Tag: Police and blacks

James Baldwin and American Slavery: The Effects and Repercussions

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

James Baldwin was one of the leading speakers during the Civil Rights movement for equal rights of Blacks in America. Although he eventually moved to France, he continued to travel to the U.S. to speak about race issues. He lived a life of segregation as being Black, a convert to the Nation of Islam, and as being a homosexual. France became a refuge for him in between speaking and writing on the Black struggles faced in America. He pushed the ideas of ‘Civil Rights,’ ‘Affirmative Action,’ and ‘Social Justice.’

It was often Baldwin’s criticism that no matter the increase of success stories in the U.S. for Black people, he felt that because of the origins, establishments of the former enslavement, and segregation of blacks, it was not possible to have equality. Retribution was never given by the U.S. after the freeing of slaves, and this was a sign of a lack of justice in the system that bore him.

Baldwin held a deeply seeded skepticism of people and thought it best to trust no one other than his own experiences (Baldwin, 8). This skepticism was most likely a symptom of Baldwin’s life experiences growing up in a racist society that treated him as being lesser of a human being than Whites for his being Black.  The sad thing is that this was a common thought among Blacks in the U.S. of Baldwin’s day. It was difficult to see the successes that even he had accomplished, and to be grateful for his growth as a person, due to the origins of his ancestry and their poor treatment. Beyond just his ancestors’ treatment as slaves, Baldwin had to live a life of mistreatment and often with a lack of ‘justice.’

As Frederick Douglass’ story pointed out the struggles of actually being a slave and becoming a self-made success, Baldwin’s story shows the backlash of the American system through an ongoing struggle with resentment as Baldwin’s lack of being treated as an equal to Whites. It had been around 70 years since Douglass had passed and Baldwin was still seeing the repercussions of slavery and the mistreatment of Blacks in America, especially in the Southern states. This racism in America had become extensively held conviction for most of the nation, and the culture was not shifting quickly enough for Baldwin and most Blacks at that time. Baldwin’s solution to the problem was to not run away completely, although he did move away to France, his solution was to write and speak out against the racist system, and society itself, and join the Civil Rights Movement in pursuit of ‘social justice’ and Affirmative Action.

A tenet of the Civil Rights Movement was that even forcing society with the coercion of the state was a step in the direction of ending racism and the mistreatment of Blacks in the U.S. Of course, the Civil Rights Movement was also fighting against the legally systematic racism such as that of Jim Crow laws of the South, which enforced segregation at public facilities and transportation. These laws chanted the idea of “separate but equal.” In contrast, Baldwin was in pursuit of ‘together and equal.’

Baldwin’s circle of influential people included Elijah Mohammad of the Nation of Islam. Unlike Elijah Mohammad, Baldwin rejected the idea that Whites were inferior to that of Blacks, and did not see them as being “devils” (Baldwin, 76). Baldwin also did not agree with continued segregation of Whites and Blacks in America, as he saw them as equals. Baldwin’s primary concern was to shape society’s view that Blacks and Whites are equal and should be treated as equals, both in society and by the state. His idea was to “free” White people from the delusion that Whites are superior, and this was the necessary step for ensuring Blacks’ equality and “freedom” from racism. His means of accomplishing this “freedom” were by writing, speaking, and pushing the judicial agenda of the Civil Rights Movement.

It is clear to see the frustration that most black people had in America during Baldwin’s time. They were forced to pay taxes and were still treated as being lesser in a society that treated Blacks as if they were not welcome. Many White businesses did not serve them, whether that be banks, restaurants, retail stores, etc. Everywhere they turned, they were harassed or their rights violated. These violated rights did not just occur within free society, they also occurred in the judicial system where ‘equality under the law’ and ‘justice’ were atypical for Blacks in America. Most Blacks, and people of color, thought the only solution was to force a systematic change in order to gain true equality.

