Note: It seems I must articulate that this is in no way an attack on Abraham Lincoln. He did what he could within the limitations of his time.
Last Sunday, I discussed about the racist micro-aggressions that are typically portrayed by alt-left supporters; that is, people who support a supposed politically left-leaning ideology which most times coincides with liberalism but ironically its supporters aren’t as liberal as they may think. I find some white liberals in particular to have good intentions but because they’re overwhelmed and confused, they “contribute” the only they know how; by taking on the oppressor’s role and hijacking a movement, then “claiming” it’s because they’re using their platform to bring awareness, ie. expand the racialized group’s outreach. Lol, sit down liberal Karen and listen. Hopefully, I was able to get some of them to slow down and think for a minute before speaking. In fact, let’s just not speak at all and listen.
Speaking of listening, today’s preach is for you my straight-arrow, black-and-white, right-and-wrong, no-grey-area, can’t-compromise-because-it-means-we’re-weak-and-our-freedoms-are-being-taken-away, we’re-under-attack-and-the-new-minority-in-North-America, white conservatives/Republicans. Did I get all the labels right? I feel like some of you won’t see this to be facetious, but to be honest, I’m not on this platform aiming to please anyone. My aim is to make the right- and left-wing face their ugliness and sometimes that requires you to be angry and super uncomfortable. So let’s dive into today’s topic: Abraham Lincoln and his legacy, the 13th Amendment.
Republicans aren’t racist! Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves!
Did he really though? Like… really? I mentioned many times that it’s easy to target Republicans and call them out on their thoughts and comments, and it’s true. Republicans are known to be more straightforward and have somewhat of a defensive attitude towards their views. In other words, they say what they think and mean what they say, which makes dissecting their points much easier. On the other hand, Democrats are always on the offense and have perfected the pivot turn tactic (hence the term fox); another form of deflection that unanswers a question but is filled with so much political jargon that someone who’s not tuned into politics would think it sounded smart and be satisfied with their response. What I find interesting about Republican defense, specifically when they’re being called racists, is their saving-grace always seems to be Abraham Lincoln: “You obviously don’t know your history because Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and he was a Republican, while the Democrats wanted to keep their slaves and started the Klu Klux Klan (KKK)! So, I’m obviously not the racist here!” So, I decided it’s time we dissect this 13th Amendment, find out what it is and if there were any ulterior motives to establishing this Amendment.
Slavery is prison and prison is slavery
Before diving into the 13th Amendment, first a little understanding of what it pertains to: slaves and prisoners. Slavery in the United States can be viewed as a prison, to put it simply. Like any prison in North America (Canada or the US), once a prisoner’s freed, a few things happen. Let’s look at the comparison:
- The State says, “you’re free, be gone, go on now, get, “with nothing but the clothes on their back, the clothes in which they came, and no actual support or guidance (parole officers don’t work for the ex-con so they don’t count and most of them actually set their assigned ex-con to fail – don’t get me started).
- If life were a race – like Monopoly – freed prisoners now are at a disadvantage in catching up with the rest of the world. This interruption of life causes a ripple effect that further negatively impacts this person’s future family lineage (very hard to break out of – more on this later)
- Their forever branded as a felon, a once-criminal. They carry that stereotype with them where ever they go.
- They can’t apply to specific jobs, and when they do, they must always identify as having a previous criminal record for which they were not pardoned (just because they’re released from prison, doesn’t mean they were pardoned).
- They’re not allowed to register to vote unless they receive a pardon – even though technically they must also be represented.
- People look at them as lesser human even though they’ve paid their dues. Public opinion is merciless till this day.
- As a result, most freed prisoners internalize their hate for society and themselves, and accept the public view’s opinion and decision to view them as lesser (through a psychological, resocializing role-based phenomenon which I’ll write about next week).
- The State says, “you’re free, be gone, go on now, get,” with nothing but the clothes on their back. No support, no guidance, nothing.
- If life were a race – like Monopoly – freed slaves now are at a disadvantage in catching up with the rest of the world. This interruption of life causes a ripple effect that further negatively impacts this person’s future family lineage (very hard to break out of – more on this later)
- They’re forever branded as a slave or as having slave ancestry, not an equal. They carry that stereotype with them where ever they go.
