WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA stars leftist lawyer, Jeffery Robinson. He gives an allegedly historical examination of the negative treatment of blacks in the United States, from slavery to segregation and beyond. He cites many alleged facts. The documentary includes a lecture before a large audience at a theater in New York City. Robinson interviews some black people and three white people, who give eyewitness testimony about past incidents, including some horrific violent attacks on black people in the last 101 years.
WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA is best when Robinson discusses the real horrors of slavery and segregation, and when he interviews family members of black victims of racial violence. However, he falsely slanders America as the “most racist country” in the world. He also offers no solutions to the rampant racism and oppression he claims still occurs in America. Finally, his presentation on stage contains false revisionist history, factual omissions and other falsehoods about the history of racism. For example, WHO WE ARE doesn’t mention black Africans took part in the slave trade.
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong Romantic, politically correct, leftist worldview about white racism in America, with some false revisionist history mixed with some real history and some appropriate moral outrage against the horrors of slavery, of the Jim Crow laws in the South and of lynchings of blacks in the United States and of other murders of blacks in the U.S., and against examples of racism and racial hatred against blacks and discrimination of blacks in the North and the South, but the writer and host of the documentary endorses the radical communist group Black Lives Matter and its three communist founders, who are women, plus some people interviewed make references to God and Jesus, but the writer and host mocks prayer at one point and doesn’t seem to have a religious, biblical foundation
One “s” word, one “h” word, three “d” words, one “for God’s sake, and three or so “n” words when briefly discussing an incident where a white basketball play called a black basketball player the “n” word
A few gruesome photos of a real-life murder victim with his head bashed in and of black lynching victims, plus some other images of violence in newsreel footage, including the genocidal destruction of a middle-class black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921
No sex scenes, but host and writer says many white slaveowners regularly “raped” black slaves
Upper male nudity in one scene
No alcohol use
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking or drugs, but writer and host claims the War on Drugs was targeted to victimize black Americans; and,
Some lies and exaggerations, and lying by omission to make politically correct and even racist attacks against all white Americans in the past and in the present, plus movie’s host and writer deliberately slanders President Trump by presenting a quote by Trump that President Andrew Jackson may have been able to stop the Civil War, even though Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War started, but he leaves out the part of the quote where Trump says, if Jackson had been born “a little bit later” in history, he may have been able to prevent the war (a point which is still hypothetical and debatable, of course).
WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA stars leftist lawyer, Jeffery Robinson, of the ACLU, who gives an allegedly historical examination of the negative treatment of blacks in the United States, citing some alleged facts and interviewing some black people and three white people, who give eyewitness testimony about past incidents in the last 100 years. Based on a podcast featuring Robinson, WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA is best when Robinson discusses the real horrors of slavery and segregation, and when he interviews real victims, but it has a strong Romantic, politically correct, anti-capitalist worldview that falsely slanders America as the “most racist country” in the world, offers no solutions to the rampant racism and oppression he alleges still occurs in America, and contains some false revisionist history and other falsehoods about the issue.
The movie is divided between a historical lecture Robinson is giving to a large theater in New York City and a series of interviews he conducts. Some interviews feature multiple black Americans who witnessed awful examples of racial violence in 1921 and in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. These interview include an interview with a 108-year-old woman. He also interviews two white men he knew at his Catholic high school in the 1950s and 60s and a white woman who helped his parents buy a middle-class home in a white neighborhood. Finally, he interviews people who take him to two slave market locations places in the country, one in Charleston, South Carolina and one in New York City, and a woman who led the campaign to remove the statues of a founder of the KKK, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy in Memphis, Tenn.
In his lecture, Robinson discusses the history of racism in America. He focuses on the development of slavery, starting in 1619, to the high point of slavery in the South before the Civil War. His discussion of slavery includes the writing of various laws to keep black slaves subdued and compliant.
Robinson then discusses the benefits blacks received from Reconstruction after the Civil War but details the end of Reconstruction by President Hayes and the onset and development of the Jim Crow laws in the South. Those laws discriminated against blacks and led to a huge drop in the number of registered black voters. He also shows how the new laws led to the increased power of the Ku Klux Klan and lynchings of blacks in the first half of the 20th Century.
Finally, Robinson discusses the impact the Rev. Martin Luther King had on the Civil Rights Movement and the effect he thinks King’s 1968 assassination had on the progress of black civil rights. He also cites several infamous recent cases of alleged deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.
WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA is best when Robinson discusses the real horrors of slavery and segregation, and when he interviews family members of black victims of racial violence in the last 100 years. One of the most horrible examples is when Robinson discusses the 1921 genocidal destruction of a successful middle-class black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where an armed white mob, using four airplanes full of firebombs, slaughtered upwards of 4,000 people. Robinson interviews a 108-year-old woman who witnessed part of the incident.
Robinson is correct when he refutes the idea, promulgated by some people, that slavery was not the main issue that led to the Civil War. As he notes, all the Confederate states listed slavery as the main reason why they voted to secede from the Union. However, he leaves out some important historical details and facts, and exaggerates the benefits the institution of slavery had on the growth and prosperity of the United States.
