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    • 244 years after declaring independence from the British, the United States of America has discovered that it has a racist past. Previously thinking stories of racism were just part of the nation’s folklore like Paul Bunyan and Bigfoot, Americans are finally waking up to the fact that racism in their country is not a figment of anyone’s imagination. 

      “I had heard about racism in our country, but I just assumed they were fairy tales,” said Sally Douglas, a stay at home mom in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “When my kids came home from school talking about racial injustice, I just assumed they were being exposed to some thought-provoking fiction. I had no idea that Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth were real people. If I had known that their harrowing journeys actually happened, I would have spoken up about racism years ago.” 

      The source of America’s awakening is the discovery that police sometimes make mistakes and that when they kill a suspect, it isn’t always for a good reason. Until quite recently, Americans were under the impression that all police were good guys who weren’t at all influenced by racial stereotypes or profiling. 

      “I’m shocked to learn that police can sometimes be racist and kill innocent people for no reason,” said Jenny Phillips, a college student in the San Francisco Bay Area. “After years of thinking they were totally fair, impartial stewards of the law, I now realize that this isn’t the case and that cops are monsters who must be stopped.” 

      One of the more startling discoveries of the past few weeks for Americans has been the realization that many of their beloved statues are of men who were racist. Previously thinking their leaders did nothing wrong, Americans are shocked to learn that many of them were really horrible people.  

      “The biography I read of Teddy Roosevelt as a kid painted him to be a great guy who everyone loved to be around,” said Daniel Jones, a recent college graduate from White Plains, New York. “He joked with the kids, he said ‘bully’, and all in all loved his country. The Teddy Roosevelt I learned about is the last guy to seek the demise of an entire race of people for sport. I’m still processing this.” 

      When asked why they are tearing these statues down, Americans say that had they known these leaders were racist, they would never have gone up in the first place. They’re just making things the way they would have been had they known how things really were. 

      “If we had known Thomas Jefferson actually owned slaves, we wouldn’t have named our school after him or put up a statue in his honor,” said Brittany Williams, a senior at Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon. “Now that we have taken the time to read our history textbooks and learn of his racist actions, we have no choice but to do the right thing and tear his statue down.”

      The students’ decision to tear down Jefferson’s statue received full support from the school administration, who like them, were absolutely floored to learn about his support of slavery. As soon as they found out he owned slaves, they knew they had to make some changes. 

      “We are fully supportive of our students,” a Jefferson High School administrator said. “We’re just as shocked as they are to learn about Thomas Jefferson’s disgusting and repulsive past. All options are on the table right now including changing the name of our school.” 

      In addition to statues, famous American brands are also undergoing changes as well in light of these fresh discoveries. Previously thinking their brand Aunt Jemima was a throwback to a happier, simpler time in which everyone enjoyed equal freedoms, Quaker Oats has discovered that the truth is the exact opposite. 

      “We thought Aunt Jemima was someone who was really passionate about sharing her love of maple syrup with other people and doing so out of the kindness of her heart,” said a spokesman for Quaker Oats. “We finally took the time to look her up on Wikipedia and are shocked to learn that she actually represents a ‘devoted and submissive servant’ who wasn’t free. Even worse, we also learned that she never had a passion for maple syrup at all. We feel it is best to change the name of our brand to something that reflects our values.” 

      One of the most paramount discoveries of the past few weeks for the United States is the Civil War. Previously unsure of as to where the monuments and Confederate flags came from, Americans have finally learned that there really was a Civil War that rocked their country between the years 1861 and 1865. 

      “I had no idea the Confederacy was an unrecognized republic that fought against the United States on the grounds of preserving slavery,” said North Carolina governor Roy Cooper. “The statues have been here for so long I just took them to be works of art given to us by the French. Had I known that they were built by North Carolinians who supported such an oppressive and unpatriotic movement, I would have ordered them to be taken down the day I took office.” 

      Going forward, Americans are hoping to put their racist past in the rear view mirror and build a new identity. They realize that previous generations were really messed up and that if they’re not careful, future generations might give them the same treatment. 

