“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”

– Paul Gauguin

This Ain‘t Your Grandfather’s Confederate Bullshit!

 

Who’s this handsome young white dude,
and what’s he doing dressed up like
he’s in the 19th century?

 

Mega Citizenship Drive

ABOUT US Who we are Dominicanos USA, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, was formed in 2013 to raise the political power of the Dominican community in the United States by giving them a voice through civic, social, and economic engagement. Since its inception,...

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DUSA ayuda a comunidad en el proceso de ciudadania0 Comments [et_social_follow icon_style="slide" icon_shape="circle" icons_location="top" col_number="auto" spacing="true" outer_color="dark"]    Dominicanos USA (“DUSA”), que cuenta con el programa de asistencia...

Empowering the Youth!

Dominicanos USA strongly believes in engaging and educating the younger demographic of future Dominican American voters and leaders. The fastest growing age group among the Dominican American community is between the ages of 14 and 21. In efforts to continue our...

DUSA’s February Citizenship Workshop and the 1.5 Generation

The 1.5 generation phenomenon was especially prevalent in Dominicanos USA latest citizenship workshop. About a third of the workshop attendees belonged to the 18-24 demographic, majority of whom were part of the 1.5 generation. Essentially, the 1.5 generation is made...

Maybe I was fool enough to give my life for the Confederacy, but I’m not so dumb, deaf and blind not to see what’s still going on in this country today.

I am deeply troubled by the circumstances facing many black Americans, the descendants of the slaves who toiled away on my family’s cotton farm when I was a boy. And it isn’t just African Americans who I’m concerned about; it’s also people of color and poor whites, but I’ll talk about that later. Just like the years of Jim Crow, we all have a tendency to accept things as they are and not question the why of it. Does anyone in white America wonder where all the black men are? Do they care?

I’ll get right to the point. The unjust mass incarceration of black men, seemingly collateral damage resulting from America’s endless “wars” on crime and drugs, is now all but institutionalized in our society. Although they generally have sense enough to keep their shallow-brained opinions to themselves, some are content to believe the nation’s crime rate remains low because so many black men are safely locked behind bars. Personally, however, I find the unjust imprisonment of a persecuted minority to be a highly unsatisfactory solution to what are actually some of our country’s most fundamental structural problems. And as opioids and heroin continue to destroy thousands of lives every year, it should be clear that America hasn’t won the war on drugs, but merely undertaken its latest shameless offensive against the “other.”

Most people don’t even realize how many black men are in prison. Did you know that as many as one in nine African American males between the age of 20 and 34 are in prison? That at any given time more African American males are in prison than are in college? That as many as a third of African American boys born in 2001 are likely to be incarcerated sometime in their lifetime? Jim Crow made a mockery of African American “freedom” for almost a hundred years, and there’s no question about it, mass incarceration has become the new Jim Crow.

Some choose not to see, but others, in fairness, don’t realize what’s happened, what’s been going on for years now, certainly since the 1980s and picking up speed in the 1990s. It’s like a plague, the real version of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers by which black men mysteriously disappear from society. There really is a “sunken place,” trust me.

How often does white America stop to consider the tragedy of these lost lives, what these men could have given to their families and children, and our country, IF they had been permitted to be productive members of society? As James Baldwin told his young nephew in The Fire Next Time, which he published in 1962, well over 50 years ago, “They have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. . . . It is their innocence that constitutes the crime. . . .”

And it’s not just the prisoners’ lives that are ruined. For every black man in jail there’s a child without a father, a family that never was because a child was never born. Black women shouldn’t have to be the sole parent to the majority of black children. It isn’t right that three quarters of black children are born out of wedlock, or that more than a third of them continue to live in the poverty that often results. Blacks are often criticized for having children at an early age, before they’re prepared to support a family, but isn’t it fairly obvious—if a lot of black men didn’t father children before going to prison, they probably never would.

But if every black man were released from prison tomorrow, it wouldn’t solve the fundamental problem. How many of these men have the skills they need to get a decent-paying job in today’s knowledge-based economy? There is thus some evidence that, rather than practice integration as it preaches, America locks up people it doesn’t want and/or doesn’t know what to do with. Mightn’t more education, training and jobs be a better solution?

The entire black race can’t work for minimum wage at fast food joints!

The fact is, right now our country doesn’t have enough decent-paying jobs for all its people, so putting a significant number of its least desirable citizens in prison has become the default solution. Putting aside the pain and cruelty of robbing these men of their God-given potential and their right to the pursuit of happiness, isn’t it obvious that having so many unproductive people living at taxpayer expense is a terrible burden on our country? Maybe it’s just how much white America is willing to pay to keep black men in their place, that “sunken place” that seems to have no end. Maybe locking them up is the only way that white America can abide their existence, a “final solution” to a problem it still dare not confront. I hate to think that mass incarceration is simply the latest manifestation of the lynchings that went on for so many years under Jim Crow, but maybe that’s the sad truth—if we can’t terrify and control them one way, well heck, maybe we’ll do it another.

