Racism in the United States
Racism in the United States has existed since the colonial era, when white Americans were given legally or socially sanctioned privileges and rights denied to other races or minorities. Major racially and ethnically structured institutions include slavery, segregation, Native American reservations, Native American boarding schools, immigration and naturalization law, and internment camps. In his 2009 visit to the US, the [UN] Special Rapporteur on Racism noted that "Socio-economic indicators show that poverty and race and ethnicity continue to overlap in the United States. During the 2010s, American society continues to experience high levels of racism and discrimination. One new phenomenon has been the rise of the "alt-right" movement: a white nationalist coalition that seeks the expulsion of sexual and racial minorities from the United States.
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- 1.22 Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes the Case for Reparations at Historic Congressional Hearing, Democracy Now' (20 June 2019)
- 1.23 Ta-Nehisi Coates: Reparations Are Not Just About Slavery But Also Centuries of Theft & Racial Terror, Democracy Now (20 June 2019)
- 2 See also
- 3 External links
- We must make the Negro our friend... We can do this if we will. Should we make him our enemy under the prompting of the Yankees, whose aim is to force us to recognize him on a basis of equality, then our path lies through a way red with blood and damp with tears...
- 'Race' and 'ethnicity' categories have changed significantly over time to reflect changes in the American population. Since 1900, 26 different racial terms have been used to identify populations in the U.S. Census. Preserving outdated terms for the sake of questionable continuity is a disservice to the nation and the American people.
- Yet the concept of race has become thoroughly, and perniciously, woven into the cultural and political fabric of the United States. It has become an essential element of both individual identity and government policy. Because so much harm has been based on 'racial' distinctions over the years, correctives for such harm must also acknowledge the impact of 'racial' consciousness among the U.S. populace, regardless of the fact that 'race' has no scientific justification in human biology. Eventually, however, these classifications must be transcended and replaced by more non-racist and accurate ways of representing the diversity of the U.S. population. This is the dilemma and opportunity of the moment. It is important to recognize the categories to which individuals have been assigned historically in order to be vigilant about the elimination of discrimination. Yet ultimately, the effective elimination of discrimination will require an end to such categorization, and a transition toward social and cultural categories that will prove more scientifically useful and personally resonant for the public than are categories of 'race'. Redress of the past and transition for the future can be simultaneously effected.
- Negroes are American citizens. First class taxpayers, but so often treated as second class citizens, if there is such. In our hearts, we would like to know what it is that the white man has against the negro. What can we do to make peace with the white man? We have to live on this earth together. We cannot do without each other. We as a group, want your friendship, won't you accept?
- Floy J. Anderson, letter to Dwight David Eisenhower (15 October 1957), San Francisco, California.
- No Distinction of Race! No Distinction of Color!
- Anonymous Unionist, as quoted in Richmond Daily Dispatch (13 November 1863).
- Identify yourself as Americans... I don't identify myself as white or a white American.
- Glenn Beck, Glenn Beck, Fox News, 13 November 2009
- "Beck: I don't identify as white, why do black people identify as black?", Media Matters for America, 13 November 2009
- Racism is the independent variable, the enduring value in American politics and society.
- Herman Belz, "Review Essay" (2004), Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, University of Illinois Press
- The advancement of minorities in the U.S. is not insignificant, but has not ended, let alone reversed, their circumstances. I acknowledge that things I have said as well as my actions have been harmful to people of color, people of Jewish descent, activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all, and others affected... I can't support a movement that tells me I can't be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people's races requires me to think about them in a certain way or be suspicious of their advancements... Minorities must have the ability to rise to positions of power, and many supposed 'race' issues are in fact issues of structural oppression, poor educational prospects, and limited opportunity. The differences I thought I observed didn't go nearly as deeply as I imagined. I believe we can move beyond the sort of mind-boggling emphasis white nationalism puts on maintaining an oppressive, exclusive sense of identity; oppressive for others and stifling for our society.
- America is an exceptional nation in large part because we've aspired to rise above such prejudices and guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to everyone.
- David Boaz, "Conservatives Against Trump" (21 January 2016), National Review.
- When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.
- Marlon Brando speech for the Academy Awards protesting the treatment of American Indians, written by Brando, as it appeared in the New York Times (March 30, 1973)
- The U.S. contains a highly diverse population, the product of numerous and sustained waves of immigration. Ethnic and racial diversity - the 'melting pot' - is celebrated as a core element of the American ideology. The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed racial and other discrimination.
- British Broadcasting Corporation, "United States country profile: Overview" (29 October 2015), BBC News, United Kingdom.
- An artist using statistics as a brush could paint two very different pictures of our country. One would have warning signs: increasing layoffs, rising energy prices, too many failing schools, persistent poverty, the stubborn vestiges of racism. Another picture would be full of blessings: a balanced budget, big surpluses, a military that is second to none, a country at peace with its neighbors, technology that is revolutionizing the world, and our greatest strength, concerned citizens who care for our country and care for each other... Too many of our citizens have cause to doubt our nation’s justice when the law points a finger of suspicion at groups, instead of individuals. All our citizens are created equal and must be treated equally... End racial profiling. It is wrong, and we will end it in America. It is wrong.
- I ask you to uphold the values of America, and remember why so many have come here. We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith. Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail.
- George W. Bush, address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People (20 September 2001).
- Beyond all differences of race or creed, we are one country, mourning together and facing danger together. Deep in the American character, there is honor, and it is stronger than cynicism.
- America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred... We are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we're one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country.
- Any suggestion that a segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive and it is wrong... Comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country. He has apologized and rightly so. Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals, and the founding ideals of our nation, and in fact the founding ideals of the political party I represent, was and remains today the equal dignity and equal rights of every American.
- George W. Bush, regarding comments made by Trent Lott (12 December 2002), as quoted in "Lott's Remarks on Segregation 'Wrong and Offensive'" (13 December 2002), The Irish Times.
- Americans have upheld the ideals of America by exposing laws and habits contradicting those ideals... Americans share a belief in the values of liberty and dignity; we must share in the labor of advancing those values... In the struggle of the centuries, America learned that freedom is not the possession of one race. We know with equal certainty that freedom is not the possession of one nation. This belief in the natural rights of man, this conviction that justice should reach wherever the sun passes, leads America into the world. With the power and resources given to us, the United States seeks to bring peace where there is conflict, hope where there's suffering, and liberty where there's tyranny.
- Our country must abandon all the habits of racism because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.
- Rapper Kanye West told a prime-time T.V. audience, 'George Bush doesn't care about black people'. Jesse Jackson later compared the New Orleans Convention Center to the 'hull of a slave ship'. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus claimed that if the storm victims had been 'white, middle-class Americans' they would have received more help. Five years later, I can barely write those words without feeling disgusted. I am deeply insulted by the suggestion that we allowed American citizens to suffer because they were black. As I told the press at the time, 'the storm didn't discriminate, and neither will we. When those coast guard choppers, many of whom were first on the scene, were pulling people off roofs, they didn't check the color of a person's skin'. The more I thought about it, the angrier I felt. I was raised to believe that racism was one of the greatest evils in society. I admired dad's courage when he defied near-universal opposition from his constituents to vote for the Open Housing Bill of 1968. I was proud to have earned more black votes than any Republican governor in Texas history. I had appointed African Americans to top government positions, including the first black woman national security adviser and the first two black secretaries of state. It broke my heart to see minority children shuffled through the school system, so I had based my signature domestic policy initiative, the No Child Left Behind Act, on ending the soft bigotry of low expectations. I had launched a $15 billion program to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. As part of the response to Katrina, my administration worked with Congress to provided historically black colleges and universities in the Gulf Coast with more than $400 million in loans to restore their campuses and renew their recruiting efforts.
- Our identity as a nation — unlike many other nations — is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed. And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.
- George W. Bush, remarks at Bush Institute Summit, "The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World" at the Bush Institute Summit in New York City (October 2017), as quoted in The Washington Post (October 2017)
- "O’Malley said flatly that winter he didn’t want any more colored players on the team. It was complicated, but it was a combination of what he thought the fans would accept, what he thought the team could handle and the fact that he got heat from some of his partners who worried that the more integrated the Dodgers became, the more pressure they felt to hire blacks in their own businesses." Bavasi said that Jackie Robinson himself expressed misgivings about Clemente. [...] In the case of Clemente, Bavasi said that Robinson was concerned that if the Dodgers activated him, he would take the roster position of George "Shotgun" Shuba – a journeyman outfielder and pinch-hitter who was popular, white, and once Robinson's 1946 teammate on the Montreal Royals.
- Buzzie Bavasi, on why Brooklyn opted not to keep Clemente on its 1954 major league roster (leading to his acquisition by the Pittsburgh Pirates at the 1954 Winter Meetings), as quoted and paraphrased in "Gil, Jackie, Pee Wee, and a Parable of Race" from Praying for Gil Hodges: A Memoir of the 1955 World Series and One Family's Love of the Brooklyn Dodgers (July 1, 2005) by Thomas Oliphant, p. 59
- In the first place, an unjust law exists in this Commonwealth, by which marriages between persons of different color is pronounced illegal. I am perfectly aware of the gross ridicule to which I may subject myself by alluding to this particular; but I have lived too long, and observed too much, to be disturbed by the world's mockery. In the first place, the government ought not to be invested with power to control the affections, any more than the consciences of citizens. A man has at least as good a right to choose his wife, as he has to choose his religion. His taste may not suit his neighbors; but so long as his deportment is correct, they have no right to interfere with his concerns.
