Former Secretary of State Condozeela Rice addressed the Republican National Convention Wednesday night in a speech that touched on everything from her foreign policy strengths (or weakness depending on who you ask), to social issues. But one of the issues she skiddladdled right by was the Civil Rights movement. Wanting to keep things in that "feel good" mode she spoke as if that leap from segregation to her becoming secretary of state was a glorious lap Americans ran together, rather than a knock down, drag out grudge match that people are still wielding cudgels about today. Never mind the fact that it took sending the National Guard to many states just to enforce the rule of law.
Jim Crow didn't die so much as he was a suicide bomber who tried to take as many folks with him before he finally blew up Alabama, and the scaring was so deep we're still dealing with the consequences today. To paraphrase the film "Magnolia," Rice may be through with the past, but the past isn't through with us.
Here's a snippet:
This philosophy was evident in Rice’s speech where she endorsed Romney of sorts, extolled the virtues of warmongering and gave a shout-out to ol’ Jimmy Crow and how she’d gone from not being able to eat at a Woolworth’s counter to Secretary of State. But Rice notably skipped a few steps between a legal form of oppression and overcoming. To fit in to the conservative philosophy of boot strap pulling, she had to gloss over the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices many had to make so she could be on that stage. Instead she encouraged a logical fallacy, that freedom and equality was something given to black people in America out of the kindness of the hearts of people who’d seen the error of their ways, and racism died in its sleep peacefully on a Sunday morning in 1968. The reality is four little girls, close to her own age at the time, died in a church that was fire bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, for daring to be the same race as the people who wanted to eat at a Woolworth’s counter and vote.
She ignored that some in the room still romanticize a past built on the backs of oppression – of a society where things like welfare and Medicare and Social Security weren’t controversial because the only people benefiting from these entitlement programs were white. The plantation owner who my grandparents and great-grandparents worked for refused to pay into Social Security for people who historically have not legally been seen as people in the eyes of our government.
Our independence was bloody and hard-won. Many of those who gave the most never got to see this day when one of their daughters could take the national stage on their backs and gloss over everything they’d done. It’s as if to say, “All’s fair now because I got a job.” As if it works that way, that if the individual climbs from the swamp to ascend the mountaintop, we all have the glory – even if we’re still watching her from the swamp, even if we’re all still there, still fighting, still demanding the equality we’ve long struggled for. Who cares? She made it. Damned if anyone else does.