“Slavery ended 150 years ago. People need to get over it.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this line in response to the arguments of those who continue to fight for civil rights in the United States. I’ve started this blog in an attempt to explain why those who say this say it, and why people cannot “get over it.”
This is not a partisan blog. It is not Democratic, Republican, or third-party. It is not conservative or liberal. And it is certainly not black or white. It is a space that tries to explain, historically, what happened in the United States during Reconstruction (1865-1877). It’s also a space that tries to show how everything that happened during Reconstruction laid the foundation for our current racially charged climate. If you can invest the time to understand what happened during Reconstruction, then you will understand the reasons behind so many of the problems we face today.
Fundamentally, I believe two distinct things when it comes to racial tension in America:
- That as a nation we are still in mourning over the loss of slavery, and in denial about the real, inhuman, factual nightmare that followed the Civil War, and
- That we will never achieve racial harmony in America until we collectively acknowledge what happened during Reconstruction, and stop denying it.
But there’s a problem: Reconstruction has always suffered from its own complexity. It can’t be understood unless someone really takes the time to break it down. Of course scholars of the period have already done that in large and important books, but even the heroic efforts of writers like W.E.B. DuBois, Eric Foner, and David Blight can leave readers feeling overwhelmed. What Reconstruction needs at this point in time is something that’s as simple and accessible as an Apple user guide.
That’s what I’m going to try to provide here.
Jon Michael Varese, PhD