If you’d prefer to read the book itself click here.
Transcript of the video — it’s not exact as there’s some improv and editing throughout the process. Many sources can be found within the video itself although hoping to have the resources in the future to include sources for every fact mentioned in word-for-word transcripts.
My name is Matthew Cooke and this is a demonstration on HOW TO RACE BAIT… First with some of the “Stereotypes expressed in the 17th and 18th centuries: regarding ‘the vile and brutish part of mankind’; ‘with ‘the marks of an alien race’. Those were how the gentlemen class described whites. Poor whites to be exact — from Europe, many of which were duped by a con game — an all expense paid trip to the new world in return for years of free labor on the other side.
On the other side of course million of natives would be nearly wiped from the face of the earth in perhaps the worst genocide in the history of the world – many killed intentionally and many left to die in the wake of disease the Europeans brought with them.
In the midst of that genocide, white indentured servants 400 years ago (for a brief moment) were seen by many as more or less the same as African slaves, except for the differences in culture and language.
To become a slave in the ancient world was not based on skin color but the result of being on the losing side in a war.
A slave (in the ‘older” days) was not “inferior” by nature, but “unfortunate”. And so in the early days of colonial America poor Europeans and “unfortunate” Africans used for forced labor worked side-by-side.
When they broke their servants contract they were equally punished for a time. And they also made easy alliances in a great many rebellions against the wealthy colonists raging against greed, unfair taxes, oppressive land use regulations — and in the 1670s one of those alliances nearly burned Jamestown to the ground. The English military had to step in to protect their overseas investments. And the last to surrender were 100 men. 80 black and 20 whites. One rebellion.
With an enormous population of indentured servants and slaves outnumbering and endangering the wealthy elite’s claim to authority and land ownership, a natural answer emerged to separate dangerous poor whites from dangerous slave blacks. The invention of “racial contempt.”
And a government sanctioned law enforcement system was created to control the dwindling native Americans and the black slave populations and to further divide them against white servants giving whites more privileges and separating contact.
This 3 tiered caste system, blacks on the bottom and poor whites a notch above, protected the interests of the land owners.
If you’re interested in reading about this in more depth, there’s a page turning thriller – not kidding — called the People’s History of the United States” which you can download as an audiobook to support this series and if you’d prefer to read the book itself click here.
That 3 tiered caste system of the early British & European colonies is the moment the modern institution of racial slavery is born, which would brutalize black Americans in the most horrific and unimaginable ways for the next 200 years.
Until January 1, 1863. The 3rd year of our bloody civil war, when the president writes “all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free.”
And 150 years after that Michelle Alexander writes a book that’s helped fuel the nationwide social movement we find ourselves in now.
She writes (quoting W.E.B. Dubois) that “Not a single black slave was actually free… A civil war had to be won… hundreds of thousands of lives lost… former slaves had a ‘brief moment in the sun’ before they returned to a state akin to slavery or worse… They found themselves relegated to convict leasing camps… Segregation pushed black people right back into a subordinate racial caste.”
The unprecedented economic might of the new United States, built largely on the backs of an enormous free slave labor force would be arguably the single greatest factor contributing to the creation of the world’s greatest modern super-power.
And in gratitude, instead of helping freed slaves find homes, reunite with families or heal from a 300 year old trauma… they were largely neglected by the northern soldiers, faced rampant disease, horrific outbreaks of smallpox and cholera. Many starved to death.
And for the next 100 years this thing called Jim Crow replaced slavery — a racial caste system enforced by government, courts and law officers enforcing a racial caste system into every aspect of American life — ministers and theologians taught that whites were the Chosen people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Craniologists, eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social Darwinists, at every educational level, reinforced the belief that blacks were in every way inferior to whites.
Underfunded educations created massive social disadvantages compounded by predatory lending in housing markets that as criminal or worse than the recent housing bubble that crippled the national economy… discriminatory bank lending practices, severe job discrimination all continued until the 1960s (only 50 years ago) when our then president says some words about “giving all Americans the right to be served in the same public facilities… as well as “greater protection for the right to vote”. And we write some new laws to that effect.
This happens at the apex of the modern civil rights movement. Black nationalism and black power. Black Pride. For the first time after 300 years of the opposite. Communities suddenly policing of their own streets. A shield and sword against 3 centuries of oppression. But these forces are soon struck down by the law and order movement. Again. And what takes its place? The growth of the largest prison industrial complex in the world. Tougher laws, more laws, longer sentences, mandatory minimums…
Hunting people of color and the poor at rates higher than any on the planet. And who is targeted at levels higher than any other group regardless of crime rates? Blacks and all non whites… particularly in the war on drugs where all the data shows white, brown, black use and sell drugs at the same rates but Blacks and people of color are targeted, arrested, prosecuted at exponentially higher rates and for longer periods of time.
And even where there are differences in crimes rates, the targeting of people of color is still vastly disproportionate to say the least. Blacks who’ve committed the exact same crimes as whites are more likely to be prosecuted. More likely to have longer prison sentences.
Communities ever struggling, trying to recover and heal from hundreds of years of slavery and racial caste system are attacked and torn apart again. Families deprived of bread winners. Generations of families sentenced to a cycle of unemployment, poorly funded educations and all this while, despite the existence of notable heroic black, brown and white cops saving lives, lawyers, judges, legislators overall black America has never seen a substantive break in law enforcement’s service to larger forces ever on the wrong side of history.