From Thomas Jefferson to Frederick Douglass there were drastic changes made within the state to free the enslaved via the Thirteenth Amendment, grant equal citizenship for Blacks via the Fourteenth Amendment, and enforcing equal voting rights for black men via the Fifteenth Amendment. The fumbling of not ending slavery from the beginning of the U.S. by Jefferson and the Framers of the Constitution led to further victimization and a broken justice system for all. To abrogate the rights of one individual or group is to abrogate the rights of all, as ‘justice’ is the equality of treatment under the law.

The continuation of slavery in America reinforced racism in society and the state, while holding back the growth of those enslaved and the slave owners themselves. From the unbalanced foundation of the U.S. system, inequality and its repercussions were well established. Racism was then destined to take hold as it was then backed by the coercive clutches of government. Even with added Amendments, new laws to get around those were created and enforced. This is the difficulty of a democratic system which tyrannizes the minority by the vote of the majority, and racist laws are a prime example. The benefit of a democracy is that within it people tend to attempt, at least, to correct what was wrong, although it can be a rather slow process.

From Frederick Douglass to James Baldwin, prior to the Civil Rights Act, it does not appear there were many positive changes in the U.S. government system. In fact, racism and inequality persisted throughout both the South and North. This is another example of the dawdling of a democracy. Even after the Civil Rights Movement, racism towards Blacks continued and still exists today. The hesitations and reluctance of Thomas Jefferson are echoed throughout U.S. history until the days of James Baldwin. The repercussions of slavery and systematic racism are ongoing.

My position on slavery is that people are never born to be slaves. This is to say that I do not support the philosophical ideology of Aristotle on this particular matter. I do think that people, in general, have genetic predispositions for certain levels of mental capacities. Just as twin brothers can be born in the same family, with the same socioeconomic class and family, they can have different outcomes, skills, and abilities from each other. This is in part because they are individuals that can decide what to pursue, and also because there is evidence of their innate differences. These differences do not comfort the notion that one brother may or should enslave the other because of any hierarchical claims. One’s intelligence level is only compared to the other’s.

A system of ‘justice’ requires that all people be treated equally under the law, and the determinant of who is and who is not a ‘person’ is not the position of a government. Once there is room for subjectivity in law, the once balanced scales of ‘justice’ are disproportionate. From Jefferson’s ‘antiquation’ of law, or refusing to pass laws required to end slavery, led to ‘dispensation’ which is to say the system only allowed particular instances of ‘justice.’

From the time of Frederick Douglass, Amendments were added, but ‘subrogation’ was permitted, meaning that sub-clauses were provided by State and local governments to find ways out of upholding Federal laws. Finally, from the time of James Baldwin, ‘derogation’ of laws, or the removal of certain laws, was accomplished. Nevertheless, ‘abrogation,’ that is the destruction of ‘law’ and ‘justice’ persisted from the time of Jefferson through the time of Baldwin, and there is evidence that this continues today, all because of the subjectivity allowed into the legislation and judicial system.

Thomas Jefferson’s subjectivity of law was that he felt it necessary to allow government to decide through the voice of a democracy who was and who was not a ‘person.’ So, this continued injustices and slavery. James Baldwin’s subjectivity lied in his concept of ‘social justice,’ as that is by its very definition shaped by the situations and perceptions of a society. ‘Social justice’ is unbalanced and a perversion of ‘justice.’

Although Baldwin’s shared position with the Civil Rights Movement that public services should be shared equally among taxpaying citizens was a push for ‘justice,’ enforcing private businesses and people to provide equal services to Blacks was an attack against ‘justice’ through Affirmative Action. Baldwin’s concern was that the people behind the government system were immoral and that immorality was corrupting the system (Baldwin, 23, 47). I would suggest, then, that is evidence the system has too much subjective power, and the perfectibility of mankind through the coercion of the state is ignorant of empirical evidences contrary to that notion. To believe that it is noble to pursue such a goal in the face of evidence and the very nature of mankind, is utopian and naïve at best.

My position against Affirmative Action is that it is an overreach of government into society. I am aware that this view is not popular and often attacked. After all, Affirmative Action was implemented to attempt to rectify past injustices against Blacks and people of color. It was sort of a ‘reparation’ from slavery through to inequalities of Baldwin’s time. Nonetheless, I see racism as being a moral issue, not a legal issue. I think racism is a natural evil and inclination of the ignorant person, and it takes place universally. But forcing people through the proverbial gun of the government to be ‘ethical,’ does not create ethical people.

