A Word Of Explanation....
You will notice that The
Harvest Institute capitalized the words Black and White when referring to
people. This may feel unfamiliar but we do it out of respect for both the
Black and White race. It is inappropriate to capitalize Asians, Hispanics,
and other groups and not give Whites and Blacks the respect to which both
Q. Slavery happened so long ago. I
am not responsible for it. Why can't we just forget it?
The nation's race problem, a structural economic inequality between the
races, is directly traceable back to and across four centuries of slavery
and Jim Crow apartheid (semi-slavery).Slavery and Jim Crow established and
maintained imbalances between the races. Under these social and economic
systems, nearly 100 percent of this nation's wealth and power resources,
and controls of all levels of government, were mar-distributed into the
hands of dominant white society. The advantages, preferences and wealth
assets, in the form of stocks, bonds, shares, businesses, land, insurance
benefits and trust accounts, are passed from one generation to the next
through inheritance laws. Though whites today continue to enjoy the
advantages of centuries of govemment-supported preferences for Whites, most
live in a state of denial about how their group's wealth and power were
Q. Why should the U.S.
government apologize to Blacks for slavery?
For centuries, this nation's "Government of, by and
for the people" did not include the Black race. Without government support,
neither slavery nor Jim Crow segregation could have long endured. The
government has apologized to all other groups to whom it has committed
offenses, except Blacks. Yet, Black Americans have borne the burden of every
obligation this nation has had since 1619. Black Americans did not
confiscate nearly two billion acres of land from Native Americans. However,
for more than four centuries, Blacks paid taxes and their life blood so that
Whites who did confiscate the land could develop and enjoy it. Money out of
Black pockets supported a federal Indian bureau and state commissions that
gave Indians benefits that Blacks never received. Blacks did not start WWII,
but money from their pockets made up the $13 billion that rebuilt German
under the Marshall Plan and Japan under the Point Four Plan. Blacks did not
intern Japanese Americans in the 1940s but helped to pay $22,000 in
reparations awarded to each descendant in 1992.Real racial equality for
Blacks in America begins with an apology and acknowledgment from the
government that millions of Blacks were wrongfully used and killed. Economic
justice and reparations must naturally follow.
Q. Were not the Civil War, the
13th 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution an apology?
History itself provides the answer to this
question. The Civil War was fought for a number of reasons, but not to free
black slaves. A primary reason was to relocate the slave-produced wealth and
industries of the South to the North. Attitude surveys conducted on the eve
of the Civil War reported that less than 2% of white Americans were willing
to go to war with the South to free Black slaves. Ironically, the Civil War
and the enactment of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, ended full
slavery, but allowed Jim Crow semi-slavery to replace it within two years.
Jim Crow semi-slavery continued until the late 1960s.
Q. How is the Dred Scott
decision related to today's controversies about racism and whether to issue
an apology to Blacks for slavery?
The Dred Scott decision issued in 1854 said that 'Blacks had no rights that
a White person was bound to respect.' That decision established a legal
dictum that was a common thread through slavery, Jim Crow apartheid, and the
period of benign neglect and continues to be reflected in policies to this
day. The Dred Scott decision was never reversed by the courts. The dominant
society's practice of equating and confusing Black experiences with those of
gender, class, ethnicity and physical handicaps continues the legal legacy
of the Dred Scott decision.
Q. What is racism?
Racism is a power relationship between groups based
upon color. It is a group concept and occurs when one group has so much
power that it can force another group to do what it wants. Its purpose is
the uneven and unfair distribution of power, privilege, land and wealth to
Whites. Contrary to the arguments of conservatives, racism is not
fundamentally about individual actions and beliefs. The concept of racism
did not exist until the 16th Century commercial enslavement of Blacks began.
Because Blacks as a group do not have the power, the black race has no
racists, only Blacks re-acting racism.
Q. What is the best way to
frame a national discussion on race?
Any constructive look at race must be based upon an
analysis of history. It is an examination of history that tells why the
race issue exists, how it came to be, the social laws and customs that form
the legacy that we see today in disparities between Blacks and Whites. A
serious discussion would also seek to quantify the harm that was done to
Black people. The uninformed opinions and misinformation that usually
characterize racial discussions, result from an unwillingness to examine
history and to approach the topic intellectually rather than emotionally.
Q. Instead of race, why can't
we focus more on the individual and individual accomplishment?
Race by definition refers to a group. Blacks as a
group were subjected to the cruelties of slavery and Jim Crow apartheid. It
was because they were members of a group that Blacks were enslaved, lynched,
castrated. It is because of race that Whites, as a group, have advantages
and preferences. It is easier for Whites to be attracted to the concept of
individualism because with their wealth, power and population monopolies,
they have not been and cannot be the victims of racism.