The Last Third Rail In US Politics: American Descendants of Slavery
The Social And Economic Well Being Of The Descendants of Slaves Must Never Be On The Agenda
Editor’s Note: The “Of Justice Claims and Division” section was added on February 16, 2019 at 3PM EST.
There was a time when Americans didn’t discuss certain things like slavery in mixed company. These subjects remained unexplored because they were simply too volatile. Many bars and restaurants even had signs that stated “No Religion or Politics.” We just didn’t talk about certain topics because they elicited such strong emotional responses. Whenever the subjects were broached, it would be in hushed tones, using euphemisms like “the Troubles” or “the Movement.”
Politics of Disaster
A political “third rail” is a subject, individual, organization, or ideology that has been deemed to be too sensitive to bring up or be publically associated with. Not even through rumors. These issues are considered to be the kiss of death for a politician, party, or campaign. Any individual thought to be too close to these hot buttons would be unceremoniously jettisoned from a campaign. No matter how many degrees of separation there were between the public face and the offending individual.
In American politics, several issues or positions that were once untouchable are now commonly discussed out in the open. Not only are they overtly spoken about, but politicians associated with these subjects can also win public office despite these associations. Sometimes they even win because of these connections.
The Israeli occupation of Palestine was once the third railiest of third rails. People are now openly calling out Israel for illegal actions according to International Law. The BDS Movement has been so successful that the Israel Lobby, allied with Evangelical groups, has convinced Capital Hill & several state houses to shred Freedom of Speech in order to criminalize BDS. Other former hot buttons include:
- The 2nd Amendment. The NRA has been hollowed out and they no longer scare anyone.
- Anti-abortion (forced birth enthusiast) in cases of rape and incest. The GOP has gone way out on that limb.
- Socialism. Open socialists have taken office all over the country.
- LGBTQ+ Rights. A work in progress.
- Polygamy. Polygamists have their own television shows.
- Pedophilia– Alabama nearly elected an accused pedophile to the Senate and many Democratic Party luminaries are friends with the convicted solicitor of underage prostitutes and registered sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.
- Racists. Former Grand Dragon and lifelong White Supremacist David Duke and the official KKK newspaper both endorsed President Donald Trump. The US, Israel, and other nations are funding Nazis in Europe and racist factions in Central/South America to foment unrest for regime change.
- Money in Politics. Mentioning the role paymasters play in our “democracy” used to be frowned upon. Now it’s out in the open (secrets).
- Anti-War and Economic Inequality. Discussing these issues openly used to get you a serious case of projectile lead poisoning. Now Tulsi Gabbard is running on a Peace platform. She is catching hell. But, nothing like the Vietnam Era.
What did I miss? List the other taboos you can think of in the comments.
Often specific actions, people, or groups deemed radioactive were victims of some sort of public relations effort (see: smear campaign) from a monied organization. A good example is the demise of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) during the Obama years. If you are unfamiliar with this case, convicted criminal James O’Keefe of Project Veritas (funded by a right-wing donor network) dressed as a pimp and went to various organization offices to discuss setting up brothels with real estate help from ACORN. Even though the outfit did nothing illegal, O’Keefe’s deceptively edited video made the rounds with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Fox News. The GOP jumped on board to defund the group.
The Obama Administration was last seen turning tail in its reflexive capitulation process. ACORN became controversial because they were targeted. Why were they targeted? They were singled out as an organization because they were exceedingly effective in registering poor, minority citizens to vote and act as an advocate for these same folks against predatory lenders. We are seeing the same type of ginned-up outrage directed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar because of accurate statements she made concerning AIPAC. We have come a long way, as a nation. Or have we?
The Final Boss
The economic stability and prosperity of American Descendents of Slavery, also called American DOS or ADOS, is the last third rail in American politics. The economic, social, and political state of this group, my people, is utterly inexcusable. The wealth and income inequality statistics are staggering.
With wages and wealth looking so uneven, most people think there must be a way that individuals can fix this in the “land of opportunity.” Maybe if Black people got an education things would get better… <the author opens envelope> DATA SAYS! Nope.
OK. Owning a home was a big part of building wealth in America. Surely, Black home ownership is the key. <the author gives the reader side-eye, then opens envelope> DATA SAYS! Hell no.
If Black people get married and stay together, the finances will get all caught up. <the author breathes an exasperated sigh and opens envelope> DATA SAYS! Nah.
Since President Trump says the economy is getting better and its 2019, of course, things are changing for the better. Bonus Round: <the author, still sad, opens envelope> DATA SAYS! Nein.
No economic power means no social or political power. That makes you prey in a sea of predators. In the face of all this data, “class reductionist” accusations ring very hallow.
Before You Start
Many people say that it is not the duty of government to help people if they are poor. Everyone else did it on their own. That is incorrect. Here is Martin Luther King, Jr. bringing clarity to this point.
When Black people say we built this nation, they are not speaking figuratively. It is meant in the most literal fashion. Our labor turned millions of acres of swamp in the south into some of the most fertile farmland the world has ever known. All in an era before earthmoving equipment was even thought of. We then tilled those very same fields that enriched families on two continents. As any farmer will tell you, managing hectares of crops from seed-to-market is not just about labor.
The number of variables is staggering. They include weather, climate, animals, water, soil quality, insects, available labor, transportation, storage, market value, etc. The slaves were largely responsible for every component that fell within the plantation. Trusted slaves were responsible for much more. The master would often consult with experienced slaves when making decisions.
Slaves worked the docks, construction, railroads, infrastructure, etc. Capitalism itself was built on the backs of slaves.
