The Disease of Racism in America: A Short History Addressing Our Nation’s Current State of Disgrace

Racism exists like a contagious disease. It is passed on and passed down generation to generation. However, racism is not a permanent condition; no one is born racist. Racism is taught, learned, and acquired, and racism lives and survives through what a person says and does and supports. A person chooses to be racist. Likewise, a person can also unlearn racism and choose to confront and eradicate it.

Confederates relied on the disease of racism to dehumanize Black people and perpetuate the falsehood that Blacks were inferior. The Confederacy seceded because they demanded the laws remain intact so they could continue enslaving and terrorizing an entire race of people. When reading what Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens wrote, it’s shocking in its preposterous notion that whites are the divine race and Blacks were born for servitude.

As president of the Confederacy, Davis dehumanized Black people as “that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men—not even upon that of paupers and convicts.” As Davis’s vice president, Stephens declared bluntly how the Confederacy believed in “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Indeed, everything the Confederacy stood for was racist and based on white supremacy.

We do not need Confederate statues, flags, and mascots that serve only to glorify those who defended the injustice of human enslavement. When we remove Confederate symbols, we are not erasing history, nor are we making it unrecognizable, as Trump is so ignorant, crass, and depraved in claiming. To the contrary, by taking down and banning Confederate symbols and renaming military bases, we have never been more clearsighted in telling the truth and addressing the full measure of our disgraceful past about how the Confederacy sought to continue slavery and entrench white supremacy for future generations.

However, as the necessity of taking down Confederate statues proceeds, it should be done peaceably and not through vandalism. Then these artifacts should be removed to museums where the complete story of America’s history can be clearly addressed with these men exposed for their crimes and their racism. The vital existence of museums and libraries will forever preserve our history for future generations to recall the sordid parts of our past.

As for the Founders, how do we remember them? They sought to establish a republic based on “equality” for all, but they failed in colossal fashion to end slavery. Were the Founders racists? We know many of them did not think of Blacks as their equals. But still most of them knew that slavery was wrong, including Washington and Jefferson, even though they never found a way to release their slaves. History does not exonerate them from their transgressions, but they did not take up arms against America to preserve slavery as the Confederates chose to do.

Then we have Lincoln. He questioned whether the races could coexist, and he advocated for the colonization of Black people. Nonetheless, he knew the evil of slavery could not continue. He led the Union on the right side of history to eliminate human bondage. Plenty of Unionists harbored racists ideas, but a vast majority stood with abolitionism and its mission to emancipate Blacks and strive for equality. Antiracists such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and William Lloyd Garrison fought both for liberating the slaves from the crime of slavery and for ending the more lasting disease of racism in America.

Were the Founders and Lincoln capable of overcoming their racist ideas? They certainly exhibited the minds of individuals capable of unlearning racism. The fact is that they knew how to draw up a government based on the idea of equality, and they also knew the magnitude of trying to preserve a government that represented a vision for serving and protecting all Americans. But when we remember them, we must also point out their shortcomings as human beings and their failures as lawmakers and statesmen.

Over a hundred and fifty years since the Civil War and still Confederate loyalists and segregationists reject racial equality. Now in our current state of disgrace, Trump refuses to take part in ending racism. He chooses instead to align with white supremacists, white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates, and Republican racists to fuel hatred, divide the country, and endanger the lives of American citizens of all races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions. The most tragic aspect of this current state of racial hatred endorsed by Trump is that he proclaims such hatred during this time of a raging pandemic. As we fight Covid-19, we must also choose to stand on the right side of history that wants to eradicate the disease of racism too.

Roger 8-)
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