By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, [email protected]
The images of Brown men, women and especially children on the Texas border being crammed into cages, some infirmed, wallowing in their own filth and waste have probably horrified billions of people around the globe.
We have witnessed human beings (the vast majority fleeing oppression) held in standing room only cells for days at a time, no access to showers for weeks, children sleeping on concrete floors, babies in soiled diapers, being tended to by filthy children.
This “policy of cruelty” is the purposeful practice of the morally bankrupt Trump administration, imbued at its incipience June 16, 2015, when Trump descended the escalator of his gilded tower.
We have also witnessed the false narrative of “this is not the American way.” But, anyone who is even a peripheral student of American history understands this so-called policy of cruelty, when applied to people of color is most assuredly as American as the Fourth of July.
To be clear, there are millions of Americans, most members of Donald Trump’s rabid MAGA base, who gleefully smirk as they witness the plight of Latino migrants, many literally fleeing for their lives.
Now, these men, women and children are being tortured, held in concentration camp conditions, all under the auspices of Trump’s wanton immigration policy (crafted and orchestrated by the grotesque Stephen Miller) of cruelty.
If the myriad anecdotes being reported from U.S. immigration detention centers are accurate, human beings making the perilous journey from South and Central America in search of “the American dream” are being treated worse than prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Let’s be real about it; these human beings are actually being treated far worse than dogs at a neighborhood kennel.
Implicit in Trump’s policy of cruelty against Brown migrants is the 45th President’s belief in the inhumanity of its victims.
As we celebrate the Fourth of July, the 243rd birthday of the United States of America, I am reminded of the reality that historically the White American ruling class has methodically and relentlessly attempted to strip away the humanity of “the other.”
It is an all too familiar theme to Americans of African ancestry over the centuries.
Of course, the document most associated with the Fourth of July is the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps, it’s most famous phrase, “All men are created equal,” was clearly never meant for women, nor Black men.
To bolster the inhumanity of those of African ancestry, now living in the newly formed United States of America, the U.S. Constitution, the country’s foundational document of governance includes the “Three-Fifths Compromise.” This clause of the Constitution specifically marked Black slaves as less than human with a designation of three-fifths of a person for the apportionment of representatives, presidential elections and taxes.
It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that people of African ancestry in America (and only men at that point) were technically awarded full U.S. citizenship.
Subsequently, Black Americans have endured the inhumanity of Reconstruction following the Civil War.
Black Americans have endured the inhumanity of the imposition of Black Codes.
Black Americans have endured nearly a century of Jim Crow in the South.
Black Americans have endured the brutality of law enforcement rooted in the antebellum practice of slave catching.
Black Americans have endured fire bombings, burning crosses, bullets, water hoses and police dogs, all symbolic of the Civil Rights Movement.
Black Americans have endured red-lining and block-busting and neighborhood covenants.
Black Americans have endured the assasination and exile of our leaders and the machinations of COINTELPRO.
Black Americans have endured the implosion of our communities fueled by crack cocaine and a bogus “War on Drugs.”
Black Americans have endured mass incarceration and “The New Jim Crow.”
Black Americans are enduring the illegitimate presidency (according to former President James Earl Carter) of Donald John Trump.
So, policies of cruelty against people of color are nothing new, indeed they are the American Way.
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.