Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)
While watching the Republican debate recently, I heard one of the presidential candidates mention the “Golden Rule” and how America was built on this concept.
I almost fell off my chair when I heard this statement because nothing could be further from the truth, especially when it comes to the Black man’s experience in America.
There are some who speak about wanting to return back to the days when America was “great” – this is a code word for returning to a period of time when American White Supremacy “openly” ruled and was manifested by the enslavement of Black people and at a time when Black people couldn’t defend themselves. Sure, if you’re White and you have no real knowledge of America’s history or if you don’t possess the basic tenants of the Golden Rule, you too might believe that America was its greatest during this dark, dark period.
However, for most Black people, this period represented a real nightmare, and any mention of America’s past without an apology for the massive injustices perpetrated against Black people by White Americans is extremely offensive and insensitive.
The delusion is further compromised when pointing to the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first Black president and the marshaling in of a new era called “post-racial” society.
In my humble opinion, we will never be in a post racial America until America acknowledges the harm that it has caused to Black people, and there is some transferring of wealth (in the trillions of dollars) which both are absolutely rebuked by most White Americans.
In fact, if you look at the emergence of racial hate exhibited by the unbelievable number of killings of unarmed young Black men by White police, the general insurgence of radical ultra- conservative politicians (tea party) and clergy, this is very clear sign that there is an extreme level of hate for Black people that remains today – it is these two groups (i.e. politicians, clergy) that sponsored and implemented slavery and the terrorism against Black people for more than 400 years.
I remember Barack Obama stating “there’s not a liberal America and conservative America; there’s the United States of America.
There’s not a Black America and a White America and a Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”
This is absolutely wrong because as long as Blacks have been in this country, we have been fighting for, not only our freedom, but our dignity as human beings and every battle has been heavily contested by White Americans who have held all of the power yet still refuse to do what is right: the Golden Rule.
There is absolutely a Black America that is struggling, not because of its inherently inferior, its struggling because America’s has never been remotely fair in its dealing with Black people and the general belief, while its beautifully masked, is that Black people are sub-human and Whites are superior.
While America is a great country, America will never achieve its full potential until it deals with its own hypocrisy.
The Golden Rule basically states “do unto others like we want others to do to us.”
This is such a profound but simple statement that speaks to the balance of all life and its natural justice (the law of nature).
In principle, the Golden Rule is a directive to regard others as one does oneself and to act accordingly.
Although often confused with it, the Golden Rule is not the maxim of reciprocity captured in, “I give so that you will give in return,” but rather a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the others without the expectation of anything in return.
The Golden Rule is a very natural position and one that fits nicely within the soul and the natural man.
No one has to convince you of this fact, it’s just a natural position and it aligns perfectly with the heart of man. It’s just the right thing to do.
The concept is further explained from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, sociology, economics and religion. Psychologically, it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically, it involves a person perceiving their neighbor also as “I” or “self”. Sociologically, is applicable between individuals, between groups, and also between individuals and groups.
In economics, without some kind of reciprocity, society would no longer be able to exist. Religious thought figures prominently in the history of this concept of how to love others – in many instances, this concept is at the base for most religions.
If this is the case and it’s being touted by today’s leaders, then how come White America (i.e. governments, education and religious institutions, etc.) are unable or unwilling to look at what America has done to the Black man – the shear absence of this fact, is in fact a violation of human law and the Golden Rule.
The hypocrisy is alarming especially when you consider how America can study almost any other situation yet it took almost an “act of God” for Congress to utter a very “weak” apology for slavery.
How does America explain away its treatment of Black people from any of the perspectives as part of the Golden Rule (i.e. psychology, philosophy, sociology, economics and religion) – it’s either absolutely silence or the general response is that it happened so long ago therefore Blacks should get over it.
I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the rationale is extremely flawed.
It won’t take much especially for those that are honest and not suffering from a pathological state of denial.
The fact of the matter, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that Blacks were given some protections under the law – protections against the most protracted and prolonged level of racism the world ever experienced.
This post-racial belief is extremely lethal and dangerous because it promotes an even deeper level of racism.
It encourages both ignorant people and its institutions to downplay race as a factor when racism was and is the basis for White dominance today.
Let’s reverse history. What would White people think if Blacks did to them what they did to us?
The Golden Rule also implies a level of justice is achieved and today we find the majority of Black people very much struggling.
Today, Blacks dominate nearly every negative demographic and are invisible in nearly every positive demographic.
What’s worse is that this is now a structural issue that will mandate these type of disparities last forever unless there is an interruption.
I contend that anyone who denies that racism exists is possibly a racist themselves.