      Note: This is a satirical piece I wrote to critique the current state of the United States and its attitudes towards its racist history. All quotes are fake. 

    • I grew up in black Oakland in the 60s and I can't tell you how hard my jaw is on the floor listening to white people — even supposedly woke ones like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert — express their shock at the level of racism they didn't know we had in our country.

      WTF. I would be speechless except I'm a guy who didn't know until the #MeToo movement that people like Cosby, Weinstein and Trump did all those things.

      The next thing they do is express support of the movement and optimism for change. WTF. We white people gained this level of awareness in the 60s and we had the Kennedys and LBJ to make change. Now we don't. And I can't see that treatment of blacks by police is any different than it was in the 60s. We just have cell phone video.

      I remember seeing photos like this one make the front page of papers in the 60s and us sitting around Oakland wondering how in the world this could be surprising to white people.

    • Precisely what I’m getting at. Your reply nailed it. I had the exact opposite upbringing as you, but I feel as a kid, I at least knew we had racial problems, even if I didn’t see them. Hell, I remember being very disturbed learning that Thomas Jefferson had sex with his slaves. I’m not saying I’m more “woke” than everybody, but sometimes I wanna say to these white people “Um, yeah. There was racism and it was really freaking bad. You’re just figuring this out?”

    • I don't think 1 in 1,000 Americans realize how devastating The Civil Rights Act was to Democrats, but politicians know. I believe it explains their understandable fear of action.

      Democrat LBJ won the presidency in 1964 with the biggest landslide in history and he had the political capital to push through civil rights legislation that he had supported in 1957 and 1960, which failed.

      Both houses of congress in Utah were controlled by Democrats in 1964 but Utah, along with the South, went hardcore republican after The Civil Rights Act and have never looked back. I don't think Democrats saw that coming.

    • Remember how the nation celebrated the end of racism when the Obamas took the stage? They were the all-American family and they rescued us economically during our great hour of need. They even got 20 million Americans to receive healthcare who could not get it before. The world applauded. Here was an American black family who rose from nothing to earn law degrees from Harvard, win the presidency, receive the Nobel Peace Prize and become the most respected man and most admired woman in the world.

      Surely now that the nation had fallen in love with Oprah and Michael Jordan, racism was a humiliating part of our past. It had become that in Nazi germany. There are no statues of Nazis in Germany.

      What we should have known is there is nothing more threatening to a white supremacist than public examples of of smart, gracious and accomplished black people.

    • Cowards die a thousand deaths.

      LBJ was an incredible dealmaker: during FDR’s presidency, LBJ brought in a lot of campaign contributions from wealthy Texas businessmen, which he shared amongst many politicians including FDR. As a result, LBJ became incredibly powerful and used his power unflinchingly when he unexpectedly rose to the most powerful position on earth. He may have lost the South and Utah to the Republican Party, but Black voters have consistently and overwhelmingly voted Democrat ever since. Biden would not be the nominee if not for the mobilization of Black churches in South Carolina.

      Further Reading


    • I’m really pleased with the conversation this has generated! One angle that I didn’t really touch on in the piece is presentism and how everyone seems to be ignoring it. Part of my frustration with America acting shocked about our racist past is the way many expect people in the 18th and 19th centuries to see the world the same way we do now. This isn’t to say racism was ok back then. It’s never been ok. But I do feel people are failing to view history through the proper lenses and filters, making it harder for us to have rational and meaningful conversations on the matter. Thoughts?

    • I wonder about that too. In the taking down of statues, one in particular bothers me: the one of Lincoln with a freed slave getting up, his shackle broken. It apparently was paid for by emancipated slaves after Lincoln was assassinated.

      It’s about honoring the man who freed the slaves, by the slaves. To me, looking at that through today’s eyes is not the right thing to do.

    • I am confused by the destruction of President U S Grant's statue in San Franciso.

      Frederick Douglas said that President Lincoln's pen proclaimed the slaves to be free, but General Grant's sword made the freedom real, and he said President Grant's 15th Amendment made them citizens with the right to vote, by federal Law.

