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Race Issues: Behind Closed Doors in America

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Once again, America finds that its peculiar way of categorizing race is full of contradictions and inconsistencies.

While our founding fathers were debating the constitution and how they were going to classify enslaved Africans, Thomas Jefferson was fathering children with his slave, Sally Hemings.

He lived a contradictory life. By day he argued for freedoms that didn’t include his mistress and children, and by night he crept into her quarters. Race issues in America are full of contradictions and inconsistencies.

Now this week Ms. Essie Mae Washington-Williams a retired Los Angeles school teacher publicly annnounced what many had long known, that she is the daughter of the late Senator Strom Thurmond. South Carolina Senator Thurmond for years preached his segregationist poison throughout the land and on Capitol Hill to influence legislation that would deny Class A citizen rights to Blacks living in America.

He even changed his political party from Democrat to Republican because they were more in line with his racist views. Thurmond was 22 years old and the girl was 16-years old at the time. During that time period Blacks had no rights in South Carolina that a White man had to honor therefore she had no one to complain to. Yes, Thurmond, like Jefferson, was saying one thing in public while doing something different at home.

I am happy that his daughter, Ms. Washington-Williams is informing the world of her heritage. I am also happy that she waited until he passed to share this with the public in order to not bring shame on her father who was still in public office. She handled the situation with dignity and quiet strength. She has displayed the kind of discipline that many of us do not have. She knew her father was living a lie in public, but evidently acknowledged her and helped support her in private.

An interesting note, that points back to America’s contradictory notions of race, is that Thurmond is now said to have fathered a “mixed race” child instead of a “Black” child. It used to be that in America, one drop of Black blood meant that the person was categorized as Black. Now there is a mixed race category. Now we’re losing Black people in America and Whites are gaining.

For example in 1990 there were 2,208,801 Blacks living in California. In 2000 there were 2,263,882 Blacks but when you add Blacks mixed with other races the number jumps to 2,513,041 a difference of 249,159 people. Whites added 101,705 Blacks to their ranks from the last census in California. I say this to point out that the reason some give in public is different than what they say behind close doors, as is the case with some of our racist icons.

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