AEE Bonus: Why Today Is Happening: A Timeline

What’s happening on the streets now?

What are all of the events in the news based on?

There is so much history that has contributed to where we are today.

You have to look at these events to truly understand what brought us to this point.

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How Did We Get Here?

Many people have asked the question, so how did we get to this point?

How did we arrive at this moment in time where racism is such a major issue affecting so many people?

This can be addressed from a number of angles if you really stop to look at it.

We’re doing a multiple part series to go through each of these issues on a deeper level.

This will help you to understand what contributed to all of this and how we arrived at this moment in time.

  1. The History of Slavery in the US and Civil Rights: This is the first part in the series where we’re going to look at all of the contributing factors. This will give you an indication of how we got to this point in time and what the path was to get us here.
  2. Police Brutality and the Systems that Protect the Police Force: This is an inside look at the institution of the police and how it came to be the way it is. This will also help you to see how police brutality may occur and why they are so protected.
  3. Police Defunding: What all has been said about defunding the police? The Trump presidency rhetoric is very divisive and contributes to racism. There is also the issue of the divided news media where- major news networks and culture wars are playing on our fears. He is the first president in history who has never had the support of the majority (more than 50%) in the polls.
  4. The Pandemic: This pandemic has brought everything to a head. It is making the disparity and the division very clear, and this adds to the issues in a significant way.
  5. What’s next? The state elections and all that this encompasses. This election year is significant and every issue is being looked at very carefully.

All of this helps to highlight how we got to this point and why we have the current events that we do.

This will all be looked at as a very significant time in history!

Taking A Critical Look At Things

Questions/comments from students:

  • There is a critical need for us all to confront racism and inequality. We must come together to build a deeper understanding of issues around social justice and equity for all. Lives matter (not only the black ones). Racism grows in ignorance and prejudice. Do you believe as I do believe that spreading culture about those issues could be really empowering? Best Giuseppe

  • MS: When are these protests going to end ? What is Trump’s response to these protests? Why do some people loot shops ?  Finally,  where is the truth?
  • FL: About the question that you have asked, I think Coronavirus showed us that we are all human beings with the same characters. Reaction to the the Floyd’s death was also anticipated in this background. I hope black peoples can reach the equality that they deserve to have.
  • MS: Regarding the current protest in the U.S., I’d like to ask you this.I have been impressed by the fact that white people also participate in this protest and walk with African American people together. So I wonder the reason for white people to take to the street.White people protest from sympathy for African American people, or white people have the feeling of the crisis that the ideal of America may be destroyed, or white people themselves feel discriminated against and threatened in some ways? If you could introduce possible reasons on the program, I would be so glad. 

12 Events That Led Us To Today’s Protests

Let’s start this off with a question that takes us to the main issues or events that lead us to where we are today.

I know that America has done a lot to fight segregation, and things are not the same as they were like 40-60 years ago. However, there is an opinion that the racism in your country has been defeated on an official level but still continues to exist as a part of cultural aspect. Is that true?

Is the case that caused people to take to the streets not just a single excessive event of that policeman, but a more common problem?

Thank you,

AK

This is an excellent question and it leads us to dig deeper as to what caused us to get to the way that things are today.

Though you may not realize it, there are 12 events in the history of the US that contributed to where we are today.

Looking at these can give you some great insight into what lead us to this moment in time, and this can help to give you some important history as well.

1. Civil War: This was years ago and the time when slaves were freed. This all ended with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that was intended to lead to allow people to move forward and slaves to no longer exist.

2. Post Civil War: There were what were known as Jim Crow laws which were strict local and state laws. These detailed when, where and how formerly enslaved people could work, and for how much compensation. They regulated everything including segregation like in South Africa (apartheid), drinking fountains, entrances, lunch counters, and even education.

This caused black people to be portrayed in movies as criminals so it was a giant step backwards. The movie “Birth of a Nation” was pivotal as the KKK were portrayed as a heroic group. It was considered to be the most controversial film ever published in the US, even until today. (In 1915 it was originally called ‘The Clansman’)

Even later in 1946, “Disney’s Song of the South” portrayed ex-slaves during Reconstructions being nostalgic for slavery and not wanting to leave.

As a result of media, more black people were being portrayed as bad and were put in jail frequently.

3. Prison Labor: This was the Post-13th Amendment time period (1865–1866). Southern lawmakers began to exploit the so-called “loophole” written in the 13th amendment. This meant that they turned to prison labor as a means of restoring the pre-abolition free labor force.

4. Kennedy pushed for Civil Rights Act: This was pivotal and had the potential to be a giant step forward. When he died, Lyndon Johnson signed it in 1964. This act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote. 

5. The 1960’s: The crime rate began to rise due to the baby boom generation coming of age. Though this was the real reason behind this rise, many incorrectly attributed it to the Civil Rights Act.

6. MLK was assassinated: This happened in 1968 which was a huge contributing factor. This was also the beginning of the era of mass incarceration. It was easy for politicians (both democrats AND republicans) to say that we need to be tougher on crime and say that it was all due to Civil Rights Act.

7. Spending on law enforcement went up: Under Nixon this spending went up significantly. Then there was the war on drugs, and this became a crime and defining factor.

8. Crack (city) versus cocaine (suburbs, rich, white): This comparison of the same drug was very telling in the way that it was used and identified in each area. It was enforced very differently in the city vs. the rich suburbs where police protected usage here. Police were protected significantly in this imbalanced war on drugs. Joe Biden was heavily involved in this which is sure to be an issue that comes up in this election. way different enforcement.

9. Reagan expanded the war on drugs: This war on drugs went even further in the Reagan era. It was really a war on the black communities and so lines were further drawn. It became a significant issue though this was not highlighted.

10. The 1980’s: This was when the US went into a recession and lines were further drawn. Public services were not available any longer which was an issue.  

Rodney King was a citizen who was violently beaten by some LAPD police officers. He lead police on a high speed chase after a high speed chase occurred during his arrest. He survived the brutal attack but this was a defining moment for racism in the US. Riots occurred as this was a very public display of how racism exists in the US.

11. The Clinton Era: This actually did the most damage to the black community because he signed a crime bill that doubled prison population in 1994. He since has admitted that this was a mistake because it ultimately said “three strikes and you’re out.”

12. Black Lives Matter Movement started: This movement began in 2013, and started with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media. This came after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of an African American teenager, Trayvon Martin, in 2012.

These 12 events shaped the issue of racism within the US.

You can start to see how tensions were rising and things became so charged within the country.

Takeaway

In this episode we have given you the background that we’ll need for this episode series on Civil Rights in the US.

Next time we’ll be back with an episode on police brutality in the US.

Leave a question or comment below.

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