(Todd A. Smith)
The current incarnation of the Republican Party has turned overt racism into an artform.
Former Auburn University and Texas Tech football coach and current Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) recently stated that giving reparations to the descendants of slaves would be the equivalent to giving money to criminals.
Tuberville said, “I have never seen like the crime in this country. We all grew up respecting the police. Our moral values. Doing what we could do to help law enforcement in this country. The Democratic Party, they have the majority, they could stop crime today. Some people say, well, they’re soft on crime. No, they’re not soft on crime, they’re pro crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparations because they think the people that do the crime are owed that. Bulls***. They are not owed that.”
Actually, giving reparations to the descendants of slaves would do the opposite.
It would take money from people who have benefitted from the criminality of their ancestors and give it back to the people that it was stolen from, better known as the victims.
However, in Tuberville’s small mind, the victims of crimes are the scapegoats, while the perpetrators are the oppressed.
I guess that is why when someone hits someone’s car and causes damage, the person that gets hit must pay restitution to the culprit.
That sentence makes sense to no one not named Tuberville.
Did the good senator call Holocaust survivors criminals when they received reparations?
Did the good senator call Japanese Americans, forced into internment camps, criminals when they received reparations?
Better yet, did the good senator call former White slave owners criminals when they received reparations to help them survive after they lost all their slaves in 1865?
If not, why are the descendants of African-American slaves the only group that he labeled criminals?
The GOP has a long history of criminalizing African-Americans for their political gain.
Former President George H.W. Bush did it to perfection when he pimped the murder of slain New York City policeman Edward Byrne for political gain.
He added to his racist 1988 presidential campaign when his surrogates made Willie Horton a household name during his campaign against former Sen. Michael Dukakis (D-Mass.).
However, this incarnation of the GOP makes the GOP of yesteryear look like downright Black Panthers and members of the Fruit of Islam.
After the election of former President Donald Trump, many of the GOP have realized that America is still racist enough for them to win a campaign on hatred, bigotry and intolerance.
But Tuberville is the wrong person to go down that road with the reparations argument because that argument in the African-American community stems from centuries of slavery and decades of slavery by another name, which culminated in the fight to stop Jim Crow laws during the Civil Rights Movement.
It is important for proponents of reparations to educate the ignorant because many think once slavery ended there was not forced labor for African-Americans, and that many White people and corporations made their millions and billions by working hard.
Many White families and corporations made their fortune off free African-American labor even after slavery was supposedly outlawed in this country on Juneteenth 1865 in Galveston, Texas.
But back to Tuberville.
For decades, African-American college athletes have dominated the gridiron.
For decades, White coaches and White athletic directors made millions off free African-American talent.
Sure, the athletes got a free education if they took advantage of their athletic scholarship.
But what is tens of thousands of dollars when the school is making millions and the NCAA is raking in billions off the sweat of many Black and Brown bodies?
Tuberville got rich off that scam, while his African-American football players got paid nothing.
That is slavery.
Not only did Tuberville get wealthy off free African-American labor, but he used the fame that he got from those great Auburn players like running backs Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams to help him catapult his political career.
Now, of all people, he wants to shoot down the thought of reparations for people who built this country for free, and refer to African-Americans, as a whole, as criminals.
And do not get it twisted.
Reparations for White people continue every day in America.
When many African-Americans get their houses appraised, those houses are often undervalued for some reason.
However, when some of those same African-Americans have their White friends pose as the owners, the houses often are somehow valued higher.
Sometimes, the houses are worth tens of thousands of dollars more when the owner is White.
Sometimes, the houses are worth up to a half of million dollars more when White people pose as the owner.
That is the definition of reparations for White people, and it happens every day in this country.
And somehow, many of those same White people who oppose reparations for African-Americans think they accumulated all their wealth from hard work.
Likewise, many think their African-American counterparts are just complaining all the time and are lazy.
But that is generational wealth that White people are accumulating just because they are White.
And that is generational wealth that African-Americans are being cheated out of just because they are not White.
African-Americans are constantly cheated out of their wealth when it comes to banking and when it comes to getting paid less in the workforce.
And when African-Americans want their just due and financial equity, they are called criminal by people like Tuberville.
The fact that so many people agree with Tuberville is criminal.
Furthermore, people with his mindset are why this country is still so divided along racial lines.
And the current incarnation of the Republican Party, led by Trump, is one of the main culprits.