I read a post today on social media suggesting that “the Constitution was written by white people – for white people,” and continued by saying that “white people are treated better than any other race on the planet.” Aside from being sad, it’s just not accurate – either now or historically. In fact, it breaks my heart because of how simple this person’s view really is. Has ignorance finally won the battle for the minds of Americans?
Ignorance isn’t a bad word but it is a very bad thing. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge and information. I want you to remember that knowledge is power. But I also want you to remember that power is transferred; it’s not created. This means that if we want power, we must seek knowledge and try our best to consume as much as we can. This acquisition of knowledge transfers power back to us. At the same time, a better picture comes with a substantial amount of contrast. When we have information and contrasting information, we destroy ignorance and gain a more robust understanding of the world around us. It also keeps us from making horrible decisions and crafting dangerous ideas. Ignorance is not our friend and ignorance is not bliss.
Let’s start with the simple idea that “white” isn’t a race. It is (in fact) a color. And not only is it ignorant to look at all “whites” as the same, it is also quite offensive. In many ways, that’s like saying that all Asians look alike. Understand that not all Caucasians are white and not all whites are Caucasian. Your ignorance on the matter doesn’t make it so. The truth is that there are several different types of “white” people. You should look that up.
As for being treated better… tell that to the white Jews. They’ve been hated for a couple of thousand years and were the victims of attempted genocide. Or consider the Scotch-Irish (Celts) who had been slaves longer than any other race in the history of the world and were also victims of attempted genocide. And you know what? The hatred continues to this day. The point is that it’s just nonsense to ignore these simple and easily researched facts.
As for the Constitution and our Founders, well, I guess it’s not taught in school anymore, but many of our Founders were actually against slavery and were working hard to abolish slavery before the Constitution was written. Want proof? Just look at the work of Thomas Paine (the guy who wrote Rights of Man and influenced the entire revolution) – Paine’s 1775 essay, African Slavery In America.
Or just consider the fact that before the Constitution was complete, Jefferson wrote directions for the different Western territories saying “That after the year 1800 of the Christian æra, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty (National Archives, 1784).” Another example might in George Washington’s statement “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for this abolition of [slavery] but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, & that is by Legislative authority.” For more on this, I would encourage you to read a piece written by Dr. David Azerrad titled “What the Constitution Really Says About Race and Slavery.“
Anyway, these go on and on. And this sentiment (and odd history) goes up to the Civil War. For example, many don’t know that Robert E Lee once said that slavery was a “moral and political evil in any Country.” So if you think the Civil War was all about slavery, then you should probably ask yourself how it makes sense that Lee would fight for slavery if he hated it. Better yet, you could ask yourself what he was actually fighting for and why you haven’t been told about it.
What I don’t get is why telling the whole truth isn’t practiced in an educational setting. It’s as if the true history is revised or simply omitted from education. Of course, there were black slaves, but what about the rest of the story? The thing to keep in mind is that historians note that (in America) Black slaves were actually “late comers” to an already established system.
So who was first? Well, as historian Ulrich B. Phillips points out… John Pory, the Secretary of Virginia, declared quite emphatically in 1619, that “white slaves are our principle wealth (Phillips, 2007).” Of course, Pory was referring to the Celts. Again, why are you not being told about this?
Does the fact that they kept this information from you make you angry at all? Does being made to believe a lie at least frustrate you in the slightest? It angers me… but then again, I don’t like being lied to. It’s easy to understand that if you were angry at the people who lied to you instead of being angry at the people they lied about, your focus would shift. That might be your answer, or at least a great place to start.
Speaking of which, are we (as a society) really going to ignore the fact that Islam and strong African tribes played a major role in the facilitation of black slavery in the colonies? Are we going to ignore the fact that the first legal slave owner in the new world was a black man named Anthony Johnson (PBS, n.d.)? Are we going to ignore the fact that when freed from slavery, blacks became slave masters to a very high degree and (interestingly enough) disproportionately to whites (Grooms, 1997)? It’s probably not wise to forget such things.
For example, in 1830, nearly a fourth of the freed Black slave masters in South Carolina alone owned ten or more slaves; several of which owned more than 30. For clarity, this far outpaced that of the white slave owners. And for that matter, even the country’s leading African-American historian, Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, has shown that in New Orleans alone, over 3,000 freed blacks owned slaves. The point is that we are not talking about a simple few. We are talking about multiple thousands.
Again, why were you not told? Well, I’ll give you a hint. It’s probably for the same reason you weren’t told about the thousands of Mexican-Americans that fought for the Confederacy or the 4600 slaves that were owned by the Confederate Cherokee. For that matter, we could talk about how like MANY many of his contemporaries, Chief Seattle (the guy the city of Seattle is named after) also owned slaves. Or perhaps, it’s for the same reason why you are repeatedly told that we live in a Democracy (which also isn’t true). Understand that it’s likely not by accident that these truths are being omitted from your education while, at the same time, you’re being influenced to hate your neighbor. Are you awake yet?
Look, if you knew these things, you probably wouldn’t be fighting with your neighbor over what the media is shoving down your throat. Instead, you would likely want to figure out why you weren’t told the truth and then unite with your neighbor over a common issue that affects us all. But as long as you are distracted with this nonsense, the powers that be don’t have to worry about you and your neighbor educating yourselves and uniting accordingly.
I understand that tensions are high but I want you to know that much of it is based on contortion and a lack of truth. True, history is messy, but no race of people have a high horse to sit on. We are all bathed in the history that brought us to this point and none can claim perfection. But we can either continue to allow agenda-driven narratives to tear us apart or we can seek truth and come together to actually make some substantial changes regarding situations that affect us today. We get to decide. I, for one, would rather not live a lie.
I believe that we are stronger together. And frankly, I don’t care about your color, gender, or creed (or other labels). We have bigger fish to fry and we could accomplish our goals if we stopped TRYING to divide ourselves. There is a reason why “divide and conquer” is the tactic of choice and there is a reason why ignorance is the tool of choice. Just look at this country! We are so distracted by the contortion that we are literally tearing ourselves apart.
Ignorance doesn’t have to win and we don’t have to suffer needlessly. I don’t believe it’s too late. So in the spirit of education, I’ll post articles that delve deeper into these issues in the coming months. Until then, understand that much of what we’ve been told only covers a small portion of the reality that was and is. Real truth, oftentimes, is more than a misleading headline or an opinion of a biased agenda-driven teacher. My advice: be wise, seek the contrast, and seek truth.