- It is essential to just government we recognize the equality of all men before the law, and hold that it is the duty of government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all, of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political.
- If a man like Malcolm X could change and repudiate racism, if I myself and other former Muslims can change, if young whites can change, then there is hope for America.
- Som' co-lored people I understand saying "Clemente, he do not like co-lored people." This is not the truth at all. Look at me. Look at my skin. I am not of the white people. I hav' color the skin. That is the first theeing I straighten out. I like all the people, both co-lored and white; and since I am co-lored myself, I would be seely hate myself. Thees' people tell me I don't like colored people. Well, I use this time to tell deeferent. I like myself, so I also like the people who are like me.
- Roberto Clemente, as quoted by Bill Nunn, Jr. in the New Pittsburgh Courier (June 25, 1960); reproduced in Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero" (2006) by David Maraniss, p. 97
- In Canada they no have much segregation. But one day I am signing autographs and talking to white man and his wife outside park, and this other man say, "You not supposed to talk to white woman." I say, "No, I talk to the one I want. I talk to my friends. You believe in that stuff if you want. I don't do it."
- Roberto Clemente, as quoted in "The Man in the Pirate Uniform: Clemente is Spectacular" by Myron Cope, in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Tuesday, August 23, 1960), p. 29
- The first thing the average white Latin American player does when he comes to the States is associate with other whites. He doesn't want to be seen with Latin Negroes, even from his own country, because he's afraid people might think he's colored.
- Roberto Clemente, as quoted in "Roberto Clemente: Man of Paradox" by Arnold Hano, in Sport (May 1965)
- When I came here, you seldom saw a black player get together with a white player and go someplace together after a ball game. Now it is more common. Yes, there has been improvement but some things still remain the way they were. I cannot, for example, go up to a white player and say to him, "Are you for real?" or "Are you concerned with me at all?" But now, once in a while, they will come to you and ask you about it. They don't turn their backs on you like they used to.
- My greatest satisfaction comes from helping to erase the old opinion about Latin American and black ballplayers. People had the wrong opinion. They never questioned our ability but they considered us inferior in our station of life. Simply because many of us were poor, we were thought to be low class. Even our integrity was questioned. I don't blame the fans for that; I blame the writers. They made it look like we were something different entirely from the white players. We're not. We're the same.
- Washington made it clear that a person did not have to be of a certain religion or have a particular ethnic background to be an American patriot.
- Craig Considine, Saluting Muslim American Patriots.
- Numbered among our population are some 12,000,000 colored people. Under our Constitution their rights are just as sacred as those of any other citizen. It is both a public and a private duty to protect those rights.
- The propaganda of prejudice and hatred which sought to keep the colored men from supporting the national cause completely failed. The black man showed himself the same kind of citizen, moved by the same kind of patriotism, as the white man. They were tempted, but not one betrayed his country. Among well-nigh 400,000 colored men who were taken into the military service, about one-half had overseas experience. They came home with many decorations and their conduct repeatedly won high commendation from both American and European commanders.
- During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it. They took their places wherever assigned in defense of the nation of which they are just as truly citizens as are any others. The suggestion of denying any measure of their full political rights to such a great group of our population as the colored people is one which, however it might be received in some other quarters, could not possibly be permitted by one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color. I have taken my oath to support that Constitution. It is the source of your rights and my rights. I propose to regard it, and administer it, as the source of the rights of all the people, whatever their belief or race.
- Yet in time of stress and public agitation we have too great a tendency to disregard this policy and indulge in race hatred, religious intolerance, and disregard of equal rights. Such sentiments are bound to react upon those who harbor them. Instead of being a benefit they are a positive injury. We do not have to examine history very far before we see whole countries that have been blighted, whole civilizations that have been shattered by a spirit of intolerance. They are destructive of order and progress at home and a danger to peace and good will abroad. No better example exists of toleration than that which is exhibited by those who wore the blue toward those who wore the gray. Our condition today is not merely that of one people under one flag, but of a thoroughly united people who have seen bitterness and enmity which once threatened to sever them pass away, and a spirit of kindness and good will reign over them all.
- Let it never be forgotten that the cause of the United States is the cause of human nature, not of white men nor black men nor red men nor brown men, but of man, of mankind.
- The United States was made by men of all races and colors, not for white men, but for the refuge and defense of man. If it does not rest upon the natural rights of man, it rests nowhere. If it does not exist by the consent of governed then any exclusion is possible, and it is a shorter step from an exclusive white man's government to an exclusively rich white man's government, than it is from a system for mankind to one for white men. The spirit which excludes some men today because they are of a certain color, may exclude others tomorrow because they are of a certain poverty or a certain church or a certain birthplace. There is no safety, no guarantee, no security in a prejudice. If we build strong and long, we must build upon moral principle... The truest American president we have ever had, the companion of Washington in our love and honor, recognized that the poorest man, however outraged, however ignorant, however despised, however black, was, as a man, his equal... Manhood in America is to be measured not by the color of the skin, but by the quality of the soul.
- As to the doctrine of slavery and the right of Christians to hold Africans in perpetual servitude, and sell and treat them as we do our horses and cattle, that, it is true, has been heretofore countenanced by the Province Laws formerly, but nowhere is it expressly enacted or established. It has been a usage–a usage which took its origin from the practice of some of the European nations, and the regulations of British government respecting the then-colonies, for the benefit of trade and wealth. But whatever sentiments have formerly prevailed in this particular or slid in upon us by the example of others, a different idea has taken place with the people of America, more favorable to the natural rights of mankind, and to that natural, innate desire of liberty, with which Heaven, without regard to color, complexion, or shape of noses-features, has inspired all the human race. And upon this ground our constitution of government, by which the people of this Commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves, sets out with declaring that all men are born free and equal, and that every subject is entitled to liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws, as well as life and property–and in short is totally repugnant to the idea of being born slaves. This being the case, I think the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and constitution; and there can be no such thing as perpetual servitude of a rational creature, unless his liberty is forfeited by some criminal conduct or given up by personal consent or contract.
- We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country. … We are here, and here we are likely to be. To imagine that we shall ever be eradicated is absurd and ridiculous. We can be remodified, changed, assimilated, but never extinguished. We repeat, therefore, that we are here; and that this is our country; and the question for the philosophers and statesmen of the land ought to be, What principles should dictate the policy of the action toward us? We shall neither die out, nor be driven out; but shall go with this people, either as a testimony against them, or as an evidence in their favor throughout their generations.
- Frederick Douglass, essay in North Star (November 1858); as quoted in Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (1992) by Derrick Bell, p. 40.
- The Constitution itself. Its language is 'we the people'. Not we the white people, not even we the citizens, not we the privileged class, not we the high, not we the low, but we the people. Not we the horses, sheep, and swine, and wheel-barrows, but we the people, we the human inhabitants. If Negroes are people, they are included in the benefits for which the Constitution of America was ordained and established. But how dare any man who pretends to be a friend to the Negro thus gratuitously concede away what the Negro has a right to claim under the Constitution?
- Frederick Douglass, "The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery?" (26 March 1860), Glasgow, United Kingdom.
- There is something too mean in looking upon the Negro, when you are in trouble, as a citizen, and when you are free from trouble, as an alien. When this nation was in trouble, in its early struggles, it looked upon the Negro as a citizen. In 1776 he was a citizen. At the time of the formation of the Constitution the Negro had the right to vote in eleven States out of the old thirteen. In your trouble you have made us citizens. In 1812 General Jackson addressed us as citizens; 'fellow-citizens'. He wanted us to fight. We were citizens then! And now, when you come to frame a conscription bill, the Negro is a citizen again. He has been a citizen just three times in the history of this government, and it has always been in time of trouble. In time of trouble we are citizens. Shall we be citizens in war, and aliens in peace? Would that be just?
- In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us... I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don't disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot box, let him alone, don't disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone, — your interference is doing him positive injury.
- I am especially to speak to you of the character and mission of the United States, with special reference to the question whether we are the better or the worse for being composed of different races of men. I propose to consider first, what we are, second, what we are likely to be, and, thirdly, what we ought to be. Without undue vanity or unjust depreciation of others, we may claim to be, in many respects, the most fortunate of nations. We stand in relations to all others, as youth to age. Other nations have had their day of greatness and glory; we are yet to have our day, and that day is coming. The dawn is already upon us. It is bright and full of promise. Other nations have reached their culminating point. We are at the beginning of our ascent. They have apparently exhausted the conditions essential to their further growth and extension, while we are abundant in all the material essential to further national growth and greatness. The resources of European statesmanship are now sorely taxed to maintain their nationalities at their ancient height of greatness and power. American statesmanship, worthy of the name, is now taxing its energies to frame measures to meet the demands of constantly increasing expansion of power, responsibility and duty. Without fault or merit on either side, theirs or ours, the balance is largely in our favor. Like the grand old forests, renewed and enriched from decaying trunks once full of life and beauty, but now moss-covered, oozy and crumbling, we are destined to grow and flourish while they decline and fade.
