As America concludes its 43rd Black History Month, we are 60 days into the 400th year since enslaved Africans were brought in chains to the Land of the Free. It should come as no surprise that African Americans are currently facing a struggle for full emancipation as vital as any time since slavery. Only in the last two generations have African Americans enjoyed any semblance of the freedom enjoyed by Caucasians after 250 years of slavery and a century of Apartheid, Jim Crow.
Were it not for the intestinal fortitude and all-or-nothing-at-all determination African Americans brought to the Civil Rights movement 50 years ago Jim Crow, or worse, might still be the law of this land. It was never the intention of the 1960’s American power elite to capitulate on the issue of equal rights for African Americans, then, now or ever.
In the intervening years between the civil rights crusade and now the cultural table turned 180 degrees in America.
The cries, pleas and prayers of African Americans for racial justice transformed to an African American on the Supreme Court dispensing justice, and others who’d become captains of industry, renowned academicians, artists, scientists, religious and political leaders, and idolized multimillionaire athletes and entertainers.
On the other hand, the in-your-face, vociferous champions of a “white only” privileged America went mostly underground with their politics and became more subtle and strategic in their racism.
Thanks to the “Make America Great Again” movement it has become racial reckoning time in America. Not only have the former champions of Jim Crow become fed up with the societal strides of African Americans, the increasing browning of the U.S. population with non-Caucasian immigrants, and the ultimate signal of America’s impending doom— the election of Barack Obama, the prospect of permanent loss of Caucasian preeminence in America has emboldened some to take drastic measures.
Despite all the gains made since MLKJ was martyrd a half-century ago, African Americans continue to be complicit in maintaining the perception of their second class citizenship compared to Caucasians, through the acceptance and perpetuation of the labels, ‘blacks’ and ‘minorities.’
The term “blacks” is antebellum and derogatory, defining Africans as subjugated and inferior. “Whites” on the other hand symbolizes superiority and privilege.
These terms create an artificial dichotomy between the races that is stark, extreme and impossible to bridge because their connotations are so deeply entrenched in our psyches and in the historic American caste system that despite our slowly evolving appreciation for each other’s shared humanity the intrinsic, subconscious identification of skin color repels our attempts to expedite racial and social equilibrium.
While it would represent a monumental step toward improved race relations to suspend the use of centuries-old terminology whose original application was to describe America’s “superior” versus “inferior” populations, this only applies to African American and other non-Caucasians who use these labels because of longstanding indoctrination, and Caucasians who’ve been equally socially conditioned.
While it is true most Republican politicians have been lockstep with Trump, the blackface scandals of prominent Democratic politicians is likely only the tip of the iceberg of bigotry among so-called liberals. It is true that some abolitionists who vehemently opposed slavery believed in the inferiority of Africans to Caucasians and did not support racial equality in any regard.
Although it may appear Donald Trump is leading a movement, he is actually a not-very-astute front man chosen by a movement to resuscitate white supremacy in America. Trump is a symptom, not the source of an America that wants to be great…again.
Every four years it is said this is the most consequential presidential election of our time. Well, 2020 may actually be that proverbial “most consequential” election.
Never mind Jim Crow, Charlottesville, and other places where violent protests and threats have accompanied attempts to remove Confederate symbolisms make it clear America would be great again for some if slavery still existed.
Jefferson Davis-inspired “nationalists” extend far beyond the South.
Hovering just under 40 percent of America’s voting population, most MAGA stalwarts want nothing less than to reclaim the America that existed before Civil Rights.
Original indigenous “Americans” notwithstanding, and except for the original European settlers, African Americans themselves are indigenous to America, a hybrid race existing nowhere else on this planet.
Yet despite being uniquely, distinctly and unarguably American their right to be here and enjoy the fruits of 400 years of free labor as builders of this nation they continue to be beguiled, exploited and denigrated.
Hatred towards Africans and other non-Caucasians in America, including 250 tears of slavery, will not allow this country to heal until there is an honest conversation about hate. Healing must take place or this country could implode. No amount of wealth or high-sounding ideals alone will rescue this republic.
The beast of hatred has been overfed for too long in America. There must be a catharsis. No outside threat or geopolitical foe poses a greater risk to the stability of the United States of America.
Regi Taylor is a West Baltimore native. The married father of four is an artist, writer and media professional specializing in political history.