They Never Said They Were Sorry

By Kimberly Perette

My friend P and I had a horrible fight last night as we sat drinking together around the fire pit in my back yard. My partner was involved, but we have had these gigantic rows for years now. P’s wife was involved, but she and I are on the same page.

We are all neighbors and friends. We both live in exquisite victorian homes in an old Italian neighborhood called Valona. A neighborhood, I might add, that I wouldn’t have been able to live in just a mere 50 years ago. But thanks to the Fair Housing Act which was passed in 1968  as a response to over 100 years of housing segregation and redlining in mortgage practices I can live here. I enjoy this privilege as result of the blood sweat and tears of my ancestors because in 1968 black people had had it and were tearing the house down. They were on the move and rioting in the streets. They had been pushed over the edge by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  So, Lyndon B. Johnson finally signed The Fair Housing Act into law a mere 4 days after King’s assassination. Despite Supreme Court decisions such as Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) and Jones v. Mayer Co. (1968), which outlawed the exclusion of African Americans or other minorities from certain sections of cities, race-based housing patterns were still in force by the late 1960s. Those who challenged them often met with resistance, hostility and even violence. Yet it took us screaming in the streets that Black Lives Mattered for it finally to be acted upon.

In case you don’t know what the long term results of redlining are. Here it is:

“The practice of redlining actively helped to create what is now known as the Racial Wealth Gap seen in the United States.[39]

Black families in America earned just $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. For every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.[40] In 2016, the median wealth for black and Hispanic families was $17,600 and $20,700, respectively, compared with white families’ median wealth of $171,000.[39] The black-white wealth gap has not recovered from the Great Recession. In 2007, immediately before the Great Recession, the median wealth of blacks was nearly 14 percent that of whites. Although black wealth increased at a faster rate than white wealth in 2016, blacks still owned less than 10 percent of whites’ wealth at the median.[39]

A multigenerational study of people from five race groups analyzed upward mobility trends in American Cities.[41] The study concluded that black men who grew up in racially segregated neighborhoods were substantially less likely to gain upward economic mobility, finding “black children born to parents in the bottom household income quintile have a 2.5% chance of rising to the top quintile of household income, compared with 10.6% for whites.” Because of this intergenerational poverty, black households are “stuck in place” and are unable to grow wealth.

A 2017 study by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economists found that the practice of redlining—the practice whereby banks discriminated against the inhabitants of certain neighborhoods—had a persistent adverse impact on the neighborhoods, with redlining affecting homeownership rates, home values and credit scores in 2010.[42][43] Since many African-Americans could not access conventional home loans, they had to turn to predatory lenders (who charged high interest rates).[43] Due to lower home ownership rates, slumlords were able to rent out apartments that would otherwise be owned.” 

 It took another 32 years after the signing of The Fair Housing act in 1968 for us to actually be able to live next to each other. That’s a total of 62 years.  Even so the lasting affect of housing discrimination still linger.

HUD study

In a comprehensive study by the HUD in 2000, paired-tests (in which two applicants of different races but the same economic status and credit scores apply to rent or buy a house) were used to determine whether or not statistics about segregation truly pointed to housing discrimination. This study reported that although adverse treatment of racial and ethnic minorities has decreased over time, roughly 25 percent of white applicants were still favored above those who were African-American or Hispanic. About 17 percent of African American applicants and 20 percent of Hispanic applicants were subjected to adverse treatment, including receiving less information about a home or being shown fewer, lower-quality units.[47]

Demographics

According to the U.S. Census of Population in 1990, 25.3 percent of all Anglo-Americans in the U.S. lived in central city areas. The percentage of African Americans living in inner cities was 56.9 percent, and the percentage of inner city Hispanics was 51.5 percent. Asian Americans living in central cities totaled 46.3 percent. According to a more recent U.S. Census Bureau study in 2002, the average white person living in a metropolitan area lives in a neighborhood that is 80 percent white and seven percent black, while the average African American lives in a neighborhood that is 33 percent white and more than 51 percent black. As of 2000, 75 percent of all African Americans lived in highly segregated communities, making them the most segregated group in the nation.[46] These statistics do not necessarily point to evidence of housing discrimination, but rather to segregation based on historical reasons which have made ethnic and racial minorities more economically deprived, and thus prone to living in more poverty-stricken inner city areas.

