Black folk know all too well the pain of having our children forcibly taken from us. The history of slavery has left millions of African-Americans still researching our bloodline. Mass incarceration has forced thousands of Black mothers to raise their children alone and in many cases Black grandmothers to raise their grandchildren. Too often Black children are removed from their homes by the Department of Human Service, at the whim of a white case worker. The devastating effect of slavery is still being played out in the lives of African-Americans. While at the same time the systemic racism of a nation continues to live and thrive in this United States of America.
If we listen to the Trump Administration, we have a crisis at our borders. The truth is we don’t have a border crisis; we have a morality crisis. The action being taken by this administration is immoral, inhumane and indefensible.
Most of the people crossing our southern border are seeking asylum from violence in Central America. Boys as young as eight years old are forced into gangs, and if their parents resist, they are murdered. Young girls are forced to become sex slaves for gangs, and when their parents protest, they are murdered. This border is also the point of entry for people coming from the Caribbean.
The United Nations has weighed in on the policy of separating asylum-seeking families the Trump Administration enacted, urging an immediate halt to it. Individuals request asylum, or permission to live in another country because of the danger of persecution in their home country. There are ports of entry setup along the border, which is the legal way to request asylum. However, US Border Agents are preventing families from entering the United States at legal ports. This is a violation of US and International laws to block immigrants at International Ports of Entry from entering the country and requesting asylum. This illegal practice has caused many of these desperate people, who have traveled weeks, to find other ways to cross the border. Make no mistake about it; these are Brown and Black people this atrocity is being leveled against.
In April of this year, the Trump Administration enacted its zero-tolerance policy against people crossing the border illegally. Everyone regardless of circumstances is being prosecuted. The parents were being taken to one location and their children somewhere else. There have been 2300 hundred children since May, that have been separated from parents. Children as young as three months old have been taken from mothers and put in cages. Parents have been deported back to their home country without being reunited with their children. Although Donald Trump has issued an executive order to amend the policy from separating families at the border, he continues to criminalize them. This order now means the families will be detained together, but for the children already separated, only God knows when and if they will ever be reunited with their family.
One would think that the Trump Administration would have considered this country’s history, before enacting this cruel policy against desperate people. This nation was formed under cruel and inhumane tactics against Native Americans.
Prior to European colonization in 1492, there were an estimated 54 million Indigenous people living in North America. Today there are around 5 million Native Americans in the United States. According to historian D.E. Stannard, the destruction of the Native Americans was the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world. Ninety percent of Native Americans died during European colonization.
The Puritans and others professing to be Christians openly proclaimed America as the new Zion, celebrating the slaughter of Native Americans. Native Americans were stripped of 99% of their land and herded unto Reservations, subjected to some of the worst poverty and living conditions in the United States. Their children as young as five years-old were taken from them and put in government-run boarding schools. This practice lasted well over 100 years.
Slavery was introduced in America, in 1619 by the Dutch and continued for 250 years. According to David Stannard, the death toll of the slave trade by Europeans on Africans is estimated to be over 60 million people.
Half of all enslaved infants died in their first year of life, with the major contributor being chronic undernourishment. Fifty percent of Africans died while being captured to be sold into slavery. There was a 10% mortality among the survivors while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and another 50% mortality rate in the first “seasoning” phase of slave labor.
Even after the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade ended in 1808, some 4-million enslaved Black people, sustained slavery for an additional 55 years. Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which stated that all enslaved people in every state were forever free. However, it wasn’t until 1865 after the Civil War ended and the passage of the 13th Amendment that slavery was officially ended.
During WWII, on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt ordered around 120,000 people of Japanese descent be sent to internment camps. Sixty-two percent of these individuals detained were American citizens. This action was derived more from racism, than any security risk posed by these Japanese Americans.
At the time of the internment, very few Americans opposed it. According to historical records, the Quaker Community and Senator Robert Taft were the only ones to speak out against the Executive Order.
President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, in which he apologized for the internment on behalf of the US government and authorized a payment of $20,000 to each survivor. More than $1.6 Billion was paid in reparation to 82,219 Japanese and their heirs, who had been detained.
Today in 2018 we find ourselves with another administration that reeks of racism toward Brown and Black people. They’ve put a policy in place, using children, to influence people seeking asylum from coming to this country. These policies are being led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has a history of racism and of holding white nationalist beliefs. In June, Sessions ordered immigration judges to tighten asylum restrictions involving people fleeing domestic and gang violence. This unilateral move precludes thousands of immigrants from Central and South America from accessing protection under the US Asylum System.
Since taking office, Session has dialed back the criminal-justice reforms put in place by the Obama’s DOJ, eroded voting rights protections, along with ramping up immigration enforcement and the reduction of asylums granted. Under his leadership, the DOJ’s top Civil Rights Attorney is fighting to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Vanita Gupto, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights says, “Across every issue, from criminal justice reform, to voting rights, to LGBTQ rights, this Attorney General is advancing a vision of America that is narrow and abdicates some of the Justice Dept. core responsibilities and mandate to ensure equal rights and access to justice for all.”
All of America should be outraged by the mistreatment this administration has heaped on some of the most vulnerable. Today it’s them; tomorrow it may be you!