- They can’t apply to specific jobs because of 1) segregation and 2) lack of skills/education, and when they do their skin colour automatically identifies them as ex-slave of having slave ancestry.
- They were allowed to vote if they were able to make it to the voting registration centre without getting killed (literally) – the origins of Black Panther.
- People look at them as lesser human even though they are human with the same organs, same blood, same species, etc. Public opinion is merciless till this day.
- As a result, most freed slaves internalize their hate for society and themselves, and accept the public view’s opinion and decision to view them as lesser (through a psychological, resocializing role-based phenomenon which I’ll write about next week).
Redefining and modernizing slavery
The 13th Amendment was celebrated for years and decades to come in the United States for apparently abolishing slavery. At first glance, it’s definitely considered progress and a huge win for the Republican Party; however, I find it odd that not many have really looked beyond the one-liner of this Amendment considering it’s really not longer than a paragraph, maybe a total of 10 pages if you include the historical context. Then again, it’s not odd for human beings to accept superficial views without a questioning attitude. A human being’s greatest curse is its ability to become complacent easily in life.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”Thirteenth Amendment, Section 1
Section one looks straightforward: no slavery or involuntary servitude unless it’s served as a punishment. The word except is a preposition used to allow an exclusion of certain circumstances or factors within its respective context (within a sentence for example). I call the word except a form of “CYA” (Cover your Ass) and also a word used to appease more than one party, a loophole if you will. In this instance, the North had no need for slaves as they were industrializing; meanwhile, the South had plantations that needed tending and free labour has been the cornerstone of US Economics (Killer Mike, Regan) for centuries. Therefore, linguistically speaking, it’s factually impossible to say that Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery because there’s an exception: you’re not a slave unless you’re being punished, meaning the option of turning an individual into a slave is available to the punisher. Abolishing means complete removal. Since there’s an exception, slavery is very much alive till this day but has taken on a different form.
“Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”Thirteenth Amendment, Section 2
To keep the slave trade alive, the US government uses several tactics all the while respecting the 13th Amendment thanks to that damn preposition except:
- Crime and deviance change over time and space. The justice system was designed by white people, ergo, the laws were established by white people. There were many laws that were created to target black people and further punish them and forcing them back into slavery… but we’re punishing them so it’s ok, right?
- White women falsely accusing black men of raping them
- Violating segregation laws
- Criminalizing Black people for carrying firearms as is their right per the 2nd Amendment (don’t deny it, y’all know when this happened)
- Minimum wage: there was no minimum wage in 1865 when this Amendment was ratified, and so being paid significantly less than cost of living is a form of slavery. Minimum wage was introduced in 1938. We can argue this affected everyone, but let’s not pretend this didn’t disproportionately affect black people and black freed slaves.
- Nowadays, most prisons in the US are privately owned and make billions of dollars of revenue at the expense of their prisoner and giving a cut to their respective States.
The problem with today’s society is that people actually think that government bodies and politicians work to serve the people. Abraham Lincoln did NOT abolish slavery; he gave it life support within prison systems, and by giving power for the government to arbitrarily design laws that would target racialized persons to continue the slave trade in the guise of punishment. On the other side of that coin, Abraham Lincoln was indeed the first step towards progress by removing slavery in the grand scheme of things, and allowed the opportunity through the 13th Amendment for continued progress and change by permitting Congress to adapt legislations and change laws for the better per Section 2 of the Amendment.
The reality is every political leader that has succeeded Abraham Lincoln knew exactly what this Amendment stood for and knew their people had neither the time nor the desire to question the Constitution and its so-called freedom. Even President Barack Obama knows exactly what the 13th Amendment stands for and did absolutely nothing about it. It’s actually not rocket science, and President Obama is a lawyer. Today, we have had a Democrat-majority Congress for about 4 years and yet nothing was done. After all, Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation (13th Amendment, Section 2).
Thirteenth Amendment retrieved: https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/GPO-CONAN-2017/GPO-CONAN-2017-10-14