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3 Reasons Why America Is Not Racist

 

The fact that some Americans had slaves in the early years of the United States of America is not, ipso facto, proof that we are a racist nation.

The fact that there are probably Americans who still believe that blacks are inferior, or that Jews are evil, or any other group of people are beneath them also does not, ipso facto, prove that America is a racist country.

World wide the history of slavery began almost as soon as humans evolved and walked upright on the face of this earth.

It does not make it right or moral, but the fact of the matter is that slavery has existed since the earliest time of man’s tenure on this big blue marble. In 1760 B.C. The Code of Hammurabi refers to slavery as an already established institution. [Source: Wikipedia]

It wasn’t just America and it wasn’t just blacks.

Not only has slavery existed since time immemorial. Slavery and serfdom was the norm for ages:

 

The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom.  [Emphasis mine.]

[Source: David P. Forsythe “Encyclopedia of Human Rights, Volume 1“. Oxford University Press. p. 399. ISBN 0195334027 2009.]

 

1 a civil rights 4To put the above paragraph in perspective, “The beginning of the nineteenth century” is my grandparents; just three generations ago.

The belief in the equality of all people is a very, very, VERY new concept on this earth. It is barely 250 years old.

The concept of ‘Equality for all’ began with and in the United States of America with the Declaration of Independence.

I believe that America is not a racist country because, Number One, we were the first country whose founding document, The Declaration of Independence, explicitly expresses equality for all peoples:

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

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It bears repeating: The United States of America was the first, and at the time the only, country to express verbally and in writing equality for all people.

In 1776 when the Declaration was officially adopted democracy and equality were novel ideas. The rest of the world looked at us like we were crazy. The rest of the world thought we would never ever survive as a nation. They believed democracy would implode because in practice democracy was just too unruly, messy, and impractical; not to mention loud and noisy.  Democracy, it was believed,  made it impossible for leaders and governments to rule.

Therefore, The United States of America was the EXCEPTION to the prevailing system of governing.

As an aside, this is the definition of what ‘exceptional’ really means; that is America was the exception to the prevailing 1 a civil rightsway of governing. Exceptionalism is not, nor should not be, hubris. It is simply the recognition that America was the first to try and succeed at democracy. And today much of the world has followed our lead.

In those early days as a country and as individuals we did not live up to Declaration’s lofty words. We humans are after all fallen angels. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. We sin.

The facts first:

 

“The old South was a three-tiered society, with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to retain power. At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that “fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery. ”  [Quote by James Webb, Former US Senator from Virginia in an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal. All Emphasis Mine]  *

And here is a fact that may shock you:

The first owner of slaves in America, well he was a black man, Anthony Johnson.

There were other black slave owners in America too. In 1830 there were 3,500 black slave owners who ‘owned’ ten thousand black slaves. [Source Dinesh D”Souza, America.]*

Yet, from the very beginning of the founding of the United States of America there were Americans who were vocal in their crusade against slavery; Americans who tried to end slavery legislatively and/or by helping slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. These people were the conscience of the new nation.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1812 prohibited slavery in all new territories of the United States. There were many other ordinances, resolutions, manifestos, and acts that prohibited slavery in the lead up to the Civil War.

Furthermore – and another first – and the Number Two reason I believe America is not racist – is that The United States of America is the ONLY nation to have ever fought a war for the express purpose of ending slavery.

The Civil War turned father against son; brother against brother, and family against family. Over 600,000 Americans died fighting the battle to free slaves and to affirm equality for all. In fact, “The Civil War maintains the highest American casualty total of any conflict,” or war.  [Source: Military Factory]

Six hundred thousand dead was a very steep price the fledging nation paid to affirm equality for all and the abolition of the institution of slavery.

It was still many years before former slaves were able to enjoy full benefits of citizenship and freedom. In fact, today we are still marching toward that ideal. Again, there is no such thing as perfection on this earth. Yet the majority of Americans still strive to reach that ideal.

In today’s America no one wants to be called racist. Yet sadly, there are those who would use that very word to score points, to seek power, to make money, or seek other advantages over others by calling them that dreaded word.

Some people and some organizations use the word ‘racist,’ way too quickly and too often simply for personal advantage and to bend people and groups to their will – a kind of slavery in and of itself.

