Racism is like Communism | Political Thoughts

Racism is like Communism | Political Thoughts

I mention that racism is just the redistribution
of wealth from people of color and to whites. I made this description purposely sound like
communism. I knew that the phrase “redistribution of
wealth” would probably make people think of communism and socialism, which are so often
vilified. And I wanted people, especially in the United
States, to understand that no matter how much we vilify these socialism and communism, we
cannot deny that the racism on which our country is built is strikingly similar. In the beginning, the state used its coercive
power to decide who were slaves and who were free. The slaves, black people, built our country
in a very literal sense. They built the actual physical structures. Their labor and their pain enriched the country
and especially the elites who today we call Founding Fathers. The wealth they gave to this country let that
elite have the leisure time to pursue politics. Even when slavery was abolished, the federal
government still restricted benefits away from blacks. Blacks were denied loans given to whites that
allowed whites to buy homes which today are worth so much more money. This process of redlining led to generational,
real estate wealth built up in the hands of whites, while blacks lacked that same opportunity
and were funneled into urban areas. Blacks never had the full benefit of G.I. Bill, so even though they fought and died
for this country in World War II, they didn’t get access to to college through the GI Bill
and again they didn’t have access to loans for mortgages like white veterans. When Black Wall Street, an area in Tulsa,
Oklahoma which was home to successful black businessmen who had overcome even these obstacles
and built possibly the wealthiest black community in the country, when in 1921 that community
after a series of racial conflicts, was destroyed, burned to the ground by a white mob that proceeded
to detain black people around the area in an extrajudicial condemnation of the crime
of being black, what was the response of the U.S. government? Troops suppressed the violence, but there’s
something to be said about how much time they took to do it. Did they investigate white officials in the
area for what had happened? Besides one police chief, no. Did the government help rebuild the area destroyed
by what was basically a lawless band of white people? No. Instead, local white political elites tried
to make the area too expensive for blacks to buy and tried to change it to a commercial
district instead of a residential district, and it was only because the black community
opposed this through the legal system that it never came to be. In 1996, 75 years after the fact, there was
an attempt at reparations with a committee investigating the damage and making reccomendations
like scholarships to the descendants of the the residents and economic development in
the area, but the state legislature never acted on it. When reparations were sought in court two
years later, judges hid behind the statute of limitations and the Supreme Court refused
to hear the case. Allow me to be clear: the statute of limitations
means too much time has passed between the crime and the case being brought. But the only reason so much time passed was
because of a racist lack of action on the part of a country that did not care about
the loss of black wealth. Our country’s response to the victims of horrible
violence was to ignore it, and when finally it could be ignored no longer, our country
said that too much time had passed to do anything. Our country said: “Our inaction in the past,
motivated by racism, is why we cannot do anything in the present.” Can you imagine the same cynical reaction
on the part of the government to a white community, especially a white community burned to the
ground and its white residents rounded up by black people? If you do, I don’t think we see the same history
happening. So what is this, if not a form of government
enforcing, both through direct action and through strategic inaction, the poverty of
people of color and ensuring the wealth of white people? Is this not historically a government where
most of the officials were and are white choosing who could be wealthy, and choosing other whites
at the expense of people of color? Is this not a country where historically the
government has allowed the people it likes get to be wealthy while suppressing the people
it doesn’t like? So yes, I do see striking similarities between
our historical treatment of people of color and how communist regimes have tended divide
up wealth among a small elite and oppress those they dislike to perpetuate their own
staying in power. You can argue that communist regimes tend
to silence violently people who say things against the regime, and here I am saying what
my country has done wrong and face no similar consequences. But I would argue that that has not always
been the case. Lynching and killing black people in horribly
painful ways at times while white people watched and took pictures as though it were a happy
pastime, was a historical response toward black people who did or said things the white
community did not like, and local governments historically ignored that. I’m a light skinned Latina and I look incredibly
Anglo, so I would probably wouldn’t have been lynched even if I lived back then and said
these same things back then. But there’s no denying that there was a mechanism
for silencing black people, and if the government knowingly did nothing to stop it, I say it
makes no difference if the government claimed not to endorse it. And even if prominent black people could avoid
lynching in some cases they were subject to violence and then to having no legal recourse
after being harmed from a government that did not consider their pain equal to the pain
of whites. So what does freedom of speech mean, when
its application has so often been limited to whites? Isn’t that exactly what communist regimes
do: let who they like talk and violently suppress those who don’t like? Maybe today racism is a little less like a
communist regime, since lynching isn’t what it used to be, (though black people are still
being killed and their deaths are still being ignored by the government). But I don’t see where the United States has
the moral high ground to say anything to any other country on this ground. In this piece I haven’t even mentioned the
deaths the United States is responsible for when it attacks people in other countries
it doesn’t like, because even looking only at the domestic sphere, we are often just
as bad as other countries our media loves to criticize. Possibly we are worse, if only because we
have the hypocrisy to do horrible things and then turn around act like we’re some bastion
of freedom.

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