African Americans are still considered to be a problem

            As a child coming to a realization of what it meant to be Black in this country, I was relieved to “study” President Abraham Lincoln, who, we were told “freed the slaves.”

            What we were not told or taught was that while disliked slavery, he did not believe that Black people were equal to whites and that the best way to deal with the “problem” of their being in the United States was to get them to move – to go somewhere else so that whites could live in this country without the menace of their presence.

            In 1862, he said to a group of Blacks he had invited to the White House to discuss resettling Blacks in Caribbean Islands or perhaps sending them “back” to Africa, he said, “Your race suffer from living among us while ours suffer from your presence…It is better, therefore, for us to be separated.” (

            He had thoroughly looked into places to which Americans of African descent could be sent, and with a man named Bernard Kock, an entrepreneur and cotton planter who lived in Florida had settled upon a plan that would use federal funds to send 5,000 African Americans to Cow Island, located off the coast of Haiti, where they would work on a cotton plantation, receive access to housing, hospitals, and schools, and after working on the plantations for four years, would be given 16 acres and wages for the work they had done over those four years.

            The agreement was made the night before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

            While federal funds were allocated to support the emigration (expulsion) of 5,000 formerly enslaved persons, only 453 made the maiden journey. Once on Cow Island, they lived horrific lives. There were no houses; they slept on the ground in huts made with foliage from the island. There were no hospitals; they suffered and many died from illnesses they contracted while there. Kock was with them during this disastrous project, and when the wretched, expelled American citizens rose up to rebel, he fled.

            It is clear that African Americans are still considered to be a problem. We are not wanted here in spite of the fact that it was our labor that built this economy. Whiteness and an almost desperate effort to hold onto white power, privilege, and control still result in the lives of African Americans being made more miserable than white citizens. 

            The stress of being Black in this country cannot be overstated. Our white brothers and sisters to not want to believe it or hear it; they are adamant about claiming that they are not racist, nor is the system racist, but the facts cannot be ignored. African Americans are still the targets of state-sanctioned violence, discrimination in housing and health care, unfair economic policies, and criticism for speaking out about any of it. A recent PBS documentary exploring the maternal health and death rates of pregnant Black women includes accounts of Black women whose health issues during pregnancy were ignored, causing serious post-partum health issues, and in many cases, death of the mother. (, and the repeal of Roe v Wade unfortunately will probably mean that the horrid statistics for pregnant Black women will only get worse.

            We are still a “problem.” The narrative was created a long time ago that we were the problem, not the system that created laws and policies that from the beginning worked against us. Former US Secretary of Education Betsy Vos recently, in talking about the low numbers of American students knowing American history cited CRT, learning about diversity and inclusion, and history included in the 1619 Project as the reason, instead of students learning about the US Constitution and Thomas Jefferson. ( The attack on American history including more about the history of African Americans is only getting stronger, as white parents, educators, and politicians continue to try to keep the history of white supremacy in this country where the narrative has placed it, effectively allowing the narratives that have been the substance of bigotry against Black students in place. To be “woke” to them is to seek a deeper truth about America’s history with Black people, which they absolutely do not want.

            Many white Americans still want the “problem,” i.e., African Americans, to go away. They want an all-white America, which they believe was the intent of God in allowing or leading the Pilgrims to cross the Atlantic Ocean from England to get here. They clearly believe that “America” is supposed to be a white nation, and that an American citizen includes only white people. They want people of color deported, removed, and forgotten – unless and until, of course, they need their bodies for cheap labor in order to maintain the American economy.

            Abraham Lincoln’s spirit lives on – not so much, for me, because he “freed” enslaved people, but because in the end, he was no less racist than the planters and citizens who wanted African Americans to be put out of the country whose economy was built by their unpaid labor.

Dealing with the Devastating Results of Dehumanizing Others

            In spite of my best efforts, I frequently find myself going back to the story of Ruby Bridges, the little Black girl who integrated the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.

