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.

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 …

America’s slip is showing

            Until 2016, I had confidence that there was such a thing as “the rule of law.” I knew that the law did not protect Black people and has not throughout history, but I had confidence that there were laws that no person, not even the most wealthy, could escape. I would hear the phrase “nobody is above the law” and rest easier. So I of course balked when, after the former president was elected in 2016, Stephen Miller, one of his aides, said on national television that as president, any decision the former president made as concerned national security “will not be questioned.” ( And the former president declared – more than once – that as president, the constitution allowed him to do “whatever I want.” (

            While the remarks bothered me, I did not put much stock in them. We were told, after all, “a nation of laws,” meaning that “the law” would not allow corrupt politicians to have their way. I believed that our judicial system was set up in such a way as to protect the country, even if that same system did not protect many of the people who comprise the country.

            But I was wrong. The confidence I had in the judicial system as it relates to politicians was misplaced. “The law” actually protects them, much as qualified immunity protects corrupt and violent police officers.

            Former president Richard Nixon felt much the same way. In speaking about some of the things he had done which raised eyebrows and questions, he waved off the questions that he was fielding as defied set law to get his way. “When the president does it,” he said, “it’s not illegal.”(

            We see people serving in Congress – leading important committees, no less – who have been accused of everything from lying to sexual impropriety to financial crimes – and they do not worry. They know that as members of Congress, they cannot be sued or held responsible for things they say on the House or Senate floor; they are protected under the Speech and Debate Clause in Article 1 of the US Constitution. ( Lawmakers benefit from “Sovereign Immunity,” meaning they cannot be sued while in office. And we have learned that a “sitting president” cannot be indicted while in office for any crimes he or she may have committed. (

            I have frankly been stunned by the shabbiness of this American judicial system. It is maddening and disgusting that politicians – those who make laws and policies for the rest of us – are allowed by law to get away with so much, while the masses of people who live in this country and who elect them too often cannot get justice for their missteps. The inequity between the “haves” and “have nots” in this country is profound, and with all that the country is going through now that its foundational and structural weaknesses are showing. Back in the day when women wore slips to prevent anyone from seeing through her dress and skirt, there were times when the slip would hang below the hemline of the dress, and we would say, “your slip is showing.” It seems that unjust provisions were put into place, and still exist, to prevent Americans from seeing through the fabric of this government. America’s slip is showing.

            I am angry that the institutions that I thought were supposed to make this country better than those countries which they criticized, seem impotent, and powerless, in this march toward authoritarianism. Why hasn’t the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for instance, called out and taken licenses away from media outlets that have been spreading what has proven to be lies about the 2020 election? I thought there was a standard of honesty that television and radio had to follow. And why did a man who cast a vote in the name of his deceased mother get probation, while a Black woman, on parole, voted after being advised that she could, was sentenced to five years in prison? ( In 2022 the Texas Supreme Court ruled that her case must be revisited, but the issue is what is wrong with a judicial system that would pave the way for such a conviction when the man who openly cast a fraudulent vote was given sentenced to five-year probation? ( and another woman who voted in the name of her dead mother avoided jail and was sentenced to two years probation? (

            I should have known. I think I have wanted to believe in the “rightness” of the American judicial system, even though, as a Black woman, I have seen the system destroy the concept of justice and equal protection under the law. From the days of enslavement, Black people have endured a justice system that has, for the most part, refused to impart justice, but for some reason, I wanted and perhaps needed to believe that at least when it came to saving and protecting the government, the American justice system would do all it could to protect the country so many in power say they love.

            What is going on is not an anomaly; the system is working exactly as it was intended to do, protecting the rights of wealthy, white men. (I say that because wealthy Black men have often been called out and arrested when they have tried to do what they have seen their white colleagues do.) ( ( I think that these wealthy politicians walk around with a smirk, not unlike the smirk I saw on the face of Derek Chauvin as he knelt on the neck of George Floyd, killing him.

            The façade of political superiority is falling down. America’s slip …is showing.

            A candid observation…

Seeing Injustice

            Watching what is going on in this country is as terrifying as it is troubling.

            The United States has touted as one of its core values its belief in “law and order:” We have always been taught that this is a “nation of laws,” and most of us have not questioned it. We have bought into the idea that justice in America is and has been somehow different and better than justice practiced in other countries, and to be honest, it was a comfortable myth to which to attach ourselves.

            But what is going on now in this country is mind-boggling. I believe there has always been corruption in our government, but I have also believed that when blatant wrongdoing has been revealed, there have been enough people in government – from both political parties – to call out the person or persons accused, forcing them to step out of their elected offices and prohibited from seeking office again.

            That is not happening. From the former president to his aides and his attorneys and his friends and advisors, what I see is people with a lot of money getting away with a lot of bad behavior, and the more I see it happening, the angrier I become.

