Last week I ruffled a lot of feathers with my blog Yes, Racism Plays A Roll. However, politics aside, we all know that racism is a two way street. I don’t like bigots of any color, and I have met quite a few black, Hispanic, and other racists in my time. Some have been very vocal about their hatred of whites.

I think that Al Sharpton is probably one of our best known black racists today. I saw him on the news a while back, threatening to organize a march to protest some real or imaginary injustice, and ranting about how the white man had oppressed his people for over 300 years. I wondered once again how so many in the black community can fall for his nonsense.

He tries to masquerade his work by claiming to be an advocate of minorities, organizing marches and protests whenever some white police officer shoots a black person in the line of duty, or a gang of white thugs assaults a person of color. But I’m curious why I never see him climbing up on his soapbox when black people are the aggressors, either against their own race, or anyone else.

Of course, Sharpton is more self-serving than anything else. To me he’s kind of like a black version of Rush Limbaugh; he makes a lot of noise but most of it is hot air intended to get attention for himself.

The high school I went to had more black students than white, and during the late 1960s I experienced a lot of hostility directed at me because I was the minority. That was when I first heard the tired old claims that the white man had enslaved and oppressed the black man throughout history.

Later on, as a squad leader in the army, I served with many good black men that I came to love; but I also had to deal with black soldiers who bitched and whined because they were forced to fight in a “white man’s war.”  They never seemed to notice all of us white kids stuck right there in the mess with them.    

Even today the old resentments linger, and some (too many), people expect a free ride because of something that happened hundreds of years ago. Get over it!

I’m sorry that the ancestors of black Americans were enslaved. It was a terrible thing. But history is filled with terrible events and practices. Nobody can move forward if they refuse to let go of the past.

And I didn’t do it! From all of my genealogical research, none of my ancestors, who all lived in northern states, did it! In fact, according to what I have been able to learn, several of my family members served in the Union Army to free enslaved blacks.

Let’s look at the numbers. There were four million slaves in America when the Civil War began. Of the total southern white population of 8,099,760 in 1860, only 384,000 owned slaves. That is less than 5%.

However, many blacks don’t want to acknowledge that hundreds of free Southern blacks also owned slaves! Some claim that this only happened when a free black man bought his family members out of slavery, but that is not true. There are many records showing black slave owners who owned dozens of slaves. Some black plantation owners in Louisiana, for example, owned as many as 100 slaves. A Duke University report on black slave owners in New Orleans reported that over 3,000 (over 28%) of the free blacks in that city owned slaves.

Keeping in mind that there were 384,000 white slave owners in the South, we need to consider that over 2.5 million men served in the Union Army to end slavery, and that over 112,000 of those men were killed in battle, and another 250,000 died from other causes. That is over 364,000 mostly white soldiers who died in the struggle for freedom. Almost as many as whites who owned slaves! If we throw in the number of Union soldiers wounded in the war, the number of casualties rises to almost 640,000! Why the hell isn’t Al Sharpton organizing a parade to thank us?

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14 Comments on I Didn’t Do It!

  1. Cindy -- Wyoming says:

    Absolutely perfect Nick! It couldn’t have been said better.

  2. Connie Braidh says:

    Some interesting information:
    Between 1450-1900 slaves went to:
    34.4% 4 million Brazil
    22.1% 2.5 million Spanish Empire
    17.7% 2 million British West Indies
    14.1% 1.6 million French West Indies
    4.4% 500,000 British North America and US
    4.4% 500,000 Dutch West Indies
    0.2% 28,000 Danish West Indies
    1.8% 200,000 Europe (& Islands)
    Statistics from The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas

    “Most in the Caribbean and Central and South America died. Only in North America did the slave population reproduce itself with individuals having a life expectancy equal to that of the white population.” from SlaveryinAmerica.org. I have also seen other references which also say that life expectancy for a slave in South America and the Caribbean was very short and that the only way to keep slaves was to continually import them.

    Who did the importing of slaves:
    carriers voyages slaves
    Portugal 30,000 4,650,000
    Spain 4,000 1,600,000
    France 4,200 1,250,000
    Holland 2,000 500,000
    Britain 12,000 2,600,000
    British NA & US 1,500 300,000
    Denmark 250 50,000
    Other 250 50,000
    From The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas

    Who did the capturing and selling of slaves?
    “The Slaves were obtained with full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants.” African History-The Slave Trade

    I think that the American public (all races) need to do a little research on slavery and discover the truth of the slave trade. All of the major powers of Europe were involved. Many African nations had had slavery for many years before the Americas slave trade. They actively supplied slaves for the slave trade to the Americas. And land owners in the New World, looking for workers, used slaves. It was a period in history where again humans do not show to their best advantage.
    However, one fact that emerges is that blacks brought to North American were is fact lucky compared to blacks put into slavery in the Caribbean and South America. To go any where but North America was a sure death sentence. At least here in North America, they survived and eventually were freed due to the Civil War. While slavery is a terrible practice, sometimes a person needs to look back at the history of the period and be glad his or her ancestors came to North America and not any where else. At least as a people, they survived here. They were displaced, they were not treated very well but they survived.

  3. MichaelG says:

    You’re not convincing anyone, Nick! When you read about black people not being able to get a cab, being pulled over by cops at far higher rates than whites, or having to dress in a suit when they go shopping to avoid being followed around by the store manager, then I think racism is not dead.

    At one job I worked at, we hired a lot of Asians. And if they had poor English, didn’t communicate well, or couldn’t think on their feet, we ignored it. We all had it in our heads that these Asian Ph.D students were very smart, and so we excused problems.

