America’s black parents do not insist that public schools teach children that our Constitution not only provided for the enslavement of black people but also mandated that slaves be accorded the status of part property and part human being.
As the “Founding Fathers,” many of whom were slave holders, squabbled over the issue of slaves as property while framing the Constitution, it was James Madison’s three-fifths compromise that, to this day, characterizes black and white people’s relationships throughout the world, due to American hegemony.
In the vaunted The Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote, “Let the compromising expedient of the Constitution be mutually adopted which regards to them as inhabitants, but as debased by servitude below the equal level of free inhabitants; which regards the slave as divested of two fifths of the man.”
Slave-holding Madison became the fourth president of these United States of America, serving from 1809 to 1817.
At best, the questionable humanity of Madison, as well as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and other framers of America’s Constitution is exactly the framework for study that interests black people. That’s the American history — not his-story — that could propel Omar, Lakeesha and Pookie to read, probe and understand that true education is about the search for truth.
Black parents do not insist that Southern white nationalist authors like Mark Twain and William Faulkner are eliminated from required reading lists and that all references to them and/or their works are excluded from standard and all other tests. No black child wants to or should sit in a classroom and be humiliated by white supremacy.
No matter what contrary evidence is presented to them, white people will defensively, and oftentimes not knowingly, extol the “virtues” of white supremacy through a psychosocial and spiritual indoctrination. Many have and will misuse religious doctrine and scriptures, the Constitution and other documents, theories and notions to build an America of white nationalists and call it a democracy.
The perennial problem that this guise presents is how to contain other ideas, religions and non-white people, especially black, brown and mulatto Latino Americans and their immigrants.
The politics of containment have long been used to tamp down so-called minority development, equity under the law, equal opportunities in education, employment, housing, health and basic social services, ad infinitum.
Like a symphonic crescendo, America’s once quietly brewing internal upheaval is beginning to loudly reach its peak and exclaim its unraveling. But, unlike a musical score, there is yet the unscripted. Who knows what will happen? One constant you can be sure of: The politics of containment will ruin America.
During the human rights movement days of the early 1960s, when “Negro leaders” capitulated and allowed the movement to be called civil rights instead, members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee would always warn white people that “what you allow governments to do to us today they will do to you tomorrow.”
Just like chickens come home to roost, that is exactly what has happened to America’s white middle class. (Hardly anyone talks about the legions of white poor and near-poor people languishing in America’s shadows due to the politics of containment.)
According to a recent New York Times article, since near the end of 2009, $1.5 billion of stimulus package funds has been given out to 550,000 people to keep them from losing their homes or to get back in already lost homes. Nationally, only a quarter of the program’s money has been spent so far.
Since states control the money (the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program), who is monitoring to ensure that blacks get an equitable share? Are black elected officials on the job of being accountable to their black constituencies by informing and educating them about the program?
Will mass passivity be the reason why the politics of containment ruins America? Time will tell.
Al Calloway may be reached at Al_Calloway@Verizon.net.