If you just do a simple examination of the American Institution of Slavery, there should be a rush by all Americans to not hide the truth about slavery, but, in fact, to own it because it is through owning it that America will begin to heal and cleanse itself. This institution was so foul, brutal, diabolical, mean, cruel, and even devilish – it was so wrong on every level.
How else can a society that was formed under the principles of democracy be so morally corrupt and hypocritical?
Let me remind you of the basic principles of democracy which are the foundation for America life (i.e. law, freedom of press, respect of human and rights, participating in the political process, etc.). I will expound on the following: •
The Rule of Law – America is a nation of laws and not of men.
For a period of nearly 300 years through 1863 (emancipation), the enslavement of Black people was legal.
In addition, there were a number of state laws that allowed slave-owners to brutally treat their captives and in many cases permitted them to kill their captives. Even when the slave-owners violated their own laws, few, if any, were ever prosecuted.
In my limited studies, I’ve uncovered some of the worst abuses and murders of those enslaved by slave owners – many as part of the psychological warfare employed that was aimed at engraving fear and intimidation into the hearts and minds of all those enslaved and ingrained into their children.
Recently, in New Orleans, a child’s grave site was uncovered with hundreds of other Black, enslaved children buried nearby.
Under the protection of laws, these enslaved children were killed by the wives of the slave-owners because they couldn’t bear to see their husband’s children by Black slaves (our mothers and sisters were raped) on a daily basis so they were murdered.
There are numerous examples of outright murders of Blacks by slave-owners and the laws of the land protected them from prosecution.
You must remember that there were so many times when the enslaved wasn’t killed but he was beat and/ or whipped to near death.
This type of behavior was often used to keep the other enslaved Black in check and to demonstrate absolute power the slave owner had on them.
Basically, had it not been that the enslaved played an invaluable role in the profitability of the slave-owner, many more would’ve been killed.
The hypocrisy of America runs deep and can be seen in how it has treated Black people – how could slavery, not only exist but last for so long and be so brutal? What was the motive for such behavior – I just don’t believe profit alone was the motivation as some have articulated – to carry on this type of behavior there had to be a certain level of hate and a belief that those enslaved aren’t human and are less than animals. Especially when you look at how American’s treat their animals. In America, horses and dogs had more protection under the laws of America than Black people.
Until the 1960’s, racism was openly practiced by every American institution, and this behavior was protected under the laws of America (i.e. Jim Crow).
How can America claim to be a true democracy when it has had laws for nearly 400 years that enslave and brutalized Black people, especially given the nature and purpose the country’s birth?
• Respect of Human and Civil Rights – In a democracy, the people are the most important and integral part of the society, and the purpose of government is to serve the needs of the people, not vice versa. This is the main reason for the Bill of Rights representing the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States. It wasn’t until 1868 that the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted as part of the Reconstruction Amendments.
The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws for those formerly enslaved which occurred after the American Civil War.
Even though the laws were corrected, it didn’t change the minds, attitudes, and behaviors of the racist.
The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 freed Blacks that were enslaved and after the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment emancipated all U.S. slaves wherever they were. As a result, the hundreds of thousands of Southern Blacks now were faced with the difficulty Northern Blacks had already confronted – being free but surrounded by many hostile Whites that hated Black people (today we are led to believe that this hatred magically disappeared).
Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, America was still unprepared to deal with the question of full citizenship for the newly freed Black population therefore the “Reconstruction” was implemented by Congress that lasted from 1866 to 1877 and was aimed at providing for a clear pathway for Blacks to become full citizens.
The reconstruction lasted for only ten years and never achieved its intended purpose.
Imagine, after nearly 300 years of absolute oppression and perpetual barbaric treatment, there was no relief, no counseling, and no payments to Black people.
Many Whites in the South saw Reconstruction as a humiliating, even vengeful imposition and did not welcome it.
During this period, Blacks enjoyed a period during which they were allowed to vote, actively participate in the political process, acquire the land of former owners, seek their own employment, and use public accommodations. Racist Whites rallied against the former slaves’ freedom and began to find means for eroding the gains for which many had shed their blood.
In 1877, in an effort to appease the racist southern Whites to avoid a second civil war, a compromise was achieved that destroyed the reconstruction efforts and marked a turn in policy away from concern for freed slaves in the South, and ultimately helped usher in the era of Jim Crow, a term used to describe laws passed in the American South that required that Whites and Blacks be segregated in public spaces such as railroad cars, restaurants, hotels, and schools.
This further supported when in 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court declared these laws constitutional in the landmark decision Plessy v. Ferguson.
The Jim Crow era would not legally end until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
The retaliation was so thorough, it lasted until the present. Even today, we are led to believe that Blacks didn’t suffer and if they did, it has no impact on today.
• Participation in the Political Processes – Although many world governments claim to act in the best interests of the people they govern, only democracies actually represent the will of the people.