At the height of Southern slavery, for example, the economic benefits of slaves producing cotton only accounted for 1% to 1.5% of the GDP in the U.S. (see Paul DeRosa, “Was America Built by Slaves,” The American Interest, January 11, 2016, Was America Built By Slaves? – The American Interest (the-american-interest.com)). Also, only about 25% of Southerners owned slaves, and a few of those slaveowners were black (Beth Daley, “American slavery: Separating fact from myth,” The Conversation, June 19, 2017, https//theconversation.com/American-slavery-separating-fact-from-myth-79620).
Robinson gets other details wrong or omits some key facts.
Historian and economist Thomas Sowell, a black American, wrote, in an article nationally published in 2010, “The history of slavery across the centuries and in many countries around the world is a painful history to read – not only in terms of how slaves have been treated, but because of what that says about the whole human species – because slaves and enslavers alike have been of every race, religion and nationality.
“If the history of slavery ought to teach us anything, it is that human beings cannot be trusted with unbridled power over other human beings – no matter what color or creed any of them are. The history of ancient despotism and modern totalitarianism practically shouts that same message from the blood-stained pages of history (Thomas Sowell: Poisoning present by distorting slavery’s past (dallasnews.com), Dallas Morning News, May 1, 2010).”
Sowell adds, “The treatment of white galley slaves was even worse than the treatment of black slaves picking cotton. But, there are no movies or television dramas about it comparable to Roots, and our schools and colleges don’t pound it into the heads of students. The inhumanity of human beings toward other human beings is not a new story, much less a local story. . . . If American society and Western civilization are different from other societies and civilization, it is that they eventually turned against slavery, and stamped it out, at a time when non-Western societies around the world were still maintaining slavery and resisting Western pressures to end slavery, including in some cases armed resistance.”
Since the dawn of recorded history, Asians have been enslaving Asians, black Africans have been enslaving black Africans, and white Europeans have been enslaving white Europeans. Arab Muslims started enslaving black Africans centuries before the white Europeans started doing it. In fact, even when the Atlantic slave trade was in its heyday, Africans retained most of their black slaves for themselves, according to Sowell. Furthermore, of the 10.7 million African slaves surviving the voyage and brought to the New World, only about 400,000 went to North America. Most went to South America and the Caribbean, with about 4.86 million going to Brazil alone. Where’s Mr. Robinson’s outrage about Arab Muslim and African slavery?
In his 2011 book, THE THOMAS SOWELL READER, Sowell said that a 2003 article in National Geographic, “21st Century Slavery,” found, “There are an estimated 27 million men, women, and children in the world who are enslaved – physically confined or restrained and forced to work, or controlled through violence, or in some way treated as property.
“Therefore, there are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade [11 million total, and about 450,000, or about 4% of the total, who were brought to the United States]. The modern commerce in humans rivals illegal drug trafficking in its global reach – and in the destruction of lives.”
Robinson spends some time discussing unarmed black Americans being killed by police officers. However, he doesn’t mention that, every year, the number of actual unarmed blacks being killed by police is about 19 to 24 people annually. Studies also show that blacks are far more likely to commit violent crimes than Hispanics or whites. Thus, their interactions with police are likely to be more prevalent.
Finally, at one part in his documentary, Robinson links an alleged racist quote from John Ehrlichman, a top aide to President Richard Nixon in the late 1960s and 70s, to the skyrocketing increased incarceration of blacks since 1968. In the quote, Ehrlichman allegedly says that the Nixon Administration’s new “War on Drugs” in 1969 and 1970 was designed to target black Americans who opposed Nixon, in order to “arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.” However, that alleged quote, a private quote allegedly occurring in 1994 and reported by reporter Dan Baum in Harper’s in 2016, has never been corroborated. Also, by 2016, Ehrlichman was long dead, and Ehrlichman’s family denies that he would ever say such a thing.
Later in the documentary, Robinson wonders how amazing it is that he was so “lucky” to have two parents who loved him and cared for him and his two brothers and younger sister. His comments are so ironic because, as multiple studies have shown, fatherless homes are linked to poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, behavioral problems, criminal activity, and prison convictions. Since the 1960s, the percent of unwed pregnancies, leading to black homes without father, has increased from about only 27% to more than 72%. Robinson’s own life shows that fatherless homes, not the War on Drugs, is probably the cause of the skyrocketing prison incarceration rates among black males. Also, Robinson fails to note that the prison incarceration rate among blacks has been declining since 2006. That said, blacks are still significantly more likely to go to prison than other minorities, not just whites, though it should be noted that the 72% unwed pregnancy rate among blacks contrasts with 53% for Hispanics, 29% for whites and 17% for Asians. The big government social welfare state is probably the cause behind these disparities, not racism, slavery or discrimination against black Americans.
Besides containing some false, leftist revisionist history and other falsehoods, Robinson falsely slanders America as the “most racist country” in the world and offers no solutions to the rampant racism and oppression against blacks he alleges still occurs in America. The most he does is to cite the political activism of the communist group Black Lives Matters. Robinson lauds the group’s activities and its three founders, three radical feminist communists. Of course, Robinson doesn’t mention the anti-capitalist, communist ideology of this group, though it’s clear that he thinks capitalism is evil because he thinks it’s inherently racist. There’s no proof for his erroneous beliefs about capitalism, however.
Ultimately, WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA is just a leftist opportunity to smear all white Americans as consciously and/or unconsciously racist. In doing this, Robinson claims that racism involves prejudice plus social power plus legal authority. He seems to have a Romantic, Non-Christian, secular, unbiblical view of this issue and a Romantic, Non-Christian, secular, unbiblical view of justice.
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