THANK YOU ANDREW MANIS, THANK YOU FOR ASKING “THIS” QUESTION!

Over the last week I’ve received e-mails from three people asking me to read and respond about “what a white reporter wrote in a Georgia Newspaper.  The “forward list” on all three were quite long, it looked like a mass e-mailing of sort.  After reading the article I saw that it was not so much a news article, but a piece submitted for an editorial  in the Macon Telegraph, not long after Barack Obama was first elected President.  Each e-mail said this was a “must read and pass along,” and I totally agree.

I’m going to post it for you here in its entirety.  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this.

Andrew M. Manis is associate professor of history at Macon State College in Georgia and wrote this for an editorial in the Macon Telegraph.

Andrew M. Manis: When Are WE Going to Get Over It?

For much of the last forty years, ever since America “fixed” its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African-Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, “When are African-Americans finally going to get over it?  Now I want to ask:

“When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?

Recent reports that “Election Spurs Hundreds’ of Race Threats, Crimes” should frighten and infuriate every one of us. Having grown up in “Bombingham,” Alabama in the 1960s, I remember overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Eventually, as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than “talk the talk.”

Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk I remember from my boyhood.

We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent.

Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes.

Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.

But elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we’re back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we’ve proven what conservatives are always saying — that in America anything is possible, EVEN electing a black man as president.

But instead we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to “assassinate Obama.”

Fighting the urge to throw up, I can only ask, “How long?”

How long before we white people realize we can’t make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us?

How long until we white people can – once and for all – get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color?

How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior?

How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites?

How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin?

How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in the privacy of our white-only conversations?

I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners?

How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?

How long before we start “living out the true meaning” of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that “red and yellow, black and white” all are precious in God’s sight?

Until this past November 4, I didn’t believe this country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don’t believe I’ll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem.

But here’s my three-point plan:

First, everyday that Barack Obama lives in the White House that Black Slaves Built, I’m going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) will protect him and his family from us white people.

Second, I’m going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or in jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama.

Third, I’m going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again, when white people can “in spirit and in truth” sing of our damnable color prejudice,

“We HAVE overcome.”

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It takes a Village to protect our President!!!

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Dr. Manis,

I appreciate you more, far more, than I can say.  How Long?  The question has been asked for so, so long.  The problem is that for so long we African-Americans have waited for someone other than us to ask the question.  For someone other than us to search for solutions.  I thank you for doing both.

Your editorial harkens back to a time when the struggle was in full force.  It was March 25, 1965 when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King asked the same question, standing on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery Alabama.  This was after the successful completion of the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Let’s reflect on excerpts from his speech.

“The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. (Yes, sir)
The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. (No)
There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”

“Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man. (Yes)”

“I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” (Speak, sir)
Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, (Speak, speak, speak) plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, (Speak) and truth bear it?” (Yes, sir)

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, (No sir) because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” (Yes, sir) How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because “no lie can live forever.” (Yes, sir)
How long? Not long, (All right. How long) because “you shall reap what you sow.” (Yes, sir)”

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

The fact that we are still asking that question today, 47 years later, well…!  Rev. King asked, “How Long?”  When others like you ask that question, “Not Long” may be closer than ever.  We can only pray.

Thank you again, Andrew Manis.  Thank you!

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For more on race-ethnic relations search for “Wisconsin Why???” on this site.

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Let’s Ban Guns!!!

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Aurora, I was going to sit down and angrily write about the need for some form of ban on gun’s.  After a few days I thought, well, maybe we only need to ban automatic and assault type weapons.  Then on reflection I decided that perhaps we need to do away with hand guns (pistols), and concealed weapon permits, the “whole schmear.”

Now before I get the NRA and other 2nd Amendment right’s advocates upset, let me continue.  I thought about this over several days, considered the pro’s and con’s, and came to the conclusion [that]  banning guns is not practical.  I was going  to say “we’re not going to be able to do that!”

Guns.  Guns. Guns.   Sure, some are used for protection.  They’re also used for hunting.  Even for Sport.  But more and more they seem to be misused as a tool to express prejudice and bigotry, fear, hatred, racism, and crime.

I was going to say, let’s try a different track.  Instead of removing guns from our society, let’s remove some of the reasons for gun misuse.

Let’s ban prejudice and bigotry.  Now, from what I understand, prejudice and bigotry are among the reasons that people hate.  With America being this “melting pot,” with so many cultures and creeds living, working, playing, socializing together, this is not the place for bigotry.  But then look around, look and listen to the rants.  Our born in America President is somehow foreign.  Muslims can’t be trusted, they are trying to infiltrate us, trying to convert us all to Islam.  Trying to impose Sharia Law on America (right, like any law could get passed with this “do nothing” congress).  Mexicans and other Latin Americans are invading our borders, taking our jobs.  Using our safety nets.  These people will never “learn what it’s like to be a real American.”  Ok, ok, we’re not going to be able to do that.

