Very few people around the world, and even fewer American’s know how far back the systemic racism goes in the United States – where attention spans limit any thorough reading of the US Constitution. For most American’s. Their knowledge of the Constitution Of The United States is a piece of yellowed paper with hard to read writing that is somehow supposed to be important.
But the United States Constitution is a very important part of our history and needs to be understood – and, I would suggest, needs updated. Because it has not been updated or understood it has allowed for any old jackass, like the president of the united states, to interpret it as he wishes and even use it as a weapon to justify his own racism.
Racism has existed in America before and ever since it became the United States of America. It is actually a part of the US Constitution. Don’t be shocked – slavery was part of the “national” economy when the Constitution was drafted. And I suppose that is where the trouble starts – when humans are viewed as products because of the color of their skin to be sold and traded at the will and whim of whites.
During the US Constitution Convention of 1783 – which was created to frame the government by creating constitutional guidelines. During the convention something happened that became known as the 3/5ths compromise. The article under debate was relating to taxation and representation. Many states wanted representation to be reflected by the number of people in each state and taxes determined by property (i.e. the more property the higher the taxes). While many southern states liked the idea of increased representation because of their slave population they objected to the notion of being taxed for their property since black and brown slaves were considered property which meant not only higher representation in congress but higher taxes also.
There arose what became known as the 3/5th compromise which allowed southern states to be taxed on only 3/5ths of their slave population. So this effectively denied humanity to 2/5ths of the slave population. That is like saying to every single black and brown person, “You’re not allowed to do ‘this’, or ‘that’ because you’re only 3/5ths of a human being. “You’re not even a complete human being”. That is outrageous!!!!!!
Thus the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 states:
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”
Now there was some good news to follow but it didn’t come until after the Civil War – and frankly, by then the damage had been done. Generations covering 80+ years had viewed people of color as “not entirely human”. The good news came in the form of the 14th amendment to the US Constitution which completely reverses the 3/5th compromise and states the “whole” number of people will be counted. So people of color were declared by law to be “whole” persons again.
Not that they needed white politicians to tell them that – but it did afford them the same protections as white people. So why do I say the damage was done? Well peoples minds were not that easily persuaded and by 1877 slave states started subverting the new law and actively sought ways to disenfranchise people of color. And that has been going on even into the modern era. Today people of color have been disenfranchised from property ownership, disenfranchised from voting because of all the voting district gerrymandering by politicians, Disenfranchised from education, career opportunities and economic success. There MUST be reparations. Reparation will be difficult for everyone. But putting it off because it will be difficult is not a sufficient excuse. The longer we wait the harder it will become. It will require a political will to change tax law, economic law, police law, credit law, and major criminal justice reform.
More than ever before we need to use the popular quote by John F Kennedy (which he stated about going to the moon) and apply it to reparations:
“We choose to …, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”
Where are our leaders with the political will to make this happen? It makes me angry to hear politicians deny the widespread systemic racism that exists. They are afraid – and they should be – because we live in a time of tyranny. And we must overthrow tyranny.
A great quote commonly misattributed to Thomas Jefferson (But no one knows for sure who first said it):
“When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”