- We have for a long time hesitated to adopt and carry out the only principle which can solve that difficulty and give peace, strength and security to the republic, and that is the principle of absolute equality. We are a country of all extremes, ends and opposites. The most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world. Our people defy all the ethnological and logical classifications. In races we range all the way from black to white, with intermediate shades which, as in the apocalyptic vision, no man can name or number... America is no longer an obscure and inaccessible country. Our ships are in every sea, our commerce is in every port, our language is heard all around the globe, steam and lightning have revolutionized the whole domain of human thought, changed all geographical relations, make a day of the present seem equal to a thousand years of the past, and the continent that Columbus only conjectured four centuries ago is now the center of the world... A liberal and brotherly welcome to all who are likely to come to the United States is the only wise policy which this nation can adopt. It has been thoughtfully observed that every nation, owing to its peculiar character and composition, has a definite mission in the world. What that mission is, and what policy is best adapted to assist in its fulfillment, is the business of its people and its statesmen to know, and knowing, to make a noble use of this knowledge. I need not stop here to name or describe the missions of other or more ancient nationalities. Our seems plain and unmistakable. Our geographical position, our relation to the outside world, our fundamental principles of government, world-embracing in their scope and character, our vast resources, requiring all manner of labor to develop them, and our already existing composite population, all conspire to one grand end, and that is, to make us the perfect national illustration of the unity and dignity of the human family that the world has ever seen.
- In whatever else other nations may have been great and grand, our greatness and grandeur will be found in the faithful application of the principle of perfect civil equality to the people of all races and of all creeds. We are not only bound to this position by our organic structure and by our revolutionary antecedents, but by the genius of our people. Gathered here from all quarters of the globe, by a common aspiration for national liberty as against caste, divine right govern and privileged classes, it would be unwise to be found fighting against ourselves and among ourselves, it would be unadvised to attempt to set up any one race above another, or one religion above another, or prescribe any on account of race, color or creed.
- All great qualities are never found in any one man or in any one race. The whole of humanity, like the whole of everything else, is ever greater than a part. Men only know themselves by knowing others, and contact is essential to this knowledge. In one race we perceive the predominance of imagination; in another, like the Chinese, we remark its almost total absence. In one people we have the reasoning faculty; in another the genius for music; in another exists courage, in another great physical vigor, and so on through the whole list of human qualities. All are needed to temper, modify, round and complete the whole man and the whole nation. Not the least among the arguments whose consideration should dispose us to welcome among us the peoples of all countries, nationalities and colors, is the fact that all races and varieties of men are improvable. This is the grand distinguishing attribute of humanity, and separates man from all other animals. If it could be shown that any particular race of men are literally incapable of improvement, we might hesitate to welcome them here. But no such men are any where to be found, and if they were, it is not likely that they would ever trouble us with their presence. The fact that the Chinese and other nations desire to come and do come is a proof of their capacity for improvement and of their fitness to come.
- When the architect intends a grand structure, he makes the foundation broad and strong. We should imitate this prudence in laying the foundations of the future republic. There is a law of harmony in all departments of nature. The oak is in the acorn. The career and destiny of individual men are enfolded in the elements of which they are composed. The same is true of a nation. It will be something or it will be nothing. It will be great, or it will be small, according to its own essential qualities. As these are rich and varied, or pure and simple, slender and feeble, broad and strong, so will be the life and destiny of the nation itself. The stream cannot rise higher than its source. The ship cannot sail faster than the wind. The flight of the arrow depends upon the strength and elasticity of the bow, and as with these, so with a nation... If we would reach a degree of civilization higher and grander than any yet attained, we should welcome to our ample continent all the nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples, and as fast as they learn our language and comprehend the duties of citizenship, we should incorporate them into the American body politic. The outspread wings of the American eagle are broad enough to shelter all who are likely to come. As a matter of selfish policy, leaving right and humanity out of the question, we cannot wisely pursue any other course. Other governments mainly depend for security upon the sword; ours depends mainly upon the friendship of the people. In all matters, in time of peace, in time of war, and at all times, it makes its appeal to the people, and to all classes of the people. Its strength lies in their friendship and cheerful support in every time of need, and that policy is a mad one which would reduce the number of its friends by excluding those who would come, or by alienating those who are already here.
- Our republic is itself a strong argument in favor of composite nationality. It is no disparagement to the Americans of English descent to affirm that much of the wealth, leisure, culture, refinement and civilization of the country are due to the arm of the negro and the muscle of the Irishman. Without these, and the wealth created by their sturdy toil, English civilization had still lingered this side of the Alleghanies, and the wolf still be howling on their summits. To no class of our population are we more indebted for valuable qualities of head, heart, and hand, than to the German. Say what we will of their lager, their smoke, and their metaphysics, they have brought to us a fresh, vigorous and child-like nature; a boundless facility in the acquisition of knowledge; a subtle and far-reaching intellect, and a fearless love of truth. Though remarkable for patient and laborious thought, the true German is a joyous child of freedom, fond of manly sports, a lover of music, and a happy man generally. Though he never forgets that he is a German, he never fails to remember that he is an American... We shall spread the network of our science and our civilization over all who seek their shelter, whether from Asia, Africa, or the isles of the sea. We shall mold them all, each after his kind, into Americans. Indian and Celt, Negro and Saxon, Latin and Teuton, Mongolian and Caucasian, Jew and gentile, all shall here bow to the same law, speak the same language, support the same government, enjoy the same liberty, vibrate with the same national enthusiasm, and seek the same national ends.
- It was once said by Abraham Lincoln that this Republic could not long endure half slave and half free; and the same may be said with even more truth of the black citizens of this country. They cannot remain half slave and half free. They must be one thing or the other. And this brings me to consider the alternative now presented between slavery and freedom in this country. From my outlook, I am free to affirm that I see nothing for the negro of the South but a condition of absolute freedom, or of absolute slavery. I see no half-way place for him. One or the other of these conditions is to solve the so-called negro problem. There are forces at work in both of these directions, and for the present that which aims at the re-enslavement of the negro seems to have the advantage. Let it be remembered that the labor of the negro is his only capital. Take this from him, and he dies from starvation. The present mode of obtaining his labor in the South gives the old master-class a complete mastery over him. I showed this in my last annual celebration address, and I need not go into it here. The payment of the negro by orders on stores, where the storekeeper controls price, quality, and quantity, and is subject to no competition, so that the negro must buy there and nowhere else–an arrangement by which the negro never has a dollar to lay by, and can be kept in debt to his employer, year in and year out–puts him completely at the mercy of the old master-class. He who could say to the negro, when a slave, you shall work for me or be whipped to death, can now say to him with equal emphasis, you shall work for me, or I will starve you to death… This is the plain, matter-of-fact, and unexaggerated condition of the plantation negro in the Southern States today.
- There is no conceivable reason why all colored people should not be treated according to the merits of each individual. It is not only the plain duty, but also the interest of us all, to have every colored man take the place for which he is best fitted by education, character, ability, manners, and culture. If others insist on keeping him in any lower and poorer place, it is not only his injury, but our universal loss. Yet which of our white congregations would take a colored pastor? How many of our New England villages would like to have colored postmasters, or doctors, or lawyers, or teachers in the public schools? A very slight difference in complexion suffices to keep a young man from getting a place as policeman, or fireman, or conductor, even on the horse cars. The trades-unions are closed against him, and so are many of our stores; while those which admit him are obliged to refuse him promotion on account of the unwillingness of white men to serve under him.
- Races and varieties of the human family appear and disappear, but humanity remains and will remain forever. The American people will one day be truer to this idea than now, and will say with Scotia’s inspired son, "A man's a man for a’ that." When that day shall come, they will not pervert and sin against the verity of language as they now do by calling a man of mixed blood, a negro; they will tell the truth.
- There is no race problem before the country, but only a political one, the question whether a Republican has any right to exist south of Mason and Dixon's line... I am just as white myself as I am black; and I am not afraid of the negro getting the upper hand in me... If you build the negro a church on every hill, and a schoolhouse in every valley, and endow them all for a hundred years, you will not make up for the wrongs you have done him. Who is it that asks for protection at the polls and for equal education? The men who came forth to clutch with iron fingers your faltering flag, and shed their blood for you, who protected the women and children of the South during the war, who have tilled your soil with their horny hands, and watered it with their tears!
- The ability of the United States to go from legal segregation a half century ago to the election of a black president suggests there is enormous elasticity in the American political system, and that the country has the capacity to deal with what it now faces, both inside and outside its borders.