Let’s not even mention that until 1967, a mere 33 years ago, it would have been illegal for P and I  to be with our current partners:

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark civil rights decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

And through all this, they never said they were sorry. They meaning the government of the United States of America, from George Washington on down. 

We need the president to say to us: 

On Behalf of the United States of America, We apologize to all its African American People upon whose backs this country was built for free. We allowed you to be brutalized and systematically discriminated against by creating and implementing de jure segregation. It was a crime against humanity and a crime according to our constitution. We had a flagrant disregard of your rights and humanity. For this we are truly sorry. For your lives do matter. Black lives do matter to all of us as you are one of us. We owe you our thanks.”

That would be a start. Then there is the idea of what is the cost of that? How do you quantify de jure segregation? Here I’d just like to say to those of you who think you are white and think you’re a target. This is not up to you, though you were complicit. You were indeed benefactors but also victims of our oppressors. We don’t want your stuff, so put your guns away. We want restitution from the the wealthy who have profited off our backs. The segregationists that were placed in the HUD office during the new deal by FDR, the slave patrols that were instigated and allowed by the same government that was supposed to protect us. We want restitution from Boeing who wouldn’t allow us to live in housing that he built for his workers. We want restitution for Levitt town where a wealthy black contractor couldn’t buy a house where he was supplying labor and materials. We want restitution from the mortgage brokers and bankers who contributed to redlining. We want restitution from the Ford Company who would not let us live in company housing near their factories so we had to commute miles and miles, something that was impossible to do, because we weren’t allowed to buy cars at a reasonable rate and we couldn’t travel openly.  We want restitution from the unions that excluded us from working. We want restitution from the baseball teams that excluded us from playing baseball. We want restitution from the money lenders and those who targeted us with impossible loans for which we could not repay. These are the people who owe us money. We want restitution from the realtors who corralled us into neighborhoods when we could afford to live wherever we wanted to. We want restitution from the cotton, indigo and tobacco plantations, from the sugar cane fields, the orange groves, the farms where we were sharecroppers, from those who worked us to death in the fields. We want restitution from the hospitals that wouldn’t allow our doctors to work, the educational facilities that wouldn’t allow us to teach, and the laboratories that wouldn’t allow nor recognize our work. These institutions owe us. 

I’d say a good start would be a free education for all those who want it, the forgiveness of our student loans to those who already have gotten it, and some property to the descendants of those freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America back in 1865. That can be tracked.

For the property value owed, let’s go back to 1705 to a law passed by Virginia’s ruling class as a result of a rebellion between blacks and indentured servants. After having proclaimed that all white men were superior to black, the ruling class went on to offer their social (but white) inferiors a number of benefits previously denied them. This law required that masters provide white servants whose indenture time was up with ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings, a gun and 50 acres of land. Perhaps we could start with something like that. See A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present by Howard Zinn.

That should make some amends. Then maybe we can forgive you and not have to kneel when the National Anthem is sung. And perhaps, maybe then, we’ll really feel like the Americans we know we are, for we do love this country. We fight for it, defend and criticize it every chance we get. It is ours to do so as well.