The Aristotelian approach here is that moral laws do not make moral people. In order for a person to make a moral decision, they must be free to do so. Simply being racist and not wishing to do business with someone is not a direct attack on someone, it is a personal choice of association and exchange. A free society allows for people to freely associate with whom they please; and in a free society there is a free market that would “correct itself,” like a democracy, in pursuit of the most dollars. A successful business would learn to accept any race, because if they do not, their competition surely will.

So, as a clarification, I do think racism is immoral, and slavery is one of the worst things one can do to another. I do not think a ‘just’ government should be able to regulate immoral behaviors that are of the ‘negative liberty’ type- that is liberties that do not infringe on the rights of others. I do think a ‘just’ government is required to prevent any ‘positive liberties’ which directly infringe on the rights of others. I also think government has the crucially imperative role of preventing and/or punishing those that harm others such as through acts of violence, theft, threats, death, and/or enslavement, etc.

Furthermore, I do not think an entire race is to be condemned because of the actions of a majority. Every action is performed by an individual as suggested by ‘praxeology’ or ‘methodological individualism,’ that is the study of the actions of individuals. Not all black people were enslaved, and not all white people were slave owners.

Some continue to push the notion that all white people in America are to be blamed, even to this day when no legalized slavery in the U.S. exists; this is a symptom of what happened, or a ‘repercussion’ as it were. Perhaps, there is no way to escape the transgenerational trauma that many Black people have from the horrific history of slavery. At least not until individuals, not acting in ‘collectivism,’ begin to stand up and make changes in their own lives in order to see the world for what it now is and what it can become. No matter the case of one’s ancestry, our individual thoughts and actions matter in the present, and we are each responsible for those.

From the establishment of slavery in the U.S. to the unwillingness to end it by Jefferson and others, the repercussions of such injustices were magnified the longer they took place. From Baldwin’s subjectivity of ‘social justice’ through the Civil Rights Movement and Affirmative Action, I can only imagine the continuation of injustices leading to furthering despotism in the U.S. for years to come. I am ever grateful that we no longer have slavery in this nation, and I am happy to see racist laws no longer existing as far as I am aware. To Thomas Jefferson, I am thankful for our nation. To Frederick Douglass I am thankful for the inspiration to pursue ‘Liberty,’ ‘Justice,’ and ‘Freedom.’ To James Baldwin, I am thankful for his desire of integration and charisma for change.


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Police Brutality and Minority Struggle: Ending the Blame Game

By Greg Stephan | USA

Minorities are, in modern times, facing a lot of problems right here in the good ol’ United States of America.  From drugs to being shot by police to financial instability, these issues are racking many, however not all, minority communities in America.  Children are coming home to see their father on TV, shot dead by police.  People are dying left and right from drug overdoses and gun violence.  These issues are pretty much undisputed in existence, however, the real controversy lies in what the objective root problem is of this issue.  Many people may believe this would be systemic racism within America, others may believe it’s the race of the minorities; however, under further scrutiny, neither example is the case at all.

One issue used to back up the belief that racism of both blatant and subtle forms within our government is the core problem would be minority-dominated school districts getting less funding, thus setting up students in America’s predominantly minority districts to be more likely to fail in life and underachieve.  Racism within government and donating businesses is typically where the blame is placed, however, many fail to regard that most school districts get funding in accordance to the district’s own tax income, determined by the tax collected by the population within the district.  In other words, it’s the fact that most predominantly minority communities are poorer and more crime-ridden than predominantly white communities that causes the low school funding.  Now that we can knock racism out of the way for this issue, we can now dismantle the other extreme, for the true blame is no more on systemic racism than it is on minority races themselves.

