In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to study our new country to see what lessons could be learned for the benefit of the new French republic. His book “Democracy in America” was an insightful look into the character of America with all its strengths and flaws. A century later, Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish economist and Nobel laureate, gave us the perspective of an outsider in his classic 1944 book, “The American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy.” Both authors and scholars pointed out the central role of the relationship between dominant whites and exploited Blacks in the political, economic and social life of the country.
I wonder what an outside scholar would think if they saw a former president calling the Black district attorneys in Atlanta and New York racist because they are prosecuting his criminality. What would that scholar think if they were witness to governors from several states promoting laws that ban historical truths about how Blacks were treated during slavery, Jim Crow and today? How would they interpret the bomb threats at 20 historically Black colleges and universities? What would they say about the highest court in the land about to overturn affirmative action programs in other citadels of higher education? How would they explain to the world a senator from Mississippi’s claim that the nomination of a Black woman to the Supreme Court would lead to an inferior jurist?