1 a civil rights 2When these organizations, or when TV news pundits, or when celebrities call America racist I want to ask them a few questions.  For instance, “What country do you wish to move to shake off the heavy chains of American racism? Who or what held you back; who held you down and prevented you from rising to the top?  When was the last time you saw a lynching of a black man? When was the last time you saw government officials turn fire hoses on their own citizens? When was the last time you saw attack dogs unleashed against American citizens?”

I remember in the eighties – and in the sixties I never dreamed I would live long enough to see this –  when an all white jury found three white men guilty of killing a black man by tying him to the back of a truck and dragging him for miles on a country road to his death.

We have made progress. We should build on that in a positive way and without rancor and name calling. There is always going to be evil. We learned in the 1930’s during Hitler’s reign of terror that the price of democracy and equality is eternal vigilance.

The Number Three reason I do not think America is a racist country is that we have to a great extent eliminated and made illegal institutional racism in areas such as discrimination in employment, schools, and housing.

Again, while not perfect, we have made great strides just in my life time. Maybe as a nation we need to do more or even better.

But think about that last sentence I just wrote. Really think about it! That very thought only proves again that America is NOT racist because we know that we can and must always do better.

On this long road to equality and in only 250 some years America – Americans – have achieved a lot on the road to equality. We have done more in those 250 years then all of the other nations put together in the nearly 4000 years that preceded us.

For that shouldn’t we be proud?  For that shouldn’t we be praised? For that shouldn’t we join hands and work together to make America even better? For that shouldn’t we end the name calling?

Isn’t that what Dr. Martin King meant when he said:

………when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

 

Featured Recipe        Olive Caper Salad

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This is another wonderful holiday recipe. It is great on buffet tables. Actually, you can use it for any holiday or celebration. You can even use it as a salad on any night of the week too. Why wait for a holiday for something so delicious!

I love olives. I have never found an olive I did not like.

And I love capers too.

Paired together they are a match made in heaven.

Despite their salt content, olives are very healthy for you.  If you are interested in more information on the health benefits of olives you can read this Livestrong article or this SixWise article by clicking the appropriate link.

You can also play around with the other ingredients too. Sub shallots for the red onion. Or use Balsamic vinegar for the red.

Today’s recipe is also a ThreeFer, since below the basic recipe I share two other ways to use this dish.

Again, as in so many recipes, I have no set amounts for any of the ingredients – make as much – or as little as you want.  Plus it does depend on how many people you will be serving.  I guess on ingredient amounts.  I use my eyes as a guide as to how much of everything I should add into the dish. I also use color and size as a guide. I want this salad to look pretty, so I look for balance between color and size.

I use and prefer jarred or canned olives over the olives I find on salad bars or olive bars. I have been disappointed too often with the quality of the olives on salad bars. They tend to be soggy as if they have sat there for more than one day.

However, if the olives on the salad bar look fresh I get them, as I did today.

With that in mind……….

This is what you will need:

A variety of black and green olives

A couple tablespoons of capers

Chopped red onions

Minced or pressed garlic

Red wine vinegar

Olive oil

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Here is what you do:

Dice the onion and mince or press the garlic and place into a big bowl.

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Drain the olives and dump them in the bowl. Add the drained capers too.

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Add the olive oil and vinegar and mix gently. I use 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

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How can anything this easy to make be SO delicious?

Serve with any dinner. I like with cheese and crackers as a snack or small dinner.

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Below are some other ideas for using this recipe.

VARIATION #1 ~  Can also be used as a pasta topper. If using to top pasta, chop the olives and capers before adding the other ingredients.

VARIATION #2  ~ Chop the olives and capers in a processor, then add the vinegar and olive oil; serve like a rough chopped tapenade on bread or toast  and eat with some hot soup and/or a salad.

Bon appétit!!!

Cost

A variety of black and green olives              $9.15

A couple tablespoons of capers                   $1.06

Chopped red onions                                   $0.33

Minced garlic                                             $0.11

Red wine vinegar                                       $0.12

Olive oil                                                     $0.35

Total cost                 $11.12
Cost per person           $2.78 *

Best guess, will serve at least 4 people.

Quote of the Day

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King

* Updates made on November 19, 2014.

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9 comments to 3 Reasons Why America Is Not Racist

  • Unfortunately slavery still exists in some parts of the world. Thanks for the quote from MLK. Gives me a thrill every time I read it or hear it spoken.