    I mentioned once that if we had a black applicant with a heavy accent or difficult to follow style, or who went blank on a question, we’d never give him a second look. Of course everyone says “I’m not racist!” but the treatment really is different. I’ve done it myself.

  4. W Tourtillott says:

    Good work, Bad Nick! My lazy old brain cells have a little trouble wrapping themselves around all that arithmetic, but the more I read, the simpler my reasoning gets:

    Folks who want me to be their B**ch expect it because people other then they were wronged by someone other than me in a century other than ours. Hmm… Now, why were we messin’ with the numbers?

  5. Cal Hall says:

    Nick,

    Thanks for the research. Right on and keep em coming.
    Cal

  6. Michael G points out that racism still exists, and he’s right, But Nick didn’t say otherwise. Nick has said in this series that it very much still does, and we don’t deny it. But where any one of is can recognize it in ourselves, it is our own responsibility to work against it, to try, as Michael says, to get past some of the triggers and realize that we are all human beings, brothers under the Father of us all, living on this one Mother Earth we share. Am I my brother’s keeper? I’d better be, because mt brother is my keeper too!

  7. Stephen Wilson says:

    As a black American, I found both of your posts on racism in America to be right on the spot. I have experienced racism directed toward myself, and I have friends and family members who are as prejudiced as any Ku Klux Klansman who ever donned a sheet.

    I also have family members who have used the past as an excuse to be failures today. Failures as citizens, failures as parents, and failures as human beings. I have no respect for anybody who wants to hide behind their skin color to justify their own inadequacies, laziness, or lack of dignity.

    Mr. Bad Nick, you keep on rattling those cages. Maybe someday somebody will listen. When we met at the FMCA convention and I asked you if you had been at the Michigan event, and you said you had not, even though I was sure we had met there, your reply that “All of us white folks look alike to you guys” had me laughing so hard that I knew I had met a kindred soul. Keep on doing what you do, my brother.

  8. John Knoll says:

    Last winter I read that Al Sharpton was being persued by the IRS for over $2 million in back taxes. Has anyone heard any more about this? Just in case someone thinks I’m a racist conservative Republican, I refuse to watch “Dancing with the Stars” until Tom DeLay is voted off. I just happen to think scumbags who break the law should be punished!

  9. Wayne says:

    I am surprised nobody commented on your remark about Mush Dumbbaugh

  10. Simon Bettelowe says:

    So time heals all wounds? Is that what you’re saying? Let’s just forget the sins of the past pretend they never happened? Which is more racist stealing people from their homeland and making them slaves in a strange new land or just saying that it happened long ago so let’s just forget it? How does this post compare with your last post in which you told how you father hated Japanese all of his life? Or is it okay to hate when it is us Caucasians who were hurt by someone of a different color but not okay for people of color to hate those who wronged them? I’m confused, who’s the racist now?

  11. Kevin says:

    Very interesting comments. I’m glad we had input from multiple races. The last comment about whether we should forget and mover forward; I say yes, put it behind us and move forward. There is not a single living US slave, so there is not a single living person who should have any type of reparation from that period. The only thing we should remember from that era is the lesson to never let it happen again. What else can we do? How could anyone say they are entitled to anything because of something that was done 150 years ago?

    I did find it interesting that nothing was said about American Indians. Talk about a travesty….

  12. Wanderin' says:

    What a controversial topic! Many white and black folks alike have chips on their shoulders blaming others for their own shortcomings. Why “hate” anyone? As Nick said, we didn’t do it. We can learn by the sins of the past but we didn’t do it. They didn’t do it. Just like S.Wilson said people need to stop blaming others and get on the stick themselves. And, according to Kevin – there is not a single person alive today that was a slave or committed such acts as to have slaves. All of our ancestors have lived through situations where they could hold grudges but why use it as an excuse for our own failures. I guess it’s easier that way. If we blame others, we aren’t blaming ourselves. And, how many have actually been to the jungles of Africa and seen how those folks live. I have and living in dung huts wouldn’t be a good thing. The ancestors endured a lot so their children and children’s children could have a better place to live. I’m thankful my ancestors came to America. We need to start looking forward and not behind.

  13. Pamela Pillsbury says:

    I am shocked that one of the blog responses contains the sentence “There is not a single living U.S. slave. Currently in the US there are approximately 14,500-17.500 persons are brought into the U.S. for various avenues of exploitation including involuntary servitude and forced prostitution. (U.S. State Department) In otherwise, brought in as SLAVES. From January 1, 2007 to September 30, 2009 there were 1,229 cases of alleged incidents of human trafficking were reported by federally funded task forces.(BJA, 2009) The number of U.S. citizens within our country each year is even higher with an estimated 200,000 American children at risk for trafficking in the sex industry. (usimmigrationlawyers.com) I have spent the last five years educating law enforcement and community members about the human trafficking in the U.S. Obviously, I need to continue my efforts. Slavery has never stopped in the U.S. and in fact is on the rise within our national borders.

  14. Kevin says:

    I don’t want to hijack Nick’s blog here but I see two different conversations going on.

    I think we can all agree that the original intent of the message was in regards to legal slaves. When you pull in victims of illegal actions, that throws the discussion into another arena altogether. I applaud your efforts to educate people, but let’s keep the conversation on the same track.

    But I must ask, in 150 years, do you think we will owe anything to the descendents of today’s illegal slave trade? If yes, please explain and support your belief.

    — Kevin

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