Ben Buchwalter


Reality Bites
May 28, 2009, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Race | Tags: ,

Ta-Nehisi Coates adds to the racial debate over Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. He references this article in Time, which states that the nomination is a milestone in the relationship between blacks and Hispanics, who “in the 20th century could be as violently distrustful of each other as blacks and whites were.”

Coates says:

One must be clear about what constituted “violent” distrust “between” blacks and whites in the 20th century. It meant thousands of whites, in Atlanta, in 1906, assembling on the streets to randomly murder black people. In Springfield, Illinois, in 1908,  it meant whites pillaging a Jewish businesses for arms, and then proceeding to the black side of town, attacking black business and black homes, and thousands of black people fleeing for their lives. It meant whites–across the nation–in 1910 assembling in mobs and murdering random black people (On the 4th of July!). The cause? Jack Johnson had the temerity to win the championship. It meant whites in East St. Louis, in 1918, perpetrating  a pogrom against the city’s black population, and killing over 100 black people because, “southern niggers need a lynching.”

I have not known Latinos in the 20th Century to perpetrate a Red Summer. I have not known blacks to lynch Latino veterans, returning from war, in their uniforms. The fact is that there was no violent distrust between blacks and whites in the 20th century. Rather there was a one-sided war waged against black people by white terrorists, which government, in the best cases, failed to prevent, in many cases, stood idly by, and in the worst cases actually aided and abetted. I’m sorry but comparing that to whatever’s happening between blacks and Latinos, is a slander against both those groups, and an amazingly naive take on the history of white America in regards to race.

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