Why Do We Need Black History Month?

Why do we need Black History Month?

I’ve heard people say, “Why do we need Black History Month? We don’t have a White History Month…”

It’s frustrating, but I think I get it. Every person views the world through their own lens that is shaped by their own experiences throughout their own life. If you’ve been insulated from Black history for most of your life, raised by White parents in a White culture with White friends at White schools, Black History Month may not make sense to you at first glance.

If you have never experienced racism, you have never learned about Black History, and you feel the perfectly natural resentment that bubbles up when you suspect that someone is implying that you are racist, well… that is why we need Black History Month.

More importantly, why do we need to know about Black History in the American justice system?

Why Do We Need to Know the History of Racism in US Courts?

Institutional racism and the subjugation of non-Whites was always inextricably tied to the court system in America.

From the very beginning, American courts have been used to cement the White ruling class in America and to ensure that non-Whites remained slaves, did not vote, did not own property, did not mix with White citizens, and stayed in their place.

Did you know that racial injustice was built into the United States justice system? If reading that line makes you feel uncomfortable, defensive, and a bit skeptical, that is why we need Black History Month.

From the Slave Codes (adopted in SC in 1712) to the Black Codes after the Emancipation Proclamation, segregation, and the Jim Crow laws, the justice system in America has always been used to “disadvantage, subdue, and control certain minority groups, namely African Americans.”

Historically, the United States Supreme Court upheld and sanctioned court enforcement of White Supremacy in appellate opinions holding that:

Gradually, however, American courts have become a place where non-Whites can seek justice and where the promise of “equal under the law” might be fulfilled. The courts have now been used to end slavery, to guarantee the right to vote to every person, to enforce property rights of non-Whites, and to force our country to recognize the basic rights of non-White citizens.

Why Isn’t There a White History Month?

Every month is White History Month in America.

If you went to grade school in America, you learned White European History. Unless you were able to take an “African American History” class in high school, you probably did not learn much about the Black Americans who shaped our nation.

I would be shocked if you learned any African history in grade school – I know that I did not. Why does it matter?

Representative Steve King of Iowa (who is openly White supremacist and yet is still repeatedly re-elected by the people of Iowa), summed it up in a recent New York Times interview:

“White nationalist, White supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

We live in a nation that is full of intentional and unintentional racists. Why?

Because that is what we teach our children.

Although we live in an incredibly diverse nation with people of all ethnicities, backgrounds, history, and religions, we teach all children White, European history, marginalize every other ethnicity, and then wonder why we end up with so many White supremacists and right-wing extremists…

Equality is not a Zero-Sum Game

Why is there so much resistance to talking about Black History in the United States? Why does the very notion offend so many White people in our country?

Listen:

Giving equal rights to someone else does not mean you get less equal rights. Denying equal rights to someone else might make you “superior” under the law. It might protect your economic interests if you were a slave owner or it might confirm your worldview if you believe your particular ethnicity is better than every other ethnicity.

Even if you are the type of person who feels superior to other ethnicities or who secretly feels uncomfortable around people who don’t look like you, you can tolerate those people and “allow” them to have equal rights.

Knowing the truth about the history of other races and the history of how White America has treated other races since before the founding of our nation is the first step towards tolerance, the acceptance of equal rights for every person, and ensuring that we do not repeat our past mistakes.

How Far Have We Come?

The laws of the United States are no longer used to perpetuate the enslavement and violent oppression of non-Whites. So how far have we come?

  • Black children are still 20 times more likely to be tried as adults than White children in America;
  • More than half of all children sentenced to prison in America are Black children;
  • During a traffic stop, police are three times more likely to search Black motorists, twice as likely to arrest them, and 400% more likely to threaten or use force against them;
  • Hate crimes are not illegal in SC;
  • SC is also the proud home of at least 12 hate groups;
  • Prosecutors still systematically exclude non-Whites from juries in criminal trials; and
  • In 2017, 88% of persons charged in the City of Columbia with the unconstitutional municipal offense of “failure to stop on police command” were Black males – 11% were an undifferentiated combination of White, Latino, and Hispanic.

The SC Supreme Court rejected an appeal and affirmed a Black man’s death sentence by an all-White jury after blatant inflammatory racist comments by the prosecutor, Donnie Meyers in Lexington, SC, who referred to the defendant “as King Kong, a monster, a cave man, and a beast of burden,” and a witness who described a dream where “Black Indians” were chasing him and trying to kill him.

The SC Supreme Court then refused to hear the man’s appeal when the PCR court denied post-conviction relief based on a juror’s statement that he had convicted the defendant “because he was just a dumb nigger.”

But that would never happen today, right? Surely, that’s just an old appellate opinion from the 1800s, right?

Wrong – the Supreme Court denied the appeal in 2006, and the federal district court ultimately granted habeas corpus relief in 2016

Those Who Do Not Learn History are Doomed to Repeat It

Regardless of your race or ethnicity, take the time to learn the history that they didn’t teach you in the White, European American grade school you were forced to attend.

Learn about the Vietnam War – why it happened, what our government was doing, and how it ended.

Learn about the War of 1812 – there’s a reason they gloss over that one in school…

Learn the unvarnished truth about how a White power structure treated non-White human beings throughout America’s history, and learn about our “justice” system’s shameful history of suppression of non-Whites in our country.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Columbia, Lexington, and Myrtle Beach, SC

Lacey Thompson only accepts criminal defense cases in the Myrtle Beach, Lexington, and Columbia SC areas.

If you have been charged with a crime or think that you are under investigation, call the Thompson Defense Firm now at 843-444-6122 or fill out our email form to set up a free consultation.

 

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