Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This is America, Jack: The American "Fuck 'em"-ism of Gays and Blacks

Recently, the citizens of North Carolina decided to ratify an amendment to the N.C. State Constitution. Amendment One, as it was known, states, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”  The people of the state very clearly demonstrated how they felt about gay marriage. The people have spoken and American democracy has again proven its fairness.I, however, do not understand why some members of the gay community are surprised. This is America, Jack. This is what America does. You need to learn to stay in your lane; otherwise America will put you there. America doesn’t care that certain citizens want to enjoy the U.S. Constitution but can’t. America says, “Suck it up. Shut up. Play your role.” There is a long history of American “fuck ‘em”-ism, and this history can’t be ignored or dismissed, for understanding American aggression is requisite to successfully negotiate American aggression.First, we must look at how America has dealt with black folk.
An analysis of American history would easily provide a framework of systematic oppression. A force, described almost as a bogeyman in this world of colorblindness, works to oppress another group of people.  One person’s life of abuse is another person’s luxury and decadence. Rich white people have set out, since day one, to exploit other people. Africans, and later their descendants, were those “other people.” As soon as a rich white person set up some type of shop in the colonies, the exploitation started. These rich white people decided to use African as free labor. Furthermore, these rich white people showed no hesitation to murder, poison, torture, and/or rape millions of innocent people. These rich white people set up industries that created immense revenue. These new American industries generated so much revenue that no one cared that it only took a couple million families to be torn apart.  According to Michele Alexander, in her great book The New Jim Crow, “Before democracy, chattel slavery in America was born” (Alexander 54).
Starting in 1662, the colony of Virginia made slavery legal and protected by the government.  Contrary to popular belief, the legalization of slavery followed the social trend.  Society used some form of democracy and said, “Those people are not people, they are of an inferior race. Therefore, we can treat them like animals.” The rich white people made eleventeen tons of money, and created a society that supported that profit generation. Alexander says, “It may be impossible to overstate the significance of race in defining the basic structure of American society” (Alexander 54).
Following the abolishment of the slavery in 1865, rich white people found themselves in a strange predicament.  The foundation of all things economic and social was just made illegal. How can this 200 year old capital system survive? They concocted a series of laws that became known as Jim Crow.  Slavery was replaced with Jim Crow. For many black people, the only difference between slavery and sharecropping was that Master became Mister. And even though slavery was abolished, the murder, poison, torture, and/or rape still occurred.
In “The New Jim Crow,” Alexander argues that today’s new Jim Crow is mass incarceration.  Once a citizen is convicted of a federal felony, they can become slaves again.  A prisoner can become the property of the government, as per the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  These prisoners today are used as free labor for many of the world’s largest and most recognized brands. The War on Drugs, Alexander argues, is the legal justification for packing privately owned and operated prisons with colored bodies. 
American history is rife with change, so much so that in a scant 236 years, America has a black President. Even still, somehow—some way, the system has changed and adapted, but it has never gone away. Race, more specifically blackness, has always been used to cut a profit. Black folk have been exploited for so long, no one really cares what effect almost 400 years of American “fuck ‘em”-ism has had. So gay community, America has never just enacted sweeping legislation.  America changes grudgingly. America never wants to let go.  America says one thing but does another. America lies so many times, deception becomes truth.  But either way, understand the system you are fighting.
                                                                                                           Anjan Basu

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