First of two parts.
As Jews, we remind ourselves each Passover of our people’s search for freedom. We abhor those evil vestiges of the past and celebrate our freedoms.
As immigrants to America, escapees from the pogroms, poverty, and prejudice of Europe and elsewhere, our ancestors came seeking refuge and opportunities for a more positive future for their families.
Our European immigrant ancestors worked to provide for
their future families not with-standing anti-Jewish prejudice and discrimination in a relatively competitive society.
But what of our fellow black Americans? According to the Pew Research Center, most of our nation’s 40 million U.S.-born black Americans trace their roots back to the slaves forcibly brought from Africa, starting in 1619.
While the South’s defeat in America’s Civil War may have legally abolished plantation slavery, it failed to free the ex-slaves from the yoke of Southern laws, codes and restrictions.
These restrictions were designed to maintain black Americans’ subservient status. Descendants had to face many laws, rules, ordinances and restrictions, limiting their ability to compete and grow.
Originally referred to as Black Codes, they restricted ex-slave’s freedoms and forced them to work for low wages, maybe required service as an apprentice, restricted where they could live, and generally imposed the lowest social status upon them.
While these restrictions have long been declared as unconstitutional and black Americans have equal protection “under the law,” the disparity in our society is still evident.
Racism is alive and well, replacing what was formerly referred to openly as “White Supremacy” with its lynchings and KKK rallies and cross burnings. Recent historical events speak for themselves.
Questionable shootings of young black men by the police and others have been a horrible reality for too long. Lynchings seem to have been replaced by biased police and eager civilian enforcers.
Stand your ground laws and similar police empowerment tools which enlist the aid of civilians are questionable at the very least, another threat reminiscent of those lynching days.
To the black community, they add a possible threat, something to fear if they don’t behave.
Perhaps the current investigation of the tragic killing of young black jogger, Ahmed Arbery, in Georgia by three white residents, will help to finally discredit and end the use of racial profiling by law enforcement.
I applaud the ADL for testifying last month before a Congressional Committee on Human Rights, stating its organization’s opposition to the detrimental impact of racial, religious and ethnic profiling by law enforcement.
First there was slavery, then Black Codes, segregation, lynchings and beatings, Jim Crow Laws, housing restrictions, unequal pay, unequal treatment before the law and racial profiling.
As Jews at heart, not in name only, we must support equal rights for all!
We were slaves once
First of two parts.