    • Roberta

      Yes, despite being outlawed every where slavery sadly still exists. Me too regarding the MLK quote, which is why I used it. I am of an age that I watched the march and that speech live on television.

  • An excellent post Roberta, I would like to express a few opinions, which because of my background, have been influenced by seeing the world and the antics of our species, through a completely different lens to that of most of your readers I would guess.

    After 1047 words of opinion, I decided it was far too long for a comment so have posted it in its entirety on my blog, here is an extract.

    For back ground, as readers of my blog will know, I have suffered more than most from vicious racism which will also have affected my perspective, however that does not entitle me to whine or complain about it, or attempt to blame any race in particular for it. The perpetrators of the violence in my old country happened to be black and African, that does not mean that in my eyes all black people or all Africans are bad. Nor does it mean that all whites are good.

    It also makes me realise as a new North American that the majority of black North Americans I have met, read about, heard or seen in the media, have far more in common with white, brown, or green Americans and Canadians than they would with most black people in Africa.

    As much as I admire your country’s constitution, the words in the declaration of Independence and the spirit behind its creation, I believe the words “all men are created equal” while correct, are often taken to mean ” all men have an equal right to a similar standard or level of living, achievement, wealth and happiness” not, the same opportunity to seek them, which is the way I understand it was intended.

    It is a fact that not all people are created equal in all respects. For example, no amount of training, encouragement, positive thinking or even steroids would ever enable me, a white male of average Caucasian heritage to compete successfully with even a mediocre East African Kenyan or Somalian marathon runner, nor a West African or Jamaican sprinter or long jumper.

    I do not have the right genes. In those sports, I am not equal to them and happy to accept it. History and geography, prove that not all races are equal in all respects, some are better than others at certain things, both physically and intellectually. Does that mean that individuals of one race are better human beings than those of other races? Not at all, but let’s accept those differences and not try and hide them.

    Very little mention is ever given to the indigenous people of North America who, in respect of lost land area and static population levels, have suffered far more as a result of white immigration than the indigenous people of South Africa and Rhodesia.

    Despite their ancestors being involuntary immigrants, black North Americans are every bit as much immigrants or “occupiers” as any other non-native people.

    I believe that the over sensitivity to perceived racist comments has exacerbated the issue. When an English professional soccer player, can be hauled into court, fined, suspended from playing for a lengthy period and be subjected to acres of media damnation for, in the heat of a game calling a black player a “black ****” (obscenity) something is wrong.

    He was not criticised for the use of the obscenity. He was more severely punished than if he had foul tackled the player and broken his leg.

    That was not America or Canada, but there is a similar tip-toeing around reference to a person’s race here too.

    Despite the problems in South Africa, most people had far more serious things to worry about than being called black or white to their faces or behind their backs. At the every day level, it was accepted that we had our differences and were merely stating the obvious. In the different regions, both groups would have slang or colloquial references for each other which could be used in a derogatory, familiar or even endearing manner depending on the context.

    It’s time for us all to stop using race as either an excuse or a weapon. Your post is a good step in that direction.

    • Roberta

      Well said, Peter.

      Just a few points:

      1. You are correct when you say that the words “all men are created equal” “…… are often taken to mean ” all men have an equal right to a similar standard or level of living, achievement, wealth and happiness” not, the same opportunity to seek them, which is the way I understand it was intended.”

      And again you are one-hundred percent correct; the American Declaration of Independence explicitly states. “and the pursuit of Happiness,” – or the opportunity to pursue happiness. There is no explicit entitlement expressed in those words.

      2. You write, “ Very little mention is ever given to the indigenous people of North America…” Very true. And I made a conscious decision not to write about ‘North American indigenous people,’ in this post. That would take another complete and different post.

      3. You write, “It’s time for us all to stop using race as either an excuse or a weapon.”

      Agree completely. Wish I has said it.

      Thanks for weighing in. You made many excellent points.

      Wish you would have included a link to where your entire post is located so we all can read it.

  • Still polishing the rest of the post, will leave the link here later.

  • […] that road with posts here. However, my good twitter friend Roberta, published an excellent post 3 Reasons Why America is not Racist on her wonderful blog More Thyme Than Dough –  a must visit for a selection of amazing […]

  • After much polishing, the post is published at the link below, I found it a fascinating subject and one that could evolve into many more posts.

    http://peterwrightsblog.com/overcoming-adversity/north-americas-strange-racism/