By Leslye Joy Allen
Copyright © by Leslye Joy Allen
As the Trump administration orders and sanctions attacking immigrant women and children with teargas at the US-Mexico border, let’s consider the long term effects, not just in terms of human physical and psychological suffering which will go on for the rest of these women and children’s lives, but what it can cost the United States. I offer you two smaller historic examples: Atlanta, Georgia in 1906 and Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.
For the record, I am the granddaughter of an Atlanta Race Riot survivor. My maternal grandmother Lorena, born in 1886, was a 20-year-old student at Clark College when the Atlanta Race Riot broke out over roughly three days in 1906. Georgia’s candidates for governor claimed that Black people, graduating from our numerous historically Black colleges, were going to take over and rule over White people in the city. Of course there was also the usual rhetoric about Black men raping White women. So, on September 22, 1906 an angry mob of Whites began to attack Black people and Black businesses in Atlanta’s downtown area. I won’t bore you with the details except to say that my grandmother and Black scholar, W. E. B. DuBois basically said the same thing: If White folks began the riot against Black people, it was Black people who ended it. Everybody who was Black bought or stole a gun. By September 24 the riot was over. Black Atlantans did not just fight back, they shot back. My grandmother remembered the sounds of gunfire well into the night. Grandma roomed with a lady and her small daughter on Thirkield Avenue near where the original Clark College campus used to be, long before any colleges and universities in Atlanta had dormitories. You can read more about the riot here: Atlanta Race Riot of 1906
As Atlanta’s population shrunk, due to deaths as well as from people who fled the city in the aftermath of the the riot, the City Fathers—always, always keeping an eye on business—vowed to never let anything like this happen again. They weren’t playing. They created interracial coalitions, successfully defended a Black man charged with the rape of a white woman who misidentified him as her assailant—and he lived to tell about it! From that point on, measures were taken not to make Black people socially equal, but to insure that the city didn’t descend into violence and chaos…Now, take Birmingham, Alabama.
In a nutshell, when Commissioner Bull Connor ordered Birmingham’s fire department to turn its hoses on innocent Black children and adolescents and ordered the police to unleash dogs against Black protestors, the whole world saw it unfold on television. Whatever steps Birmingham took to alter this image were minimal; and the city went from being the number one industrial city in the South to being abandoned by businesses that would not, could not operate in a city filled with violence and destruction. Birmingham survived, but it never fully recovered nor regained the title of industrial giant. You can watch a couple of quick videos about this here: Bull Connor used fire hoses, police dogs on protestors (May 3, 1963) (videos)
So, what is my point. Because Trump ordered the US Military and Border Patrol to unleash tear gas on innocent immigrant women and children at the US-Mexico border, the entire nation suffers. In addition to these actions being immoral and inhumane and illegal, it also sets a precedent that will inevitably provide other nations the excuse to mistreat and mishandle US citizens once they set foot on foreign soil. It also tells major corporations that the United States is not safe to do business in. If Trump supporters—and there are many of them—don’t give a rat’s ass about people of color, that’s their prerogative. Their hatred is nothing new; and people of color have neither the time to pray for or worry about converting “the unconvertable” to anything resembling people with basic human decency. These are not and never have been rational people. Yet, in addition to these immigration policies being heartless and cruel, these policies are really, really bad for business.
The white business people who court and bait white racists and xenophobes and sexists and misogynists of all colors and ethnicities, along with the white politicians who tell these white masses that their world is coming to an end—because people of color are ending it—have proven for centuries that Money is their God. In a week where General Motors announced its laying off 15,000 American workers while the company enjoys a Trump tax cut; in a week where Trump is attempting to build a wall at the US-Mexico border and doesn’t have any way of forcing Mexico to pay for it; in a week where Mueller’s Russia investigation seems to have Trump constantly spinning the news and tweeting endlessly, I hope the folks who follow/ed Trump, who are so easily duped every single time, I hope they can learn to live with less money. They could, very soon, find out the true cost of hate—the only cost any of them ever understands.
Copyright © by Leslye Joy Allen
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