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Theodore R. Johnson @DrTedJ
, 12 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
One of the most illustrative stories about the relationship between racism and the nation’s interests takes place on Route 40 in Maryland. If you know Maryland, this stretch between the Delaware line and Baltimore hasn’t been particularly kind to black Americans
In the 1950’s, many African nations gained independence. They sent their new Ambassadors to the U.S. to present credentials to the president & establish a presence at the U.N. This meant driving from New York to DC along US40 through a racially segregated Maryland
When African Ambassadors stopped to eat, they were turned away because US40 restaurants were Whites Only. Racism against black Americans suddenly became the basis for a series of international incidents. When Mrs. Leroy Merritt of the Bonnie Brae diner was asked about it... well.
Now this is during the Cold War & the African continent was one of its proxy battlegrounds. It was in the U.S. interest to gain favor w/ these nations lest they turn to the USSR. So as word got out about how the Ambassadors were being treated, by '61 Kennedy was compelled to act
Long story short, Kennedy dispatches Administration officials to Maryland to implore state and local government officials to desegregate US40 restaurants and hotels. After some resistance, they eventually complied and African Ambassadors were served
When local black American HBCU students heard about this, they decided to exercise this new right to dine at US40 restaurants … but were turned away. The local black newspaper found out, so some reporters PRETENDED to be African ambassadors … and were served.
The lesson? When the nation believes racial progress is in its interest, it compels compliance. But when no action is taken, it’s bc the interest is in doing nothing. The politics of race in America boils down to that core truth. See reparations. Hell, see slavery apology.
The reason the nation won't entertain reparations debates, for example, isn't because it's too expensive ... it's because what's its interest in doing so? What's its interest in apologizing for slavery? What does it gain materially?…
Lincoln recognized US could only survive if unified, so war over slavery had to happen to keep the South. The Cold War helped racial progress from '48-'68. What we know is that racial progress occurs when the nation believes it’s in its best interest to foster it. Period./ #US40
Note: to read more on the US40 incident, check out these three sources...………
Sorry, these quotes are too good not to append. They suddenly feel very current, which is to say the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here, ol' Haines, a trucker, is asked what he'd do if US40 restaurants started serving black folks....
And Clarence here, CLEARLY in the throes of an economic anxiety attack, strikes a tone in harmony with a specific brand of today's politics.
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