So let me ask you—can you understand how hard it is for a black male to grow up in America, even if they’re securely middle class and are blessed with a stable and intact family? I’ll tell you what it’s like—it’s as if you’re always on a precipice, just one unpredictable, unknown revelation from the reality of your vulnerability making itself felt. Can you begin to imagine what it’s like to have that hanging over you? It’s a sunken place, all right.

Eric Garner, Innocent father choked to death by NYPD on July 17.

“Justice for Trayvon” protest

Pro-confederate rally
Eric Garner protest
As the son of a slaveholder, may I raise the topic of 

WHITE PRIVILEGE?

I’m not sure how long the term “white privilege” has been in use. It seems fairly new to me (but I’ve been around for nearly two centuries now, of course, so my perspective might be a little askew), but it’s already become one of those clichés that’s so charged with emotion that people don’t even stop to think of what it entails. Unless I’m mistaken, upon hearing the phrase “white privilege,” most people, or certainly white people versus people of color, think about overcoming prejudice and inequality—things like job opportunities and education—and thus dismiss it as “whining” on the part of those who don’t want to work for success.

But what about the criminal justice system itself? I’m not just talking about the fact that African Americans represent about a third of prisoners but only 13% of the general population; I’m talking about the incredible leniency our society grants those who commit what is all too coincidentally known as “white” collar crime, which should more aptly be labeled crimes committed by people who are clearly NOT the “other.” The lack of successful prosecutions and the lenient sentences, not to mention the cushy facilities in which offenders are often imprisoned, are all too commonly accepted as the way of things.

As an example you might recall, nothing raises my ire more than incidents such as when Eric Garner, a Black man whose only crime was selling cigarettes, is killed by the police, while across the bay in Manhattan (Wall Street to be exact!) no one has gone to jail for actions contributing to the financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed, even though it cost Americans billions of dollars and destroyed countless lives and families. Beyond the obvious, overwhelming injustice, am I the only one who is enraged that taxpayers pay law enforcement to take down a black man for a minor infraction, while (mostly) white white-colar criminals often remain above the law?

But to my way of thinking, more often than not, law enforcement is merely a pawn, the scapegoat for society’s injustice, not the source of the problem, not even close. Maybe it goes back to my empathizing with Confederate soldiers who got stuck fighting a rich man’s war on behalf of the Cotton Kingdom and mistakenly adopted the cause as their own, but at the risk of angering some of you, I tend to give individual officers the benefit of the doubt if I can. Anyway, don’t go thinking I’m encouraging antagonism toward the police, because I’m not. Solving the problem is going to take a lot more than accusing a bunch of working stiffs (isn’t that what they used to call honest, working people like cops?) of being racist and making their lives more difficult, while the real culprits are sitting in corporate boardrooms laughing at us all. And I do mean us all.

While I’m on the subject, might someone please understand that when people say “black lives matter” they aren’t necessarily siding against law enforcement, but merely acknowledging the complete lack of regard for black people’s lives? Former education secretary but ever-present political commentator William Bennett summed up the all too persistent attitude perfectly when he said, “if all blacks were aborted, we’d have no crime problem.” Enough said?

Personally, I believe that what euphemistically might be termed “moneyed interests” still use racism as a means to distract many Americans from the true source of their grievances, but I’ll leave that until another time. (Yes, I’m talking about things like the good ol’ Republican Southern Strategy started in the 1960s and has been helping Republicans win elections ever since, most especially their beloved Ronald Reagan!) The greedy slaveholders who sent me off to war to fight for their cotton empire may be long gone, but their descendants, both literally and figuratively, are still exploiting working class whites for their own advantage, and one of the ways they do it is by directing their anger and resentment at blacks. (After all, why reinvent the wheel?) And politicians, instead of tackling the economic and structural reform that would really benefit working class whites, are still working to keep blacks in their place. Okay, enough for now; I did say I’d leave that to another time.

“Our destinies are inextricably linked”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hope you’ve had chance to read my story, what has become our collective story, all of the inextricable links between my own fate and the challenges facing America today.

If 100 years was swallowed up by Jim Crow, now it feels like 50 years has been swallowed since the triumphs of the civil rights movement and the birth of Black Power.

There’s no denying that some things have gotten better—and not to acknowledge that fact is an insult to all of those who fought and gave of themselves during those turbulent years—but a lot of things have stayed the same, while others have even gotten far worse.

I hope you will visit my blog page and follow me on Facebook and Twitter, where I will continue to share my opinion.

“We can make America what it must become”

– James Baldwin

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