My Editorial in the last print issue titled “Presidential Burdens” has come under fire from some vocal critics. In essence, I spoke about how unfair it was for America to place such a great burden on President Obama’s shoulders to radically change the justice system to alleviate some racial tension in the political justice system. I argued that time is his greatest ally, and significant change cannot be brought about in an 8 year term; in comparison, the Civil Rights’ movement was a product of over 200 hundred years of anguish.
One critic sent me the following message: “You think America is a place an African man should be? The same people that thought your ancestors were 3/5th of a person are still in control, its their grandkids now. Nothing is going to change for black people until Africa changes… We need to focus of the exploitation of our own land. The thing is African-Americans hate their homeland and if you hate Africa you hate yourself. They need to find out the history of Africa.”
After some consideration, I sent him the following message:
“First of all, if you’re going to reference the Constitutional Convention as evidence, you must include historical context. The Founding Fathers convened for the sole purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation (which soon became a complete revamp). They were not there to debate the merits of slavery; only to ENSURE that the South didn’t overpower the North for taxation and legislative purposes after the Connecticut Compromise was passed creating the bicameral government we have today. Slavery was not debated thoroughly for its merits and Civil Rights infringements/violations until Lincoln’s presidency, nearly 100 years after the 3/5th Compromise was passed. You made a hasty generalization when using the 3/5 Compromise as “evidence.”
Do you mean that white society is exploiting America, which I assume you’re calling “your land?” You bounce between ideas that don’t follow any type of logical order. I’d argue that many African-Americans don’t HATE their homeland; rather, many are unaware or choose to be ignorant of their origins. Inspiring African-American youth to seek their cultural heritage isn’t an easy task, but I’m sure they don’t hate themselves for being unaware of their history. Once again, you are making another hasty generalization through an argument from ignorance because your claim that African-Americans hate themselves is naive and extremely difficult to prove.
The only point I agree with you on is many African-Americans (for one reason or another) are deprived of knowing their intricate cultural roots. I’m sure many would respect their origins, however a place in America is not reliant on respect for your origins. We have always been a country of immigrants, and over time have built a system of rights and privileges (albeit faulty and contradictory at times) praising the democratic process. This (justice) system needs a lot more work, but if it didn’t require work, we’d live in a utopia. That sir, is not quite possible in today’s American democracy.”
Fortunately, this critic brings to light the diverse perspectives and complexities of racial relations within the United States. While there is no way to prove that increased knowledge of black heritage within the African-American community would decrease crime rates or increase mutual respect for one another, one cannot deny the powerful history African-Americans have endured. We owe it to society to learn from our past and progress into the promise land.