Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American | March 28
Since the Civil War, voter suppression in America has had a unique cast.
The Civil War brought two great innovations to the United States that would mix together to shape our politics from 1865 onward:
First, the Republicans under Abraham Lincoln created our first national system of taxation, including the income tax. For the first time in our history, having a say in society meant having a say in how other people’s money was spent.
Second, the Republicans gave Black Americans a say in society.
They added the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing human enslavement except as punishment for crime and, when white southerners refused to rebuild the southern states with their free Black neighbors, in March 1867 passed the Military Reconstruction Act. This landmark law permitted Black men in the South to vote for delegates to write new state constitutions. The new constitutions confirmed the right of Black men to vote.
Most former Confederates wanted no part of this new system. They tried to stop voters from ratifying the new constitutions by dressing up in white sheets as the ghosts of dead southern soldiers, terrorizing Black voters and the white men who were willing to rebuild the South on these new terms to keep them from the polls. They organized as the Ku Klux Klan, saying they were “an institution of chivalry, humanity, mercy, and patriotism” intended “to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States… [and] to aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional laws.” But by this they meant the Constitution before the war and the Thirteenth Amendment: candidates for admission to the Ku Klux Klan had to oppose “Negro equality both social and political” and favor “a white man’s government.”
Racial and wealth disparities in the United States have been thrown into sharp relief by the COVID-19 pandemic and racial unrest throughout 2020. We see more clearly than ever just how often Black business owners and creatives have been thought of as less than their Caucasian counterparts – and Black businesses are paying the price.
Black businesses are impacted more deeply than Caucasian businesses by COVID-related closures, due to the long history of racial inequality that’s now exacerbated by the ongoing state of emergency.
It feels like an overwhelming problem – and it is – but there’s one simple thing you can do right now to help: Shop at Black-owned businesses whenever you can.
Supporting Black-owned businesses helps provide much-needed stability to business owners that have been hard hit by the pandemic. And you’re laying a foundation to continue to support Black businesses long after the crisis is over.
Once you start paying attention to who owns the businesses you shop at and where your money is going, you’ll be surprised at how your mindset starts to shift. It’s an easy, practical step to start changing the way you think while providing tangible support to Black business owners who need your help right now.
Where to start? We’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of 181 Black-owned businesses across the United States in many different categories. Check out the list below.
Pubs are important community spaces which are often romanticised as a key part of British culture, but for some – namely people of colour – the local boozer isn’t a place they can enter without feeling like outsiders.
By Faima Bakar
Kevin Divine*, who is Black, has felt that hostility in pubs many times. ‘When you look at all the flags outside a pub and see just white people inside, it makes you think twice,’ he tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Pubs are seen as super British but the “Britishness” they represent is kind of at odds with the kind of Britain I occupy and envision.’
‘One time, I went inside and it was like one of those scenes from a Western flick when the out-of-towner steps into a saloon and all the patriots stop what they’re doing and follow his every move.’ ‘Even the bartender forgot he was pouring a pint and let it overflow.’ Kevin, from Hull, – which was named City of Culture in 2017 – is one of many people of colour who have experienced this sense of being unwelcome in pubs across the UK. ‘That was uncomfortable but a part of me found it funny and kind of sad that people have that reaction to me being in the room,’ remembers Kevin. ‘My friends and I wouldn’t go to these places anymore because why put yourself in that environment?’
While it would be unfair to say that all pubs are unwelcoming purely because they’re often adorned with flags, there is tense relationship between Black and brown British people and the Union Jack or the St George’s flag. Some feel it conjures up images of English nationalism or reminds them of far-right movements – such as The National Front, which adopts the Union Jack in its logo. As well as decor, there are other tangible reasons that may deter people from entering or feeling welcome in pubs – including problematic names. Last year, a pub that shared a moniker with slavetrader Edward Colston was renamed after the Black Lives Matter protests. A chain decided to rename three of its establishments – including The Black Boy and The Black’s head – due to their ‘racist connotations’.
After UCL compiled a database of firms connected to slavery, another pub, Greene King, changed its title due the plantation connection of its namesake Benjamin Greene. A study last summer found that one in three people would avoid pubs if they had a racist name or signage.
Kevin isn’t alone in his wariness towards pubs. Anthony, a Filipino person who has lived in Newham his whole life, has a pub at the end of his street – but he never goes in.
Clip from the Rachel Maddow show, July 16. In this interview with Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, she alleges she’s heard President Trump use anti-Semitic slurs and the N-word. The White House responded “this is a book of falsehoods, plain and simple.
We spotlight some of the most exciting Black-led creative projects happening in Scotland and further abroad, including the Black Lives Matter mural and Fringe of Colour, and ways you can help out.
Another week, another article – we could get used to this! This week, we’re spotlighting some incredible projects by Black creatives in Scotland and further afield (dare we say…England?), as well as highlighting some causes open for donations. The conversation surrounding Black Lives Matter has definitely dwindled in some circles, but we believe anti-racism requires not only long-term commitment, but also active participation – seeking out names, projects, and stories mainstream white culture might otherwise not expose you to.
To that end, we’ve lined up some of the most exciting work happening in this strange year. Black Lives Matter murals are popping up in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness thanks to a new trail produced by Wezi Mhura. Fringe of Colour, which made huge waves during last year’s Fringe season, is back with its own online arts festival. And we have a whole bunch of books and films we’ve been obsessively reading and watching that we’d love to share with you, too. Read, share, donate – let’s keep the conversation going.
Founded by two University of Edinburgh students, Rianna Walcott and Toby Sharpe, Project Myopia is a call to diversify university curricula through articles, artwork, and video essays that explore texts traditionally left out of the canon. They accept submissions year round, or you can donate here. Image: Susie Purvis. Continue reading →