December 4, 2019

White Supremacy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly




Every Historian who wants to teach the truth must be willing to tell the good, the bad, and the ugly. We know all about Martin Luther King and the march that produced the “I have a Dream Speech” (The Good). However, little is said about the secret war against King by the FBI and how many black preachers rejected his fight to end segregation and injustice. We know little about how the director of the FBI tried to get him to commit suicide and ruin his marriage by exposing his faults (The Bad).  Unfortunately, too many middle-class folk would like to keep it all dressed up and avoid the horrible details, but those horrible details must be told!


During and after slavery blacks were buried in segregated plots of land as their bodies could not be buried in white cemeteries. A small parcel of land where blacks could bury their own might be viewed as a “good” outcome given the restrictions at the time, but this was not the worst of it. On a hog farm, black corpses were cut up and fed to hogs or to other slaves. Others would be carried down to a river for the alligators. If a racist had dealings with a medical school, their bodies would be secretly dug up from the grave after a funeral and sold to an anatomy school. The body of Nat Turner, who led a slave revolt, was burned and boiled. Pieces of his skin was stripped away and made into a wallet. Skulls, fingers, toes, and skin was sold or displayed as a souvenir of theses atrocities. These horrors happened hundreds of times.


When slaves rebelled they were tortured, not just with a whip, but by breaking every joint in their body, or burning them alive in boiling sugar cane. Sometimes their skull was removed and stuck on a pike. This was done in South Carolina during the Stono River rebellion of 1739 as dozens of black heads where placed along the road. In Haiti and Louisiana slaves were made to watch while dynamite was place in the body of a rebellious slave and blown to pieces. Pregnant women, if deemed guilty of some crime, where place over a hole and stretched out and whipped until the fetus dropped into the ditch and then hacked to pieces before their eyes.


Women were often raped, and to satisfy the master’s wife the child would be sold down river. “Down River” meant down the Mississippi to New Orleans to the worst kind of slavery. Slaves were often forced to fight one another by psychotic masters and bets placed on the contest sometimes to the death. In the 19th and 20th Centuries Blacks were removed from jails and burned alive in East Texas.  Some had their eyes burned out while others had their flesh removed with cork screws. In 1893, a red hot iron was forced down the throat of Henry Smith while thousands cheered in Paris, Texas, while William Brown was hanged, dragged by a car, and then burned in Omaha Nebraska in 1919.


These horrors must be told in all history classes. Denial of the Black Holocaust only hurts our understanding of the crimes of white supremacy. Truths cannot and should not be ignored, for the revelations contained in these stories speaks to the importance of the struggles against racism and injustice. Hard as it may be, these stories must be told if reparations are to ever become a reality. These stories must be told if we are ever able to finally destroy the cancer of white supremacy.





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