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Daryl Grigsby: Distortion of history and misrepresentation of reality

An Other Voices opinion article on July 25 by Manny Montes was an incredible distortion of history and misrepresentation of reality.

He argued two fundamental premises. First — that sometime after Dr. King’s March on Washington speech, “our history of systemic racism was eradicated.” Second, in reciting statistics on black high school graduation rates and black births out of wedlock — he argues blacks are solely responsible for racial inequality.

Regarding the first myth, systemic racism in America is not eradicated. Racism is a fundamental characteristic of American life. To believe otherwise is to ignore a quarter millennium of U.S. history. A nation does not commit genocide against darker native peoples, enslave black humans for two centuries, engage in lynchings, race riots, discrimination in housing, employment and education — and suddenly see the light.

Regarding the demise of racism, its prevalence is nowhere more evident than in the election of Donald Trump. Without white supremacy — he is not the president. His condemnation of black football players’ peaceful protests were outrageous, he surrounded himself with advisors whose views could be mistaken for the Klan, and he foments racial ill will even to this day.

Racism is a fundamental characteristic of American life. To believe otherwise is to ignore a quarter millennium of U.S. history.

Systemic racism was eradicated? When exactly did that happen? When two white men killed a black jogger — weeks elapsed before they were arrested, and that only after outrage and protest. If a black father and son followed and shot a white man on his daily jog, would they have gone home to watch TV for a couple months? Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted because the jury found it was acceptable for a grown man with a gun to stalk a snack-carrying teenager. Reverse that picture and tell me the outcome if a black man killed a white teen armed with Skittles.

Regarding the second point, that black character flaws are responsible for inequality, Montes callously blames the victims for their condition.

I believe all human beings are the same — that race is a social construct — that humans behave essentially the same under the same social conditions. Montes’ recitation of black on black crime and black children born “out of wedlock” indicate he believes African-Americans are defective humans. History and structural obstacles are irrelevant.

Social scientists recite evidence that black inequality is the result of centuries of laws, policies, and behaviors that benefitted whites and strangled the black community. Housing, education, employment and criminal justice are all stained by structural racism. White family wealth is 10-12 times that of black family wealth. For Montes, the culprit is black character, not lending policies, employment discrimination or unjust application of the law.

Montes highlights black on black crime and minimizes police killings of black citizens, claiming Black Lives Matter only cares about police killings. He has no clue that black churches, organizations, groups of mothers, and social service organizations are engaged in fervent struggles against the scourge of black on black crime. I know this from my work for decades in those organizations. When those sworn to serve and protect, funded by black taxpayer dollars; kill blacks with hands up, hands down, walking away, kneeling, sitting in cars, sleeping, or playing in a park; we should and must rise in protest.

Montes says Black Lives Matter are like the Jacobins of the French Revolution. The Jacobins had control of the government, Black Lives Matter controls nothing but their protests; the Jacobins killed their enemies, Black Lives Matter has killed no one.

He complains bitterly about a “cancel culture.” The movement for monuments and language that reflect a diverse and just society is not Black Lives Matter; it is whites, Hispanics, Asians and blacks seeking symbols of human dignity instead of slavery and genocide. I, for one, am not saddened if monuments to “Indian killer” Andrew Jackson or slave owner Thomas Jefferson (who had six children by his slave Sally Hemings — the first when she was 14) are replaced with models for our youth to emulate.

He says Black Lives Matter are like the Taliban. By his inverted morality — protests to create a just society are the same as suicide bombings. Such is to be expected of a person who minimizes the impacts of two centuries of slavery and another century of discrimination against a group of humans who — by my standards — are just like him.

He seems convinced — by his rhetoric — that blacks are a lesser form of humans deserving whatever inequality may come their way. Ironically his article proclaiming systemic racism has been eradicated is stark evidence it still exists.

Daryl Grigsby lives in Nevada City.


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