Over four centuries after those “20 and odd” enslaved Africans landed, Black and Brown communities still fight for equality, freedom, and basic human rights.
In 1968, the Fair Housing amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act ushered in a new era in which Black Americans would be legally equal to their White compatriots. A Black child born on April 11, 1968, the day the amendment was signed into law, would today be the oldest Black American to hold equal rights her entire life. She would be only 52 today.
From that day in 1619 when enslaved Africans first landed in America, to the passing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, Blacks were legally sub-human for 349 years. In comparison, the Black community has only been viewed as equal to Whites in the eyes of the law for 52 years. And in the interim, racism has rooted itself into the collective soul of the United States.
Many will claim that racial injustice is a thing of the past, that we live in a post-racial era.
Yet it is fact that schools are more segregated in 2020 than in 1970 (Washington Post
); that a staggering income gap exists on racial lines (Inequality.org
); that White households enjoy ten times the wealth of Black households (Brookings Institute)
; that Black students are three times as likely to be suspended or expelled (Forbes
); that the life expectancy of Black men is nearly five years shorter than White men (CDC
); and that the COVID-19 virus claims more Black and Brown lives than any other group (APM
Slavery was the beginning, but racist policies persist in challenging the Black community’s ability to thrive. Where slavery was egregious, the current era of racism is insidious.
Racism predates the United States. Our society has rarely taken accountability for the systematic terror that was integral to the building of the American dream and which persists in oppressing Black Americans today. The terrorizing history of slavery must not be diminished, ignored, or erased.