#WhiteHistoryMonth337: The Top 10 Whitest Laws of All Time

Illustration for article titled #WhiteHistoryMonth337: The Top 10 Whitest Laws of All Time
Image: Monika Hunackova (Shutterstock)

After a grueling 28 days of watching corporations, institutions and random white people pretend to care about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and that other Black guy with the big part in his afro (I think it’s Booker T. Douglass), we now return to our regularly scheduled program.

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Today marks the second of 337 consecutive days of white history!

Unlike those racists who insist on brainwashing our children with the leftist 1619 project, The Root believes in honoring “both sides” of history—the factual part as well as the part that’s almost kinda based on a true story. We would never cast a great man like Abraham Lincoln, as a “white supremacist.” Even though Lincoln’s belief that “there is a physical difference between the white and Black races,” literally fits the definition of white supremacy, we don’t think it’s necessary to tell our kids that he was “in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race,” just because it’s 100 percent true.

To honor the legacy of the men who gave us race-based slavery, Jim Crow, and separate but unequal, we present the greatest white America’s greatest accomplishments in the field of systemic racism.

10. Sundown States

While there are a number of “sundown towns” scattered across America, where Black people are forbidden after dark, a few states have tried to ban people who use seasoning from settling inside the state borders.

During Iowa’s first legislative session, “An Act to Regulate Blacks and Mulattoes” barred Black people from settling in the state “unless he or she shall produce a fair certificate, from some court within the United States, of his or her actual freedom.” Of course, since most DMVs don’t have judges issuing free negro licenses, the law effectively abolished Blackness in the state. Three years later, the state went full white and declared that “no free negro or mulatto shall be permitted to settle in this state.”

Oregon Founding Fathers saw Iowa’s law and said:” Hold my beer,” writing in the state’s constitution:

No free negro or mulatto not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall come, reside or be within this state or hold any real estate, or make any contracts, or maintain any suit therein; and the legislative assembly shall provide by penal laws for the removal by public officers of all such negroes and mulattoes, and for their effectual exclusion from the state, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ or harbor them.

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Not only did they ban Black people, but the state’s “Lash Law” allowed whites to dish out 39 lashes to any Black person they found in the state.

9. White History Law

A number of states have moved to ensure that white history is taught to students in public schools, instead of the dreaded 1619 Project.

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USA Today reports:

Lawmakers in several statehouses this year want to stop lesson plans that focus on the centrality of slavery to American history as presented in The New York Times’ 1619 Project, previewing new battles in states over control of civics education.

Republican lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri and South Dakota filed bills last month that, if enacted, would cut funding to K-12 schools and colleges that provide lessons derived from the award-winning project. The South Dakota bill has since been withdrawn.

Some historians say the bills are part of a larger effort by Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, to glorify a more white and patriarchal view of American history that downplays the ugly legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black people, Native Americans, women and others to the nation’s founding.

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8. Stop and Frisk

While America’s system of policing is a direct descendant of slave patrols, they have evolved over time. Cops still stop Black people for no reason, but these days, they don’t particularly care to see freedom papers.

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Take New York City, for instance. In 2019, the latest year for which statistics exist, the NYPD stopped and frisk 13,459 people. While the city is 43 percent white, white people only made up 9 percent of stop-and-frisk searches. Black residents were 59 percent of the searches, even though they are 24 percent of the city’s population.

Sixty-six percent of the people who were stopped and frisked in 2019 were innocent.

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7. White v. Clements

When Georgia expelled 33 elected politicians from its legislature after the Civil War, they took their cases to court. In White v. Clements, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled:

“After the most careful examination of this question, I am clearly of the opinion, that there is no existing law of this State which confers the right upon the colored citizens thereof to hold office, and consequently, that the defendant has no legal right to hold and exercise the duties of the office which he claims under her authority...”

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For its violence and discrimination against Black people, Georgia was expelled from the Union during Reconstruction, making it the only state to be kicked out of America twice for being too racist.

I’m sure things have changed.

6. Laws Against Learning

South Carolina is a trailblazer when it comes to racism. They were the originator of slave patrols, laws against emancipating the enslaved and banning Black people from worshiping God. But the state’s legislative efforts to stop Black people from learning are among the best examples of white supremacy.

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Not only did the Negro act of 1740 outlaw reading or writing among enslaved Africans but when the 13th Amendment passed, the slave-loving state decided that Black people shouldn’t be allowed to learn how a new skill, writing: “No person of color shall pursue or practice the art, trade or business of an artisan, mechanic or shop-keeper, or any other trade, employment or business ... on his own account and for his own benefit.”

5. Gerrymandering

The most potent and practical form of election rigging has been practiced since America was founded. It is neither rare nor frowned upon. It is an anti-democratic open secret used in every election to silence the voices of millions in every state and national election. It is a nasty tactic employed by everyone from the Founding Fathers to Donald Trump, and yes, it is legal. It rewinds many of the advances made by the civil rights movement and laughs in the face of its detractors. It goes by many names: redistricting, electioneering, voter mapmaking and too many others to list.

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Most people just call it “gerrymandering.”

For years, Republicans across the country employed Thomas Hoeffler, the king of gerrymandering, to diminish Black voting power in states and districts throughout the country. Called the “Master of the Modern Gerrymander,” Hofeller pioneered using race to redraw political maps to hand electoral advantages to the GOP.

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He also said this:

4. Louisiana’s White Supremacy

On May 12, 1898, Louisiana passed a state Constitution that included poll taxes, non-unanimous juries, literacy tests and other restrictions that virtually eliminated Black political power. To make sure white people weren’t affected, the new constitution included “grandfather clauses” that excluded white residents from the racist provisions.

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Eighty percent of people who are still in prison because of non-unanimous juries are Black. Even in majority-white districts, Black voters are unable to elect their own judges. The state also has its own Electoral College that tilts the voting power toward its white majority.

Of course, I would never refer to this as white supremacy. But the E.B. Kruttschnitt, the president of the Louisiana Constitutional convention explained why they enshrined those laws into the state’s DNA:

“I say to you, that we can appeal to the conscience of the nation, both judicial and legislative and I don’t believe that they will take the responsibility of striking down the system which we have reared in order to protect the purity of the ballot box and to perpetuate the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Louisiana.”

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3. Felony Disenfranchisement

When Florida’s citizens voted to amend the constitution to end its practice of disenfranchising people convicted of felonies, Republicans were like: “Fuck that democracy shit.

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Then the Trump-appointed federal judges were like: “Fuck that democracy shit.”

So they fucked that Democracy shit.

2. Redlining

Perhaps no government policy has affected the economic well-being of this country more than the government policy of redlining. It...

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You know what? Here’s an explanation:

1. Slavery

No, not that one.

But also, yes, that one.

The 13th Amendment outlawed slavery but they included a loophole that said: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States..”

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But why are Black people the ones who are always “duly convicted”?

Have you ever heard of corrupt police officers, overzealous prosecutors, mass incarceration industry, biased judges, private prisons, penal profiteering, the war on drugs, the war on crime, or plain old war?

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You haven’t?

Well, have you ever heard of white people?

Maybe you should learn their history

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

DISCUSSION

murrychang
Murry Chang

Stop and frisk:  iirc, the tiny amount of white people that were stopped were statistically more likely to have drugs in their possession too.