The first steps in solving a problem are to recognize that you have a problem and to correctly understand what that problem is. America has a race problem. More specifically, white Americans have a race problem. More specifically, white Americans need to understand that America's race problem begins in the seventeenth century and includes two manifestations of white supremacy: the extermination of Indians* or Native Americans and the enslavement and merciless economic exploitation of Africans. White supremacy, combined with Christian nationalism, is the operating software system of America. America's political and economic history cannot be understood without understanding how white supremacy has operated from the seventeenth century to today.
* Note in the 2016 book All the Real Indians Died Off, an examination of 20 myths about Native Americans, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker, noted in their introduction (page xi) that "most Native people today do not object to the word [Indian]. Thus we use the terms 'Indian,' 'Indigenous,' 'Native American,' and 'Native' interchangeably..."
As Dunbar-Ortiz noted in the introduction to her An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (page 2), "The history of the United States is a history of settler colonialism--the founding of a state based on the ideology of white supremacy, the widespread practice of African slavery, and a policy of genocide and land theft."
White supremacy has been accompanied by scholarship designed and intended to induce amnesia among white people, as well as among Black folks. Black folks, to the degree they are immune to this historical amnesia, is due to a familial oral history and/or a race-conscious education.
But, for white Americans, American history is not necessarily a familial oral history passed from generation to generation to generation, unless the family is rooted in the Confederate states. For most white Americans, history is what you learn in elementary and middle school, high school, or university. And, even within my lifetime the scholarship on race has changed significantly through the groundswell pressure of the Black Liberation Movement begun after the Civil War.
Edward E. Baptist in his 2014 book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, noted (page xvii) that "historians of Woodrow Wilson's generation imprinted the stamp of academic research on the idea that slavery was separate from the great economic and social transformations of the Western world during the nineteenth century....But to an openly racist historical profession...the white South's desire to whitewash slavery in the past, and maintain segregation now and forever, served the purpose of validating control over supposedly premodern, semi-savage black people."
But Baptist's research demonstrated conclusively (page xxi-xxii) that the "returns from cotton monopoly powered the modernization of the rest of the American economy....In fact, slavery's expansion shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics of the new nation....The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear."
Baptist noted (page xxiii), "Enslaved African Americans built the modern United States, and indeed the entire modern world, in ways both obvious and hidden."
In fact, using Baptist and others it is possible to argue, "No Slavery, No Capitalism." And all economic developments in the United States by Capital have been to drive down and as much possible eliminate both the cost of Labor and the existence of Organized Labor. In other words, while Capital exalts Technology, it abhors Labor and seeks to replicate as close as possible its starting economic condition--enslaved, free labor maximized for profit. We see and know part of that system as The New Jim Crow. We also know this political-economic system by its modern name, neo-liberalism (here, here, here and here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
In the introduction to W.E.B. Du Bois's seminal and groundbreaking 1935 book, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880, David Levering Lewis noted that Black Reconstruction "was ignored by the American Historical Review and widely disparaged by mainstream historians during the Cold War" (page xi). Lewis noted (page vii-viii) that "white historians and political scientists documented, denounced, and derided African-American ignorance, venality, and exploitation under Reconstruction....and congealed racist interpretations of Reconstruction in the popular mind as solidly as had D.W. Griffith's film, Birth of a Nation..."
Historian Eric Foner in his 1988 book, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, noted (pages xvii-xviii) that the "scholarly study of Reconstruction began early in this century with the work of William Dunning, John W. Burgess, and their students. The interpretation elaborated by the Dunning School....[was that] Reconstruction was the darkest page in the saga of American history. The fundamental underpinning of this interpretation was the conviction....[that] childlike blacks, these scholars insisted, were unprepared for freedom and incapable of properly exercising the political rights Northerners had thrust upon them."
Foner also noted (page xix) that the Dunning school had a "remarkable longevity and powerful hold on the popular imagination." Foner observed that though the Dunning school had been subjected to critical scholarship for decades, "It required...a profound change in the nation's politics and racial attitudes to deal the final blow to the Dunning School."
However, a mere eight years (1996) after Foner's book, the evidence of a white nationalist backlash against historical revisionism and the Black Liberation Movement was of such sufficient force that political writer Michael LInd argued in his book, Up From Conservatism, that conservatism as an ideology was dying, if not dead, and being replaced by a much uglier, cruder, more regressive coalition of right-wingers.
According to Michael Lind (pages 7-8), "The only movement on the right in the United States today that has any significant political influence is the far right....[T]he contemporary American far right has both public, political wings (the Christian Coalition, the National Rifle Association, Project Rescue) and its covert, paramilitary, terrorist factions....[T]he fact remains that a common worldview animates both the followers of Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan and the far-right extremists who bomb abortion clinics, murder federal marshals and county sheriffs, and blow up buildings and trains."