      The SF Chronicle asks at the end "Can we reason together?"

      I think the act speaks for itself, unfortunately.

    • Today’s dose of insanity: The Oregon-Oregon State football rivalry is dropping the name “Civil War” even though the term “Civil War” is generic and in their case has nothing to do with the American Civil War. I know I would be bummed if the Cal-Stanford rivalry was no longer called “The Big Game” or if the Utah-BYU rivalry was no longer called “The Holy War.” I feel like we’re losing common sense now. As I said in my piece, people are acting like they had no idea these historical events happened. It’s like, WTF?!

    • This is one of the most moving articles I can remember reading:

      For people who don’t get the Times: he joined the force because he thought he could change the force from the inside. In his training, he gets reamed out by superiors and held back. So he apparently learns to obey his senior officer, Chauvin.

      3rd day on the job, he is one of the four officers on the Floyd case, gets fired, faces 50 years in prison, loses his relationship with his younger siblings, whom he had encouraged his mom to adopt, and gets stalked by the public. His lawyer won’t let him say anything.

      And apparently it’s for supporting his senior officer, who trained him and whom he had to please as a cadet to get the job.

    • @Chris - Here is another opionion regarding the Freedmen's Memorial statue, that I think is worth serious consideration because it offers reasons for both white and Black citizens to value it. The ONLY speaker the day the Freedmen's Memorial was presented was Frederick Douglas who addressed Lincoln's performance as a President ( both good and bad with an awareness of what was politically possible ) and spoke to President Grant and Cabinet members, Senate and Congressional leaders and the entire Supreme Court , who were all present at the Memorial's dedication, as were thousands and thousands of black citizens who paraded to the monuments dedication. The day of dedication was declared a Federal Holiday.

      It is easy to look at that statue and be uncomfortable with what one sees with modern eyes, but what one sees is determined by what one's conscious brings to the viewing. When one fully knows what occurred at the dedication, and how the people present at the dedication felt at the time, one might view the Freedmans's Memorial in a slightly more favorable manner.

      Mr Douglas also took the opportunity to warn the federal govenrment that Reconstruction was failing in the South.....

      Rather than destroy the Freedmen's Memorial, how about a statue of Fredrick Douglas to flank it, and to help explain it.

      Apparently, we don't have long to wait for more confrontations - this is planned for July 2nd....

      What is to become of the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial?

    • There's a great article in the Atlantic about the dynamics of the protests. What makes one succeed and others fail?

      In the long term, protests work because they can undermine the most important pillar of power: legitimacy. Commentators often note that a state can be defined by its monopoly on violence, a concept going back to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes and codified by the sociologist Max Weber. But the full Weber quote is less well known. Weber defined the state by its “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force.” The word legitimate is as important as the words physical force, if not more. Especially in the modern world, that monopoly on violence isn’t something that self-perpetuates. Violence doesn’t just happen; it has to be enacted and enabled by people.

      Legitimacy of police violence is exactly what is coming into question now. And that is a reason to have hope that things just might be different this time.

    • From your posts on Cake I know you as someone optimistic and leaning into being hopeful, and I love that about you. I hate to be the cynical guy, but on this issue since the race riots of the 60s and the beating of Rodney King later, we seem to have focused on imprisoning more, building an enormous military, and militarizing the police. I despair a little.

      I love Bernie's idea of cutting the Pentagon budget by 10% and using those (enormous) funds for things like school, which helps prevent clashes with police and prison terms in the first place.

    • I hope this guy gets a second chance. I'm sympathetic to the fact that he was such a new officer. Throw the book at Chauvin for sure, but this guy? There's hope for him, I think.

    • I hate to be the cynical guy, but on this issue since the race riots of the 60s and the beating of Rodney King later, we seem to have focused on imprisoning more, building an enormous military, and militarizing the police. I despair a little.

      Well, I still believe that one about the arc of the moral universe. Things get worse at times, but in the long run, its gets better. And greatest leaps forward happen after times of great crisis. And these times qualify, surely. ;-)