While appearing on Fox News, 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley stated the United States has “never been a racist country.” But then she went on to say, “I know, I faced racism when I was growing up.” Aside from the fact that she was talking out of both sides of her mouth, she is being either dishonest or ignorant.
Since their arrival on this continent, Europeans and those of European descent have created systems and policies to limit access to education, commerce and, ultimately, wealth from folks who are not of European descent. During this 2024 Black History Month, apparently it is still necessary to tell the truth about our American history so as to not forget that, even though some progress has been made, America was and, in many places in our society, is still a racist country.
Many in our country want to believe the period of enslavement of Africans should be considered the beginning and end of U.S. racism. This could not be further from the truth. As stated in “Lynching in America—Targeting Black Veterans,” published in 2017 by The Equal Justice Initiative, “Following emancipation in 1865, thousands of freed Black men, women, and children were killed by white mobs, former slave owners, and members of the Confederacy who were unwilling to accept the anticipated end of slavery and racial subordination.”
The report continues to state, “No one was more at risk of experiencing violence and targeted racial terror than Black veterans who had proven their valor and courage as soldiers during the Civil War, WWI, and WWII.” At this point in our history, as Haley so callously dismisses, our country was so racist that those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the nation were the greatest targets for racial hatred.
Or, how about in 1961, when Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the most passionate and powerful voices from the Mississippi Delta civil rights movement, received a hysterectomy by a white doctor without her consent? Forced sterilization of Black women as a way to reduce the Black population happened so often that it was called a “Mississippi Appendectomy.” The white doctor never faced charges and was left to harm more women because doctors were protected by the systems designed to limit quality health care for Black people. How could Haley, who, while serving in Congress, backed multiple “right to life” bills, ignore such atrocities committed against Black women and claim it’s not racist?
And how can she ignore this?
On Dec. 4, 1969, at 4:30 a.m., 14 Chicago police officers dressed in plain clothes and armed with an arsenal of weaponry and a map of the apartment opened fire on Fred Hampton, the leader of the Chicago Black Panther Party. He was killed while sleeping next to his very pregnant fiancée. Actually, I don’t need to go back 55 years to describe how sleeping while Black could warrant a barrage of bullets into your apartment in the middle of the night. See Breonna Taylor.
The FBI, after having an informant inside the BPP, determined Hampton’s work of bringing all economically challenged people in Chicago, regardless of race, together to solve poverty issues was too much of a threat and deemed him guilty without a trial. Haley has the privilege of ignoring racism. But her ignorance should disqualify her from being the next POTUS.•
Black is former deputy chairwoman for engagement for the Indiana Democratic Party and a former candidate for the Indiana House. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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