The reason for the cause of the school district issue is not racism, nor it is the colors of the dominant races in a community.  What it is, however, is the culture and popular (yet masochistic in the long-term) choices individuals are pressured to make.  Poorer, crime-riddled, minority-dominated communities are more often than not filled to the brim with “ghetto culture”.  This subculture heavily promotes the use of drugs, gangs, street violence, black-on-black crime, and disregard of individual responsibility through various forms of media and action.  Because these drugs and gangs and other forms of street culture, individuals are showing to choose lives of crime, drugs, fraternization, and irresponsibility.  Choosing getting high off of lean and having unprotected sex with your friend’s significant other over finishing college and having a career outside of crime is considered cool and has been normalized by these cultures.  Making these decisions are what make people poor and put families in jeopardy.  Now, whites typically don’t engage as much in these cultures and are, more often than not, not stuck in ghettos and in failing school systems, however some do in fact choose to go down the route of ghetto culture and become irresponsible and, in turn, poor; in conclusion it is not racism nor race that is the cause of this issue, moreover the culture of the individuals claiming to be oppressed.

This trend of the more commonly brought up issues to back a more progressive standpoint on the topic of minority struggle always connecting back to ghetto culture’s influence on minority individuals is seemingly getting more apparent as time passes.  To name just a couple, the high rate of minority crime compared to white crime?  Ghetto culture (which is more popular amongst minority communities) glorifies, normalizes, and popularizes crime not just in the form of art, but also in reality.  High drug consumption/production/selling?  Ghetto culture realizes glorified, normalized drug use, not to mention glorification of gang violence and gangs selling and producing drugs for profit.  Poorer communities constantly on welfare?  Ghetto culture promotes throwing individual responsibility out the window in favor of constantly living life as a hardass teenager who goes to parties instead of class (which coincidentally is also promoted through ghetto culture).

The most socially significant issue minorities are facing, one that simply cannot be left unaddressed is the problem of police brutality against minorities.  Is the reason for cops shooting blacks and other minorities to their deaths always, without a doubt, racism?  Well, no (and I will get to that part in a bit), however, there’s no arguing that a few of these incidents were, in fact, hate crimes.  Dealing in absolutes, however, and saying that every officer-on-minority attack is unjustified or simply racism, would be factually inaccurate as not every police officer that has had to use his or her gun on a minority is inherently racist.  The reason why we see so much “racist” police brutality on the media is because the media can easily make money off of tragedy and hot talking points; police brutality is one issue that is both.  Blowing these issues out of the water and putting a political media spin on the entire deal is exactly what has gotten the majority of progressives to believe that racist police brutality is something that is seen 24/7 pretty much everywhere when in reality it really isn’t.

Why, one may ask, then would the rates of police brutality acted upon minorities significant in comparison to the total American racial minority population?  Well, a good answer for that would be that minorities simply have more run-ins with the police, thus upping the chances of violence and/or brutality.  If for instance black Americans, only make up 13% of the population yet commit 50% of America’s violent crime, then this is a far higher crime rate than white America, thus resulting in more run-ins with police by black folk and in turn, resulting in a higher likelihood of police brutality.  This, in statistics, is called “The Law of Large Numbers”; a vague description of LLN would be that the more times an experiment or event occurs (in this case, minorities running in with police and committing crimes) the higher the probability of a certain outcome becomes (in this case police brutality against minorities).

The reason for such high crime rates resulting in higher likelihood of police brutality?

Ghetto culture.

Ghetto culture promotes committing violent, self-destructive crime against not only other minority individuals but police officers as well, as previously stated several times.  In conclusion, ghetto culture can be linked back to almost every issue currently facing minority communes.  It’s a lot easier to blame others for your own failures to be up-to-par with individual responsibility, especially when your culture romanticizes and falsely justifies it.  Minority communities in America need to focus on independently fixing themselves and reforming the mass amounts of toxic street culture that has become self-evident, not blaming whites for all of their issues.  In the end, the real problem is not racism, nor is it inferiority in race, as we are all individuals with our own unique abilities and disabilities, most of whom being completely capable of fulfilling personal responsibilities.  For an able individual can only be helpless in success and rehabilitation when a society around it blindly claims it’s “cool” and “normal” the way it is.