March 09, 2008

Racial and Economic Justice in the USA

Brad Hicks writes that we are misinformed about the real history of lynching. Until the collection of postcards depicting hundreds of events was discovered, the dirty secret of what was behind the motivation for so much terrorism in the USA was hidden behind excuses of needing to keep the white race "pure" or that blacks were getting out of line, etc. Yet, the truth is even worse than that because it wasn't just the act of irrational hatred and mob mentality, much of it was born from that ugly sin of greed.

When one of those collections fell into the hands of a professional historian, it opened up a whole large statistical universe of lynching incidents, each of which came with a location, one or more names, dozens or hundreds of faces that can be identified, and importantly, a date. That made it possible to research not just a few lynchings, but hundreds of them, and to compile statistics on what had happened before and after them. And the terrible, but fascinating, bit of secret history turned out to be the immediate aftermath of over half of those lynchings. Over half of those lynchings turned out to involve black men who owned their own successful farms and/or businesses. And the day after the lynchings, those farms and businesses were sold to white neighbors, in closed auctions, for pennies on the dollar, and the surviving real heirs were run out of town. And in a terrifyingly large number of those cases, historians were able to show one or more of the following facts. The buyer was the person who made the initial accusation against the victim. And the buyer was a relative of one or more of the following: the mayor, the chief of police, the local minister and/or the municipal judge.

I want you to get this through your head, and never forget it. Lynching was not [simply] a hate crime. Lynching was an economic crime. In cities all over America, the best kept secret of 80 years' worth of white politicians was that if they wanted to steal a black man's property, they could arrange to have that man murdered, take his property for little or nothing, give it to whoever they wanted to have it, and know with 100% certainty that no police officer would arrest them, no prosecutor would indict, no jury would convict, no judge would sentence.

And then Brad goes on to document that white racism is still stealing from African-American businessmen which just last month led to a horrific reaction from one black businessman who finally realized he would never get justice in this country. And it certainly isn't too ironic that the site of this tragedy is one of the states (Missouri) that is now being targeted by Ward Connerly in his drive to force states to ban affirmative action as that just is unfair to the white community and breeds resentment. Sounds like a great solution to this particular problem, don't you think?

h/t Orcinus

Posted by Mary at March 9, 2008 02:48 PM | History | Technorati links |