Slavery was so integral to the power of the southern states, breaking the back of forced servitude was Job #1 for the Union in the Civil War. Contrary to what many believe, winning wars (not just battles) is about two things: 1) resources and 2) logistics. Resources are the source of power. Logistics is how power is projected. Black bodies were at the core of both of these elements for the South. Freeing the slaves effectively ended the war in 1863. The fact that the Civil War officially ended two years later was more about slow communications of the day and formality. After the war, under Reconstruction, former slaves worked with their White neighbors to forge a more equal future for the former Confederate states.
Many Black people ran for office and won. The land was being redistributed and everything was looking up. Well, not for everyone. The newly-dispossessed planter class was really unhappy watching all their former property going away. Some still had enough money and power to retain their property. Some even bought more land. But, they were chafing at the bit under the watchful eye of northern troops mandated by Reconstruction. UNTIL disgruntled Confederate sympathizer John Wilks Boothe decided to visit President Abraham Lincoln in the VIP section. This triggered (pun intended) a predictable series of events that led to Son of the South Vice President Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, becoming President. He sought to end Reconstruction as quickly as possible. That’s exactly what he did.
Once the northern troops pulled out and in the face of White Terrorism, all the social and economic gains crumbled. No 40 acres. No mule. That was the last, large-scale, government intervention that involved the goal of correcting economic inequality for American Descendents of Slavery. <the author knows what you are thinking and is side-eyeing you> Yes. Even the New Deal. ADOS were intentionally left out because the Southern Democrats held the legislation hostage and FDR folded. Even though Black unemployment was twice that of Whites.
De Jure vs. De Facto
As we move forward we have to be very clear on the role that the legal system played in this state of affairs. Many people think that the status of the ADOS community is all based on personal action, inaction, or dumb luck (de facto). The fact is that the American legal system was weaponized against Black America (de jure).
- Jim Crow
- Convict Leasing
- Mass Incarceration
- War on Drugs
Each of these very American institutions was completely legal. Four hundred years of targeted legislation. Poverty and inequality were inflicted upon American Descendents of Slavery by US policy. Demanding redress for this infliction is right and just.
Any time Black people publically discuss economics or society, the Gatekeepers come out to squash any talk that may impact policy or politics. Gatekeepers are Black people in media or government that are directed by the rich and powerful to end these conversations. There are three basic strategies: 1) co-opt, 2) infiltrate/sabotage, and 3) weaponize law enforcement. Beware the Gatekeepers and wannabe Gatekeepers.
I assume Team Class Reduction is all over this one, I haven’t really checked. But, Bernie Haters for Hillary aka Negroliberals are in rare form. Joy Ann Reid and Angela Rye are doing their best to keep Black folks out of rich people’s pockets by calling ADOS people “bots.” Roland Martin added his voice after getting embarrassed when going after the Actify Press Twitter account. Malcolm Nance cited an article. that did not mention ADOS. calling the movement a “Russian Op.” None of the “Russia” or “bot” claims were backed with data of any sort.
— Actify Press (@ActifyPress) February 14, 2019
Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are both Gatekeepers. Senator Harris is struggling to get passed her record of locking up Black people in the Bay. Senator Booker is an empty suit stuffed with fortune cookie platitudes. Neither have an agenda to remedy the economic woes of the ADOS community. While I do not see her as a Gatekeeper, even the normally-courageous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez felt it necessary to dilute the ADOS Reparations claim by adding non-ADOS groups. At an MLK Day event, no less.
“People think reparations is reparations for slavery, but really, economically speaking, reparations are for the damage done by the New Deal and redlining because that is where we saw a compounding of the existing inequity from the legacy of slavery, where we drew red lines around black communities. We said white communities will get home loans and they will get access to the basic bedrock of wealth in America and this will be your heirloom and we gave white America the heirloom that appreciated overtime — that people still benefit from today and we did not give to African-American and Mexican communities, Puerto Rican communities.” ~ AOC
Of Justice Claims and Division
One of the critiques that have been levied against ADOS is that it is divisive in a time where we need unity most, in the Trump Era. The author contends that a racist in the White House is not new. Every decade we find ourselves further and further behind, specifically. After eight years of Obama, the Great Beige Hope, we found ourselves even worse off than when he took office. There is no relief in sight. Our lack of enthusiasm around getting behind a Democratic nominee, with no specific plan to help us, should be easily understandable. Especially, after decades of unswerving party loyalty.
As what remained of Black America’s dreams were shattered, the number of White millionaires in the US began to grow at a staggering pace. Both of these phenomena are rooted in how Bush II and Obama handled the crash of 2008. Mostly White banks and asset holders were favored over all homeowners through policy and practice. Government intervention chose mostly White Wall Street over Main Street. The outlook for the ADOS community is bleak. American policy has already divided us. The Justice Claims of American Descendants of Slavery require action through restorative policy. So that we may fully enter into American society justly repaired socially, economically, and politically.
If you have read my writing in the past, you know that I also support class-based economic policy. It would help a lot of people including American DOS. However, the ADOS Justice Claim is real and should be addressed. Immediately. I am ADOS, I would be a fool not to support this movement as much as I can. You can learn more about all of this by following the links to any of the sources in this article. Tweet this! Please support #ADOS with me. Follow the founders of ADOS, Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore. Also, follow the top economist in the field Dr. Sandy Darity. If you can, please attend the inaugural ADOS Conference in October 2019. I’ll be there! Please follow me on Twitter.
What Is ADOS?