And, twenty years (2008) after Foner's book, the editors of Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction, Euan Hague, Heidi Beirich, and Edward H. Sebesta, observed (page 2) that in 1995 the League of the South had issued a "New Dixie Manifesto" asserting that white Americans were under assault by "elites in Washington, Wall Street, Hollywood, and the Ivy League" and doomed to "'cultural genocide.'" They suggested (page 10) that it was the neo-Confederate movement's ideology with "racist, patriarchical, heterosexist, classist, and religious undertones--that form the basis of a conservative ideology that centers upon social inequality and the maintenance of a hierarchical society." In a concluding chapter, Hague and Sebesta argued (page 310) that the neo-Confederate movement was "underpinned by ideas of irreconcilable racial and ethnic differences, white dominance, patriarchy, social Darwinism, and so-called orthodox Christianity."
And, now we have Donald J. Trump as the standard bearer of the Republican Party, largely driven to his party's nomination by voters seething with racial resentment, perceiving white identity under threat, opposing political correctness, holding anti-immigrant views, and hostility to Muslims, supported by the Christian Right, the Tea Party movement, the Patriot militia, the racist and anti-Semitic alt-right, and the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, with a more amorphously racist "All Lives Matter" ideology mixed with "White Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter." What has far less explanatory power regarding the rise of Trump are economic anxiety or economic marginalization, but white nationalism.
According to the UK-based The Guardian newspaper, in 2015 the police in America killed 1,146 people, which worked out on a per million basis of 7.66 Black, 5.49 Native American, 3.45 Hispanic/Latino, 2.93 white, and 1.34 Asian/Pacific Islander. As of October 22, 2016, The Guardian had counted 865 Americans killed by the police, of which on a per million basis was 5.49 Native American, 5.16 Black, 2.4 Hispanic/Latino, 2.13 white, and 0.78 Asian/Pacific Islander.
The above is just a sliver of the historical and contemporary context behind the Race and Reconciliation's October 20, 2016, presentation on understanding the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Race and Reconciliation presentation on "Cooling the Fire" was hosted by Dr. Julie Patton from the University of West Florida's Department of Social Work. It was moderated by Reverend Dr. Julie Kain of Pensacola's Unitarian Universalist Church. Key presenters were Teniade Broughton of Black Pensacola and the John Sunday Society, Keyontay Humphries of From Pensacola With Love (the local version of Black Lives Matter), and Haley Morrisette, also of From Pensacola With Love. The main objectives were to dispel accusations that Black Lives Matter is anti-religious, anti-male, anti-white, anti-police, and a terrorist organization by putting Black Lives Matter into historical and cultural contexts.
Due to copyright issues, Teniade Broughton's taped presentation cannot be shown. However, some of the highlights of her informative talk included the following points: Pensacola was/is a mixture of cultures--Spanish, English, French, Native American, and African. The English culture followed the "one-drop rule" to determine who was and was not Black, while the Spanish had a five-tier caste system. Whatever the real accomplishments of Black people during Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, they would be put down with reference to their slave demeanor. Central to Jim Crow was to divide racial groups by dividing public spaces. In the early 1900s, the attempt to segregate Pensacola's street cars was defeated by a 707-day boycott (the longest in civil rights history) and a successful legal challenge decided by the Florida Supreme Court--fifty years before the Montgomery Boycott. The Pensacola boycott was made possible by the independent wealth, income, businesses, real estate, and jobs inside the Black community. In fact, the Black community in Pensacola during Jim Crow owned more property, proportionately, than in any other city of similar size. Responses to racial terrorism ranged from boycotts, to leaving for northern cities like Chicago, and having the Florida government fund one's education outside of Florida.
UPDATE: The video has been edited to address copyright issues. The three videos are posted below.
Photos from the Race and Reconciliation Meeting
Below are videos of the Race and Reconciliation meeting as it happened.
Dr. Julie PATTON
Ms. Teniade BROUGHTON, Black Pensacola, Part 1
Ms. Teniade BROUGHTON, Part 2
Ms. Teniade BROUGHTON, Part 3
Teniade BROUGHTON and Cheryle ALLEN Q&A. Ms. ALLEN was a member of Pensacola's NAACP's Youth Council who conducted sit-ins between 1960 and 1962 at the segregated Woolworth's lunch counters.
Rev Dr Julie KAIN introduction to Keyontay HUMPRHIES
Keyontay HUMPHRIES on history of Black Liberation before Black Lives Matter
Keyontay HUMPHRIES Part 2
Rev Dr Julie KAIN, UUC on white allyship
Haley Morrisette on keepin' it real
Part 1, Questions and Answers
Part 2, Q & A
Part 3, Q & A
Part 4, Q & A
Part 5, Q & A
Part 6, Q & A
Part 7, Q & A
Part 8, Q & A
Part 9, Q & A
Part 10, Q & A
Haley MORRISETTE and Dr Julie PATTON closing remarks