Why Mitch McConnell’s Statements on Reparations are Wrong

Mitch McConnell has much to answer for when it comes to the oppression of the poor and people of color and the deterioration of our Democracy.  He has added to his long list of sins by his false and misleading statements on the issue of reparations to African-Americans for slavery.

Even the devil must be given his due, however, and we do not make the mistake of thinking the Senator from Kentucky is stupid.  However wrong his remarks are, they are calculated to appeal to the sensibilities of white people; not only the irredeemable Trump voter, but even those “white moderates” of whom Dr King used to speak.  They are lies, but they are soothing, appealing lies that white people want to believe, and that makes them powerful.

Most African-Americans know better, but we feel the need to set the record straight for those white folks out there who do not ordinarily think about issues of race and racial justice.  (Sadly, that is most white folks out there.)

Lie #1: “Something that happened 150 years ago.”  By this, he means that the oppression that was slavery ended with the Civil War.  That is false. Slavery has continued under other names right up to the present day; Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration, Voter Suppression–it all goes on.

Lie #2: “We’ve tried to deal with the original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war.” What a noble thing, to fight a war to expiate our National sin!  Shall we remind Mr McConnell that his State was fighting that way on the side of sin?  The Civil War shows just how determined people like Mitch were to keep their ill-gotten gains.

Lie #3: “Passing landmark Civil Rights legislation”  Again, Mitch conveniently forgets just how hard his region of the country fought that exact legislation.  He also glosses over just how necessary the fight was, just 50 years ago–not 150.

Lie #4: “We elected an African-American President.” Ah, Mitch, your evil genius shows through! Note that he presents the most statesmanlike and accomplished President of our time as simply a kind of “reparations.”  As though Barack Obama didn’t deserve the Presidency, but was only elected out of some sort of White nobility. We need only look at our current President to understand the flaws in the concept of “White nobility.”

Lie #5: “No one currently alive was responsible.” Sorry, Mitch, you’re not getting that past us either.  There are people alive today who beat demonstrators in the 60’s. There are people alive today who designed the War on Drugs specifically to target African-Americans.  And then, there are people alive today, vast numbers of people alive today, who have benefitted from the historic and continuing oppression of African-Americans.  Everyone who has family wealth built from the GI Bill or FHA loans. Everyone who has benefitted from the implicit bias in hiring experienced by African-Americans.  Everyone who benefits from the fact that pollution centers in African-American neighborhoods, not white ones. And on and on and on.

Lie #6: “We’ve had waves of immigrants … experience dramatic discrimination.” We deplore all forms of discrimination, no matter the target.  That said, none of the immigrants of which he speaks were captured in their home countries, shipped over here against their will, and forced to give their labor for nothing for their whole lives.

Mitch is right about one thing; slavery is American’s original sin.  That sin cannot simply be forgotten for its wages continue to this day.  Instead, it must be expiated. Justice has been long delayed; it must not now be denied.

–NAACP San Diego Branch Executive Committee

2019 Lobby Day with the NAACP

6_Political_Lobby_Day_2019_Branch_Report

Last week, Assemblymember Gipson informed NAACP State President Huffamn, that the Conference Committee funded his request for Sickle Cell Disease Centers. If you remember, this budget item was accompanied by a companion bill, AB 1105 (Gipson) that died in committee the week before our Lobby Day and would establish sickle cell disease centers.

The Sickle Cell Disease budget item seeks to improve the quality of care for adults with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) by creating a three-year pilot program to build six new comprehensive SCD clinics.  Specifically, this request appropriates $15 million to: establish six new SCD treatment centers in the regions with the highest demonstrated need: Bay Area, Northern Central Valley, Southern Central Valley, Los Angeles, Inland Empire and San Diego; contract with qualified organizations to strengthen outreach and education efforts in impacted communities; establish IT systems, and works towards a stronger workforce of knowledgeable clinicians.

SB 188 (Mitchell) The Crown Act, has made it through the Senate Committee process and is now on the Senate Floor. This bill specifies that race, a category protected against workplace discrimination under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), includes traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles like braids, locks, and twists.

Thank you to all who participated in Lobby Day. The movement of these bills are a huge victory for our community, and because of your willing participation, we made a significant impact toward the passage of this legislation. 

Another Unjust Verdict

June 9th, 2019

On June 4th, a nearly all-white jury acquitted to Sheriff’s deputies of assault during their arrest of two Latino men.  This acquittal came despite clear video evidence that the men were handcuffed and in no position to offer resistance or danger to the officers.

We deplore this verdict as much as we deplore the actions of the deputies that brought them to trial. Despite crime being at historic lows, we continue to give the police wider and wider latitude in their use of force, and we continue to erode the few protections we have against police misconduct.  It is not a secret (or an accident) that the burden of this behavior falls primarily on people of color.

It’s time for our society to reckon, legislatively, judicially, prosecutorially, administratively and morally with our criminal “justice” system.  The system is designed to persecute the poor and people of color, and we need a system that is fair for all.

Therefore, we of the NAACP San Diego Branch call for the following reforms:

  • Legislative reform to make it clear that violent acts perpetrated by police will be subject to sanction.
  • Judicial reform to re-apply the protections of our Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure, against punishment without conviction, and for equal protection under the law.  Unjust precedents that allow for police violence must be overturned, unjust practices that allow for pro-police juries and verdicts must be discontinued.
  • Prosecutorial reform so that we pay as much attention to the documented crimes of law enforcement as we do to the alleged crimes of the poor.  We may be gratified that for once our District Attorney chose to prosecute a case against law enforcement officers. We wonder, however, if this is merely the exception to prove the rule that Law Enforcement is, in her eyes, above the law.
  • Administrative and policy reform inside the Law Enforcement agencies themselves.  The Police need to recognize that lawless behavior on their part subjects them in the end to more danger, not less.  They need to recognize that tactics of terror and violence will beget violence and not cooperation. They need better recruitment, better training, and a commitment to integrity and accountability.
  • And finally, we call for moral reform.  We as a society need to wake up and look at what we have allowed ourselves to become.  We must once again be shocked at shocking behavior, and not allow ourselves to be desensitized to injustice, just because it wears a badge.

The NAACP San Diego Branch stands ready to assist any agencies who would like to better understand how to protect the rights of the residents of San Diego, regardless of their color. These problems can be solved, if only we as a society recover our will to solve them.

It is time to return to the rule of law in our society.

Clovis Honoré, President
NAACP San Diego Branch