            She was six years old. 

            In her account of that day, she said she remembers the shouting and yelling as the federal marshals ushered her through the crowd. They were so noisy, she recounts, that she thought they were celebrating Mardi Gras because that was the only place she had heard such noise.

            But it wasn’t Mardi Gras they were celebrating. They were protesting against integration and screaming hateful, racist epithets at this one little girl. (

            She was the only student in her class. She was also the only child in the entire school. On the day that was to be her first, she and her mother sat in the principal’s office for the entire day, waiting to be assigned to a class, but as they sat there, they saw parents coming into the school and leaving with their children. By the second day, there were no students in Frantz Elementary other than Ruby. All the white students had been removed.

            For one entire year, Ruby was the only student in her classroom. Every day, she would go into that classroom, where she was taught by a white teacher who had come from the Northeast United States to be her teacher. It is said that the situation so depressed her that months into the school year, school janitors, wondering why roaches were being seen in that classroom and discovered that she had stuffed her lunches into file cabinets and other closed spaces. 

            She was so sad that she could not and would not eat her lunch.

            Every time I think about this story, little Ruby Bridges and how she sat in that classroom by herself for a year, it brings tears to my eyes. And I ask myself, “How can anyone – especially anyone calling herself a mother or one who is “pro-life” be OK with what happened? How can anyone be OK with treating this little girl like this?”

            And the answer comes back to me: They could do it, did do it, and many still do it – because they have dehumanized Black people. Black lives have never mattered in this country. Actually, a fair number of other individuals and groups have been dehumanized by people in power who are apparently so insecure with their own status that the only way they feel all right is to dehumanize others and treat them as objects.

            In addition to Black people, Indigenous Americans, women, members of the LGBTQIA community, trans individuals, Jews, Muslims, the elderly, and the differently-abled – all have been reduced to a sub-human category; all have been objectified. People who have been objectified are in fact not considered human and therefore believed to be incapable of feeling pain or any other human emotions, nor are they believed to be worthy of American citizenship, rights, and humane treatment.

            The dehumanization of Indigenous Americans, for example, prevented officials of this government, who were driving them off their own land to feel like they were doing anything wrong as they made them literally walk the Trail of Tears. They did so under the Indian Removal Act, passed during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. While white men rode horses and white women rode in carriages, the Native Americans walked. From Alabama, Georgia, and other Southern states to Oklahoma. Native Americans walked a distance of over 1,000 miles – through cold, snow, rain, and extreme heat – and those who made them walk apparently felt nothing was wrong with it. Many of them who made these souls walk, by the way, called themselves Christian. (

            How can anyone, especially anyone who claims belief in God – think this was OK?

            Dr. Koritha Mitchell, in her book From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture writes about the effect of dominant culture attacks on African Americans, and writes that “In slavery, white people categorically declared it impossible for a black woman to be raped because her body did not belong to her…These dehumanizing practices emerged because there was so much evidence that black captives were human. If their humanity had any chance of being denied, it had to be brutalized out of them.” (p. 9).

            It seems hardly a stretch to conclude that the rash of laws being passed severely limiting a woman’s reproductive rights is evidence that the dominant power structure still regards the lives, health, and rights of and for women as unimportant; women are yet being treated as objects. And the dehumanization seems to be spreading to children, as in some states, laws are being made that make child labor legal. I am wondering if, in this plantation economy, children are being looked at not as precious gifts but rather as assets and/or tools to keep profits growing. If parents in this post-pandemic world are refusing to go to workplaces, children might be forced to do so. (

            How can anyone who professes to love children be OK with this?

