Oscar H. Blayton, Attorney At Law
by Oscar Blayton For more than 1,500 years, Europeans and their cultural descendants have been defining reality for the people they have subjugated around the world. We tend to think that global domination by that small percentage of the world’s population living in the northwest corner of the Eurasian land mass began in the late 15th century when Christopher Columbus sailed to the Western Hemisphere and Vasco da Gama sailed to India. But the seeds of white supremacy were planted long before that. Ancient Europeans were aware of the existence of India. Most serious students of history learn of Alexander the Great’s invasion of India. From the time of Augustus Caesar, the Roman Empire routinely traded with India. But when many modern writers reference the “Ancient World,” Greece and Rome come to mind, but not India. Neither are references made to Native American cultures that were in existence thousands of years before Columbus set sail. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, European religious and cultural leaders began to develop narratives that centered themselves and people like them in the history of humankind. This centering had a profound impact upon the development of Western civilization. In the absence of the Roman Empire, Europe fractured into much smaller independent states with little knowledge of what existed beyond their borders. These states warred with each other and promoted their own characteristics as superior to all others. It was during this time that the national identities of the French, the Germans and the Spanish began to solidify, and for almost 1,000 years, there was constant violence and conflict as each culture tried to gain dominance over the others and secure for themselves the limited resources that were available. After this 1,000-year period of ignorance, violence and conflict in Europe, which is often referred to as the “Dark Ages,” state-sponsored European explorers began to venture out beyond their small corner of the world in search of resources. Spain sponsored Christopher Columbus’ voyage westward to find a new route to India. And soon after Columbus stumbled upon the Americas, Vasco da Gama sailed south from Portugal along the West African coast, rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of the African continent and eventually crossed what became known as the Indian Ocean to India itself. Armed with cannon and cruel greed, the Spanish and Portuguese fleets began to plunder these foreign lands. To justify the horrific atrocities committed against the people found in these new lands, the Spanish and Portuguese professed to be the messengers of Christian love and charity. So noble was their cause deemed to be, that in 1494, Pope Alexander VI divided the world in two, giving one half to Spain and the other to Portugal. But soon, the English, French and Dutch challenged the Spanish and Portuguese for these “new lands” filled with riches. Then Europeans began to slaughter each other as well as the unlucky indigenous inhabitants. Armed with religiosity as well as cannon, European imperialists began to differentiate between Christians and “heathens,” bringing the latter to heel in the name of God’s mandate and the progress of civilization. As they had done to each other in Europe for centuries before, the imperialists then began to do to the rest of the world. They created “others” and declared them to be undeserving of the bounty of their own lands. In support of this world view, the Eurasian land mass was divided into two parts, distinguishing Asia, with its non-white population, from Europe and its mostly white population. This notion of Europe and Asia as separate continents has existed for centuries, with geographers declaring that there were seven major land masses called continents, and that each continent was divided from the others by a body of water. But the briefest examination of a world map reveals that there is no water separating Europe from Asia. The socio-political construction of Europe and Asia as separate land masses was created merely to “other” the non-white Asians. Europeans and Asians, Christians and heathens, white people and Black people are all social constructs built to support a social order of global inequality that advantages white people to the detriment of people of color. If we are ever to bring an end to white supremacy, we must diagnose the socio-economic and political condition of the world today and determine the causes of racism and the “othering” of the world’s various populations. Critical Race Theory is one way to perform this diagnosis. It can demonstrate that there is a cultural thread that runs from the medieval superstitions of Europe to the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, which not only protected the right of its white citizens to own slaves, but also prohibited people deemed to be Indians and Africans from living freely within its borders. Critical Race Theory also can demonstrate the cultural thread running from the slaughter of Africans and other people of color during the “age of exploration” to the present-day efforts of white supremacists to disenfranchise people of color in America and block their path to the voting booth. We are now at the dawning of a new phase of a centuries old culture war, and we must arm ourselves with the knowledge of how we arrived at this point, because if we do not, the war will be lost. Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia. His earlier commentaries may be found at https://oblayton1.medium.com/
by Oscar Blayton White people, don’t take it personally and don’t lose your minds, but the numbers are in and the numbers don’t lie. For the...
Many Black voters knew we were settling for the lesser of two evils when we held our noses and voted for Joe Biden for president of the United States. With Donald Trump in the mix, we knew that Biden was not the worst that we could do, but a lesser evil is still an evil. More than eight months after we cast our votes, we clearly see what that evil looks like. Democracy has slipped during the Trump years and is now in hanging by its fingernails onto a cliff that plunges into the abyss of racial inequity and abuse, the likes of which we have not seen since President Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew federal troops from the South in 1877, ending the first Reconstruction. There can be no doubt that elements within this country, and particularly within the Republican Party, hope to strip Black and brown people of their constitutional and human rights. The recent maneuvers to limit voting rights are bullets aimed directly at the heads of non-white people. These assaults upon the most loyal segments of the Democratic Party are being facilitated by Democratic politicians who display an undeniable hostility towards voters of color by preferring a nonexistent comity among members of Congress to the rights of citizens, including their own constituents. And all the while, our lesser of two evils simply mouths platitudes about getting along without taking any leadership position that would protect voters of color, the Democratic Party or the democratic principles upon which this nation is supposed to be secured. Given the current situation people of color find ourselves in, I offer up that U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema know that an overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress have no desire to act in good faith and seek a reasonable compromise to protect voting rights. But Sens. Manchin and Sinema do not care. And given the recent behavior of Biden, we must ask ourselves if the president cares what will happen to people of color when a Trump-packed U.S. Supreme Court continues to uphold the new barrage of Jim Crow voting laws that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country. It is not enough to say that Joe Biden will be #OneAndDone and plan to rid our country of his feckless administration after four years. We must mobilize now to ensure that we will have the ability to vote after his four years in office. There are those who use the term “the second Reconstruction” to characterize the period after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts. But just as the newly freed slaves were abandoned by the pragmatists of politics in the late 19th century, people of color are facing abandonment by scores of Democratic politicians today. If we do not act to protect our own rights and liberties, we will suffer the same catastrophic fate that our ancestors suffered for nearly a century after our faint-hearted allies decided our freedoms were not worth fighting for. This is more urgent than a call to action – it is a “scramble alert.” People of color have a pressing and monumental task ahead of us – great, in both importance and size. We have many allies, both stout-hearted and faint-hearted, and we face many detractors of varying degrees. We have our future to protect. Now is not the time to delay. Those who want to “wait and see” are merely in denial. The evil is upon us. We cannot be led into inaction by those who either care so little or know so little about what we face. There are a multitude of civic and political organizations that take this threat to our democracy seriously and we can look to them to help us organize and prepare for the onslaught facing us in the coming years and not be hamstrung by an ineffective White House. It is beyond the scope of this writing to list all the organizations girding for the upcoming political battles, so we must seek them out in our local areas and offer our support in whatever way we can. We cannot delude ourselves. The struggle is upon us, and we must prepare for “good trouble,” as John Lewis put it, because peace is not so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia. His earlier commentaries may be found at https://oblayton1.medium.com/