Donald Trump, the Dred Scott decision and you – what are you going to do?

The outcome on Election Day was a stark reminder of who this country was created to benefit.

Cedrick D. Wooten, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 11/16/2016, 11:48 a.m.
The outcome on Election Day was a stark reminder of who this country was created to benefit.
(Illustration by Karanja A. Ajanaku)

I grew up during a time when students were actually taught that America was a melting pot comprised of people and ethnicities from all over the world and although in Memphis, where the population generally was viewed as just black and white people, I actually believed it!

I knew that black people were damned no matter what we did because some viewed us as lazy and shiftless while also working diligently to keep us in “our place” so as to not inspire the next generation that all was really possible in America. I knew that forces worked to silence and neutralize anything that disrupted the system established by those white male property owners back in 1776 when they declared their freedom from England.

Robert B. Taney (Credit: Missouri Historical Society)

Robert B. Taney (Credit: Missouri Historical Society)

The irony of America has always been the illusion that the opportunities of this land were available to all. It was never meant to be that way and Tuesday, November 8 – Election Day – was the latest reminder. A student of history, I tried to find a comparison and kept coming back to the Dred Scott case of 1857. The United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, declared that all blacks – slaves as well as free – were not and could never become citizens of the United States.

Referring to the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal,” Taney reasoned that “it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . .”

Here is a stark reminder of who this country was created to benefit: The first black elected U.S. President – a Harvard educated attorney, who was editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, served as an Illinois state senator and as U.S. Senator from Illinois before becoming President – will turn over reigns to the most powerful office in the world to a person who was granted a “small” loan of anywhere from 1 to 14 million dollars to “get started” in the world, has no political experience (not even as school board member), and who is a proven racist, misogynist and xenophobe.

The most unfortunate aspect of it all has been the dashing of dreams and extinguishment of hope that so many touted after the election of President Obama. I could sense the pride of white liberals who were proud that it appeared that the color of one’s skin did not hinder his ascent to the highest office. I even heard conservatives espouse hope that this accomplishment would put an end to griping about the effects of slavery because a black man was now in the white house.

The reality is that whites, poor uneducated as well as educated middle class suburbanites alike, were not pleased and thus the seeds of the “tea party” and slogans to “take OUR country back” began to be sown because blacks had gotten out of their place! I found it confusing that an agenda – mandated health insurance, first introduced by Republicans as a sign of personal responsibility and successfully implemented by a Republican governor in Massachusetts – was all of a sudden being treated as an affront to personal freedoms when introduced by President Obama.