            There are other laws being passed that seem to be sanctioning sexual relations between old men with very young girls – with no “out” if the young girl becomes pregnant. A female Ohio lawmaker said that 13-year-old girls made pregnant as the result of rape – should consider it an “opportunity.” (


            Those who dehumanize others seem to have lost the capacity to be human themselves. How would they feel if they were made to walk 1000 miles – herded off their own land and displaced far from home? How would they feel if, in that walk, they were forced to watch friends and family members get sick and die and be thrown into mass graves like they didn’t matter? How would they feel if their 12-year-old daughter was raped and made to carry the baby to term, or how would they feel if their men were forced to stand aside and watch their wife or daughter be raped and not be able to do or say anything? 

            How would they feel if their child was forced to sit in a classroom by him/herself for a year because it had been determined that their child was less human than their own children and therefore unable to feel the pain their own children would feel if treated the same way?

            Is anyone who has dehumanized another human being capable of feeling?

            I go back to Ruby Bridges. She was a little girl. Six years old. Wearing a dress, anklets, and buckle-up Mary Jane shoes. She was a baby, unable to harm or hurt anyone, and yet, white people, including white mothers – screamed hate-filled words at her and might have attacked her had she not been accompanied by federal agents.

            It seems that these hateful actions are carried out not because those doing them really think the objects of their hatred are inhuman, but rather because they are very human, and their humanness presents a threat to the power structure that many want to remain as is. 

            It is ludicrous to think, for instance, that white mothers, who historically let or demanded that Black enslaved women nurse their children, would have let that happen if they believed the one who was nursing was not a human being with the same capacity to care and love as did they. (

            White domination has shown and continues to show that there is no such thing as white “supremacy.” One cannot be “supreme” and not care about other human beings. Neither can one be “supreme” and pass laws and policies that make life painfully dreadful for others. America, said Dr. William Barber, the voice of the Poor People’s Campaign,” said “America needs a heart transplant.” I agree. America’s vital organs, her heart, and her soul, are failing. To be “supreme” is to be the best, but the practice of dehumanization of other human beings has caused a poison to be released in the country that is not being filtered out. That poison will continue to erode America’s soul until people in power realize that their practices are not only harming masses of people but will eventually harm and compromise their bottom line. Unless and until people matter more than money, the dehumanizing will continue and all of us will suffer.

If People Knew Better Would They Do Better?

            I keep wondering if people knew better, would they do better?

            Racism is the scourge of this country, its toxicity created by its support and perpetuation of slavery. It was bad, really bad, though too many people in power – or just plain Americans -do not want to and will not admit the horror of slavery and how it has remained the elephant in this country.

            Its establishment of the theory that white people are supreme and superior has not remained an isolated American mindset, but one of global proportions. People all over the world have engaged in what author Kris Manjapra called “global Jim Crow” in his book Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation. Though it was the Europeans who began the trading and selling of Black bodies, it feels like it has been the distinct honor of America to have spread the false narrative of the superiority of white people, and the innate inferiority of Black people, created, many posited, to be the doormats for white people even as they were worked literally to death in the quest of building the American economy.

            But, people protest, slavery is over! Stop talking about it! But is it over? Is it a fact that, as Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, says, “Slavery never ended; it just evolved?” Does America still exist as a plantation-driven economy where not just Black people, but poor people are the new field hands, working to make big business even bigger?

            There are so many things that have happened in this country that nobody knows about. How many people in Oklahoma, for example, specifically in Tulsa, never heard about the horror that took place in that city in 1921? It was called the Tulsa Race Riot, but in reality, it was the massacre of Black people and their businesses, churches, and homes by angry white people. (  If more people knew, would it matter 

            Or, how many people know that Black men who served in America’s wars were not granted the same post-war benefits as were their white soldier colleagues? How many people know that Black men could not get housing loans or student loans, and how many people know about the abominable number of Black men who were killed in this country after the wars, many while wearing their uniforms? (  Would it make a difference in how they regard Black people if they knew?

            Everyone knows about the Emancipation Proclamation, but how many people know that formerly enslaved persons were made to pay for their freedom and that the United States government paid reparations to their former captors? ( How many people know that in spite of the Emancipation Proclamation, the people who ran this country found ways to make sure Black people remained chained to their former owners, presumably to pay off debt, but in reality a way for their owners to keep them enslaved? Would it make a difference if they knew?

