The Emancipation Proclamation started an evolutionary process in the upward mobility of African Americans in the United States by humanizing them. However, it also signaled the erosion of the underpinning of white privilege. Yesterday’s white privilege today we call white supremacy in the economic mainstream. Furthermore, it created the illusion that poverty did not exist in white America for nonwhites the chattel caste had little exposure to poor whites in the economic mainstream.
When you think about the U.S. Civil War replete with its Southern antebellum beliefs it made sense that southern whites should do everything humanly possible to destroy any semblance of African American upward mobility embedded in the concept of reconstruction. President Rutherford Hayes exploited the electoral vote system in 1877 to win the presidency by 185 vs. 184 electoral votes with a political promise to remove the Federal troops in the south as payment for his victory. Thereby, African Americans found themselves at the mercy of the white citizens councils who were hell-bent on showing them that they still were chattel.
The white citizens’ councils were well aware that African-Americans needed four things to gain socioeconomic parity in the United States of America. First, African-Americans needed to be educated on the same educational level as Caucasian Americans in an integrated school setting. Second, African-Americans needed a messianic leader. Third, African Americans needed to be able to vote in all elections. And fourth, African-Americans needed to have anti-miscegenation laws declared unconstitutional.
In 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson that separate but equal was the law of the land. This ruling became the underpinning of Jim Crow laws that guaranteed that blacks would not gain parity. Things became separate and far from equal.
The white citizens’ councils were very astute at exploiting terrorism to convince African-Americans that socioeconomic parity was an illusion in Black America. Tuskegee Institute reports, between the years 1882 and 1951, 4,730 people were lynched in the United States: 3,437 Negroes.
The white racists “Ku Klux Klan” gained mainstream legitimacy to run roughshod over African-Americans through the D. W. Griffith’s 1915 infamous white supremacy movie “The Birth of a Nation.” D. W. Griffith presented the Ku Klux Klan as saviors of white women from lusting black males. It was the first movie shown in the White House where President Woodrow Wilson commented, ‘THE BIRTH OF A NATION’ is ‘like history written in lightning.’
Anti-miscegenation became the law in Southern States. The State of Virginia’s 1924 racial integrity law (infamous one drop of black blood) helped to underpin the taboo of interracial marriage. The US lexicon has words as mulato, quadroon, and octoroon to speak to the degree of blackness one possesses from his or her heritage.
This white supremacy infrastructure started to fall apart when the Supreme Court knocked down the separate-but-equal ruling in the 1954 case of Brown vs. the Board of Education. The U.S. Supreme Court found that racial segregation was unconstitutional. However, the white citizens’ councils (KKK) were not about to allow racial segregation to be disbanded for they were well aware that quality education was the key element in separating white and black upward mobility in the U.S. economic mainstream.
Busing children became the method for desegregating public schools. It was the catalyst that encouraged white flight from the public school system. Public education was allowed to deteriorate. Busing, the remedy to desegregate public schools, became a charged word in the United States lexicon.
African American high school graduation rate according to “Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research reported in September 2003, only 51 percent of all black students and 52 percent of all Hispanic students graduate, and only 20 percent of all black students and 16 percent of all Hispanic students leave high school college-ready.”
The white citizens’ council realized that as the head of the civil rights movement in the U.S. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not have a second in command with his messianic persona. They decided on a strategy of kill the head and the body will die, so the White Citizens’ Council killed Dr. King. Dr. King’s 1968 assassination forced the civil rights movement into disarray. The white citizens’ council mistake was they failed to realize that black America had matured to the point where they no longer needed a messianic civil rights leader because the civil rights act, voting rights act, and knocking down of the miscegenation laws had already created an infrastructure for African-Americans to advance into mainstream America.
49 percent of blacks do not graduate high school meaning the vilification of public education has placed the nation in peril with the African American and Hispanic brain power potential wasting away in the midst of a global economic war. The white racists won the battle of encumbering public school education for African Americans by relegating them to be unreachable fodder where the high school diploma is nothing more than a certificate of residence. Nevertheless, the white racists start losing the public education war when President George W. Bush spoke about the soft bigotry of low expectations and gave the nation his No Child Left Behind program.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1967 US Supreme Court ruling knocking down anti-miscegenation laws broke the backbone of the racist infrastructure that the Ku Klux Klan had managed to develop to guarantee the existence of white privilege. The underpinning of America’s racial caste system started morphing into a class system.
One can live and travel wherever he or she pleases in the United States today. Interracial families are commonplace. However, right wing Republican juggernauts attempted to upend the Voting Rights Act in the 2012 General Election with antics to suppress nonwhite voter turnout with the hope of defeating African American President Barack Obama in his reelection bid. The unintended consequence of the Republican right wing anti-Obama antics was they morphed President Barack Obama into a messianic black leader who now is the heir to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership legacy in Mainstream America.
We need to step outside of the United States of America to see the white supremacists’ dream of dominating blacks evolved into a socioeconomic nightmare where white privilege under apartheid collapsed into mainstream black domination. The South African government uses charged phrases such as affirmative action and diversity to kindle the growth of the South African middle class.
In South Africa today, with the death of apartheid, white poverty is now a reality. My guess is the Tea Party Movement (KKK) seeing a nonwhite majority dawning in the next 50 years are doing everything possible today to hinder white and nonwhite social economic parity in the economic mainstream. Whether the white racists accept that all Americans are already equal I’m sure they are feeling a great deal of discomfort with fact that President Barack Obama won reelection suggesting that today’s American people already believe in the equality of mankind.