The study of history is so important in understanding the present and the possibilities of the future, that it is amazing how often it is ignored or misrepresented. Exhibit A in real time is the current controversy regarding mostly black athletes protesting discrimination and bias against black Americans at sporting events. The ensuing hue and cry reminds us that the Negro Problem is still a problem for too much of white America.
Frederick Douglass once wrote:
“There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own Constitution….”
And although those words were written over a century and a half ago, too much of America perceives that there is a Negro Problem, when the real problem has nothing to do with black Americans, and everything to do with the denial of promise of true freedom and the opportunity to freely prosper in these United States. And when President Trump or NFL Commissioner Goodell or NBA Commissioner Adam Silver or any number of white elected officials discourage and disparage black Americans for exercising their Constitutional rights, they totally miss the point in making these athletes the problem when this country is the real problem.
It is of no surprise that many Americans want to whitewash American history or simply crawl into there own personal shell of denial. But the reality is that the United States was founded with the enslavement of black men, women and children as a central aspect of its existence. The reality is that throughout the South it was legal to kill a black person and some would argue that this has not changed appreciably as we settle into the 21st century.
The flag that flies during the national anthem is the flag of a country that countenanced slavery, genocide, legalized segregation, discrimination, lynching and race-based institutional inequities that have lasted to this very moment. It is the flag of a country that is uncomfortably comfortable with over 1000 Confederate monuments scattered across this land like so many dragons’ teeth, even though each and every one of these hellish icons memorialize a war fought to maintain the enslavement of the forebears of the athletes who have the temerity and colossal nerve to kneel in protest of this sordid history and still too sordid present.
The question should not be about why black athletes – and black Americans generally – are protesting. The question should only be about why black Americans are not protesting more – and all the time. And it is sad and illustrative of the problem that there are white Americans who wear the American flag as underwear, head wraps and bathing suits, are offended that black Americans choose to protest in front of this flag. It is sad because these same white Americans are not offended by police brutality inflicted on innocent black civilians. They are not offended by high incarceration rates in the black community. And they are not offended by the overwhelming data that shows that race-based discrimination is the root cause of so many of the disparities in the national black community.
Indeed the controversy over these protests at sporting events shows how far this country still has to come in the long journey to achieve equity and racial equality. In the meantime, for white America to ask black Americans to stop protesting during the national anthem of this imperfect country is simply asking too much.
5 thoughts on “There is Such a Thing as Asking Too Much – The Negro Problem Revisited”
Great posting. Douglas was being too kind when he suggested the US live up to the Constitution. It was and is a great but flawed document, and has been used to justify all kinds of injustice, cruelty, violence and institutional hardship.
Witness the Second Amendment: if the founding fathers could have imagined automatic weapons they certainly would have outlawed them, to protect people from “the tyranny of the mob,” a much dis cussed concept at the time.
In the minds of the founding fathers, the right to bear muskets was what they meant. I support that today…every person should be able to carry a single shot rifle that takes 15 seconds to reload.
And of course the definition of how many fifths of a human you have to be to vote was just vile. And who got to vote for five humans of color!
Just as astonishing that the false academic notion of “originalism”, fake scholarship, masquerading as intent, has not been more reviled. Justice Scalia, despite his “charms”, was as intellectually dishonest as Mitch McConnell, just far more rigorous with his agenda and more adept at disguise and denial of his religiously based notions of government and propriety.
Other military people of high office like Kelly’s, have acknowledgedt hat when they fought and ordered others to fight, they were fighting for the right to burn the flag.
Kneeling is an elegant and graceful way of protesting, and should can be as respected as a salute if one has the imagination to admit a new thought. There is a sadness in the gesture of humble kneeling, as at prayer. It can be seen as honoring the flag with the regret that its ideals are not practiced or not reflected in policy decisions, policing regulations, and common social decency.
Thanks again. Please keep lighting these moral fires in all of us.
Mr. Ford, Although I must agree with much you have written about this subject – that this nation has never really considered black people equal to whites, and despite fighting to defend this nation, this nation is not willing to fight for them. All of this is true and more, of course, could be written on this problem. The American flag is an icon, a god. Most are not aware of this fact, but the reaction of white people to our people taking the knee exposes how important their flag is to them. No matter what religion they are, the vast majority of whites believe taking a knee is “disrespectful to the flag”. However, as a people, blacks have been unwilling to do the hard work of discovering who they are. This effort is critical, for in our identity lay our solution to our problems. Our problems cannot be solved militarily, politically, socially or economically. And it is not this country that is the problem. The root cause of our problems are spiritual. Colin Kapernick unknowingly respected our relationship with God, by refusing to “respect” their god. He is to be applauded and supported in his resistance to the pressure to conform to this system of oppression and bloodshed. Deuteronomy 28:15–68 describes in great detail our experiences since being brought to these shores from West Africa. Yet, we are not African, although our oppressors want to label us as such. No, we are Shemitic, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Not Hamitic, whose descendants were the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Lybians and Canaanites. No, my brother, we are the “lost sheep of the House of Israel”. Bible prophecy and American History are a perfect match and those we refer to as “Jews” have no such history. Only we have such a history. A history that is unique in all of human history. So, we don’t have a “Negro Problem” because we are not Negroes, African, Black, Afro American. No, my brother, we are Hebrews and Israelites. Some of our people are regaining their memories, their minds are being activated to recognize who they are and they are attempting to get this information out to our people. Help us get this information out to our people. Imagine what happens when our people become aware of their true identity, their relationship with the Most High God and his purpose for us during the coming Great Tribulation. Few have the “eyes to see and ears to hear”. My hope and prayer is you are the exception. Shalom, my brother. Wes Barnard aka Yosef “Every established order tends to make its own entirely arbitrary system seem entirely natural.” — Pierre Bourdieu
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The study of history is so important
Well said. You take it back to the basics.
This is a profound quote that is apart of large poster in Dr. Ford Office “There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own Constitution”. We give thanks for your choice of words in another excellent written article. i have privilege of taking constitutional class at Medgar Evers College with Dr. Ford,Chairman of Public Administration Department. The class provided historical context that is necessary in assessing the USA Constitution.
We give thanks for your wise mind.
What you wrote in this piece needs to be said more often. The media focuses on how people are protesting, the issues they may find in the way people protest and the type of people that are protesting, but they do not focus on why people are protesting. If there is a shift in how the media discusses protests that focuses more on the why, then it may spark conversations about the ongoing problems that America has. This would cause more people to fix the issues.