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Letter: When symbol becomes substance

In my 62 years, I’ve both witnessed and experienced “whitelash” — the extreme pushback on any effort to cash the American “promissory note” by Black people. Termination of any advancements “with extreme prejudice” by systemic public policy is the racially dominant dogma.

Goldwater’s extremism is rooted in Brown v. Board Education. Under the guise of fighting communism, he launched his presidential bid. The purpose: thwarting the rise of Black power and the original “Rainbow Coalition.” Using white supremacy, like all previous eras, drives wedges between socially constructed groups living in the same economic conditions. He introduced former Chief Justice William Rehnquist to the Judiciary Committee. Current Chief Justice John Roberts clerked for Rehnquist. Both men focused on eliminating the gains of the “Great Society.” Both men led fights gutting civil rights, with specific emphasis on voting rights.

Ronald Reagan launched his presidential bid in Philadelphia, Mississippi — site of the brutal murders of civil rights workers Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner. He ran on “the government is the problem,” indicting it for actually making payments on the “note.” He framed a “makers” versus “takers” zero-sum game. He resurrected the current iteration of White Christian aggrievement. 

Contextualizing our situation, 74 million adherents ascribe to Trumpism. Trump promoted a racist birther lie, which 56% believe. The voting fraud lie centers around the 14th and 15th Amendments. Effectively, it is the denial of full citizenship to Black people. It is adamant support of the justice system imprisoning millions of Black women and men, but ejecting the same when its findings are: this was a free and fair election.

Notice the continued attempts by GOP legislatures to disenfranchise Black voters nationally. “We’ll burn it down before we agree to a multi-racial democracy.” It has been done before in Wilmington, North Carolina. White supremacists continue orchestrating our demise. 

— Michael Stringer




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