Why America Can't Rid Itself of Its Racism Problem
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
By: Donald V. Watkins
© Copyrighted and Published on November 17, 2019
Much of what we know about colonialism and slavery in America was written by white postcolonial writers who were free to reimagine the subversiveness, resistance, and intelligence of the captive peoples than to confront the slave trade, colonial histories, legal codes, and political treatises that represent the same people in quite different terms.
Our country, as we know it today, was founded by white European explorers and settlers who landed in the new Atlantic world and made their way from Jamestown, Virginia across the land we call America. This land was already occupied by Native-Americans who were described in the July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence as "merciless Indian Savages." Millions of these "Savages" were slaughtered by the Europeans settlers in a coast-to-coast ethnic cleansing campaign that lasted hundreds of years from when the first settlers colonized Jamestown.
The colonists welcomed, maintained, protected, and grew an African slave trade, particularly in the South. Slaves of African descent were viewed as "human" property. In the Declaration of Independence, one of the indictments against King George of England was this quote: "On November 7, 1775, Virginia's royal governor proclaimed freedom for all black slaves who would join British forces."
The signatory parties to the Declaration of Independence, some of whom were slave owners, believed that British military plans included using freed slaves and Indians to fight colonists, and explicitly said so in the Declaration.
Since 1776, "merciless Indian Savages" and freed "black slaves" have been designated as "enemies of state." This formal declaration appears in the Declaration of Independence itself. This tragic state of being lasted 94 years for black slaves and much longer for "Indian Savages." It was backed by the force of law in 1857 when the U.S. Supreme Court, on a 7-2 vote, declared in the Dred Scott case that no black person in America -- free or slave -- had legal rights that white men were bound to respect.
While the 13th Amendment (ratified in 1865), 14th Amendment (ratified in 1868), and 15th Amendment (ratified in 1870) to the U.S. constitution banned slavery, provided for equal protection under the laws, and guaranteed blacks the right to vote, these federal laws would not be enforced for another hundred years.
In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act; in 1965, it passed the Voting Rights Act; and in 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. These laws were intended to provide equal rights for black Americans in public accommodations, voter participation and legislative representation, and equal access to housing.
The 1860s and 1960s-era civil rights laws were generally enforced by federal courts for about 30 years. However, this enforcement activity came to an eventual halt after Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump packed the federal judiciary with hardcore Republican conservative judges who hold hostile views toward civil and individual rights. Now, the judicial enforcement of civil and individual rights guaranteed under the Constitution and Acts of Congress are virtually non-existent.
"Indian Savages" were left to languish for nearly two hundred years in the aftermath of unenforced treaties the U.S. Government made with various Native-American Tribes. Only casino gaming in recent decades on federally recognized Indian reservations saved Native-Americans from extreme poverty and irrelevancy.
Over the last four decades, Republican-appointed federal judges, who enjoy a lifetime appointment, have engaged in an unrelenting and sustained campaign to undermine, neutralize or otherwise extinguish the fundamental rights American citizens are guaranteed under the 1791 Bill of Rights (a/k/a the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution), the 1860s-era Civil Rights Amendments to the Constitution, the 1960s-era civil rights laws, and the Indian treaties.
For the most part, these judges have used every procedural devise and legal trick imaginable to reverse the protections afforded to African, Native-Americans, and other Americans of color. This practice is called "judicial activism," and it is not authorized in American law. It occurs only when the judicial branch of government usurps the traditional lawmaking function of the duly-elected legislative branch of government.
When it comes to matters of race, hardcore Republican-appointed federal judges have traded places with the white colonists of 1776 who viewed freed "black slaves" and "Indian Savages" as a threat to their white supremacy paradigm. This is the real reason why America cannot rid itself of its racism problem.
At the end of the day, the men and women in black robes on the federal bench have become far more dangerous to African and Native-Americans than the men and women who parade in the streets in white robes.