Letters: Systemic racism or systemic reconciliation?


To the Editor:

U.S. institutions are wrongfully accused of “Systemic Racism” in daily media broadcasts. Systemic racism denotes a fundamental social practice diverted to a racial advantage.

During antiquity, free slave labor was an economic advantage in agriculture. War was the primary method to acquire slaves. Slavery existed in 7th Century B.C. Greece and Rome, during the Middle Ages in the Mediterranean, and in 1000 A.D. in Eastern Europe (Germans enslaving Slavs). In 800 A.D., West African slaves were transported to Islamic Arabs and likewise in 1500, the Portuguese transported them to Brazil. In 1619, West African slaves were brought to “British” Jamestown, Virginia. By 1700, the British embraced the lucrative “Triangular Trade,” selling slaves to Caribbean traders. Portuguese/Spanish/French/British colonies used African slaves in labor-intensive plantations.

Quakers established the first Colonial abolitionist society in 1774. By 1780s, the North freed slaves. During the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin recognized critical unity: “We must all hang together or, most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” At the constitutional convention 1787-1789, abolition was divisive; unity was critical to survive international (British) threats. A compromise captured unity (allow 20-years of slave importation, then it sunsets in 1808). From 1819-1850, Senate contentiousness occurred, abolitionist versus pro-slavery, until savagery erupted in 1856 Kansas between abolitionist and pro-slavery brigands. Ultimately, slavery was determined on Civil War battle fields where 365,000 (91% Caucasian) Union soldiers died to end it. Republican Abraham Lincoln initiated a 10-year Southern reconstruction with freedmen participation. Later, during Jim Crow (1880s-1954), Southern Democratic Legislatures unraveled reconstruction, disenfranchising African Americans (imposing poll taxes, poll literacy tests, segregation in schools/libraries/transportation). Circa 1957, Martin Luther King Jr. initiated non-violent protests, resulting in anti-discrimination legislation: Four Civil Rights Acts (1957/1964/1968/1991) and the 1965 Voting Rights Act to enfranchise/integrate African Americans as Lincoln envisioned.

Rather than “Systemic Racism,” “Systemic Reconciliation” is demonstrated by a predominantly Caucasian citizenry over a 200-year process, from outlawing slave importation (1808), to Civil War emancipation (1860-1864), to civil rights legislation (1957-1991), to twice electing the first African-American President (2008-2016). Most recently in 2020, the first Black woman was selected as U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate. Furthermore, a predominantly Caucasian Senate twice confirmed African American Attorneys General (Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch). It took 200 years to incorporate African-American leadership. Ultimately, U.S. citizenry emulated Lincoln’s magnanimous words paraphrased: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; bind up the nations’ wounds.”

Frank Dunphy



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