America has always been divisive because Black life has never mattered.

America has always been divisive.

For nearly all 28 years of my life, I have heard that we live in a polarized country.“Liberals’ on the coasts and conservatives in the middle of the country. I’m generalizing but you get my point. On top of that, we are hyper-partisan, to the extent that we even view the effects of a global pandemic through a partisan lens. Yet, ironically, when Black liberators want to create an equitable society for Black people, we are labeled “divisive”. The irony is palpable. But this year, I have begun to challenge long-held premises that lack historical context. Specifically, the premise I’m debunking is that this country has only recently evolved into its “polarized” or “divisive” state. For context, I am strictly focusing on Black people, even though I acknowledge how this country has committed genocide against Indigenous peoples.

In order to clearly trace the genesis of our nation’s ideological divisions, We have to first acknowledge that white people created the race construct because they had to justify the oppression(chattel slavery) they were perpetuating against Black people. In short, from the jump, white people created this division. We see the blatant division of people in our Constitution, with Black Americans deemed 3/5ths a person. The divide also shows up when the brutality of slavery is erased from textbooks across the country. The divides are comfortable for white people and any resistance towards acknowledging the honest painful history of this country is reprimanded.

The audacity of the dividers in this country was boundless, such that they were willing to rape all female slaves, eat slaves(yes, this really happened), separate enslaved families, and physically and spiritually abuse enslaved Black slaves to maintain control, power, and money. The divide/polarization also showed up in the Antebellum Era(1800–1860) with the economy of slavery and the abolitionist movement. Millions of people believed in a system to uphold the dehumanization of Black people and the other groups vehemently defending the dignity of Black life(abolitionists). When I look back at the Civil War, I think about how white Southerners were willing to kill FAMILY members in the North because the South wanted to own human beings. Let that sink in. This country was willing to kill family members to own human beings.

I think about 1898 when North Carolina’s white and Black working-class folks formed the Republican/Populist Party. As a result, white supremacists in the Democratic Party(demographics of this party would be Republicans today) incited a race war to overthrow their democratic government, all because Black people were gaining financial and political power. They lynched Black people, preventing them from voting, and burned buildings. They would rather start a race war than liberate Black people.

I think about the story of the Blair Mountain uprisings in 1921. It was one of the largest domestic battles after the Civil War. The uprisings saw 10,000 white and Black miners in West Virginia who were outraged at the elimination of living wages and basic protections as miners engage in battles against the National Guard. The National Guard killed over 100 Americans and injured thousands. They were threatened by the unity of white and Black working-class folks, but they would rather kill us than provide basic labor rights.

I think about the Elaine massacre in Arkansas, when. Black sharecroppers simply wanted to unionize. The retaliation was devastating. Over 235 Black folks were killed. This travesty occurred at around the same time as the bombings of Black Wall Streets, most notably in Tulsa(the 100th anniversary is next year). White America was so threatened by Black people succeeding in a caste system(Jim Crow), they decided to bomb our communities. I repeat, white America was threatened so much by Black folks that they bombed our communities.

And I have to remind everyone MLK, America’s most popular Civil Rights hero WAS not liked by most Americans when he was alive. He wanted reparations for Black people, believed socialism would help redistribute the wealth STOLEN from Black people, and boldly spoke out against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Fast forward to the summer of 2020. We have grieved, mourned, and marched in lieu of the lynchings of Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and the countless Black people who have lost their lives to white supremacy. And we know how to fix many of Black America’s problems but Democratic governor Gavin Newsom and mayor of LA Eric Garcetti(and countless mayors and governors) would rather call in the National Guard to protect the property of their wealthy donors. We see that the Republican and Democratic establishment would rather see this country burn and criminalize Black freedom fighters than be accomplices to liberation. Let that sink in.

One can understand that these systems were never created for Black people but still fume over how feckless and incompetent these systems have facilitated any semblance of liberation or justice for Black people.

We will continue to be a divisive country if the term “Black Lives Matter” is acceptable for just half of white America, a 15 percent decrease from earlier in the summer. We will continue to be a divisive country if Black people do not receive reparations. We will continue to be a divisive country if we do not reimagine public safety, defund, and eventually abolish the police. We will continue to be a divided country if Black women are disproportionately dying from giving birth. We will continue to be divided if we keep killing Black trans women and fail to see the beauty and humanity of their existence. The divides will remain if we keep centering white people’s feelings when we are getting slain in the streets. I refuse to do this when I see the families and partners of Black people who have lost their lives to racist law enforcement.

Ironically, those who label Black liberators as playing the victim never truly wish to see the liberation of Black people. They see liberation tied up in capitalism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. Systems built off of slave labor and inequality. And regardless of what happens in this election, I see why MLK believed Amerikkka might go to hell. So if you hear someone talking about how polarized and divided Amerikkka is, tell them it’s always been this way. America has always been divisive because Black life has never mattered in this country. This is why America might go to hell.