            The country’s most esteemed and respected leaders, including US Supreme Court justices, did little to help create a just world for Black people here. Would it matter to those who complain that Black people “have gotten too much” that judges of the highest court in this country have often made decisions that have kept Black people under the thumb of white supremacist ideas and policies? How many people know about the highest court’s “Insular Cases” (

            Would it make a difference to people if they knew how Black women were systematically and regularly raped by the men who owned them? Would it make a difference if they knew that angry white people have been the most violent in this country since this slave-labor economy began? Would it make a difference if they knew that these angry white people dropped bombs on the homes of Black people when their anger exploded into violence and were never held accountable? (

            I guess the question I have is “Has belief in white supremacy, and adherence to the privileges one has just because of skin color eroded the capacity of too many white people to see, hear, care, and learn about what this country has done to Black people, yes, but also to other groups whom they deemed as being “less than” in their quest to earn wealth?”

            I hear, way too often in the workshops I do, people say, “I didn’t know that.” It is by design that you don’t – that none of us do, but I have to wonder: if people knew better, would they do better? Is there anything that can penetrate the hardened hearts and spirits of people who believe that treating Black people as property is not only correct but has been mandated by God? 

The Entitlements Nobody Wants to Talk About

            The word “entitlement” has become a bad word in the American political system because it suggests that certain groups of people get economic benefits that they do not deserve and because it costs the government too much money. The specific programs targeted include Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, and disability. (

            While I struggle with trying to understand what happens to “the least of these” without these programs in a society that rewards the wealthy and penalizes the poor and lower middle class, I am quite sure that not all “entitlements” are talked about. Though these other entitlements do not require an act of Congress to pass or to repeal, they carry an economic and social component that most people, it seems, are all right with.

            I am talking about the entitlements afforded people because of their race and their gender. I have come to understand that white supremacy is both racist and sexist, a reality that allows white people in general and white males in particular to have privileges that the rest of us do not have and should not expect; they are entitled to certain benefits that the rest of us will never have.

            It is not just Black people who must live with the inequity of American citizenship. It has been Native Americans, Asians, Muslims – anyone identifiable as being non-white, and it has been males of all races who feel entitled to certain privileges because society has told them they are entitled to them.

            It is almost as if a great swath of people – again, primarily white people in general and white males in particular – are the spoiled brats of society. They have been used to getting their way and getting away with it. Watching the debacle of the former president’s apparently imminent indictment, for example, pulls the curtain back on how entitlement in this country works. Because he is white, wealthy, and male, he has been to manipulate the country and its institutions in ways no non-white, female politician would have been able to. He is still considered a front-runner to be the Republican nominee for president in 2024 in spite of a fair amount of evidence that he stoked the January 6 insurrection, that he has committed campaign finance crimes, that he has obstructed justice and allegedly stolen classified documents and has lied about it. Yet, he still gets non-stop coverage by the media which continues to push him as the likely 2024 presidential candidate. While an innocent young woman, Breonna Taylor, was killed while sleeping in her own bed due to the legality of no-knock warrants, this man has gotten a full and fair warning that he is perhaps about to be indicted. He knows his entitlement and has lived and functioned within it for his whole life and while it is troubling to watch, it is not surprising that he is continuing to do what he has always done – disregard the system and do whatever he has wanted.

            It seems to me that much of the entitled community walks around with a smirk. I am reminded of how offended I was when I saw the picture of Derek Chauvin with his knee on the neck of George Floyd as the life seeped out of Floyd’s body. He was being videoed, but he looked defiantly into the camera with that smirk that said to me, “Video all you want. I can do what I want and will not have to pay for it.”

            That has been the history of the entitled of America. They have used non-white and non-male people to protect their privileges and help build their wealth and power from the inception of this country, and have committed heinous crimes for which they have never been held accountable and received tremendous benefits that others were denied.

