The White Man Giveth; the White Man Taketh Away

Here is Black history from your typical white person perspective:

1-Slavery started.

2-War Between the States ended slavery.

3-Some other stuff in the 1960’s.

That’s it. That’s all they got.

Remember the late-night host who sent a camera out on the street to ask people about current events, etcetera, to highlight their proud ignorance?

That would have nothing on a segment asking white people about Black history. Can you imagine the answers? What if we asked them about the three things they know? How would that go?

“Hey there buddy,” asks the reporter, “when do you think slavery started in North America?”

“Um, I guess 1800?”

WRONG. Try 1619 in the Jamestown Colony.

“Hey there buddy, what was the Civil War about?”

“Um, all I know is it wasn’t about slavery!”

You see where this is going, right? White people have opinions about history, especially history that doesn’t paint them in the best light.

But white people have an even bigger ignorance gap when it comes to anything besides the Big Three events listed above.

The truth about Black history in the United States can be summed up in two lines, “The white man giveth, and the white man taketh away.”

For example, as we’ve learned, slavery started in the 1600’s. But it was never widespread in the North, and by 1804, it had been abolished in those states.

But on the other hand, plenty of businessmen in the North grew quite rich investing in the slave trade of the South.

Also, just because the law passed in 1804, didn’t mean there weren’t some good old conservative lawmakers ensuring the rights of the rich man. Most laws weren’t an immediate abolition. Instead, as in Pennsylvania’s case, the last person wasn’t freed until 1847.

The white man giveth; the white man taketh away.

Then of course the Civil War came along a few years later and saved all the Black peoples’ problems. Except of course it didn’t.

Conservatives then, just as conservatives today, figured out how to stymy them at every corner. For example, in Tennessee, white legislators came up with all kinds of “fair” to white people only laws:

1866: Grant’s gunpowder had barely settled when our fine state decided we must have separate schools based on skin color.

1870: Our fine forefathers made miscegenation, the marriage between “white persons and Negroes” a felony, punishable by 1–5 years in prison!

These are but two examples of the dozens of Jim Crow laws passed by our state government, beginning only days after the end of the Civil War. By the way 36 states enacted such laws. Not just the South.

The white man giveth; the white man taketh away.

And then there was all that stuff that happened in the 60’s. What was that all about? That Martin Luther King fella stirring up trouble?

How many of your relatives do you think referred to Dr. King in just such a way?

The truth is for almost a century, the stirring was done by white people. And while Jim Crow laws were all over, they proliferated in rural areas, particularly the rural South.

This pushed migration of peoples of color from these areas to cities and states in the North where racism didn’t exist, at least in a legal sense.

Places like Detroit Michigan, Chicago Illinois, and New York City in need of workers to power the industrial revolution, swelled with a population of African Americans seeking a better life.

It would be in these places where at least the seeds of freedom could finally take root. Because in the Jim Crow 36 states, every step forward seemed to encounter countless steps back.

For a century, white mob violence overturned elections in Louisiana and North Carolina. It murdered Black people by the hundreds in Oklahoma, in Arkansas, in Florida and beyond.

There is account after account of this kind of white mob violence, burning churches, killing unionized farmers, lynching people of color with no trial, much less proof of guilt.

Black history in America: The white man giveth; the white man taketh away.

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Just a blue guy in a red state. Been writing a regular column since 2005. Sometimes politics, sometimes food and travel, sometimes comedy, always a smartass.

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Dan K Jackson

Dan K Jackson

Just a blue guy in a red state. Been writing a regular column since 2005. Sometimes politics, sometimes food and travel, sometimes comedy, always a smartass.

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