Letters to the editor June 4 to 10
This collage, “We Can Do It’, was done by local mixed-media artist Erica Hart who has had careers as an art teacher and commercial artist. It is her hope that it will offer inspiration during these challenging times.
The multitalented musician-songwriter Bonnie Raitt once hauntingly lamented in a song that “I can’t make you love me if you don’t”.
Okay, forget love. More subtly, well over a generation past, Rodney King famously asked the American people, “Why can’t we all get along?” Yes indeed, that would be a refreshing change.
The answer as to why we can’t seem to get along has a long history and runs deep in the fabric of our national psyche. When the earliest English, French, Spanish and Dutch sought asylum in this land, they soon developed a system of slaughter and enslavement of indigenous peoples. Much of the justification was that the native peoples were savages, without human rights, and obviously in practice, there was no rule of law to hold anyone accountable. African slaves were brought here as property by the Europeans to be used as free labor.
As the new society expanded, slave labor formed the backbone of society, especially in the agrarian South. Here the reasoning gets tricky. In the face of antislavery forces, it was variously argued by the Southern Aristocrats and their enablers that slaves were not fully human, would never be able to function outside of slavery, actually enjoyed slavery, were morally corrupt, lazy, etc.
Although the USA won the Civil War against the slave South and subsequently outlawed slavery, what was then a 300-year-old propaganda war was lost to a racist national mentality.
This indoctrination has continued in the 150 years following that bloody civil struggle. In those subsequent years, the new European immigrants were also significantly influenced by a hatred of people of color.
When African-American people are denigrated, demonized, humiliated, pauperized, ghettoized, brutalized, disenfranchised and, alas, murdered because they exist, the state has failed them in oh so many ways. We cannot fully right all of these wrongs, but we must begin to expand a system of reconciliation across the racial divide. We must find ways to engage and trust each other. Perhaps you can suggest a path.