White supremacy is alive and well
‘Send her back!’: Trump, Ilhan Omar and the complicated history of back to Africa
Michael S. Rosenwald and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., July 20, 2019, The Washington Post
First, President Trump told four female congresswomen of color to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” though all four are U.S. citizens and only one was born outside the United States.
Then, as Trump railed against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia, at a rally in Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday night, the crowd broke into a hostile chant: “Send her back!”
Back to Africa.
On Friday, a pregnant black Georgia state lawmaker said she was confronted by a white man at the grocery who shouted at her to “go back where I came from” because she had too many items to be in the express lane. The tweet by Erica Thomas, a Democrat from Austell, went viral.
The slogan, in one form or another, has been an undercurrent of American racial politics for almost as long as there have been blacks in the United States — from Colonial times to a 2016 Trump campaign rally when a white man yelled “Go back to Africa!” at black protesters.
Tennessee just showed that white supremacy is alive and well
Keisha N. Blain, July 15, 2019, The Washington Post
An obscure Tennessee law required Gov. Bill Lee to declare this past Saturday “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” to commemorate the Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader. But Lee went further, admitting he had not even considered whether the law should be changed. His actions drew sharp criticism from politicians throughout the country, including ultraconservative U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
Lee’s refusal to call for changing the law and the fact that Tennessee still celebrates Forrest are a stark reminder that white supremacy is alive and well. For those who have fallen for the “post-racial society” myth, Lee’s declaration may be a wake-up call. But for everyone else, Lee’s declaration is just another reminder that white supremacy is deeply entrenched in American society.
By paying homage to a horrific figure like Forrest, Tennessee is disrespecting its black citizens and signaling that it would rather uphold its racist past than grapple with its many toxic legacies.
The New Fugitive Slave Laws
Manisha Sinha, July 17, 2019, The New York Review
In the 1840s, an elderly abolitionist Ohio farmer, John Van Zandt, lost all his property for assisting nine runaway slaves from Kentucky and thus violating state and federal fugitive slave laws. His case was litigated all the way to the US Supreme Court, where it was argued by leading antislavery politicians Salmon Chase, Lincoln’s future Secretary of Treasury and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and William H. Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State. They lost that legal battle but would eventually win the political war against Southern slavery. Van Zandt himself died in 1847, refusing to divulge the whereabouts of the slaves he had assisted, his small estate liable for the penalties incurred by his courageous actions. As Chase put it, Van Zandt had gone to “another bar where aid to the weak and suffering will not be imputed as a crime.” One does not have to look far to find our contemporary Van Zandts—or renewed attempts to criminalize humanitarian aid.
Scott Warren, a volunteer for the group No More Deaths that provides relief, usually in the form of supplies of food and water left in desert areas, to migrants attempting to cross the harsh, arid southern border of the United States, was arrested last year in Arizona for rendering care to two dangerously dehydrated and injured migrants. His case was brought to trial recently. Warren was charged with providing food, water, clothes, medical care, and shelter to two undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert. Last month, a jury in Arizona refused to convict him, eight finding him not guilty and four guilty.