- We are a people born of many peoples. Our culture, our skills, our very aspirations have been shaped by immigrants, and their sons and daughters, from all the Earth. Sam Gompers from England, Andrew Carnegie from Scotland, Albert Einstein from Germany, and Booker T. Washington and Al Smith, Marconi and Caruso. Men of all nations and races and estates, they have made us what we are... So it is that the laws most binding us as a people are laws of the spirit, proclaimed in church and synagogue and mosque. These are the laws that truly declare the eternal equality of all men, of all races, before the man-made laws of our land. And we are profoundly aware that, in the world, we can claim the trust of hundreds of millions of people, across Africa and Asia, only as we ourselves hold high the banner of justice for all.
- I believe that the United States as a government, if it is going to be true to its own founding documents, does have the job of working toward that time when there is no discrimination made on such inconsequential reason as race, color, or religion.
- The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
- Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- They appeared all to have made considerable progress in reading for the time they had respectively been in the school, and most of them answered readily and well the questions of the catechism. They behaved very orderly, and showed a proper respect and ready obedience to the mistress, and seemed very attentive to, and a good deal affected by, a serious exhoration with which Mister Sturgeon concluded our visit. I was on the whole much pleased, and from what I then saw, have conceived a higher opinion of the natural capacities of the black race, than I had ever before entertained. Their apprehension seems as quick, their memory as strong, and their docility in every respect equal to that of white children.
- Benjamin Franklin, letter to Waring (17 December 1783), after visiting a school, as quoted in The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (March 2002), by H.W. Brands, p. 355.
- The chances of an innocent black man being gunned down by racist cops are vanishingly small. And that is good news indeed... Black Americans will be taught to hate and fear law enforcement, fed on a steady diet of lies about their own country. America is a better place than they’ve been led to believe. Radical racial politics will only make it worse.
- David A. French, "The Numbers Are in: Black Lives Matter Is Wrong about Police" (29 December 2015), National Review.
- We do not even inquire whether a black man is a rebel in arms or not; if he is black, be he friend or foe, he is thought best kept at a distance. It is hardly possible God will let us succeed while such enormities are 'practiced.
- James A. Garfield, regarding slavery (1862), as quoted in Garfield: A Biography (1978), by Allan Peskin, p. 145.
- Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty. I admit that it is perilous to confer the franchise upon the ignorant and degraded; but if an educational test cannot be established, let suffrage be extended to all men of proper age, regardless of color. It may well be questioned whether the negro does not understand the nature of our institutions better than the equally ignorant foreigner. He was intelligent enough to understand from the beginning of the war that the destiny of his race was involved in it. He was intelligent enough to be true to that Union which his educated and traitorous master was endeavoring to destroy. He came to us in the hour of our sorest need, and by his aid, under God, the republic was saved. Shall we now be guilty of the unutterable meanness, not only of thrusting him beyond the pale of its blessings, but of committing his destiny to the tender mercies of those pardoned rebels who have been so reluctantly compelled to take their feet from his neck and their hands from his throat? But someone says it is dangerous at this time to make new experiments. I answer, it is always safe to do justice. However, to grant suffrage to the black man in this country is not innovation, but restoration. It is a return to the ancient principles and practices of the fathers.
- During the war of the Revolution, and in 1788, the date of the adoption of our national Constitution, there was but one State among the thirteen whose constitution refused the right of suffrage to the negro. That State was South Carolina. Some, it is true, established a property qualification; all made freedom a prerequisite; but none save South Carolina made color a condition of suffrage. The Federal Constitution makes no such distinction, nor did the Articles of Confederation. In the Congress of the Confederation, on the 25th of June, 1778, the fourth article was under discussion. It provided that 'the free inhabitants of each of these States — paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted — shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States.' The delegates from South Carolina moved to insert between the words 'free inhabitants' the word 'white', thus denying the privileges and immunities of citizenship to the colored man. According to the rules of the convention, each State had but one vote. Eleven States voted on the question. One was divided; two voted aye; and eight voted no. It was thus early, and almost unanimously, decided that freedom, not color, should be the test of citizenship. No federal legislation prior to 1812 placed any restriction on the right of suffrage in consequence of the color of the citizen. From 1789 to 1812 Congress passed ten separate laws establishing new Territories. In all these, freedom, and not color, was the basis of suffrage.
- The will of the nation, speaking with the voice of battle and through the amended Constitution, has fulfilled the great promise of 1776 by proclaiming 'liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof.' The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. NO thoughtful man can fail to appreciate its beneficent effect upon our institutions and people. It has freed us from the perpetual danger of war and dissolution. It has added immensely to the moral and industrial forces of our people. It has liberated the master as well as the slave from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both. It has surrendered to their own guardianship the manhood of more than 5,000,000 people, and has opened to each one of them a career of freedom and usefulness... No doubt this great change has caused serious disturbance to our Southern communities. This is to be deplored, though it was perhaps unavoidable. But those who resisted the change should remember that under our institutions there was no middle ground for the negro race between slavery and equal citizenship. There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States. Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen... The emancipated race has already made remarkable progress. With unquestioning devotion to the Union, with a patience and gentleness not born of fear, they have "followed the light as God gave them to see the light." They are rapidly laying the material foundations of self-support, widening their circle of intelligence, and beginning to enjoy the blessings that gather around the homes of the industrious poor. They deserve the generous encouragement of all good men. So far as my authority can lawfully extend they shall enjoy the full and equal protection of the Constitution and the laws... Sections and races should be forgotten and partisanship should be unknown. Let our people find a new meaning in the divine oracle which declares that 'a little child shall lead them', for our own little children will soon control the destinies of the Republic.
- What is black in the United States is not what's black in Brazil or what's black in South Africa.
- American racial classification is totally cultural. Who's Tiger Woods? Who's Colin Powell? Colin Powell's as Irish as he is African. Being black has been defined as just looking dark enough that anyone can see you are.
- Stephen Jay Gould, as quoted in "Episode Three: The House We Live In" (2003), Race: The Power of an Illusion, California Newsreel.
- The present difficulty, in bringing all parts of the United States to a happy unity and love of country grows out of the prejudice to color. The prejudice is a senseless one, but it exists.
- I have no prejudice against sect or race, but want each individual to be judged by his own merit.
- A measure which makes at once 4,000,000 people voters who were heretofore declared by the highest tribunal in the land not citizens of the United States, nor eligible to become so (with the assertion that "at the time of the Declaration of Independence the opinion was fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race, regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, that black men had no rights which the white man was bound to respect"), is indeed a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free Government to the present day.
- Institutions like ours, in which all power is derived directly from the people, must depend mainly upon their intelligence, patriotism, and industry. I call the attention, therefore, of the newly enfranchised race to the importance of their striving in every honorable manner to make themselves worthy of their new privilege. To the race more favored heretofore by our laws I would say, Withhold no legal privilege of advancement to the new citizen.
- The soil would have soon fallen into the hands of United States capitalists. The products are so valuable in commerce that emigration there would have been encouraged; the emancipated race of the South would have found there a congenial home, where their civil rights would not be disputed and where their labor would be so much sought after that the poorest among them could have found the means to go. Thus in cases of great oppression and cruelty, such as has been practiced upon them in many places within the last eleven years, whole communities would have sought refuge in Santo Domingo. I do not suppose the whole race would have gone, nor is it desirable that they should go. Their labor is desirable—indispensable almost—where they now are. But the possession of this territory would have left the negro 'master of the situation', by enabling him to demand his rights at home on pain of finding them elsewhere.
- Enjoined by the Constitution 'to take care that the laws be faithfully executed', and convinced by undoubted evidence that violations of said act had been committed and that a widespread and flagrant disregard of it was contemplated, the proper officers were instructed to prosecute the offenders, and troops were stationed at convenient points to aid these officers, if necessary, in the performance of their official duties. Complaints are made of this interference by Federal authority; but if said amendment and act do not provide for such interference under the circumstances as above stated, then they are without meaning, force, or effect, and the whole scheme of colored enfranchisement is worse than mockery and little better than a crime. Possibly Congress may find it due to truth and justice to ascertain, by means of a committee, whether the alleged wrongs to colored citizens for political purposes are real or the reports thereof were manufactured for the occasion... Under existing conditions the negro votes the Republican ticket because he knows his friends are of that party. Many a good citizen votes the opposite, not because he agrees with the great principles of state which separate parties, but because, generally, he is opposed to negro rule. This is a most delusive cry. Treat the negro as a citizen and a voter, as he is and must remain, and soon parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle. Then we shall have no complaint of sectional interference.
- One thing has struck me as a bit queer. During my two terms of office the whole Democratic press, and the morbidly honest and 'reformatory' portion of the Republican press, thought it horrible to keep U.S. troops stationed in the Southern States, and when they were called upon to protect the lives of negroes–as much citizens under the Constitution as if their skins were white–the country was scarcely large enough to hold the sound of indignation belched forth by them for some years. Now, however, there is no hesitation about exhausting the whole power of the government to suppress a strike on the slightest intimation that danger threatens. All parties agree that this is right, and so do I. If a negro insurrection should arise in South Carolina, Mississippi, or Louisiana, or if the negroes in either of these states, where they are in a large majority, should intimidate the whites from going to the polls, or from exercising any of the rights of American citizens, there would be no division of sentiment as to the duty of the president. It does seem the rule should work both ways.
