“All slaves are free,” Union troops shouted. On June 19, 1865, they read Order No. 3, written by Gen. Gordon Granger to the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. Cheering crowds followed the soldiers. In the war’s aftermath, ex-Confederates attacked Blacks for celebrating freedom, but joy was stronger than fear. The holiday of Juneteenth began. One hundred and fifty-six years later, Juneteenth — which has for decades been celebrated through family gatherings and grassroots political organizing — has now been designated by the U.S. Senate as the 11th federal holiday, in addition to being observed as a state holiday by 47 states.
Prisons & Policing Jailers Tortured and Murdered Marvin Scott III, Family Says After Viewing Video Politics & Elections A New Wave of Jim Crow Laws Is Here. Here’s What You Need to Know. Politics & Elections Facebook Board Announces Trump Remains Banned. Trump Starts His Own “Platform.” Immigration Biden’s U-Turn on Refugees Aligns With Voter Support for Pro-Immigrant Policies Economy & Labor Amazon Is Dictating Personal Hygiene, Nail Length of Contract Drivers Politics & Elections Judge Says DOJ Memo on Barr’s Decision Not to Charge Trump Must Be Released As the nation grapples with fighting for racial justice and against police-perpetrated murders of Black Americans, Republicans have evidently found a different cause worth fighting for: making racist, seemingly unprompted defenses of slavery. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said that he doesn’t believe that 1619, the year that enslaved Africans first arrived in the U.S., is an important date in history. People have “exotic notions” about important points in U.S. history, and 1619 isn’t one of them, McConnell said. “I just simply don’t think [racism is] part of the core underpinning of what American civic education ought to be about,” McConnell continued, speaking at the University of Louisville. McConnell has gone on a tirade against The New York Times’s 1619 Project about slavery in the U.S. and Democrats’ anti-racism agenda — though anti-anti-racism, as commentators have pointed out, is simply just racism. Nikole Hannah-Jones, who headed the 1619 Project on slavery that has Republicans up in arms, spoke on CNN about McConnell’s comments. “This is not about the facts of history — it’s about trying to prohibit the teaching of ideas they don’t like,” she said. Indeed, many Republicans have long embraced racism but have been emboldened by former President Donald Trump’s style of being openly and brazenly so — to the point that some political journalists have noted that the GOP wants to be called racist so that they can play the victim and claim to be silenced by anti-racists. Perhaps that’s why Tennessee Republican State Rep. Justin Lafferty on Tuesday suggested that the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted enslaved people as less than one whole person in population counts, was actually a good thing because it helped to end slavery. But it didn’t; it only further “sanctioned slavery more decidedly than any previous action,” as historian Staughton Lynd writes. Or maybe it’s why Colorado Republican State Rep. Ron Hanks also defended the Three-Fifths Compromise last month, saying that it “was not impugning anybody’s humanity” to count an enslaved person as less than one human being. Republicans evidently don’t believe that it was just some elements of slavery that were positive, however; Louisiana Republican State Rep. Ray Garofalo Jr. last week said that schools should teach “the good” of slavery alongside the bad. “If you are having a discussion on whatever the case may be, on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery: the good, the bad, the ugly,” Garofalo said. There is, of course, no “good” to slavery, and it’s abhorrently racist to suggest as such. Garofalo later retracted his statement, but only after Democrats circulated a video of him speaking on the “good” of slavery that now has nearly a million views. Regardless of the GOP’s intentions, it’s no coincidence that they are raging an attack on anti-racism just as rallies and protests for Black lives have swept the country. Though the GOP’s overt defenses of slavery all happened in recent weeks, the right has been waging racist attacks prominently in the past year. For months, the right has been railing against critical race theory — scholarly work with the goal of dismantling oppression and white supremacy — despite lacking a clear understanding of what it is. They are claiming that racism has been eradicated in the U.S. even as Black Americans face death at the hands of the state simply for walking down the street or while sleeping in their homes. It’s evidently not enough for the GOP that racism is alive and well in the U.S. — the party seems to be operating on a mandate to enshrine racism in the nation forever — and normalizing defenses of slavery appear to be part of that strategy. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Pandemics don’t spread evenly. The spread depends on environmental conditions such as temperature and airflow, population density and size, and, as it turns out, privilege. Brutal capitalism has driven the disproportionate impact of COVID on marginalized communities, and it is now driving inequities in vaccine distribution.
On April 27, the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States issued its long-awaited report on the U.S.’s police-perpetrated racist violence. The Commissioners concluded that the systematic police killings of Black people in the U.S. constitutes a prima facie case of crimes against humanity and they asked the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate an investigation of responsible police officials. These crimes against humanity under the ICC’s Rome Statute include murder, severe deprivation of physical liberty, persecution of people of African descent, and inhumane acts causing great suffering or serious injury to body or mental or physical health. All of the crimes occurred in the context of a widespread or systematic attack directed against the civilian population of Black people in the United States, as documented by the findings of fact in the 188-page report.