Denise Oliver Velez
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By Denise Oliver Velez:
“Whiteness” in the U.S. has value. It is no surprise that in a society that has historically oppressed, scorned and demonized “blackness” (as if blacks were almost an untouchable caste), some sub-cultural groups scattered across the nation sought refuge in elaborately constructed “not black” clusters. The United States government, mandated by the Constitution to collect census data that included “race” as a category, created much of the confusion, with shifting classifications over time, using terms like mulatto, octoroon, mestizo, and mixed.
I hate lies. History books are still full of them.
Lies about the founding of this country. Lies about the treatment of Native Americans. Lies about the Civil War and slavery.
One of the most important things that takes place each year in Black History Month is the outing of lies and attempts to correct the distorted history we have been taught.
So as Black History month draws to a close, let’s examine one of the big lies and together help spread some simple truths.
Slavery in the US did not end with the emancipation proclamation.
A recent news story from Kentucky about the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church voting to ban Stella Harville and her fiancé, Ticha Chikuni, simply because she is white and he is a black African attracted a lot of media and blogger attention outside of the state.
Though many people reading and commenting were surprised that this could be happening 44 years after Loving vs Virginia, I was not. Granted we have come a long way in recent years toward changing attitudes about relationships that cross certain borders, but we still have a long way to go before we as a society are divested of racial and ethnic animosity built into the foundational bedrock of our society.
When I see the words “Jim Crow,” I think of the south, of segregation, of black codes, of a minstrel show song.
When I think of Alabama and segregation those images run the gamut of violence—little girls in a bombed church in Birmingham, Bull Connor, marchers being hosed.
They are stark images, in black and white.
The people are black and white as well.
It seems that we have slid backwards to those days in Alabama—except perhaps we should reference “Juan Crow” now, instead of Jim.