So now I sit in a different place. But where do I stand? I believe the following things to be true:
- Slavery was legal and defended morally and (ultimately) militarily from 1619 to 1865.
- After slavery, racial discrimination was lawful and defended morally (and often violently) from 1865 to 1964.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not end illegal discrimination or racism, it mainly gave black Americans the legal tools to fight back against legal injustices.
- It is unreasonable to believe that social structures and cultural attitudes that were constructed over a period of 345 years will disappear in 56.
- Moreover, the consequences of 345 years of legal and cultural discrimination, are going to be dire, deep-seated, complex, and extraordinarily difficult to comprehensively ameliorate.
It’s hard even to begin to describe all the ramifications of 345 years of legalized oppression and 56 years of contentious change, but we can say two things at once—yes, we have made great strides (and we should acknowledge that fact and remember the men and women who made it possible), but the central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldn’t center around pride in how far we’ve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.
Moreover, taking the next steps down that road will have to mean shedding our partisan baggage. It means acknowledging and understanding that the person who is wrong on abortion and health care may be right about police brutality. It means being less outraged at a knee on football turf than at a knee on a man’s neck. And it means declaring that even though we may not agree on everything about race and American life, we can agree on some things, and we can unite where we agree.
The central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldn’t center around pride in how far we’ve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.
A story of personal change: https://t.co/BaPWDkwIVM
— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 7, 2020