            Corruption in our government is not new; people have done all kinds of things in our history in order to attain and hold onto their power. The Christian nationalism we are seeing, along with nativism, is not new. Unfortunately, the mistreatment of non-white, non-male, non-Christian people has been as much of the American political tradition as it has been a component of Christianity. For many, to be American and Christian, one must be white. In my work, I really did not understand that like I do now. I was puzzled at how any Christian – regardless of race – could be sexist or racist or xenophobic or bigoted in any way – based on the story of Jesus the Christ in the Bible every white nationalist professes to love. But I really did not know that for many white people, you are only American and Christian if you are white.

            That mindset helped many white religious people treat non-white people as objects, unworthy of respect or rights and fair treatment. Non-white people have been dehumanized, criminalized, and compromised, and the white religious world seemingly condones it. Evangelical Christians have long had an uncanny ability to, as Dr. Anthea Butler says in White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America, “merge the mob’s symbolic act of vengeance with the divine justice enacted in the evangelical church.” This group of people sees nothing wrong with the way they treat Black and other non-white, non-Christian people. In fact, they believe they are mandated by God to do so.

            I cringe when I hear some of them talk about being “woke,” because I know they do not have a clue as to what they are saying. To be “woke” is to see the injustice that is meted out to people, and to care about it. To be woke is to understand that every race of people has a history that is worthy to learn and to respect. To be woke is to see how unfair the socio-political-religious landscape is for so many people, and to do something to help level the playing field.

            Perhaps some of that sensitivity could be realized if money were not involved. People in this country fought the civil war because the practice of enslaving people allowed people to become wealthy off the backs and labors of people who were not viewed as people, but, rather, as beasts, deserving of being worked too often to death, while never receiving working wages so that they could survive and live quality lives.

            Because they were not considered to be human, they could not be considered to be worthy of American citizenship and the rights that citizenship afforded. Not even fighting in America’s wars was enough for white Christians to treat the veterans with respect. The statistics of how many Black war veterans – many still in uniform –  were killed after returning home are staggering and sobering. ( (

            Dehumanization did not and does not just affect non-white adults. Non-white children are targets as well. Elected officials do not care one iota about the schools that Black children attend – often dilapidated buildings in sore need of repair, but never being considered a big enough problem to address and correct. Author and activist Jonathon Kozol, who has written extensively about public education in America, wrote in his book The Shame of the Nation that black children who live in America’s cities are more isolated now than they were before the historic Brown v Board of Education decision in 1954. Separate but equal was OK with many who said they love Jesus, but the schools were not even close to being equal. White parents, after the ruling, behaved abominably after that decision, attacking Black students who were integrating white schools, and gradually pulling their children out of public schools as they formed segregated “Christian” schools, for which they asked for and received, for a time, federal funds. 

            None of what this country has done as concerns people of color has been right or fair, save for the instances policies were put in place to level the playing field for everyone, but the truth is, the masses of Americans seem not to care. The term “law and order” is thrown around like a football, even as we see wealthy, white people being allowed to stay in office and even be assigned to important committees, in spite of there being a fair amount of evidence that they have worked to overthrow this government. No other racial group would be able to do what these people in office have done and get away with it – historically and in the present day. “Caucasianism” (yes, I created a word) has been allowed to run free in this country, with proponents of it teaching not only this country but the entire world how to treat people of African or other non-European descent.

            The tyrants in office – and running corporations and the media – are there because Americans have put them there and/or kept them there. They do not worry, it seems, about being held accountable. Law enforcement is actually not respected by the Far Right, it seems, judging by how some of those involved in the January 6 insurrection were more than ready to attack and kill officers. They spout rhetoric about being “for the blue,” but we have seen that they are only for those in blue who help them spread their ideological and political goals. Had the attack on the US Capitol been carried out by non-white “protesters,” they would not have been called patriotic but, rather, thugs, and their annihilation by law enforcement would have been seen as justified. What we see instead is a group of people who belong to a race and class of people who have always been able to skirt and avoid “the law.” Their whiteness has spoiled them and threatens the life of this country.

            Hearing and reading about injustice is one thing; seeing it is quite another. I am not sure how we will turn this corner, and if/when we do, what the country’s landscape will be like. I am sure we cannot go “back,” as the far right wants to do, to a time when non-white, non-Christian, women, men, and children were openly castigated – and white women, too. America’s tradition of practicing blatant injustice has cut into the already rotted soul of America. We can all see it, even those who want to deny it. America should have been taken to the woodshed a long time ago to address the divide between what she professes to be and what she actually is.

            Not doing so in the past has had a bad effect on our people and on our institutions. Though they call out and claim the name of Jesus, Jesus is nowhere in what they do. It remains to be seen if this nation, called an “experiment,” will get enough courage to stare its commitment to injustice based on race, class, and religion and decide to do something about it, to work to be “better.” We have struggled with this same behemoth before. It is high time that the beast is slaughtered in order to make room for a new nation to arise.

A candid observation …