“Slavery was a long time ago. Get over it.”
And how do you think slavery ended? Do you think slave owners realized that it’s wrong and decided to stop?
No. They believed that it was their constitutional right to own slaves. They formed their own country and started a war just so they could keep owning slaves.
And even when they lost, they didn’t have to pay reparations to their slaves. They got reparations for their lost property, but former slaves had to start with nothing. They got to keep the wealth that they accumulated from slavery, which means that in a society where the rich get richer and the poor stay poor, they’d still be able to maintain their power for generations while the freed slaves struggle. Many former slaves even had to return to their plantations because they couldn’t find jobs elsewhere.
And slavery didn’t even end. It only had a minor condition added to it. Slavery remained legal as long as it was punishment for a crime. This meant that the government could just pass any laws to label a victimless action as a crime and disproportionately target black people with the enforcement of those laws. Many plantations just became prisons and still exist today.
And what do you think happened to people’s racist beliefs? People didn’t just stop being racist. They continued being as racist as they could possibly get away with. They took positions of power so they could continue enforcing racism. They passed down their racist beliefs from generation to generation. And parents have always had a lot of power to force their children to agree with their beliefs.
During slavery, the entire purpose of creating a police force was to enforce slavery. When slavery ended, do you think those police officers were immediately fired and replaced with people who valued equality? No. They kept their jobs, and anyone else who joined the police force had to fit in with them. And to this day, they still serve their original purpose. Prisons have contracts with the government promising them a certain number of prisoners, and the police have the job of finding people to turn into prisoners.
People aren’t holding a grudge about something that happened a long time ago. They’re trying to undo the damage that still exists. No one’s expecting you to pay for what slave owners did. They’re only asking that you don’t continue promoting slave owners’ beliefs. Racism will not just go away if you pretend it doesn’t exist. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.