Dispatch #72 June 24th 2020
Day 1322 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 1250 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
As we white people take up the challenge to school ourselves, we must understand how Reconstruction (federal enforcement of black social and political equality) and reunion were reconciled after the Civil War. [ See generally Chapter 4 Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Race and Reunion — The Civil War in American Memory by David W Blight (The Belnap Press of Harvard University 2001)]
While a majority of white northerners supported a war for reunion, fewer supported a war for the abolition of slavery, and only a minority supported black political equality. The occupation by federal forces of the South during Reconstruction sparked a reign of terror aimed at black people and white people who supported them; at least 2000 lynchings occurred during 1865-1876. White northern Republican support for protecting the rights of former slaves began to falter almost immediately as the post-war years brought serious economic and political troubles. White Republicans increasingly came to believe that voting rights for black men had created an insoluble barrier to reunion. A decade of bitter struggle for political power between southern Democrats and northern Republicans – with both parties touting white supremacist positions – culminated in what became known as the “Compromise of 1877.”
The 1876 presidential election between Democrat Samuel J Tilden and Republican Rutherford B Hays involved violent suppression of black voters and remained contested when Tilden won the popular vote while Hays was awarded the electoral college vote amid allegations of fraud. In early 1877 Republicans and Democrats struck a deal – in exchange for Democrats supporting the election of Hays as President, the Republicans agreed to withdraw all federal troops and let the southern states decide individually how they would deal with their Black citizens. White politicians bargained for stability and economic growth and sacrificed the civil rights of black people on the altar of white supremacy.
We white people must grasp that mythologizing about American history has hidden the primary legacy of the Civil War that endures to this day: the endorsement of White Supremacy by northern and southern political leaders as the structural foundation of the United States.
We white people must grasp that it is practically impossible to overstate or exaggerate the viciousness, brutality, pillaging, and destruction systematically wreaked on Black people by white people during these 150 years.
Equal Justice Initiative demands that Americans confront their history of racial injustice; i.e., the false belief that nonwhite people are less human than white people, the pitiless hierarchy of oppression that enabled the genocide of native peoples, survived slavery’s abolition, and fueled racial terror lynchings.
Two EJI reports collectively document 6,500 racial terror lynchings between 1865 and 1950. This lynching number is surely an undercount; thousands more were attacked, sexually assaulted, and terrorized by white mobs and individuals who were shielded from arrest and prosecution.
During the period between the Civil War and World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States. Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. These lynchings were terrorism — a widely supported campaign to enforce racial subordination and segregation. “Terror lynchings” peaked between 1880 and 1940 and claimed the lives of African American men, women, and children who were forced to endure the fear, humiliation, and barbarity of this widespread phenomenon unaided.
Lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans in ways that are still evident today. Terror lynchings fueled the mass migration of millions of black people from the South into urban ghettos in the North and West throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Lynching created a fearful environment where racial subordination and segregation was maintained with limited resistance for decades. Most critically, lynching reinforced a legacy of racial inequality that has never been adequately addressed in America.
Terror lynchings were horrific acts of violence whose perpetrators were never held accountable. Indeed, some public spectacle lynchings were attended by the entire white community and conducted as celebratory acts of racial control and domination.
These papers are required reading for white people committed to their schooling. Equal Justice Initiative, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” (2017) https://eji.org/reports/lynching-in-america/ Equal Justice Initiative, “Reconstruction in America: Racial Violence after the Civil War” (2020) https://eji.org/reports/reconstruction-in-america-overview/
Juneteenth commemoration and the occasion of the PeeeOTUS rally in Tulsa ignited conversation about the so-called Tulsa Race Riot in 1921. Because the actual events involved white people pillaging and burning the Greenwood District of Tulsa known as the Black Wall Street and murdering at least 300 Black people, the Tulsa Massacre is more appropriate. The incidences of such extreme white violence and brutality can never be fully counted. Ten of the worst massacres of Black people are illustrated at this URL. This is required reading that should invoke disbelieving horror and weeping at the depraved brutality inflicted by white people on Black people. https://listverse.com/2019/10/23/10-of-the-worst-massacres-of-african-americans-disturbing-images/
The character of the violence also changed as gruesome public spectacle lynchings became much more common. At these often festive community gatherings, large crowds of whites watched and participated in the black victims’ prolonged torture, mutilation, dismemberment, and burning at the stake. Such brutally violent methods of execution had almost never been applied to whites in America. Indeed, public spectacle lynchings drew from and perpetuated the belief that Africans were subhuman—a myth that had been used to justify centuries of enslavement, and now fueled and purportedly justified terrorism aimed at newly emancipated African American communities. https://eji.org/reports/lynching-in-america/
The emerging field of epigenesis provides growing evidence that the effects of trauma can be passed from one generation to the next.
Intergenerational Trauma is the idea that serious trauma can affect the children and grandchildren of those who had the first-hand experience, due to living with a person suffering from PTSD and the challenges that can bring. What’s new is that thanks to the emerging field of epigenetics, science is discovering that trauma is being passed down to future generations through more than simply learned behaviors. https://themindsjournal.com/can-trauma-passed-dna
We must grasp that the intergenerational trauma and terror created by White Supremacy are not limited to the victims:
As myriad social science studies have documented, participation in collective violence leaves perpetrators with their own dangerous and persistent damage, including harmful defense mechanisms such as “diminish[ed] empathy for victims” that can lead to intensified violent behaviors that target victims outside the original group. In addition, perpetrators and bystanders may continue to devalue the group they victimized for years afterward and remain unable to acknowledge their actions, even though their personal and collective rehabilitation depends on that acknowledgment.
The foundational role that lynching played in the socialization of white children during this era illustrates racial violence’s deep cultural impact. As attendees and participants in lynchings, Southern white children were taught to accept and embrace traumatic violence and the racist narratives underlying it. https://eji.org/reports/lynching-in-america/
White children witnessing pieces of living black bodies cut off for souvenirs, helping to stoke the fires, seeing black skin used lampshades, understanding that this violence was sanctioned…..these traumatic lessons are alive today. Our American White Supremacist culture ensures that white people see Black people as less than white, less than human.
EJI founder Bryan Stephenson insists that America must have a Truth and Reconciliation process, like those pursued for genocide and/or apartheid in South Africa, Rwanda, and post-WWII Germany, due to the capitulation and complicity of American institutions – from local sheriffs right up to the US supreme court in Washington – in the face of white supremacist violence. In recent interview with The Guardian about the EJI report Reconstruction in America: Racial Violence after the Civil War, Stephenson observes:
“…that the outpouring of protest across the nation underlined the need for a historical reckoning. “We have to acknowledge what the damage is, tell the truth about the harm and injury, then we can begin to imagine what repair and remedy looks like. The truth has to come first – and we haven’t done that.” He added: “That explains much of the moment we are now in – until there is a deep reckoning of this history of violence and racial oppression we cannot repair and remedy, and without that we are not going to be able to create the society we want.” www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/15/lynchings-report-reconstruction-era-black-americans
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin