Who Will Guard the Guardians?

Richard Lawson Singley
11 min readJun 9, 2020
The 1920 Duluth, Minnesota lynchings. Two of the black victims are still hanging while the third is on the ground. Postcards of lynchings were popular souvenirs in the U.S

The more things change, the more they remain the same. From 1882 to 1968, 3, 446 blacks were lynched in America. Sad but true, George Floyd’s death is just one of many troubling and pervasive sagas in American history. Black lives have never truly mattered and some whites subconsciously and overtly believe that “it ain’t bloodshed unless its white blood being shed.”

Not only black lives, but neither does black opinion matter until it is embraced by white people. Black athletes tried to bring attention to the chronic problem of police brutality, but their peaceful protests were scorned and deemed unamerican by most whites including the 45th president of the United States who referred to them as “sons of bitches.”

Why so many whites thought that such a demonstration was unamerican speaks to the pervasive disjunction between white and black America. We should be mindful that it does not take eight minutes and forty-six seconds to kneel or stand during the national anthem, but rather, a video of that length to awaken white America to the realization that black lives matter! But this was not the first time that black athletes tried to bring attention to injustice in America. Over fifty years ago, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists at the 1968 Olympics.

Gold medalist Tommie Smith (center) and bronze medalist John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200 m race at the 1968 Summer Olympics

Mark Twain once wrote: “There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.” White privilege is a construct of the post-Columbian world manifested in myriad ways — endured by its victims and cherished by those who benefit from it. The fear of that privilege eroding is often the source of vitriol and animus directed at people of color.

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After enduring centuries of slavery in which the killing of blacks was an ordained right of whites, the freedom of slaves ushered in a new era of oppression and murder. Although the 14th Amendment granted former slaves “ equal protection of the laws”, these words were as meaningless as “all men are created equal.” Even though the 15th Amendment granted citizenship to African Americans, blacks…

Richard Lawson Singley

Author, educator, historian, former engineer at General Electric. Interested in the origins of all things. Author of A New Perspective richardlsingley@gmail.com