So here we are today. 36% of America are people of color. But represent 60% of the prison population. Over 1 million men and women.
And so the majority of black Americans – 70% understandably have little trust in law enforcement or the criminal justice system.
But in the meantime, this prison industrial complex has not only swept up people of color, but ALL people of limited means.
It has grown well passed the size anyone could have ever imagined. It has militarized and increased in scope and aggression.
And as racist as the system clearly is, if we took all people of color out of the equation, leaving only the white majority —we would still be over-incarcerated. We would still have vile police brutality. We would still have a criminal justice system desperately in need of reform.
A much bigger issue than just the police, itself we now have an out of control 80 billion dollar a year use of our taxes used by a wealthy elite to control the poor, en masse, in the dark and divided.
So just like the days of early slavery today we STILL have a 3 tiered system. Only slightly more than half of black americans graduate from high school. Compared to ¾ of white Americas.
Black americans are over twice as likely to be suspended from school. And black males twice as likely to be unemployed as white males.
Of course there are exceptions but as a whole the entire structure of our society is a 3 tiered system that is in no way based on just your behavior.
Blacks are far more likely to be arrested for selling or possessing drugs than whites, even though whites use drugs at the same rate. And whites are actually more likely to sell drugs. This is not information pulled from some organization with an agenda. This is the Brookings Institute and the Washington Post talking.
Moving onto the 2nd tier we have poor whites, treated the 2nd worst, as a whole. Of course there are exceptions but poverty in white America is also very bad. Poverty experts estimate the real poverty rate for everyone in the US today is over 50%.
We have a myth of social mobility that is one of the worst in the industrialized world due to decades of disinvestment from communities leaving depressed, isolated, local economies with no jobs, a dwindling tax base, and nothing to attract business or new residents. And why is this?
As the great journalist Emily Cleath says “We should never say the word “poverty” without the words “inequality” and “injustice” being close behind. People become poor not by personal failing but because the system is engineered to push them down and keep them down.”
And despite the numerous horrific incidents of police brutality against whites, the beating of a homeless man or a horse thief to near death, or the million whites in prison, unprecedented in our nations history — the majority of whites today… 57% still have “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of confidence in police and a majority think the justice system is fair.
The majority of white communities just don’t know. It’s not in the history books its not in the media. Nobody’s told them. Whole neighborhoods and communities aren’t targeted because of their color.
The poor whites and victims of criminal injustice are spread out across the country and heavily divided by culture and politics.
The so-called liberal and conservative news media is owned by 6 mega media companies that control 90% of our information. Those companies are owned by the very rich… who have been becoming a smaller more concentrated group of people controlling more and more of all the money in the country at greater and greater rates.
According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans today have more money than the poorer half the entire population of the United States. 400 people have more money than 160 million people combined.
While less than 4% of the entire country are millionaires, they make up half the members of congress. Who do you think those millionaires represent?
The elite who run the country in revolving door of economic royalty have certainly demonstrated they are above prosecution.
So with a news media that mostly reports only on the black outrage at police brutality which is and has been at a boiling point for the last 300 years the white majority is confused. They make all kinds of assumptions.
And the white minority who are aware of the horrors of the criminal injustice system but unaware of the history of black America feel themselves being lumped in with the elites. What do you mean there’s racism! They’re lives are hard too! They have unemployment and poverty and poor education systems and bad healthcare… And they aren’t rioting!
They see a country divided. They scream out at Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson: race baiters! They are right to scream. But they scream at the wrong faces.
The race baiters are the media that doesn’t report more. The media that is terrified to let the mass of Americans know the truth about our 3 tiered caste system alive and well and keeping us divided.
As a straight white man I do not identify with the elite that continue to oppress black, brown, gay, Muslim and poor whites and pretend that there is some innate difference between us.
I do not need to identify with those ancestors before me that committed arguably the worst genocide in the history of the world (against the natives) and not only enslaved but brutalized a people who in chains and in struggle for civil rights created and inspired some of the greatest art, music, culture, invention and humanity the world has ever seen.
I identify with being part of that struggle. I am proud of that struggle. I don’t need to be proud of the color of my skin because I was never told I needed to be ashamed of it. It’s not part of my experience.
I am privileged to be white and straight and male in a society that favors those traits for which I have nothing to do with. Favors I might not see since I grew up poor. And for a time I was homeless. But I never grew up black. And in that childhood experience I was fortunate to witness the difference.
So as a human being in forming my identity I choose to identify with any person who is oppressed. You are my ally and I am yours. I acknowledge racism as existing and alive as it ever was, and in doing so I eliminate any separation between us.
When we as the white minority aware of the injustice in this country ally ourselves with a movement that has been asking to just acknowledge for 4 odd centuries how overdue it is to say three words: black. lives. matter.
Then united — we are a power that will shake the masters to their core. Yes, I say masters… The masters of the economy, the commercial news, the military and prison industrial complex, the majority of the government — the masters corrupted by the influence too much power has on all human beings. That must be rectified.
For injustice and inequality are one and the same. Black, brown, white, sisters, brothers. The class struggle unites us all. As it always has. Race baiters. You are exposed.
Please support this series and download People’s History of the United States audiobook. If you’d prefer to read the book itself click here.
The real history of this nation is an incredible story. It’s empowering as it is engaging. You won’t be disappointed. And not to be over-dramatic, truthfully our nation depends on our educating ourselves.