Tavis Smiley Thinks That Black People Could Be Enslaved Again
The social climate in America has come to a fever pitch in 2016. Black men and women are still being killed by “law enforcement officers”, the criminal justice system continues to fail us and we have a hateful bigot who is dangerously close to becoming the most powerful man in the world.
All of these things have many to feeling that this country is moving backwards. So backwards, in fact, that Tavis Smiley is afraid that black folks might enslaved once again by white oppressors.
He wrote as much in a new TIME op-ed as he recounted a question that a student at Lehigh University asked him:
“Mr. Smiley, do you believe that given the crisis state of our democracy, we black folk could ever find ourselves enslaved again?”
Whoa. Didn’t see that one coming. Neither did the mostly white audience. A quiet fell over the room. I swallowed hard.
Looking directly at the student, I could see he was dead serious, and I wanted to treat his question with the soberness it deserved. But, truthfully, I stumbled as I began to respond, not knowing how to properly frame my response.
My answer? Yes.
Tavis went on to explain why he feels that slavery is totally plausible.
In my lifetime, I have never seen Congress so blatantly mock our Constitution. It’s especially striking that it comes from the political party that’s always lecturing us about the “rule of law”. What’s worse is that they’re getting away with it. Republicans have turned this Constitutional issue into a political football and suckered the White House, Democrats in Congress and the news media into playing the game by their rules. This is a travesty of justice, but it has all but disappeared as a news story.
I wonder what other Constitutional mandates Congress could just decide to ignore. Is it possible that the White House, the opposition party in Congress and the news media could be cowardly complacent, too frozen by fear to actually do anything to stop their overreach? They haven’t in this situation. It’s all “politics,” they say. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what we said when Trump’s campaign was just a joke. He won once. And could win again.
So, could the Constitution be thwarted and black folk end up enslaved again? Legal scholars, of course, will find the question ludicrous and laughable.
It wasn’t farfetched for the young student who pressed me at Lehigh that evening. And, honestly? With the hair-raising, bone-chilling, spine-breaking, nerve-wracking path we’re on right now, I shudder to think where this democracy could end up one sad day, if we don’t get off this low road and make our way to higher ground soon.
What do you think? Are we headed back to whips and chains?
Image via AP