When a person says, “Black lives don’t matter more than white lives,” it ignites a fuse within my soul. This is the horrible and twisted interpretation that fear/hate mongers have of the BLM movement. It plays upon their secret fear that whiteness is perhaps not superior after-all. When threatened they proceed to tell me that black people commit more crimes and that they commit most of the murders. This is simply not true. It is true that the people who are labeled black commit a disportioncate amount of crimes, usually among themselves. But the people who label themselves as white commit more. Here are the figures from the FBI dated 7/13/2016:

Total arrests: 8,730,775 (6,056,687 white | 2,427,683 black)

Murder/manslaughter total: 8,230 (3,807 white | 4,224 black)

Analysis of Murder by Blacks and Whites only:

White Offender 2,675 | Black Victim 187

White Offender 2,675 | White Victim 2,488

Black Offender 2,651  | White Victim 446

Black Offender 2,651  | Black Victim 2,205

Also, those of you who blatantly say that black people commit more crimes insinuating that there is justification for the murder of young black men because they deserve it, are dismissing the fact that Crime has to do with poverty, not race. Poverty in the black community is largely a result of years of de jure segregation which barred the black lives, that surely didn’t matter as much as white lives did, from getting a fair chance at life. Remember the bit on redlining that I mentioned above? This led many of us to being ghettoized, which led to us not being able to get or keep jobs, which led to depression, self loathing and criminal behavior, mostly against ourselves. If you want to know more about that I suggest you read The Color of Law a wonderful book by Richard Rothstein. 

The philosophy of white supremacy created Black Lives Matter. The philosophy of white supremacy even created a fake science called Eugenics to continue to justify robbing, murdering, extorting and experimenting on us. Eugenics spread throughout the world and it was only recently that these conversations have been finally discredited. However, the damage had been done and it will take years to reverse. Thus the statement Black Lives Matter is a statement that injects and discredits the eugenic philosophy that has taken root throughout the world because of global economic colonization by a few European Countries, namely the British Empire.  It is through this philosophy that the world looks at people of color, especially black people as inferior. This is a subtle root in the DNA of our global culture that has to be rooted out. 

When a person who calls themselves white can say black lives matter, they understand that all lives matter. They have no fear of black people. Thank god there are finally so many of these enlightened people throughout the world. We black people have been screaming this since the day the first enslaved person set foot on the soil of this country. We never went passively as you can see in our voices throughout history. Why do you think they put those laws on the books to segregate and terrorize us? Why do you think Thomas Jefferson came up with a formula that defined blackness as opposed to whiteness. I bet you didn’t know that did you?  Here’s Jefferson’s formula from a letter written to Francis C. Gray on March 4, 1815:

“…let the 1st crossing be of a, pure negro, with A. pure white. the Unit of blood of the issue being composed of the half of that of each parent, will be a/2 + A/2 call it, for abbreviation, h (half-blood)

let the 2d crossing be of h. and B. the blood of the issue will be h/2 + B/2, or substituting for h/2 it’s equivalent, it will be a/4 + A/4 + B/2. call it q (quarteroon) being ¼ negro blood

let the 3d crossing be of q. and C. their offspring will be
q/2 + 
C/2 = a/8 + A/8 + B/4 + C/2. call this e. (eighth) who having less than ¼ of a. or of pure negro blood, to wit ⅛ only, is no longer a mulatto. so that a 3d cross clears the blood.

from these elements let us examine other compounds.

for example, let h. and q. cohabit. their issue will be
h/2 + q/2 = 
a/4 + A/4 + a/8 + A/8 + B/4 = ⅜ + ⅜ + B/4 wherein we find ⅜ of a. or of negro blood.

let h. and e. cohabit. their issue will be
h/2 + e/2 = 
a/4 + A/4 + a/16 + A/16 + B/8 + C/4 = 5a/16 + 5A/16 + B/8 + C/4 wherein 5/16a. makes still a mulatto.

let q. and e. cohabit. the half of the blood of each will be
q/2 + e/2 = 
a/8 + A/8 + B/4 + a/16 + A/16 + B/8 + C/4 = 3a/16 + 3A/16 + ⅜ + C/4 wherein 3/16 of a is no longer mulatto.”

If you think that black people saying their lives matter means your white life matters less, it is a reflection of the idea that white lives are better than black lives. Hitler really did believe that Aryan lives mattered more than any other. So he systematically murdered millions of other lives. Who have we murdered? It is you, the blatant and the complicit who have murdered us. Who is behaving like the monster?

