Yes, the Civil War ended in defeat for the South and for slavery. The following “Reconstruction” years turned out to be a disaster of historic proportions.
“The South Shall Rise Again”, was the uncertain epitaph, generally, often mythically inscribed on municipal statues.
Many of the following generations of White Southerners truly believed that little had changed as Confederate flags and monuments rose in every state. Even laws, prompting equality were soon overridden as society continued.
It really took another century and a half before we began rationalizing just how divided and racist we still were. Ironically, even Northerners excepted the rebel flags and statuary as a way of life. Who could forget that very popular TV show of the 60s the ‘Dukes of Hazard’ as the muscle car emblazoned with the Confederate flag and only token Black faces appearing?
The Southern flag continued in a place of honor at sporting events, parades and state capitals. Confederate statues were as common, if not more respected by the public, than the nation’s real banner.
Racism had a hold, only given shots of strength by a lackadaisical acceptance that things were supposed to change. Over 600,000 deaths in the Civil War, did not really settle overriding questions.
Yes, Black lives began to change, only in small steps in the culture unwilling to accept that racism still exists.
Growing through the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s the U.S. began a realization that inequity not only existed, but prevailed due to a convoluted definition of human social/economic freedom.
This latest generation is perhaps the most liberal in many ways, but detractors still coil and strike at every opportunity. The KKK has been replaced by the White backlash, Qonon, rogue militia groups and true misunderstandings of the Second Amendment thrown in as a quasi-defense.
Why did racism persist and grow?
Imagine the White conception of creating an all ‘Black Miss America’, even after the original ‘contest’ was integrated. Black colleges that promote Black enrollment, full media pages of high school Black students with congratulatory pictures, many with what otherwise would be described as mediocre grades and statements of academic accomplishment. Black students, employees being chosen due only to their race has drastically backfired. Black statues arising out of a misplaced pride, often using people of color with possibly, probably equally flawed lives.
Simply put, there is no way of balancing racism if we continue swinging the pendulum simply in the opposite direction to make amends. We almost have to start at zero and work our way forward, but is that even possible?
There have been loud, growing whispers of ‘Reparations’ for families of slavery from hundreds of years ago, but does anybody really believe that will solve the problem? If ‘Reparations’ had been given as a sign of forgiveness, it should have been made as a part of ‘Reconstruction’, but that boat has long sailed.
The cry of ‘White Power’ is the sure response to the last decades cry of ‘Black Power’ by those attempting to gain an equal footing and set the scales right.
Politicians either choose, or quasi-choose sides and the arguments in this confusing race debate continues. Yes, the Confederate flag has been cursed, General Lee no longer stands on his high perch, but we do not really know how to balance the race wheel we created. Mind you, this is not only an American problem, we just kind of refined it.
Yes it was dumb at the end of the Civil War thinking true civil/human rights could be obtained without addressing inequities, but we are still making the same mistakes?