Emancipated But Not Free: African Americans and Today’s GOP

Apr 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

When Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men were created equal, it was not quite an accurate statement and it has taken over 200 years for America to achieve a semblance of true equality. About a hundred years after America was founded, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery, but it took nearly another hundred years for the Civil Rights movement to bring near-equal rights to African Americans. The Emancipation Day holiday this year is a reminder that although technically free, many Americans do not enjoy equal rights or opportunities because of a deep-seated belief the Black race is inferior and not worthy of the Constitution’s equal rights protections.

There is a disease-like sentiment among many in the South that races other than white are inferior, and it is quite possible that if given the opportunity, these Southerners would revoke the Emancipation Proclamation and return to the Founding Fathers’ time when African American slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person. Many of the Draconian spending cuts the Republican majority in the House proposed target poor minorities and women because for whatever reason, those groups are not considered equal to white males. Racial discrimination is so ingrained in many Americans’ minds that they believe interracial marriage is wrong.

In a recent poll, 46% of Mississippi Republicans said that interracial marriage should be illegal and 14% were not sure if the idea is acceptable. The poll targeted Republican voters, but the numbers are surprisingly high suggesting that many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, have a negative view of interracial marriage and by extension, other races. Many of the anti-miscegenationists, persons opposed to interracial marriage, cite scriptures from the bible to support their opposition, although many theologians dispute the Christian bible’s meanings in scriptures that forbid marriage outside of one’s own race.  The disapproval and resistance to interracial marriage seems to hinge on the belief that the white race is superior and not to be polluted with an inferior race. It is not, however, surprising that Republicans do not believe non-white people deserve freedom or equal treatment.

Women are increasingly the target of assaults by Republicans in Congress and state legislatures that are meant to keep women in a subservient role much like slavery. In 1920 women won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment but it took until the 1960’s when the women’s liberation movement lobbied for equal pay, equal rights in law, and the freedom to plan their families or not have children at all that women made some real strides. However, women still have not been emancipated from male-dominated society and suffer from discrimination in health care, equal pay, and the right to choose their reproductive health at the hands of Republicans.

The GOP has systematically limited freedoms of women, minorities and the poor in the past, but recently they have ramped up their efforts and included seniors and the middle class. Every time Republicans eliminate programs for education, children, or poor women they eliminate freedoms and the chance for equality the Constitution guarantees. It is no small coincidence that the majority of poor Americans affected by Republican spending cuts are African Americans, or that the worst offenders are from Southern states. It is as if a genetic marker for racism has been passed on to Southern secessionists who are still fighting the Civil War to maintain their right to own African American slaves. The sentiment that people of color are inferior is a driving force that gives Republicans justification to suppress the Black vote as well as withhold funding for programs to help the poor climb out of the depth of despair and have a voice. Lincoln may have signed an Emancipation Proclamation, but the modern incarnation of his party deems it invalid to maintain their hold on power.

The campaign to demonize and shut down ACORN was to subvert and suppress the Black vote. Minorities and the poor are prone to vote for Democratic candidates, and eliminating ACORN removed voter registration assistance for those who may support Democrats. Republicans will do anything to suppress the African American vote to keep them in a subservient position just like they have done with poor women and students. It often seems that if Republicans could enslave all but the wealthy and corporations they would pass legislation tomorrow to limit opposing voices.

The issue of race is not just a matter of voter suppression or interracial marriage; it is a deeply instilled mindset that permeates every aspect of society. The opposition to President Obama is racially motivated as seen in the birther movement and it has little to do with a birth certificate’s authenticity. Republicans have allowed and promoted the notion that President Obama is not one of us, or an alien who should not be in the White House. In every state in the Union there are people who genuinely believe that the Oval Office is reserved for a white male and Obama is an interloper. Regardless that the president is a Christian, Republicans also allow their supporters to propagate the myth that Obama is a Muslim to further the idea that he does not belong in the White House; because in America, only a white Christian male can be the president.

Many Americans have to get used to the idea that African Americans are as American and part of this country as any white man or woman. At some juncture in the not-so-distant future, white people are going to be in the minority and it frightens the racists. When Jefferson wrote that all men were created equal, he certainly didn’t mean all men because slavery was allowed to flourish until Lincoln Emancipated the slaves. A hundred-and-fifty years later, there is no legalized slavery, but the Republican Party has done everything in their power to deny equal rights to African Americans as well as women and the poor. Republicans and supremacists tolerate emancipation in the law, but do everything possible to keep African Americans poor and without a voice in government.

It really isn’t surprising that Republican voters in Mississippi think interracial marriage should be illegal even though interracial marriage is on the rise. It’s also not surprising that the bible is used as a reason for opposing interracial marriage to keep the white race pure. It is surprising though, that the problem persists after 150 years. Perhaps 46% of Republicans in Mississippi are of German ancestry and cannot escape their Aryan heritage. It is more likely that people have harbored long-standing hatred and fear of the unknown. Republican politicians on the other hand, fear minorities because they represent an opposing voice as well as a threat to Republican power, and Republicans will do anything to hold on to power; even if it means keeping African Americans, women, and the poor from speaking out and voting.


14 responses so far