asserting power over another for the pride and vanity of a system of politics. In 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson legalized racism under the guise of a doctrine referred to as “separate but equal”. The Judge in this case argued that “the object of the [Fourteenth] Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political, equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either.” —Justice Henry Billings Brown. (Plessy v. Ferguson). Consequently, our judicial system like our founder fathers and laws that followed failed to rectify stigma of racism. Under “separate but equal” doctrine racial segregation was constitutional. In a film American History X, we see this indoctrination when Danny doing a report on civil rights arguing for Hitler as a civil rights leader. Moreover, Derek after heinous aggravated murder of two African Americans, his only sentenced to 3 years, accordingly an African American woman in a film thinks that Derek deserved the death penalty for what he did.
In 2017, in a case of John Rik Howard who admitted to kicking coat hanger into a rectum of 18 years old black disabled teammate with see the same believe that Danny held in a film, filth, destruction, chaos, death and greed. In Howard after the victim testimony despite evidence that white players and coaches called the victim “fried chicken, grape soda and Kool-Aid and taught him a KKK-glorifying song that called for the lynching of black people, the Presiding Judge agreed with Dietrich Attorney General and discounted testimony of racist remarks during assault. Times-News reports that during sentencing Judge Stoker said that “nobody” thinks those are racial slurs, even though the terms have a long history of being used as racist insults (Riggins).
In contracts to the film American X, Derek explain how police are granted certain amount of authority by society and white people, wherefore the cops used a textbook-solid tactics in a betting of Rodney King. Derek further allude that white people pull over because the trust the law. This couldn’t ring truer as we compare Idaho crime which shared similar characteristics with Chicago Four. Each crime involves a brutal assault against a special needs teenager, each involve the issue of race. Rick Howard was sentence to three years of probation and three-hundred hours of community service on a charge of felony injury to a child. The judge also granted a deferral judgment, meaning the conviction could eventually be dismissed upon completing probation successfully. Yet, the Chicago four charges are starkly different from Howard as they been charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and criminal hate crimes which according to federal sentencing guidelines generally call for a sentence to be increased by about 40% when a crime is considered a hate.
All in all, as here African Americans are still faced with skeptic in suspicion and public policies and laws that that are unnecessary unduly and disproportionately stigmatizing blacks. This stigma was also felt by Obama when he was profile, asked in a vicious fashion about his transcript and for his birth certificate as if his not American. As much as the movie attempt to present how racism and hatred in all its form are distractive and leads to no resolution, we see Derek as a develop character hence blacks remain represented as mindless thugs and antagonist to Derick family. Such portrayal of black maleness that expresses a menace in America culture need to be decoupled in the collective imagination of America. Like Derek says it’s always good to end a paper with a quote. So, like Danny, I borrow from a flip flopper Abraham Lincoln that; “Through passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection”. Once we recognize that African Americans are the recipients of the outrageous indignity by being assume not to be intelligent and human, the stigma of racism can be solved. A dialogue that suggests both sides on equal footing can be enacted, one that point s toward a realized humanity for both the white and blacks (Freire). We other missed opportunity for our President to correct the History of America that has stain in our nation, Schools are the institutional mediums that should be used in an alternative to articulate expressions and educate ourselves as we hold each other accountable. As people learn in multiple ways, creation of alternative structures to admit multiple form of learning will be a start in a right direction.
Our thoughts and prayers goes to families that had been affected by this violence in Charllottesville.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder,, 1970.
McColley, Robert. “Gentlemen’s Opinion on Race and Freedom.” Slavery and Jeffersonnian Virginia. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1964.
McLaurin, Melto. Celia A Slave. Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1991.
Plessy v. Ferguson. No. 163 US 537. Supreme Court. 18 May 1896.
Riggins, Alex. “Jurge says Dietrich crime not racially motivated.” Magic Valley (Feb 24, 2017).
Williamson, Jurge Hugh P. Negro Digest (1964): 84.
Worthington, Daryl. “NewHistorian.” 2016 Feb 2016. newhistorian.com/the-meeting-that-made-confederate-states-of-america/5901/. 07 August 2017.