            For example, the “entitled class” received government loans to purchase homes and continue their education once they returned from fighting in America’s wars, while Black soldiers were denied the same. ( ( Black soldiers were killed after the war as they dared wear their uniforms, a sign of their service to this country, and those who killed them were seldom held accountable. (

            Asians were denied their rights as American citizens ( though they, like African Americans, were key to the building of this country’s economy. Native Americans were and are still denied their rights, and are still fighting for their liberty and dignity, suffering the indignity of being denied the right to speak their language or even mention their customs when their children were sent to schools operated by the Jesuits. ( (

            The truth about our society, its racism, sexism, and unpunished violence meted against those who are not in the privileged class is not pleasant. Most people know little about it and so they live with a manufactured sense of indignation that members of the nonprivileged class dare to complain about how they have been treated.

            But the hard truth exists – in spite of efforts like those being taken by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to erase the lessons off of the chalkboard of American history. And the truth is, members of the privileged class have gotten used to their entitlements due to their race and gender and are not likely to give any of it up without a hard fight.

            The members of the privileged class have been spoiled as they have been taught they are unique, different, and above everyone else. They have grown used to expecting the best of what this country has to offer – their attitudes are not unlike those of a spoiled child who has been used to having his or her way. They have become cocooned in their world, believing that they are better than everyone else and are therefore more deserving of any and everything they get – and have concurrently become pouters when they don’t get what they believe they deserve. They are resentful of those outside of their class who are able to acquire some of “their” privileges in spite of not being part of “the group. In their actions, they are much like members of some fraternities who bend and break the laws and rules of their organization, their colleges, and this society, because they live in their entitlement of being white, male, and, many, wealthy.

            This social entitlement is deadly. It has eroded the capacity of so many to feel, to care, and to empathize with, say, those who live in poverty or with those who simply want basic American rights. They cannot see, and do not care, about the way so many in our society are forced to live. They carry the Chauvin smirk and know that whatever they want, they can pretty much get, and that attitude does a couple of things: it makes them angry when they don’t get their way and it encourages them to react violently in order to get what they feel they deserve, and nobody else.

            I think I feel sorry for them. It is a bad thing to be human but be devoid of the human capacity to see and care for and about those who are in less comfortable situations than are they. What America has done is taught the privileged class and people all over the world to say, “At least I’m not black” including Black people who live in Africa and in the African diaspora.  But this country has also taught others to proclaim their superiority over those who are of different religions, different ethnicities, different genders, and sexualities, and by virtue of their saying that they exert the spirit of the privileged class, which is one of snobbery, selfishness, and superiority.

            And these exude these spirits in spite of saying they are Christian.

            We should talk more about the entitlements that are helping to kill the soul of this country. They are far more damaging than the financial programs put in place that help those who will never be a part of the privileged class.

A candid observation …

Has Whiteness Eroded the souls of white people?

Has Whiteness Eroded the Souls of White People?

            I have for some time wondered if white people lost their souls as they have historically held onto, embraced, and zealously guarded their whiteness and the privileges their whiteness has afforded them.

            It will never make sense to me how any people – white or otherwise – could possibly believe that chattel slavery was compatible with Christianity, as Robert P. Jones notes in his book White Too Long.

            Jones writes, “The Christian denomination in which I grew up was founded on the proposition that chattel slavery could flourish alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its founders believed this arrangement was not just possible but divinely mandated.”

            Divinely mandated? That teaching floors me. How in the world can anyone who has read the Gospels walk away thinking like that?  It is totally irrational and indicative of ignorance – or perhaps rejection – of the words of Jesus the Christ, whose ministry became as powerful as it was because he paid attention to, cared about, and ministered to “the least of these.”