I can’t stress enough that everyone in the world should read  James Baldwin’s essay called, “On Being White and Other Lies.” Baldwin eloquently states the position of whiteness and blackness, a position that I agree with.

“P-dog, I’m sorry I got mad and yelled at you last night. I’m not mad at you. I’m sorry you have to suffer and feel threatened because you are lumped together with white people because you have fair skin, brown hair and blue eyes. The fact is that you are not a white person. You are not even from here. Whiteness is thrust upon you just as blackness is thrust upon me. You are not a white person, unless you choose to consider yourself white, which is something that you may be forced to do upon your immigration to America. As Baldwin said, “Whiteness is a moral choice.” You are first generation Polish immigrant who came here in the recent past. My anger is not towards you. You had no part in this complicity because by the time you arrived a light had been shown upon the complicity of the people who call themselves white in this country. My anger is towards the people who adopted the attitude of whiteness when they came from Europe generations ago and who stood by and were complicit to my destruction.

What you may not understand is that I grew up in the Jim Crow South. I lived in real fear of my life. I had white people come to my elementary school and try to Lord it over me. They automatically thought they were better than me. The white teachers automatically were condescending to me even though the school was named after a family member who was a great educator in the black community. It was horrible and left a scar that is hard to heal. We’re not talking 100 years ago, not even 50 years ago, we are talking about my lifetime. Here, you are speaking to a person you actually know who has experienced this; a person not far from your own age. We were in real fear of our lives in those days. When I was a child, I saw horrible pictures of lynchings and were taught about slavery and that my people were in fact lesser than because we allowed ourselves to be enslaved. This leaves deep scars and when people can’t understand when we say “black lives matter” when our lives literally meant nothing for so long, it makes me ill. When you say we commit most of the crimes, perhaps disporpotiontly in certain areas, we do. But that doesn’t mean all black people are criminals. What you are saying is that if you are black you are more likely to commit a crime. What does that say for your nephew or my nephew or any other nice young black man? How can you lump them in with those statistics? But they do, systematic profiling does. That’s why innocent black men must be warned before they go out into the world. See Oprah’s conversation with 100 Black Fathers.

They, those that control the media, the successors of the wealthy aristocratic class, are trying to make you complicit to their false rhetoric just as they did back in 1705. The wealthy aristocrats don’t want us to be together, just like they didn’t back then. Thus they create laws and lies.

What we are saying is that the wealthy aristocratic class are trying to make you unable to distinguish between a criminal and black man. What we are saying is that Black Lives Matter and you must look at each life on its own merit. We are not a statistic, we are people.

The statistics don’t bear it out that my nephew or yours will most likely commit a crime. That’s something out of the movie Minority Report. Crime has to do with poverty, not race. Blacks are impoverished in certain areas because of ongoing systematic de jure segregation. This has been the fall out. The people who called themselves White were complicit and benefited financially from this complicity. They stayed silent, like many german people as millions of people were murdered right before their eyes. This is why we say “silence is violence.” Many of them are recognizing it now and are refusing to continue the cycle, thank god. The Thirteenth Amendment and The Emancipation Proclamation was read in 1865 and here we are in 2020 still trying to have it justly implemented. We have been screaming this for years and it’s taken all this time for the people who call themselves white to understand that there’s no such thing. This is why the narrative the black people commit most of the crimes is in league with the racist imagery and portrayal of blacks. See the film Birth of a Nation from 1915. 

The biggest problem is that United States of America never said they were sorry. They never prosecuted anybody for the millions of people who were worked to death and murdered in order to build one of the most powerful countries in the world. They just told us we were crazy. 

I would suggest that you read real, highly researched black history, rather than the made up one that has to do with crime statistics. Black Lives Matter is not about committing crimes, it is about equality. Unfortunately the poster child is an asshole, but when an innocent black man is killed, it doesn’t make a sensation.

All Lives do not matter until Black Lives Matter. All Lives do not matter until the United States of America says it is sorry to its black people.