I was going to say, let’s ban hatred, then.  I don’t know, hatred has been around for an awful long time.  A lot of people have invested heavily in hate.  Some people have hated for so long, they are not even sure why they hate.  Hatred is fueled by fear.  Fear of the unknown and the known.  That something is unfamiliar or just plain different is no reason to fear, but we are kind of lazy and it’s easier to fear and denigrate than it is to learn and understand.   Hatred has two nature’s.  One is as a driver for racism.  What we saw back in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School was prejudice and bigotry fueling the hatred that drove some of the citizens of Little Rock to commit some racist acts.  As egregious as those acts were they paled when compared to the hate filled racist act of shooting and lynching Emmet Till,  the Birmingham church bombing, the shooting of Viola Liuzzo. and the assassinations of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King.  The other is personal.  It is driven by the fear of retribution the hater has of the hated.  It is real, to the hater, simply because they know how they would feel were the situation’s reversed.  Ok, ok, we’re not going to be able to do that.

So let’s say [that] we ban racism.  Racism is the “action arm” for prejudice and bigotry.  Racism driven by hatred (imagine racism riding in the back of the limo, with hatred driving, chauffeur’s cap and all) strives to contain and control.  Empowered by prejudice and bigotry, racism limit’s opportunity for growth.  It creates laws that limit access to power.  Racism is “Dred Scott v. Sandford.”  It’s “Plessy v. Ferguson.”  Racism is “Jim Crow laws.”  Racism is “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,”  said by, Gov. George Wallace at his 1963  Alabama inaugural.  Racism is vigilante lynching’s.  Racism is Rosewood, Florida and the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Racism is colored only signs, it’s being forced to ride in the back of the bus.  Racism is attack dogs and fire hoses.  Racism is standing in the doorway at the University of Alabama, racism is the gauntlet of epithets and intimidation at Central High School in Little Rock.  From past Supreme Court decisions to the current  hearts of men, racism is so ingrained in our society, that banning it, well, we’re not going to be able to do that, either.

So now, we have racism, driven by hatred, fueled by fear, empowered by prejudice and bigotry, then you add guns to that mix and therein lies the rub.  Guns become a means of expression for these things. ( Hmm, I wonder if guns can be designated as people, and bullets protected as free speech?  Make’s about as much sense as “Citizens United,” doesn’t it?)  Anyway, banning these things has proven to be virtually impossible throughout our history.  Battles over property or treasure can be resolved with negotiated borders.  Battles over ideology seem to know no such boundaries.

Let’s ban crime.  Let’s make all crime illegal. Lets’s make any crime committed, that involves a gun, a special circumstance crime, with a specific set of penalties.   Oops, we’ve already done that.

Consider this, a group of people (any people) who have been institutionally excluded from significant segments of a society (any society), a people who have been ostracized and demonized by that society, do you see how that people would have a problem with respecting the rules of that society?  These exclusions could be a result of color, creed, culture or class bias’, or any combination thereof.   There are a number of thesis’ that speak to the fact that prejudice and bigotry, hatred and racism are driver’s (some say primary driver’s), of crime.  Specifically, crimes against person’s.  Prejudice and bigotry are used as justification for oppression.  At some point, the oppressed seek relief.  When relief is not found within the system, it is sought elsewhere.  Racism, is the tool used to deny an oppressed people even an opportunity to grow and succeed.  At some point, the denied seek redress.  When redress is not given within the system, it is sought elsewhere.  The elsewhere in these cases is sometimes found outside of the law.  One can argue that crime justified by prejudice, bigotry, hatred and racism is not rational.  That is true.  But, prejudice, bigotry, hatred and racism are not rational, either.

The truth is, these days there is no way to discuss guns, or race relations, for that matter.  Guns, like the Bald Eagle, have become emblematic of who we are as a society.  Any attack on the “right’s” of gun owners is deemed to be an attack on America itself.  That, though, is not true.  Owning and using gun’s, when viewed within the context of our history, shows their value.  Their value, though, is as a tool, not as a god.  We are allowing guns to define us, as opposed to us defining  them, and their utility.  As for race relations, well as long as we have prejudice and bigotry creating the fear, that is fueling the hatred, that is driving the racism…..

I was going to say all of this, and then this happened:

“WISCONSIN SHOOTING:  SEVEN PEOPLE KILLED AFTER SHOTS FIRED AT SIKH TEMPLE”

So now, again, I’m saying “LET’S BAN GUNS!!!!!”

To the citizens of Oak Creek, Wisconsin:

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those killed, injured and victimized by this senseless act.  (I’m getting so tired, so very tired, of saying that sentence.)  May God bless you, keep you, and give you peace.

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