America has always been divisive because Black life never mattered in this country

For nearly all 28 years of my life, I have heard that we live in a polarized country. Countless articles and research validated the polarization of our country. “Liberals’’ on the coasts and conservatives in the middle of the country. I’m generalizing but you get my point. On top of that, we are hyper-partisan and see even the effects of a global pandemic through a partisan lens. And ironically, when Black liberators want to create an equitable society for Black people we are labeled “divisive”. But this year, I am constantly challenging long-held premises that lack historical context. And the premise I’m debunking is that this country has only recently been “polarized” or “divisive”. I am strictly focusing on Black people while also acknowledging how this country has committed genocide against Indigenous peoples.

We have to first acknowledge that white people created the race construct because they had to justify the oppression they were perpetuating against Black people. From the jump white people created this divide. We see the blatant division of people in our Constitution with Black Americans deemed 3/5ths a person. The divide also shows up when the brutality of slavery is erased from textbooks all over the country. The divides are comfortable for white people and any resistance towards acknowledging the honest painful history of this country is reprimanded.

The audacity of the divide was this country was willing to rape all female slaves, eat slaves(yes, this really happened), along with separating enslaved families, and physically and spiritually abuse enslaved Black slaves to maintain control, power, money while perpetuating this divide. The divide/polarization also showed up in the Antebellum Era(1800–1860) with the economy of slavery and the abolitionist movement. Millions of people believed in a system to uphold the dehumanization of Black people and the other group vehemently defending the dignity of Black life(abolitionists). When I look back at the Civil War, I think about how white Southerners were willing to kill FAMILY members in the North because the South wanted to own human beings. Let that sink in. This country was willing to kill family members to own human beings.

I think about 1898 when North Carolina’s white and Black working-class folks formed the Republican/Populist Party. As a result, white supremacists in the Democratic Party(demographics of this party would be Republicans today) incited a race war to overthrow their democratic government because Black people were gaining financial and political power. They lynched Black people, preventing them from voting, and burned buildings. They would rather start a race war than liberate Black people.

I think about the story of the Blair Mountain uprisings in 1921. It was one of the largest domestic battles after the Civil War. 10,000 white and Black miners in West Virginia were outraged at the elimination of living wages and basic protections as miners resulting in battles against the National Guard. The National Guard killed over 100 Americans and injured thousands. They were threatened by the unity of white and Black working-class folks but they would rather kill us than provide basic labor rights.

I think about the Elaine massacre in Arkansas. Black sharecroppers simply wanted to unionize. The retaliation was devastating. Over 235 Black folks were killed. This travesty was occurring at around the same time as the bombings of Black Wall Streets, most notably in Tulsa(the 100th anniversary is next year). White America was so threatened by Black people succeeding in a caste system(Jim Crow), they decided to bomb our communities. I repeat, white America was threatened so much by Black folks that they bombed our communities.

And I have to remind everyone MLK, America’s most popular Civil Rights hero WAS not liked by most Americans when he was alive. He wanted reparations for Black people, believed socialism would help redistribute the wealth STOLEN from Black people, and boldly spoke out against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Fast forward to the summer of 2020. We have grieved, mourned, and marched in lieu of the lynchings of Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and the countless Black people who have lost their lives to white supremacy. And we know how to fix many of Black America’s problems but Democratic governor Gavin Newsom and mayor of LA Eric Garcetti(and countless mayors and governors) would rather call in the National Guard to protect their wealthy donor's property. We see that the Republican and Democratic establishment would rather see this country burn and criminalize Black freedom fighters than be accomplices to liberation. Let that sink in.

One can understand that these systems were never created for Black people but still fume over how feckless and incompetent these systems have facilitated any semblance of liberation or justice for Black people.

We will continue to be a divisive country if the term “Black Lives Matter” is acceptable for just half of white America, a 15 percent decrease from earlier in the summer. We will continue to be a divisive country if Black people do not receive reparations. We will continue to be a divisive country if we do not reimagine public safety, defund, and eventually abolish the police. We will continue to be a divided country if Black women are disproportionately dying from giving birth. We will continue to be divided if we keep killing Black trans women and fail to see the beauty and humanity of their existence. The divides will remain if we keep centering white people’s feelings when we are getting slain in the streets. I refuse to do this when I see the families and partners of Black people who have lost their lives to racist law enforcement.

Ironically, those who label Black liberators as playing the victim never truly wish to see the liberation of Black people. They see liberation tied up in capitalism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. Systems built off of slave labor and inequality. And regardless of what happens in this election, I see why MLK believed Amerikkka might go to hell. So if you hear someone talking about how polarized and divided Amerikkka is, tell them it’s always been this way because Black life has never mattered in this country.

This is why America might go to hell.

D I S M A N T L E R A C I SM