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addabook - White Rage
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White Rage
The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
Carol Anderson
read on February 6, 2020

This book is a very high level introduction to racism against African-Americans in the USA. It covers a lot of history, primarily hitting the most important notes at a high level. The book is relatively short, and so necessarily doesn't go into deep detail on most topics. The key items covered, and my takeaways, were:

  • After the Civil War, Andrew Johnson pardoned most of the CSA leadership/cabinet. They were reinstated as political leaders and reps in their respective (Union) states, and returned to DC to govern. They remained in charge of their states, and set the policies of the newly freed slaves. Incredible. I had no idea that this happened. This is as though instead of the Nuremberg trials, if we had just put the Nazi's in charge of southern Germany in some obtuse attempt to reunite Europe. This single fact was by far my most important takeaway from the book - something I didn't know and am left dying to know more about. I just cannot fathom how this was viewed as a legitimate course of action, or how it is remembered/taught historically as anything less than a victory for the CSA. Unreal. This also puts current confederate monuments, rebel flags, etc, in an entirely different context for me. Absolutely disgusting.
  • I didn't realize what a shitbag president Andrew Jonhson was. But his history is a kind of interesting bizzaro universe compared to our current one. Johnson was a bad, racist Democrat president kept in-check by a well functioning Republican majority in congress. Congress would pass bills protecting freed slaves, Johnson veto'd, congress overrode. They passed many laws to keep Johnson in check. When he broke them, they impeached him. He avoided conviction/removal by a single vote. Ostensibly the only thing seperating today from 1865 is today's Republican controlled senate. Otherwise, I suspect the last 3 years would have looked almost exactly like the late 1860's.
  • Plessi v Furgeson set precedent of separate but equal, but the south hardly even tried to maintain the "equal" standard. This is obvious, but the datapoints given in the book are illuminating. E.g., until the 1960s southern schools spent 2x-10x per capita on white schools. 
  • Anderson covers redlining briefly.
  • Then after Brown v Board came the disenfranchisement. Poll taxes, literacy tests, etc. In 1960 more than 98% of eligible blacks were registered. And gerrymandering. This is a high level overview of Anderson's One Person, No Vote.
  • In the 50s the Georgia legislature passed a resolution to repeal the 13/14/15th amendments, and impeach SCOTUS judges. In 1956 GA changed its state flag to substantially be the Confederate battle flag, specifically to send the message that, as they died for slavery, they would die to protect segregation and Jim Crow. The flag wasn't changed until 2001. Mississippi still has a prominent confederate battle flag in their flag. Particularly given the first bullet point, I honestly don't see how this is a single degree different than putting swastikas on flags.
  • see Sothern Manifesto
  • Some detail, but not much, on Nixon's Southern Strategy, that purposefully stoked and exploited racial resentment as an election strategy in the 1960's. It was so transparent that in 2005 the RNC chairman formally apologized to the NAACP for this.
  • Lastly, discussed the Reagan contra scandal. Apparently the US funded contra aid by allowing cocaine sales in USA via gangs. Primarily impacted blacks, by design. Then Reagan gave sanctimonious speech about drugs, started war on drugs, and imprisoned primarily blacks. 

Author Bio:

Carol Anderson (born June 17, 1959) is an American academic. She is the Charles Howard Candler professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Her research focuses on public policy with regards to race, justice, and equality.