- Ulysses S. Grant, regarding keeping U.S. Army soldiers stationed in southern U.S. states to protect the safety and civil rights of freed slaves (26 August 1877), as quoted in The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: November 1, 1876-September 30, 1878, by U.S. Grant, pp. 251-252.
- Most Americans still believe that there is some biological legitimacy to our socially constructed racial categories. However, our modern scientific understanding of human genetic diversity flies in the face of all of our social stereotypes.
- In view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. It is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow-citizens, our equals before the law... We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow citizens, our equals before the law. The thin disguise of 'equal' accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, nor atone for the wrong this day done... I cannot see but that, according to the principles this day announced, such state legislation, although conceived in hostility to, and enacted for the purpose of humiliating, citizens of the United States of a particular race, would be held to be consistent with the constitution.
- When and under what conditions is the black man to have a free ballot? When is he in fact to have those full civil rights which have so long been his in law? When is that equality of influence which our form of government was intended to secure to the electors to be restored? This generation should courageously face these grave questions, and not leave them as a heritage of woe to the next. The consultation should proceed with candor, calmness, and great patience, upon the lines of justice and humanity, not of prejudice and cruelty. No question in our country can be at rest except upon the firm base of justice and of the law... The colored people did not intrude themselves upon us. They were brought here in chains and held in the communities where they are now chiefly found by a cruel slave code. Happily for both races, they are now free. They have from a standpoint of ignorance and poverty—which was our shame, not theirs—made remarkable advances in education and in the acquisition of property. They have as a people shown themselves to be friendly and faithful toward the white race under temptations of tremendous strength. They have their representatives in the national cemeteries, where a grateful Government has gathered the ashes of those who died in its defense. They have furnished to our Regular Army regiments that have won high praise from their commanding officers for courage and soldierly qualities and for fidelity to the enlistment oath. In civil life they are now the toilers of their communities, making their full contribution to the widening streams of prosperity which these communities are receiving. Their sudden withdrawal would stop production and bring disorder into the household as well as the shop. Generally they do not desire to quit their homes, and their employers resent the interference of the emigration agents who seek to stimulate such a desire.
- To be blind to color and colorism in this context is to license racial injustice and to ignore the historical trajectory of disenfranchisement and exploitation that have landed African Americans and people of color in a subordinate status position. ... Whites have inherited wealth that was ostensibly generated on the backs of African Americans. What's passed down through generations is an abdication of responsibility for this legacy and for the spoils that even working-class whites continue to reap from it. The situation is akin to finding a bloodied bag of money at your doorstep every month and spending it freely without seriously questioning where it came from or whose blood has been spilled to make it possible.
- David H. Ikard and Martell Lee Teasley, Nation of Cowards: Black Activism in Barack Obama’s Post-Racial America (Indiana University Press: 2012), p. 54
- As sons of freedom you are now called upon to defend your most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your country looks with confidence on her adopted children, for a valorous support, as a faithful return for the advantages enjoyed under her mild and equitable government.
- There is no southern problem; there is no northern problem. There is only an American problem, and we are met here tonight as Americans. Not as Democrats or Republicans; we are met here as Americans to solve that problem... To deny a man his hopes because of his color or race, his religion or the place of his birth–is not only to do injustice, it is to deny America and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish, it must be rooted in democracy. The most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country, in large measure, is the history of the expansion of that right to all of our people.
- There are accepted definitions of Americanism. There is none of Americanization. The reason is not hard to find. There is in America a national impulse called Americanization, which was understood as a war necessity before it had developed in time of peace. It acquired a generalization before it had become specific. It was subjected to organization and committed to the achievement of results before it was a branch of knowledge fairly evolved and reduced to practice. There is no science of race assimilation. No nation has had a sufficiently free opportunity with many diverse races to establish its enduring principles and certain procedure. America has this opportunity in her thirty-five different races speaking fifty-four languages, of whom 13,000,000 are foreign-born. One third of her total population has its roots in other soils and in diverse cultures. She has the laboratory for the experiment in her wide expanse of territory, much of it still unsettled; in the elasticity of her institutions; and in the still formative state of her cultural life. The old world is engaged in a struggle to find a way by which each race living on its own soil, separated by definite national boundaries, can be assured freedom and peace in the full development of its national life and in the realization of international opportunities. The task of America is different. It is for her to find the way by which these races, living on one soil, under one form of government, with no territorial lines, can be assimilated and become a part of her integral national life.
- Remember, boys and girls. Your school, like our country, is made up of Americans of many different races, religions, and national origins. So, if you hear anybody talk against a schoolmate or anyone else because of his religion, race, or national origin, don't wait. Tell him that kind of talk is un-American.
- American society, composed of diverse races and ethnicities, has a lot of tolerance of different kinds of people and can embrace them all as Americans.
- Sae-jung Kim, "South Korea's Reaction to the Virginia Tech Massacre: Koreans view American feelings through the lens of their own culture" (19 April 2007), OhMyNews: International.
- Ordinary Americans, even those in blue states like California, Washington and Michigan, do not like policies of race-based preferences and discrimination... Equal protection of equal rights is the American ideal, enshrined forever in the proposition that all men are created equal, and it is right. Racism is wrong precisely because equality is right.
- Thomas L. Krannawitter, "Winning Strategy For Republicans: Getting Rid Of Racial Preferences" (18 December 2006), Investors, Investor's Business Daily, Inc.
- Remove the word black and say 'lives matter'... Stop sending mothers back home empty. You can never replace a mother's child. If we want black lives matter, let's make it matter to us. That's the new call.
- Ray Lewis, as quoted in "Former NFL Player Ray Lewis: 'Let's Make Lives Matter'" (2015), by Khorri Atkinson, NBC News.
- When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government — that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all men are created equal," and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.
- Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Peoria, Illinois (1854), Online text Speech at Peoria, Illinois, in Reply to Senator Douglas (16 October 1854); published in The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (1894) Vol. 2.
- You enquire where I now stand. That is a disputed point. I think I am a whig; but others say there are no whigs, and that I am an abolitionist. When I was at Washington I voted for the Wilmot Proviso as good as forty times, and I never heard of any one attempting to unwhig me for that. I now do more than oppose the extension of slavery.
I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be take pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].
- Abraham Lincoln, letter to longtime friend and slave-holder Joshua F. Speed, Esq., (24 August 1855).
- Let us then turn this Government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it. Let us stand firmly by each other. If we do not do so we are turning in the contrary direction, that our friend Judge Douglas proposes — not intentionally — as working in the traces tend to make this one universal slave nation. He is one that runs in that direction, and as such I resist him. My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desired to do, and I have only to say, let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man; this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position; discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal. My friends, I could not, without launching off upon some new topic, which would detain you too long, continue to-night. I thank you for this most extensive audience that you have furnished me to-night. I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.
- Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.
- I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes.
- Abraham Lincoln, Fourth Lincoln-Douglas Debate (18 September 1858).
- But it is dreaded that the freed people will swarm forth and cover the whole land. Are they not already in the land? Will liberation make them any more numerous? Equally distributed among the whites of the whole country, and there would be but one colored to seven whites. Could the one in any way greatly disturb the seven? There are many communities now having more than one free colored person to seven whites and this without any apparent consciousness of evil from it. The District of Columbia and the States of Maryland and Delaware are all in this condition. The District has more than one free colored to six whites, and yet in its frequent petitions to Congress I believe it has never presented the presence of free colored persons as one of its grievances. But why should emancipation South send the free people North? People of any color seldom run unless there be something to run from. Hertofore colored people to some extent have fled North from bondage, and now, perhaps, from both bondage and destitution.
- We have seen the mere distinction of color made, in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.
- I've got nothing against any individual American, except that there aren't any. They're always Irish-American, African-American–there's never an American-American you can blame!
- Simon Munnery, as quoted in Attention Scum.
- Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
- When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country... We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith... If we give up now, then we forsake a better future. Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure. As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background. We can’t afford to go down that path. It won’t deliver the economy we want, or the security we want, but most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.
- Black folks are descendants of slaves that were imported, quote-unquote by slave owners, to the United States for the explicit purpose of cultivating crops. And it was predicated on white supremacy and racial superiority, but we have to understand that white supremacy exists for a reason, and they exist for a very specific cultural and economic reasons. And LBJ talked about this — like, if you can convince a poor white man that he’s superior to a black man, he’ll empty his pockets for you.
And so it’s not just economic reasons why racism exists but there are economic reasons why racism is perpetuated and incentivized. More of that’s housing, income, et cetera... Until America tells the truth about itself we’re never going to heal.... It’s like this thing that as a culture we hide... it’s like this big wound with a big ugly scab on it, and it’s just going to stay... until we just deal with it.... Acknowledging racism is a really big step... but... it’s nowhere near enough.... the idea that you can be poor and benefit from the color of your skin does not compute for a lot of people... And going through that realization is very painful... for people that are that were born with silver spoons, it’s very painful to admit that you had advantages...
- Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the document that articulated the principle of human rights endowed by the Creator, thereby ultimately ensuring the end of slavery, and led to the establishment of the country that has served as the beacon of hope for people of every race and ethnicity. More black Africans have voluntarily emigrated to the United States to seek liberty and opportunity than came to America as slaves... Conservatives view America as President Abraham Lincoln viewed it; as the 'Last Best Hope of Earth'... America gradually became the least-xenophobic, least-racist nation in the world. In no country do people become accepted as full members of the society as do immigrants to America.
- The problem of the twenty-first century, then, is the problem of the color-blind. This problem is simple: it believes that to redress racism, we need to not consider race in social practice, notably in the sphere of governmental action. The state, we are told, must be above race. ... We are led to believe that racism is prejudicial behavior of one party against another rather than the coagulation of socioeconomic injustice against groups. If the state acts without prejudice (this is, if it acts equally), then that is proof of the end of racism. Unequal socioeconomic conditions of today, based as they are on racisms of the past and of the present, are thereby rendered untouchable by the state. Color-blind justice privatizes inequality and racism, and it removes itself from the project of redistributive and anti-racist justice. This is the genteel racism of our new millennium.
- Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity (2002), p. 38
- If Malcolm X or the Black Panthers had attempted to set up a separate black state on American soil in the tradition of John Brown, their efforts would have been crushed immediately... A nation which, since its founding, has rejected the idea of hereditary entitlements. Slavery and racial discrimination are exceptions to this tradition. Huge, horrific exceptions, but exceptions nonetheless. For all the hypocrisies and bigotries of its citizens and leaders, the United States does promise liberty, equality and justice. The gap between these promises and realities often yaws wide, but the promises abide. They are part of the 'American Dream', the 'American Creed', and the American 'civil religion', which no amount of 'realism' or cynicism seems able to smother... No group in American history has had more reason to disbelieve America's promises than African Americans... Imbued with Christianity and the American Creed, most black Americans rejected the appeals of socialists in the late nineteenth century, Communists in the 1930s, and neo-Marxist 'liberationists' in the 1960s. Rather, when America's unpaid 'promissory note' came due in the 1950s and 1960s, they marched forth from Christian churches to demand fulfillment of the very American promise that 'all men are created equal'. And faith in the redeemability of America's promises remains in the African-American community today, sustaining efforts to overcome continued segregation, unjust incarceration and enduring economic inequality.
- Jeff Pyle, "Race, Equality and the Rule of Law: Critical Race Theory's Attack on the Promises of Liberalism" (May 1999), Boston College Law Review.
- Discrimination against the Negro race in this country is unjust, is unworthy of a high-minded people whose example should have a salutary influence in the world.
- Joseph Hayne Rainey, speech about the Civil Rights Act under consideration which was passed in 1875 (19 December 1873), as quoted in Neglected Voices, New York University School of Law.
- We condemn bigots who inject class, racial and religious prejudice into public and political matters. Bigotry is un-American and a danger to the republic. We deplore the duplicity and insincerity of the party in power in racial and religious matters. Although they have been in office as a 'Majority Party' for many years, they have not kept nor do they intend to keep their promises. The Republican Party will not mislead, exploit or attempt to confuse minority groups for political purposes. All American citizens are entitled to full, impartial enforcement of Federal laws relating to their civil rights. We believe that it is the primary responsibility of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions, and this power, reserved to the states, is essential to the maintenance of our Federal Republic. However, we believe that the Federal Government should take supplemental action within its constitutional jurisdiction to oppose discrimination against race, religion or national origin..
- Republican Party Platform of 1952 (7 July 1952).
- This nation was created to give expression, validity and purpose to our spiritual heritage—the supreme worth of the individual. In such a nation—a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal—racial discrimination has no place. It can hardly be reconciled with a Constitution that guarantees equal protection under law to all persons. In a deeper sense, too, it is immoral and unjust. As to those matters within reach of political action and leadership, we pledge ourselves unreservedly to its eradication... Equality under law promises more than the equal right to vote and transcends mere relief from discrimination by government. It becomes a reality only when all persons have equal opportunity, without distinction of race, religion, color or national origin, to acquire the essentials of life—housing, education and employment. The Republican Party—the party of Abraham Lincoln—from its very beginning has striven to make this promise a reality. It is today, as it was then, unequivocally dedicated to making the greatest amount of progress toward the objective.
- Republican Party Platform of 1960 (25 July 1960).
- It has long been a fundamental conviction of the Republican Party that government should foster in our society a climate of maximum individual liberty and freedom of choice. Properly informed, our people as individuals or acting through instruments of popular consultation can make the right decisions affecting personal or general welfare, free of pervasive and heavy-handed intrusion by the central government into the decision-making process. This tenet is the genius of representative democracy. Republicans also treasure the ethnic, cultural, and regional diversity of our people. This diversity fosters a dynamism in American society that is the envy of the world... As the 'Party of Lincoln', we remain equally and steadfastly committed to the equality of rights for all citizens, regardless of race. Although this nation has not yet eliminated all vestiges of racism over the years we are heartened by the progress that has been made, we are proud of the role that our party has played, and we are dedicated to standing shoulder to shoulder with black Americans in that cause.
- Republican Party Platform of 1980 (15 July 1980), Detroit, Michigan.
- No individual should be victimized by unfair discrimination because of race, sex, advanced age, physical handicap, difference of national origin or religion, or economic circumstance... Republicans deplore growing antisemitism... The Republican Party supports the principle and process of self-determination in Africa. We reaffirm our commitment to this principle... We recognize that much is at stake in Africa and that the United States and the industrial west have vital interests there, economically, strategically, and politically. Working closely with our allies, a Republican administration will seek to assist the countries of Africa with our presence, our markets, our know-how, and our investment. We will work to create a climate of economic and political development and confidence. We will encourage and assist business to play a major role in support of regional industrial development programs, mineral complexes, and agricultural self-sufficiency. Republicans believe that African nations, if given a choice, will reject the Marxist, totalitarian model being forcibly imposed.
- Republican Party Platform of 1980 (15 July 1980), Detroit, Michigan.
- The African peoples are convinced that the west is central to world stability and economic growth on which their own fortunes ultimately depend. A Republican administration will adhere to policies that reflect the complex origins of African conflicts, demonstrate that we know what U.S. interests are, and back those interests in meaningful ways. We will recognize the important role of economic and military assistance programs and will devote major resources to assisting African development and stability when such aid is given on a bilateral basis and contributes directly to American interests on the continent. In southern Africa, American policies must be guided by common sense and by our own humanitarian principles. Republicans believe that our history has meaning for Africa in demonstrating that a multi-racial society with guarantees of individual rights is possible and can work. We must remain open and helpful to all parties, whether in the new Zimbabwe, in Namibia, or in the Republic of South Africa. A Republican administration will not endorse situations or constitutions, in whatever society, which are racist in purpose or in effect. It will not expect miracles, but will press for genuine progress in achieving goals consistent with American ideals.
- Republican Party Platform of 1980 (15 July 1980), Detroit, Michigan.
- The Republican Party reaffirms its support of the pluralism and freedom that have been part and parcel of this great country. In so doing, it repudiates and completely disassociates itself from people, organizations, publications, and entities which promulgate the practice of any form of bigotry, racism, antisemitism, or religious intolerance... Americans demand a civil rights policy premised on the letter of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law requires equal rights; and it is our policy to end discrimination on account of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. We have vigorously enforced civil rights statutes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recovered record amounts of back pay and other compensation for victims of employment discrimination. Just as we must guarantee opportunity, we oppose attempts to dictate results. We will resist efforts to replace equal rights with discriminatory quota systems and preferential treatment. Quotas are the most insidious form of discrimination: reverse discrimination against the innocent. We must always remember that, in a free society, different individual goals will yield different results. The Republican Party has an historic commitment to equal rights for women. Republicans pioneered the right of women to vote, and our party was the first major party to advocate equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.
- Republican Party Platform of 1984 (20 August 1984), Republican National Convention Committee on Resolution.
- We reaffirm our commitment to the rights of all South Africans. Apartheid is repugnant. In South Africa, as elsewhere on the continent, we support well-conceived efforts to foster peace, prosperity, and stability... Since its inception, the Republican Party has stood for the worth of every person. On that ground, we support the pluralism and diversity that have been part of our country's greatness. Deep in our hearts, we do believe that bigotry has no place in American life. We denounce those persons, organizations, publications, and movements which practice or promote racism, antisemitism or religious intolerance.
- Republican Party Platform of 1988 (16 August 1988), Republican National Convention.
- The protection of individual rights is the foundation for opportunity and security. The Republican Party is unique in this regard. Since its inception, it has respected every person, even when that proposition was not universally popular. Today, as in the day of Lincoln, we insist that no American's rights are negotiable. That is why we declare that bigotry and prejudice have no place in American life. We denounce all who practice or promote racism, antisemitism, or religious intolerance... We urge peace and justice for Northern Ireland. We welcome the newly begun process of constitutional dialogue that holds so much promise. We encourage investment and reconstruction to create opportunity for all.
- Republican Party Platform of 1992 (17 August 1992), Republican National Convention.
