The Chinless Ghoul from Kentucky Speaks on Race

by kara on June 20, 2019

June 19 is also known as “Juneteenth,” the day in 1865 when former slaves in Texas learned, oh you know, just a coupla years late, that they were free. The Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, was not enforced in Texas until after the Confederacy collapsed. The House will mark the occasion with its first hearing in a decade on the subject of reparations and why the fuck are we talking to Mitch McConnell about this?

MCCONNELL: “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African-American president”.

Barack Obama was part of black people’s settlement? Good for black folks to finally know this. As I remember, Mitch McConnell wasn’t even that fond of our first black president. I seem to remember that Senator McConnell fought very hard to make sure Barack Obama didn’t get reelected, and when he did, didn’t even take President Obama’s phone call, but whatever.

I don’t remember Obama being just black people’s president….I seem to remember him saving all our asses when he rescued the economy George W. Bush cratered. And he didn’t offer affordable health insurance plans to just black people. We got it too! And he didn’t locate and have killed Osama bin Laden just for appease all the black folks…..did he?

Mitch McConnell went on to pooh-poo reparations because “it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate.” Things……..they’re hard! Honestly, would it really be so difficult to identify all those people that we are currently incarcerating and purging from voter rolls?

My favorite part of people trying to refute the idea of reparations is they invoke the 300,000 Union soldiers who died in the war as a blood debt settlement.

“What about all the whites who died during the Civil War”?

What about all the Africans who died during the Middle Passage coming to N. America? How many more died prematurely because of brutal living and working conditions?

“What about all the whites who died during the Civil War”?

Um that was their penance for living in a country that was founded on the tenant of slavery and free labor. The real issue is not whether you are personally responsible for slavery and Jim Crow–the real issue is the extent to which you’ve benefitted from it. Because you have. Every. Single. Person. in America benefited from it….full stop. A vast amount of labor and goods were produced without having to pay any kind of wage. The entire economy of the US was truly formed around slavery, the act of using humans as laboring beasts. Therefore every person in America benefited from it. One of the many wonderful things my dad ever taught me was that despite the fact that no member of our families were on US soil before 1901, slavery was still our history because we were Americans now, and we didn’t get to pick and choose just the parts of US history that we liked.

How about, for a start, looking at the WW II GI Bill as a model? That was intended to compensate veterans for the years they spent in uniform while the civilians racked up high wages etc. The Bill provided essentially free education, a big subsidy for home buyers, amongst other benefits. Guess what? It repaid its costs in increased productivity and social mobility many times over. I myself would never have been born had it not been for the GI bill dragging my dad out of abject poverty!

The brilliant Ta-Nehisi Coates on McConnell’s reparations remarks:

“We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox, but he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodward. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama.”

To my fellow nice white people:

Stop being so fucking fragile. If you can’t cut it in a just world, that’s exactly not a black person’s problem. If being confronted with the fact that you were enriched by an unjust system makes you uncomfortable, good, sit in that for a nice long while. Don’t expect absolution from POC, it’s not their responsibility and it’s not your right.

Signed, just a grouchy white lady who struggles with this shit too, but is trying to sit down, shut up, and listen.

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