“You’re going to have to kill some crackers! You’re going to have to kill their babies!” (King Samir Shabazz, new Black Panther leader); “You get what you deserve white boy” (two black teens set 13-year-old on fire on his own home’s front steps); “Four white men attacked outside Denver mall!” (by flash mob of black/Hispanic teens); “84-year-old white man savagely beaten!” (by black flash mob); “Whites – easy targets!” (black teenager).
“OK, civil rights leaders, step up to the plate. Let’s hear it: “NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE!”
But that is just for black folk, right? (After all, whites don’t deserve justice, do they?)
First, let me state unequivocally, in my opinion, any untimely death (not from natural causes or a legal execution for murder) is tragic, especially when it happens to a young person. However, the rash of indiscriminate allegations of racism being engendered by the mainstream media because of the death of one particular young African-American teen (while ignoring the deaths of at least 20 other black teens) prompted me to harken back to a column I wrote not long ago, “Virtual racism.” Allow me to quote the opening paragraph.
Racism is a word thrown about frequently today. It is interesting to me that most of the people who are using the word probably have no idea what it really means. Many, including so-called “civil rights leaders” relentlessly proclaim that America is rife with racism, bringing forth all manner of supposed malevolence to support these charges.
I can make that assertion because almost anyone younger than 40 has not seen, nor been subjected to, real racism or bona-fide discrimination. Frankly, I have had it with all this black/white racism jazz. I am over it!
At the risk of being redundant or relegated to a bygone era, let me offer an extremely brief refresher course on some actual, not virtual, policies of racism and discrimination. (Pardon another shameless plug for my book, “Black Yellowdogs.”)
On the heels of the death of President Lincoln, R-Ill., President Andrew Johnson, D-N.C., immediately ordered the head of the Freedmen’s Bureau to invalidate the order which had awarded freed blacks “40 acres and a mule.” Johnson, to “establish and maintain order,” also issued pardons to many former Confederate government officials. These repatriated citizens responded by issuing what became known as the “black codes,” which included, among other activities, this abbreviated list of conduct:
- were required to secure permission to come into town, and they could be imprisoned if discovered out on the street after 10 p.m. without this permission slip.
- could be declared vagrant if determined to be unemployed and/or without permanent residence. (If found guilty, they could be indentured for an unspecified amount of time.)
- could not dispute the word of whites.
- could not make insulting noises or speak disrespectfully or out of turn.
- must stand at attention when whites passed.
- must step aside when white women were on the sidewalk.
- must remove their hats in the presence of whites.
These codes often contained a Catch-22. States were allowed to determine the type of property and skills blacks could possess. For example, blacks could not possess land outside some cities and at the same time could not live in the cities.
That was then, but I wonder how many people reading this article today can honestly say they remember, because they have seen or, like me, have firsthand experience with any of the following.
Here is a quick refresher course for those “stressed-out” blacks (and whites) “in a predominately white environment” like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, et al.
I have personally experienced, or was made aware of, the following laws:
- Education: Separate schools shall be maintained for the children of the white and colored races; textbooks shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools.
- Telephones: Separate telephone booths for white and colored patrons
- Lunch counters: No persons, firms, or corporations, who or which furnish meals to passengers at station restaurants or station eating houses, shall furnish said meals to white and colored passengers in the same room, or at the same table, or at the same counter.
- Juvenile delinquents: Separate buildings, not nearer than one-fourth mile to each other, one for white boys and one for Negro boys.
- Mental hospitals: In no case shall Negroes and white persons be together.
- Intermarriage: It shall be unlawful for a white person to marry anyone except a white person. Any marriage in violation of this section shall be void.
- Disabilities: Maintain separate grounds and buildings for the admission, care, instruction, and support of all blind persons of the colored or black race.
- Sports: Unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.
- Recreation: Unlawful for colored people to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of white persons.
- Cemeteries: Shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons. (My great-grandparents, grandparents and parents were all buried in our family plot in the “colored” section of the cemetery, separated from whites by a barbed wire fence. My brother is buried in the same plot, but the cemetery had been “integrated” by then.)
Well, that covered earthly life, but what about heaven? Was there any hope for black folks to get through the pearly gates and walk the streets of gold? (Practically all the representations of Jesus portray Him as white; can you even begin to imagine a black Jesus?) Well, apparently there is hope. I got the straight scoop from a white dyed-in-the-wool Southern Baptist deacon who revealed the ultimate solution to that problem.
On my way to perform duties as the co-host with Pat Robertson of the national and internationally televised Christian talk show, “The 700 Club,” I encountered a group engaged in an animated discussion involving race. As I approached the group and greeted them, someone asked this Baptist deacon whether blacks like “Brother Ben” would make it into heaven, as there was a common assumption that “Brother Pat and Brother Ben” were prime candidates for heaven. “Why, of course,” he said with obvious sincerity, “because when we get there, we will all be washed whiter than snow!” (True story) Maybe that is, indeed, the final answer.
Frankly, I am convinced that unless we all disregard the professional agitators and well-paid demagogues, we run the risk of seeing America become not “one nation under God … the land of the free and home of the brave,” but the land of hyphenated Americans.
There is hope – and I think the solution is relatively simple. All we need is faith in God and the willingness to again see one another, one and all, as just plain Americans.