- We are the party of individual Americans, whose rights we protect and defend as the foundation for opportunity and security for all. Today, as at our founding in the day of Lincoln, we insist no one's rights are negotiable. As we strive to forge a national consensus on the divisive issues of our time, we call on all Republicans and all Americans to reject the forces of hatred and bigotry. Accordingly, we denounce all who practice or promote racism, antisemitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance... Because we are all one America, we oppose discrimination. We believe in the equality of all people before the law and that individuals should be judged by their ability rather than their race.
- Republican Party Platform of 1996 (12 August 1996), Republican National Convention, San Diego, California.
- We meet at a remarkable time in the life of our country. Our powerful economy gives America a unique chance to confront persistent challenges. Our country, after an era of drift, must now set itself to important tasks and higher goals. The Republican Party has the vision and leadership to address these issues. Our platform is uplifting and visionary. It reflects the views of countless Americans all across this country who believe in prosperity with a purpose... Since the election of 1860, the Republican Party has had a special calling, to advance the founding principles of freedom and limited government and the dignity and worth of every individual... Equality of individuals before the law has always been a cornerstone of our party. We therefore oppose discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin and will vigorously enforce anti-discrimination statutes. As we strive to forge a national consensus on the crucial issues of our time, we call on all Americans to reject the forces of hatred and bigotry. Accordingly, we denounce all who practice or promote racism, antisemitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance. Our country was founded in faith and upon the truth that self-government is rooted... Rule of law is not consistent with state-sponsored brutality. When the Russian government attacks civilians in Chechnya, killing innocents without discrimination or accountability, neglecting orphans and refugees, it can no longer expect aid from international lending institutions. Moscow needs to operate with civilized self-restraint.
- Republican Party Platform of 2000 (31 July 2000), Republican National Convention, United States of America: Republican National Committee.
- Individual rights, and the responsibilities that go with them, are the foundation of a free society. From the time of Lincoln, equality of individuals has been a cornerstone of the Republican Party. Our commitment to equal opportunity extends from landmark school-choice legislation for the students of Washington, D.C. to historic appointments at the highest levels of government. We consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin to be immoral, and we will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes. We ask all to join us in rejecting the forces of hatred and bigotry and in denouncing all who practice or promote racism, antisemitism, ethnic prejudice, or religious intolerance. As a matter of principle, Republicans oppose any attempts to create race-based governments within the United States, as well as any domestic governments not bound by the constitution or the Bill of Rights. Precisely because we oppose discrimination, we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides, whether in education or in corporate boardrooms. The government should not make contracts on this basis, and neither should corporations.
- Republican Party Platform of 2008 (1 September 2008), Republican National Convention, United States of America.
- Free speech on college campuses is to be celebrated, but there should be no place in academia for antisemitism or racism of any kind... All Americans stand equal before the law. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity. In the spirit of the constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral. We will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes and ask all to join us in rejecting the forces of hatred and bigotry and in denouncing all who practice or promote racism, antisemitism, ethnic prejudice, or religious intolerance.
- Republican Party Platform of 2012 (27 August 2012), Republican National Convention, United States of America.
- I cannot consent to take the position that the door of hope — the door of opportunity — is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong.
- As a people we claim the right to speak with peculiar emphasis for freedom and for fair treatment of all men without regard to differences of race, fortune, creed, or color. We forfeit the right so to speak when we commit or condone such crimes as these of which I speak. The nation, like the individual, cannot commit a crime with impunity. If we are guilty of lawlessness and brutal violence, whether our guilt consists in active participation therein or in mere connivance and encouragement, we shall assuredly suffer later on because of what we have done... The cornerstone of this republic, as of all free governments, is respect for and obedience to the law. Where we permit the law to be defied or evaded, whether by rich man or poor man, by black man or white, we are by just so much weakening the bonds of our civilization and increasing the chances of its overthrow, and of the substitution therefore of a system in which there shall be violent alternations of anarchy and tyranny.
- There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope some day it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man's heart and soul, the man's worth and actions, determine his standing.
- It is unwise to depart from the old American tradition and discriminate for or against any man who desires to come here and become a citizen, save on the ground of that man's fitness for citizenship... We can not afford to consider whether he is Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Gentile; whether he is Englishman or Irishman, Frenchman or German, Japanese, Italian, or Scandinavian, or Magyar. What we should desire to find out is the individual quality of the individual man.
- Theodore Roosevelt, message to the U.S. Congress (1905). As quoted in The Business of Transatlantic Migration between Europe and the United States, 1900–1914 (2012), by Drew Keeling, p. 161.
- Individuals who have been wronged by unlawful racial discrimination should be made whole; but under our Constitution there can be no such thing as either a creditor or a debtor race. That concept is alien to the Constitution's focus upon the individual. ...To pursue the concept of racial entitlement - even for the most admirable and benign of purposes - is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.
- Antonin Scalia, Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 534 U.S. 103 (1995).
- This country does not discriminate. No president, no officer in this country should hold office that has any hint of treating people differently because of the color of their skin or where they came from and that kind of thing. We believe in equality and fair treatment and that's the moral principle that we adhere to as a nation.
- Douglas, no man will ever be President of the United States who spells 'negro' with two gs.
- When George Washington was fighting for freedom in the Revolutionary War, he was fighting for the freedom of "whites only." Rich whites, at that. After the so-called Revolution, you couldn't vote unless you were a white man and you owned a plot of land. The Revolutionary War was led by some rich white boys who got tired of paying heavy taxes to the king. It didn't have anything at all to do with freedom, justice, and equality for all.
- American families are in the process of passing along a $9 trillion legacy from one generation to the next. ... Hand in hand with this money, I submit, what is really being handed down from generation to generation is the profound legacy of reproducing racial inequality. The legacy is difficult to discern because the language of family heritage hides it from our political consciousness.
- Thomas M. Shapiro, The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality (2005), p. 32
- The main contemporary obstacle facing African Americans is neither white racism, as many liberals claim, nor black genetic deficiency... Rather it involves destructive and pathological cultural patterns of behavior: excessive reliance on government, conspiratorial paranoia about racism, a resistance to academic achievement as "acting white," a celebration of the criminal and outlaw as authentically black, and the normalization of illegitimacy and dependency.
- Dinesh D'Souza, The End of Racism (1995), Ch. 1.
- Consistent with Martin Luther King's vision, the government should stop color-coding its citizens.
- Dinesh D'Souza, "As I See It", in Forbes Vol. 158, no. 13 (2 December 1996), p. 48.
- America has gone further than any other society in establishing equality of rights. There is nothing distinctively American about slavery or bigotry. Slavery has existed in virtually every culture, and xenophobia, prejudice and discrimination are worldwide phenomena... No country expended more treasure and blood to get rid of slavery than the United States. While racism remains a problem, this country has made strenuous efforts to eradicate discrimination, even to the extent of enacting policies that give legal preference in university admissions, jobs, and government contracts to members of minority groups. Such policies remain controversial, but the point is that it is extremely unlikely that a racist society would have permitted such policies in the first place. And surely African Americans like Jesse Jackson are vastly better off living in America than they would be if they were to live in, say, Ethiopia or Somalia.
- Dinesh D'Souza, "10 things to celebrate: Why I'm an anti-anti-American" (29 June 2003), SFGate.
- As an immigrant, I am constantly surprised by how much I hear racism talked about and how little I actually see it. Even fewer are the incidents in which I have experienced it directly.
- Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great About America (2003), Ch. 4: The Reparations Fallacy.
- Racism has never done this country any good, and it needs to be fought against, not put under new management for different groups.
- We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty, which includes the contribution and assimilation of different racial and ethnic groups.
- Texan Republican Party Platform of 2014 (June 2014), by the Republican Party of Texas.
- Americans and Europeans alike sometimes forget how unique is the United States of America. No other nation has been created so swiftly and successfully. No other nation has been built upon an idea; the idea of liberty. No other nation has so successfully combined people of different races and nations within a single culture.
- We were never hyphenated as Arab-Americans. We were American, and I have always rejected the hyphen and I believe all assimilated immigrants should not be designated ethnically. Or separated, of course, by race, or creed either. These are trends that ever try to divide us as a people.
- Helen Thomas, as quoted in My America: what my country means to me by 150 Americans from all walks of life (2002), Simon & Schuster, p. 238.
- No California gentleman or lady ever abuses or oppresses a Chinaman, under any circumstances, an explanation that seems to be much needed in the east. Only the scum of the population do it; they and their children. They, and, naturally and consistently, the policemen and politicians, likewise, for these are the dust-licking pimps and slaves of the scum, there as well as elsewhere in America.
- I mentioned Grant's loyalty – remember Harrison, his colored body servant? The whole family hated him, but that did not make any difference, the General always stood at his back, wouldn't allow him to be scolded; always excused his failures and deficiencies with the one unvarying formula, We are responsible for these things in his race. It is not fair to visit our fault upon them, let him alone. ... he was the most lovable great child of the world.
- Mark Twain, letter to Henry Ward Beecher.
- In his 2009 visit to the US, the [UN] Special Rapporteur on Racism noted that "Socio-economic indicators show that poverty and race and ethnicity continue to overlap in the United States. This reality is a direct legacy of the past, in particular slavery, segregation, the forcible resettlement of Native Americans, which was confronted by the United States during the civil rights movement. However, whereas the country managed to establish equal treatment and non-discrimination in its laws, it has yet to redress the socioeconomic consequences of the historical legacy of racism."
