What have we learned? If we connect the dots on the preceding information, we can see that racism is not a simple personal choice or something that we’re finished with because “things are so much better than they used to be.” The systemic, intentional and relentless determination to maintain power and privilege from those who have it (ie, white folks) did not only happen in the area of voting, but in every manifestation of inequality and injustice. Consider:
• Slavery ended? Nope, the Black Codes were just “Slavery by Another Name.”
• Jim Crow ended? Nope, just dressed up in different clothes in the “New Jim Crow.”
• School segregation after Brown vs. Board of Education? Wherever you live, check your local schools.
• Housing discrimination ended after Fair Housing Act? Meet your neighbors.
• Affirmative Action solved equal job opportunities? Check your workplace.
• At least COVID is color-blind? Check the statistics about the vulnerable populations with worst health-care options.
• Police violence like happened in Selma ended? Just ask George Floyd or Breonna Taylor.
• Police accountability after they murdered innocent people? Check out the recent Breonna Taylor verdict and predict what will happen in the George Floyd case.
• Black President elected? Look who came next.
WHAT: This is my thumbnail sketch of some key points in the history of voting so few know, the “what” that has been neglected, hidden, overshadowed, lied about. (Remember that there are parallel lists for the issues of housing, education, health care, jobs, police protection, access to social programs like the G.I. Bill, etc.)The key takeaway is the ping-pong game of justice/ injustice summarized in these articles.
SO WHAT? If you have developed the twin habits of caring about staying informed and staying informed to nurture your caring, you might have been properly aghast and outraged by all you have just read. You may have heard about some of these things in isolation or not heard about them at all, but by grouping them together, the hope is to reveal a consistent pattern at work. Understanding patterns is the way we not only gain deep insight into any field of study, but gain control and mastery in the way we manipulate them or respond to them. Whether they be the musical patterns, psychological patterns of behavior, numerical patterns, linguistic patterns or historical patterns, patterns are what moves us from mere data and information to real knowledge and wisdom, what allows us to respond intelligently and not be duped by leaders or manipulated by spin.
Of course, if you choose not to care, to carry forward harmful patterns inherited in your family, schooling, church, culture, media choices, etc. without questioning, to dig in your heels to keep the unspoken (and spoken) doctrine of white supremacy going, these facts mean nothing to you. This information is only useful for those who would respond with kindness, care and a helping hand if “only they had known.” Now they know.
NOW WHAT? What, so what and now what are the three steps of a real education and so the question arises: Now that you know, now that your caring has been further touched, what will you do? May I suggest three things?
1) Keep educating yourself about these issues. Once I began this little project, spurred on by the film documentaries, books and continued atrocities in the daily news, I was stunned by how little I knew.
2) Keep educating others. Family at the dinner table—“Hey did you know…?” , friends at social gatherings— “Now that we’ve talked about the new aps on our phone for 40 minutes, do you know what’s going on in Florida?,” at staff meetings—“Hey, I think I left the article I just read on the Tilden/Hayes compromise on the Xerox machine. Has anyone seen it? And by the way, do you know about it?”
3) Vote. Vote. Vote. Register others to vote. Call them. Text them. Knock on their door. Offer to drive them to the poll. Bribe them with ice cream. Vote.
PS And flawed as they are, feel free to pass these little articles on. See you at the polls!