I’m an old white guy in my early 70s.  I have lived my life in lower middle class neighborhoods and school districts that were over 90% white.  My parents were raised in Arkansas but they moved to California before I was born and didn’t bring any racism with them to our home. I did visit my grandparents when I was 12 and 15 in Arkansas and saw white and black only drinking fountains that blew my mind. I saw an uncle who had two grocery items step in front of a black lady with quite a few items at the checkout line with neither one saying a word. Again, blew my mind. As an adult, I was in a prison factory in Arizona and approached a few black inmates and quickly found myself surrounded by about 30 black inmates. We talked and laughed a little and one said and they all agreed that I must have some black blood in me somewhere. We laughed at that as well, me being with light red hair.

A simple slogan like Black Lives Matter upsets too many people.  One would be too many, but I’m afraid there are millions that don’t like it.  They are racists and that group can’t help themselves.  A second group tended to immediately reply that all lives mattered. Those are the ones who should be the most ashamed. They were willing to include black lives as a real life but failed to grasp the reason the Black Lives Mattered slogan needed to stand on its own.

Black lives have been extinguished by those that believed black lives were not real, that they didn’t have a soul, that no one would miss them.  They had zero tolerance for black lives and the space they took up unless it was to serve and only then if they knew their place.  Oh, the south was willing to count them at something a little less that a whole person for census purposes to get more representation in Washington DC but didn’t want blacks to be seen or to vote.

Slavery has existed for thousands of years.  It was brought to America by colonists that established and settled in the Southern colonies that came from Barbados.  Barbados was an English colony itself that was well known for its cruelty to their slaves.  Barbadians were in to aristocracy and believed only the wealthy and privileged should vote and control government. The northern colonies were established and settled by those coming mostly from England, France, and The Netherlands and tended to be more accepting of the Native Americans and for creating democracies. United we gained our freedom from England, divided we fought a civil war.

20% of black men have spent time in prison.

03% of white men have spent time in prison.

27% of black men between the ages of 25 and 54, their prime income producing years, had zero earnings in 2014 and incarceration and its aftereffects were the main reason.

The Roots of Blacks and Police Interactions

“In 1866 a year after the 13 Amendment was ratified (the amendment that ended slavery), Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina began to lease out convicts for labor (peonage). This made the business of arresting Blacks very lucrative, which is why hundreds of White men were hired by these states as police officers. Their primary responsibility was to search out and arrest Blacks who were in violation of Black Codes. Once arrested, these men, women and children would be leased to plantations where they would harvest cotton, tobacco, sugar cane. Or they would be leased to work at coal mines, or railroad companies. The owners of these businesses would pay the state for every prisoner who worked for them; prison labor.

It is believed that after the passing of the 13th Amendment, more than 800,000 Blacks were part of the system of peonage, or re-enslavement through the prison system. Peonage didn’t end until after World War II began, around 1940.

This is how it happened.

The 13th Amendment declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (Ratified in 1865)

Did you catch that? It says, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude could occur except as a punishment for a crime.” Lawmakers used this phrase to make petty offenses crimes. When Blacks were found guilty of committing these crimes, they were imprisoned and then leased out to the same businesses that lost slaves after the passing of the 13th Amendment.

This system of convict labor is called peonage. The majority of White Southern farmers and business owners hated the 13th Amendment because it took away slave labor. As a way to appease them, the federal government turned a blind eye when southern states used this clause in the 13th Amendment to establish laws called Black Codes.

Here are some examples of Black Codes:

In Louisiana, it was illegal for a Black man to preach to Black congregations without special permission in writing from the president of the police. If caught, he could be arrested and fined. If he could not pay the fines, which were unbelievably high, he would be forced to work for an individual, or go to jail or prison where he would work until his debt was paid off.

If a Black person did not have a job, he or she could be arrested and imprisoned on the charge of vagrancy or loitering.

This next Black Code will make you cringe. In South Carolina, if the parent of a Black child was considered vagrant, the judicial system allowed the police and/or other government agencies to “apprentice” the child to an “employer”. Males could be held until the age of 21, and females could be held until they were 18. Their owner had the legal right to inflict punishment on the child for disobedience, and to recapture them if they ran away.

This (peonage) is an example of systemic racism – Racism established and perpetuated by government systems.

Slavery was made legal by the U.S. Government.

Segregation, Black Codes, Jim Crow and peonage were all made legal by the government, and upheld by the judicial system.

These acts of racism were built into the system, which is where the term “Systemic Racism” is derived. This is the part of “Black History” that most of us were never told about.”

Damon K. Roberts | June 17, 2020 | #damonkrobertsrealtor