- I believe the preservation of our civil liberties to be the most fundamental and important of all our governmental problems, because it always has been with us and always will be with us and if we ever permit those liberties to be destroyed, there will be nothing left in our system worthy of preservation. They constitute the soul of democracy. I believe that there is grave danger in this country of losing our civil liberties as they have been lost in other countries.
- We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race. There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.
- The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
- George Washington, letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport (1790).
- We have abundant reason to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened age, and in this land of equal liberty, it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining & holding the highest offices that are known in the United States.
- I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that's what you're asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves...
Look, I'm sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in our country can't be blamed on us today...
This may come as a surprise to you, but I wasn't alive when reservations were created — even if I do look that old. I have no idea what the best method of dealing with the Indians in the 1800s would have been. Our forefathers evidently thought they were doing the right thing.
- All the leading Founders affirmed on many occasions that blacks are created equal to whites and that slavery is wrong... The whole Revolution was an antislavery movement, for the colonists. The political logic of the Revolution pointed inexorably to the eventually abolition of slavery for the blacks as well... Americans did come to understand the meaning of their principles more fully as the Revolution proceeded. But with respect to slavery, they knew by the end of the founding era exactly what their principles meant. The more they based their arguments on the natural rights of all men, and not just the rights of Englishmen, the more the Americans noticed, by the same logic, that enslavement of blacks was also unjust... Slaves themselves appealed to the natural rights argument. In our time, the principles of the Revolution have been denounced as 'white' or 'Eurocentric'. It is true that a tiny minority of European philosophers, who opposed the convictions of most whites of their day, first published those principles to the world. But whoever may have discovered them, American whites and blacks alike came to believe that the natural rights of mankind, like the laws of gravity discovered by Newton, were not some ethnocentric ideology but God's own truth.
- The citizenship status of blacks was never quite clear. Obviously, they were not quite resident aliens, for they had no country but the United States. The federal government generally avoided taking a stand on black citizenship when the subject arose. A few blacks got federal passports implying that they were citizens... The Articles of Confederation stated that 'the free inhabitants of these states... shall be entitled to all privileges of immunities of free citizens in the several states', and Congress voted down South Carolina's proposal to insert the word 'white' into this clause. Chief Justice Taney, in the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, asserted that blacks had never been, and could never be, citizens of the United States. He was wrong... As a nation based on the idea of equality, America has been a melting pot. It has taken people from diverse traditions and turned them into freedom-loving and decent citizens... When the decision was finally made to accept blacks as full citizens, the founders' principles provided the theoretical foundation. Lincoln's revival of the declaration in the 1850s had prepared the way. In principle, people of all races can become citizens of a nation based on the idea that 'all men are created equal'.
- If you know the history of the whole concept of whiteness—if you know the history of the whole concept of the white race, where it came from and for what reason—you know that it was a trick, and it’s worked brilliantly. You see, prior to the mid to late 1600s, in the colonies of what would become the United States, there was no such thing as the white race. Those of us of European descent did not refer to ourselves by that term really ever before then.
- America has a very serious problem. Not only does America have a very serious problem, but our people have a very serious problem. America's problem is us. We're her problem. The only reason she has a problem is she doesn't want us here.
- Malcolm X, statement in Detroit, Michigan (10 November 1963).
- It's impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism. You can't have capitalism without racism.
- Malcolm X, Speech, May 29, 1964, The Harlem Hate-Gang-Scare, p. 69
Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes the Case for Reparations at Historic Congressional Hearing, Democracy Now' (20 June 2019)
- Yesterday, when asked about reparations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a familiar reply: America should not be held liable for something that happened 150 years ago, since none of us currently alive are responsible... This rebuttal proffers a strange theory of governance, that American accounts are somehow bound by the lifetime of its generations. But well into this century, the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of Civil War soldiers. We honor treaties that date back some 200 years, despite no one being alive who signed those treaties... But we are American citizens, and thus bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach.
- As historian Ed Baptist has written, enslavement, quote, “shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics” of America, so that by 1836 more than $600 million, or almost half of the economic activity in the United States, derived directly or indirectly from the cotton produced by the million-odd slaves. By the time the enslaved were emancipated, they comprised the largest single asset in America—$3 billion in 1860 dollars, more than all the other assets in the country combined.
The method of cultivating this asset was neither gentle cajoling nor persuasion, but torture, rape and child trafficking. Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores. When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—to all, regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so, for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.
It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement. But the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders, and the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs—coup d’états and convict leasing. vagrancy laws and debt peonage, redlining and racist GI bills, poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.
- We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox. But he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them. He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they’d love a word with the majority leader.
What they know, what this committee must know, is that while emancipation dead-bolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide open. And that is the thing about Senator McConnell’s “something.” It was 150 years ago. And it was right now.
The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women. And there is, of course, the shame of this land of the free boasting the largest prison population on the planet, of which the descendants of the enslaved make up the largest share.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Reparations Are Not Just About Slavery But Also Centuries of Theft & Racial Terror, Democracy Now (20 June 2019)
- You know, the two great crimes in American history is obviously...the near destruction...of this country’s Native American population, the theft of their land, and on to work that land was brought in native Africans into this country, beginning in 1619. Those twin processes profoundly altered the shape of the world and made this country possible. Obviously, first of all, you know, the land on which America and Americans currently reside was the land of Native Americans, but the people brought in to break that land just transformed it.
- The profits derived from slavery are more extreme than I think are commonly acknowledged. As I said yesterday, in 1860, the combined worth of the 4 million enslaved black people in this country was some $3 billion, nearly $75 billion in today’s share of dollars. Cotton, in 1860, was this country’s largest export—not just its largest export, it was the majority of exports out of this country. So, from a financial perspective, just the economics of it, it’s absolutely impossible to imagine America without enslavement.
- The onset of the Civil War, the greatest preponderance, the greatest population per capita of millionaires and multimillionaires in this country was in the Mississippi River Valley. It wasn’t in Boston, wasn’t in Chicago, wasn’t in New York. The richest people in this country were slaveholders. Most of our earliest presidents were slaveholders. And the fact that they were presidents is not incidental to the fact that they—to their slaveholding. That was how they built their wealth. That was how Thomas Jefferson built his wealth. That was how George Washington built his wealth. Individual slaves were the equivalent of, say, owning a home today. They were people, but turned into objects of extreme wealth. So, just from the economic perspective, there’s that.
- The average African-American family in this country making $100,000, which is, you know, decent money, actually lives in the same kind of neighborhood that the average white family making $35,000 a year lives in. That is totally tied to the legacy of enslavement and Jim Crow and the input and the idea in the mind that white people and black people are somehow deserving of different things.
- If I injure you, the injury persists even after I actually commit the act. If I stab you, you may suffer complications long after that initial actual stabbing. If I shoot you, you may suffer complications long after that initial shooting. That’s the case with African Americans. There are people well within the living memory of this country that are still suffering from the after-effects of that.
- This whole thing about who should get a check, and should we cut checks, you know, I understand those questions. That’s great. Those people should support H.R. 40, though, because that’s what H.R. 40 does. It tries to get that figured out, and get that math figured out, and figure out the best way to do it. But if we don’t actually have a study, we can’t actually answer those questions. You can’t ask a doctor to make a diagnosis before there’s an actual examination.
- And in terms of poverty and race in this country, again, you know, one of the things that I really, really wanted to stress is, the level of poverty specifically that you see in the African-American community is not accidental. It’s not accidental. This is part of the process. The process of enslavement involves stealing something from someone. It involves taking something from someone.
- Jim Crow was theft. First and foremost, it was theft. If I tax you or if tell you you have to be loyal to this country and pledge fealty to its laws, but then I don’t give you the same degree of protection, I don’t give you the same access to resources that I give to another group of people, I have effectively stolen something from you. I have stolen your tax money. I have stolen your fealty.
- So, when the state of Mississippi, for instance, taxes black people and then builds one facility for education and another for—one facility for education for whites and then an inferior facility for blacks, that’s theft. That’s theft. If I build a public pool system and then tell you you can’t use that public pool system, that’s theft.
- And so, that is the long history of this country, that doesn’t end, again, conservatively, until 1968. And so, there are people who are very, very much alive who have experienced that, who are suffering the after-effects and effects of that. And that’s what, you know, as far as I’m concerned, the whole movement around reparations is about.
- Mitch McConnell... does not want to be responsible for enslavement that happened 150 years ago, but, yet and still, wants the right to operate his business or operate his career in a building that was built by enslaved people.
- I think the testimony was that one should not receive payment that would properly be due to the enslaved. But this country is, to this very day, receiving payment that was due to its enslavers. That’s the way inheritance works in this country, however one might feel about that. If I assemble a mass of money, I have the right to pass that on to my kid. My kid has the right to do whatever and then pass it on to their kid. And so, there’s something fundamentally injust if I have secured that money by taking it from one group, and then I pass that money on to my kid.