Racism and Independence Day
By Seth Kaper-Dale, Green Candidate for Governor of New Jersey
Today, we're commemorating 241 years since the 13 colonies ratified the Declaration of Independence, precipitating the war to end colonial rule by England. The Declaration's famed preamble asserts that, "... all men are created equal ..." But 241 years of reality don't concur.
Most of the white male landowners who signed the Declaration of Independence, and their descendants, owned slaves for many ensuing decades. When slavery ended, what happened to the promised "40-acres and a mule?"
Only a few years before I was born, the Civil Rights Movement attained the right to vote for non-whites as a result of a long hard struggle, bringing the promise of equality a tiny bit closer, or so it seemed.
However, in 2017, racism and sexism are alive and well. In New Jersey, for every white person in jail there are 12 black people. How can that be in a state where roughly 59% of the population is white?
It is not just the criminal justice system's targeting of minorities that is truly criminal. All of our children should receive the same quality education in our public schools, but they don't. All people should receive the same pay for the same work, but women in New Jersey receive less than 70 cents to the male dollar.
Last week, I had the honor of meeting a talented African American professor, Lisa Durden. Earlier in June, she was subjected to the rabid attacks of a Fox "News" commentator, who labeled her as racist for defending the right of Black Lives Matter to have a commemoration of black victims to which white people were not invited. It was Fox; Ms. Durden surely knew she was walking into the lion's den. I saw the interview – I thought she was great.
So, she must have been shocked two days later; Essex County College summarily suspended her, and then subsequently fired her from her Adjunct Professor job, with no due process, for honestly expressing her expert opinion in an interview. Ms. Durden has described it as a modern day "lynching." There is no place for this in New Jersey, and even less so at a public institution of higher learning.
What is the example Essex County College is sending to its student population, and the surrounding community in Newark? If something is controversial, they should "just sit down and shut up?" This is not the New Jersey I imagined raising my kids in when I started my family here. Local and state elected officials are largely complicit through their silence, but not me.
Join me in standing with Lisa Durden, ECC students, faculty and a host of organizations calling for her reinstatement, in a protest at the Essex County Board of Freeholder’s meeting, Thursday July 6, at 7 p.m. at Livingston Town Hall, 10 N. Livingston Ave., Livingston, New Jersey
Peace, Seth Kaper-Dale
The Last Are First