Black Lives Matter

Good morning and thank you for joining me on this Monday Morning Minute.

I recently read a very important letter that was sent to my son Jared and his fellow dental students from the deans at Tufts Dental School, where Jared will be starting his third year of dental education. I was so impressed with this letter from these deans that I decided for this week’s Monday Morning Minute to repeat that message and devote this week’s Monday Morning Minute solely to the upheavals all of us have experienced over the past twelve weeks, especially the inexplicable murders of Ahmad Arbury, George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, David McAtee and Tony McDade, along with the ensuing protests. Every one of us is beginning to fray around the edges as we have weathered the challenges and uncertainties imposed by almost three months of social isolation and restricted freedom of movement.

Over the past several weeks, police brutality and white vigilantism and the ensuing protests, peaceful and violent, have not only increased our levels of anxiety, depression and stress, and added anger, remorse and despondency to our already heavy burdens. This impact of these events upon our black neighbors, colleagues, employees and friends are felt not only more acutely, they can be crushing.

Many of the messages I have read either address the current incidents in isolation or mention racism against people of color broadly. None of them discuss specifically the continuity of the uniquely ruthless treatment black people of America have received for some 400 years a history that is ill taught, if taught at all. Here’s a brief history lesson I hope that you will learn from the beginning to understand what black Americans have experienced for such a long time.

Beginning with transatlantic slave trade, during which twelve to 18 million Africans were shipped under horrific conditions to the Americas, an estimated 1.8 million dying in a route, and they endured a particularly brutal system of slavery unique to the Americas in the colonies and subsequently the US. Slavery existed for 246 years. Slaves experienced severe social isolation and had no freedom of movement and no rights. A few free blacks during this era also lived under ordinances that lawfully enforced social isolation with restricted freedom of movement and granted only limited rights.

During Reconstruction from 1865 to 1877, blacks experienced an all too brief renaissance when they demonstrated their ability and willingness to participate and succeed in a free and open society, despite threats of violence perpetrated against them by former Confederate soldiers and their supporters.

For the next 90 years, white segregationists instituted Jim Crow laws that enforced social isolation and restricted freedom of movement upon blacks, all of which local, state, and federal governments and law enforcement officers supported. Between 1882 to 1968, 3446 blacks were lynched and countless others were murdered or mutilated, and perpetrators were rarely prosecuted and almost never found guilty. Frequently, law enforcement officers participated in these murders, and they almost never tried to intervene.

During the Jim Crow era, well over 100 white instigated. Race riots against blacks raged across the country, with 40 occurring in 1919 alone. And officers of the law rarely intervened on behalf of the black victims. Into the 1960s, Sundown Ordinances existed in 10,000 communities around the country, most of them outside of the south. That not only forbid blacks from living in these jurisdictions, they required them to be out of town before dark. Once a community passed a Sundown Law, the police made black residents move, rarely paying them for their property. In most cities, laws were passed that required blacks to live only in certain neighborhoods. Authorities in Sundown towns and segregated cities again instituted social isolation upon blacks and restricted their freedom of movement.

The peaceful civil rights protests of the were met with hostility and violence by the police and the white segregationalists. As you may have learned from footage of the March of Selma as witnessed by recent incidents, the police brutality continues, as does the hostility of white supremacy. And believe it or not, despite over 200 anti lynching bills introduced in Congress between 1882 and 1968, three of which passed the House, but none made it out of the Senate, the US. Still does not have a law that makes lynching a federal crime.

This year, the Emmett Till Anti Lynching Act passed in the House by a vote of 410 to four votes. But a single senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, has prevented it from becoming law. The point is that in order to be able to understand what our black neighbors, colleagues, employees and friends feel, we who are not black must understand the historical context of the 400 year social isolation and restricted freedom of movement society has imposed upon them and the role law enforcement has played in maintaining it. If you are black, you cannot even go for a jog without wondering if you’ll return home alive.

We all know what it is like to live in social isolation and with restricted freedom of movement for three months. Try to imagine experiencing that for 400 years. I sincerely hope that all of you will support the Black Lives Matter movement. It is surely time for the suffering to end. For every N 95 mask you purchase from Shatkin First, a portion of those proceeds will be donated to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s not enough, but it’s something we all can participate in. Please join our efforts with your own support, and thank you for joining me on this Monday Morning Minute. Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you next Monday.