by Democrats Ramshield
Sat Jul 30th, 2016 at 12:23:59 AM EST
(Written by an American expat living in Germany)
Recently Michelle Obama touched off a firestorm when she remarked that in the White House which slave labor helped build was now the playground of her two young daughters, as a statement in her view about how far America had come.
Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger
Quote: "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves," Michelle Obama said on Monday night at the Democratic convention. Her mention of the role played by African-American slaves in building the White House drew backlash from conservative critics....
She said America's story was "the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters -- two beautiful, intelligent, black young women -- playing with their dogs on the White House lawn." (End of quote)
Source: NY Times
This set off a right wing firestorm in America to be heard around the world that the iconic symbol of the American superpower had been allegedly defiled by these remarks of America's First Lady Michelle Obama. Whatever it is that we may or may not think about her husband's politics, one thing is clear. Any reference to America's prosperity and its iconic imagery if linked to the notion of slavery sets off a firestorm of blue flames dancing in the dark, an intertwined tango both sultry and majestic, rhythmic and fluid, erratic uncontrolled and beautiful and frightening, savage and dangerous of the type only seen in the most violent volcanic eruptions later, just like with Mount St Helens. Spewing ash everywhere and covering in darkness, hope and despair all at once and everything it touches, and yet there is a circus-like atmosphere as the world gazing on almost like watching a freak show that you can't bear to look at yet uncontrollably, you have to look at so as to feel morally superior or ashamed and more often than not confused at the spectacle of the democracy which is the superpower America touted as being the last great hope of humankind.
Suddenly we are reminded that this iconic symbol of the White House did get built by significant efforts of slaves. Slaves of course aren't historically just poor or the poorest of the poor who own nothing, by contrast slaves don't even own themselves. They were instead owned by the self proclaimed selfless who believed that chattel slavery was a kind institution that looked after its property, far better than any exploited worker working the sweat shops, underground in the mines, exploited in child labor where people suffered, ate poorly and died young.
So it is we might ask ourselves today of all days, in the last days of July having witnessed again another 4th July celebration with fireworks, fan fairs, American baseball, Mom and apple pie. Yes there is the crack of the bat, the smell of real leather gloves and big fireworks, from sea to shining sea. Does that however include the people of Ferguson, Missouri wherein several of the towns and heritage houses sport plaques that tell us these houses were originally owned by slaveholders. This now begs the question, just how many beautiful iconic heritage houses that are far less famous than that address at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue were built under the institution of slavery that are worth many hundreds of thousands or even more. Can anyone in America today ask that question? Does anyone in America today see any articles substantially on that issue?
This is pointed out in the German magazine Der Spiegel's article entitled "We're Like Animals To Them': An American City's Daily Racism" which was published shortly after the shooting of Michael Brown. Spiegel staff got a tour from a man know only as Jurmael. Here is what happened on at tour of Ferguson Missouri.
Spiegel quote: The car is now driving past large, old wooden homes with fresh-painted verandas and well-groomed front yards, small oases of order. "Look right up there," Jurmael says as he points to the front door of a house. There's a bronze plaque on the door, as there are at many homes in the area. It notes that a slave owner once lived in the home.........The plaques are not intended as memorials. Instead they appear to reflect the pride some of these homeowners have in their house's history. The neighborhood is the city's Historic District and is a tourist attraction. Even today, though, the district is inhabited exclusively by white people........ In the days leading up to Brown's funeral on Monday, white signs bearing the slogan of a new movement had been posted in the front yards of the former slave-owners' district. They read, "I love Ferguson." On this particular morning, the organizers of the initiative have gathered at the Corner Coffee House. A long line formed at one table with people waiting to buy signs and t-shirts. There's not a single African American in the cafe -- not among the guests or among the service personnel. Only the guy in the kitchen is black. The people gathering here are part of what could be described as the white countermovement.
Certainly when Germany's Spiegel magazine wrote this issue, it also touched off a draconian firestorm. How much more time we'll have to go by before we're able to talk about that issue. The average white American family has a net worth of about $150,000 whereas African American families have a net worth of about $11,000 on average, so they swell the ranks of Precariat.
Where does this leave the American democracy? Of course there is the fact that the genocide against Native Americans is never realistically taught in schools or talked about in the media either. This of course can be no accident. Some young Americans today think the Trail of Tears is a rock group, and they don't understand what happened at Wounded Knee. How it is we can all be proud Americans, but we don't necessarily have to all be proud of everything America does in order to be good Americans and respectable citizens of the world.
Most people around the world don't understand why Native Americans have been so upset with the Washington Redskins football team name that this actually refers to Native Americans who were part of a head bounty being either scalped or decapitated, leaving behind a red blood soaked corpse.
This is sadly the true origin of the word "Redskin".
The origin of the term is debated, in particular whether the use of "red" referred to skin color or the use of pigments by certain tribes, and also whether the term was applied to natives by Europeans or came from language natives used to refer to themselves. Professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz states that the settlers were paid bounties and they gave a name to the mutilated and bloody corpses they left in the wake of scalp hunts: redskins.
The politics of hate and division are still alive and well in America. Some say so it is, so it has always been and so it will always be.
So it is this diary ends where it started at the White House with the remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama and what it is that her remarks mean for us and what do they mean for America and what do they mean for the world, but perhaps most importantly, when will we finally at long last be able to talk about this subject matter without setting off an eruption of endless dragon fire hate recriminations. When will we arrive at the place having reached the mountain top that Dr Martin Luther King described as a nation? When will black lives in America finally matter?
When will people like Dr Cornel West take off his black neckerchief that he wears around his neck, which is reputed to be in remembrance of untold numbers of African Americans who were lynched publicly?
Quote from Dr Cornell West published in the Guardian.
"Obama has failed victims of racism and police brutality"
"I have deep empathy for brothers and sisters who are shot in the police force. I also have profound empathy for people of color who are shot by the police. I have always believed deliberate killing to be a crime against humanity."
(I note that Dr. Cornell West has endorsed Green Party candidate Jill Stein)
Though African American males are 6% of America's population, they make up the majority of all prison inmates. 1 in 5 African American males have permanently lost their right to vote because it is said they are convicted felons. Therefore it is particularly hurtful and indeed injurious to be reminded of the remarks of Hillary Clinton, when she made the reference of dealing with "super predators" that touched off the now out of control wave of massive incarceration of African-American males, which has become a badge of international shame and human rights' abuses that America must wear. For me this is one more reason to support Jill Stein who is a great American.
Huffington Post quote: "In 1996, Hillary made comments about certain kids that were super-predators without conscience or empathy that need to be brought "to heel."
Being brought to heel? Isn't that usually a term we usually employ in the English language when we're referring to dog training? Maybe that's why it hurt so much to watch Bernie Sanders endorse crooked Hillary at DNC.
Spiegel quote: "it is mostly white men who shoot young African-Americans in the service of the state."
As a middle aged male of European ancestry, I will never be able to understand truly the African American experience in the United States. As Europeans, you won't be able to understand it either. What we can understand is there are certain subjects even today that even the First Lady of the United States cannot talk about because they are part of a uniquely American taboo for which having broached it, this diary will doubtlessly richly be attacked for. This gives new meaning to the phrase, only in America!