            But being white seems to have moved the Gospels and the words of Jesus to the periphery, if not all the way out, of the faith that Jesus taught. So many white folks have believed in and cherished their whiteness more than they have believed in and cherished the lessons of the Christ. Too many believe that it was God who made them superior and working on that premise, they have not worried about how they treat non-white people. Black people, many believe, were made to be subservient to white people, and, they are not really human and definitely not really American. They are – we are – objects to be owned and controlled by those commissioned by God and with the money and power to do it.

            I heard an interesting portion of an interview with John Henry Faulk, a white Southerner from Texas who fought McCarthyism and eventually fought against racism.. He says he told this enslaved man that he was a “different” kind of white man who believed in “giving” Black people the right to vote, and the right to go to school– the same rights enjoyed by white people.

            Faulk says in the interview that the man looked at him kind of sadly, almost with pity, before speaking and saying, “You still got the disease, honey. I know you think you’re cured, but you’re not cured.”

            “You can’t give me the right to be a human, being I was born with it. You can keep me from having it,” he continued, “if you’ve got the police and all the jobs on your side, but you can’t give it to me. I was born with it just like you was (sic).”

            Faulk was deeply impacted by what this formerly enslaved man said – angry at first that his “goodness” was not fully appreciated, but said that the more he thought about it, the more he realized and understood the power and the truth of what had been told to him.. He said he had an epiphany in his understanding of race and racism.

            If white people, though, do not have an epiphany, they are unable to see Black people as human beings, capable of feeling hurt and pain, and having needs that all humans have. They cannot understand how spewing racist epithets at little Black children hurts them, or how Black families want justice as do all other human beings. They cannot understand why Black people are angry or frustrated or hurt – or all of those emotions; they do not understand how being told to “wait” for justice is like hearing a fingernail being dragged across a blackboard. They are not willing to admit that Black people have a

right to demand rights afforded to all American citizens; they feel, as did United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney who ruled in the Dred Scott case that there are “no rights of a Black man that a white man is bound to respect.”

            They cannot relate to or even believe that the mothers and fathers of Black people murdered by police ache with a pain that cannot be assuaged. They cannot understand why the Black community in Ferguson, Missouri was outraged when, after he was shot by police, Michael Brown was not taken away but instead lay on the asphalt in the middle of the street for four hours, police not allowing his body to be moved. They grow impatient hearing about the atrocities committed against Black people by a white power structure and society that has historically allowed white people to kill Black people and not be held responsible or accountable. They cannot conceive that little Black children notice how their schools are run down and poorly equipped, as compared to the schools their white friends so often attend.

They think Black people whine, are too angry, and are definitely impatient. The frustration of waiting for over 400 years for justice and full American citizenship escapes the understanding of many, too many, white people.

            They do not believe that Black people feel pain the same way they do. (, and they don’t feel bad about providing lesser medical care to Black patients than they provide to white patients. ( They don’t have a clue as to how little Black children react to being called racially hateful names, even as some oppose race being talked about because they don’t want their children to feel bad. (

            I remember wondering about the souls of white people when I saw a video of a little second-grade Black child being handcuffed and taken to a police car for some minor infraction at school. As she was taken to the car, she resisted, screaming, and begging not to be put in the police car. The police ignored her. I wept when I saw the video. How, I wondered, could any adult do that to a second grader? (

            Maybe that’s when I started wondering if whiteness had erased or eradicated the very souls of white people. I remember briefly thinking about it years ago when I saw pictures of white mothers screaming hate at little Ruby Bridges as she integrated a while elementary school, and I have thought about it a lot since. Back then I thought, “mothers are supposed to be that way with any child.” Today, I think that those who call themselves Christian are not supposed to be so filled with hatred – which they justify – toward people just because they have been filled with lies and painfully incorrect perceptions about who Black people are and what, therefore, they deserve, don’t deserve, feel, and are incapable of feeling.

            Sadly, for those who live and think that way, the words and the life of Jesus seem not to matter. And equally as sad is the fact that many of them do not care if that statement is true.

A candid observation …