Elections give voice and agency to every person in the political community and allow all interested citizens to directly engage in politics and participate in the discussion of how the society will be ruled. Elections are therefore the most fundamental component of democracies.
Not all elections are the same. In fact, national, regional, and local governments employ a variety of voting systems to meet the needs of the people.
Also, it’s important to ask which people in the community are allowed to vote.
For hundreds of years, Blacks didn’t have the right to vote and the country was built without Blacks input.
So it’s understandable that the existing America favors White people over Black people because Black’s political input was denied.
Elections are critical to having a voice and having input and they can serve different purposes as well. Some elections determine who will lead the community, whereas other elections ask voters to express their opinions on specific laws, taxes, and other issues.
For these reasons, understanding elections and voting systems is essential to understanding democratic systems of government and Blacks were so late to the game. In a democracy, politics isn’t a spectator sport.
It’s a participation sport. It won’t work if everyone doesn’t take part and Blacks, even when they were allowed to vote, were threatened and intimidated to not vote through an orchestrated terror.
Today, Blacks are so disappointed by the political process, the fight for the right to vote is all but forgotten.
Democracy for Black people in America is an absolute hypocrisy.
Why has democracy been so elusive for Black people? Why?
It started with the vicious kidnapping of millions of people from Africa, the horrific transatlantic passage that some historians have coined as Atlantic Ocean’s human carpet.
Then, they were sold as property and forced to labor in the most extreme physical conditions for those that were enslaved from the time they were physically able until their death (this chattel slavery lasted over 300 years).
They were removed of their human dignity, language, culture, traditions, religion.
Their knowledge of self was so purposeful and exact, Blacks today still exhibit the characteristics of being enslaved, and we have some who have the audacity to believe that this experience wasn’t painful, hurtful, and severely damaging. Where is the Golden Rule?
The Black man in America has been preyed upon since his arrival in America and continued throughout the American Institution of Slavery until today.
I use the term American Institution of Slavery because that exactly what it was – it was one of the most powerful and lucrative institutions in the world.
It was protected and governed by the laws of land and it was sanctioned by the religious authorities. It was unlike any form of slavery prior and hopefully the world will never see it again.
Even prisoners of war were never treated like our Black ancestors.
Not only was it the most barbaric, but it was the longest and most restrictive, reducing the victims to less than animals, creating a culture and climate of hate (White Supremacy and Black Inferiority) that fuel an economic windfall and the creation of massive wealth that many countries benefited from (this was a global conspiracy).
It was the foundation for America becoming the great economic superpower and propelled American life and the establishment of great institutions (i.e. government, law, financial, education, arts and culture, etc.).
The emancipation of Black people didn’t end the nightmare for Black people in America because the growth of homegrown terrorism through the Klu Klux Klan would kill, maim, and hang tens of thousands of Black men, primarily in the south but its tentacles were throughout the country.
The adaption of slavery with the implementation of Jim Crow laws again victimized Blacks and kept them from any American rights afforded to all Americans, despite Blacks having spilled their blood in all of America’s wars.
There were two laws: one for White Americans which afforded them full access to the benefits that America had built and one law for Black Americans which denied them access to any benefits in spite of the fact that it was on the backs of our labor that America became great – American Hypocrisy.
How soon do we forget? It’s been only 50 years since the passage of historic civil rights legislation that attempted to make the legal system fairer because prior racism and slavery were protected under the laws of this country.
If there is no justice, then you have no justice. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Injustice is like a cancer that must be defeated destroyed because it will destroy everything in its path.
Justice or Else is not a passive position but one grounded in the true meaning of freedom and it’s the responsibility of those that are free to fight for justice for all.
Physical freedom is not the only requirement of those that enslave our people.
“Full” freedom is the requirement and until “full” freedom is achieved, American will remain a hypocrite.
Where was the unilateral moral commitment of the Golden Rule for nearly 300 years when Blacks were enslaved in the most barbaric treatment in modern history?
Where was the unilateral moral commitment of the Golden Rule when after emancipation, every effort was used for the next 75 years, where Blacks were harassed, terrorized, and systemically denied every American right simply because we were Black?
The “no colored allowed” was a staple in America. Today, where is the unilateral moral commitment of the Golden Rule when America has literally forgotten what it has done to Black people while it built the world’s superpower off the backs of Black people, controlled every resource and now acts as if the playing field is leveled?
This is an unprecedented level of hypocrisy.
Unfortunately, ignorance of our history is prevalent and it impacts both Blacks and Whites.
If you polled 1,000 Whites and 1,000 Blacks, 99.9% of them couldn’t recite American history (not the watered down version of history).
This phenomenon is extremely damaging to Black people more because they have lived under this oppression.
I will elaborate further on America’s hypocrisy in my next article.