Which Way America: Democracy or Tyranny – Racism, Hatred, and Fear are Tearing America Apart                



By Armando Vazquez

I am a Mexican immigrant, who along with my entire family, entered into the United States in 1958. I became a naturalized citizen of this country in 1997. The very first time I was eligible to vote, I voted, and I have been voting in local and national elections ever since. All immigrants, no matter what part of the world we come from cherish our American citizenship. Not all of us, however, vote and that is a shame because some of us still think that our one vote does not matter. Our singular vote won’t make a damn bit of difference, and that my dear reader is how we got into some of this mess in the first place. So come November 3, 2020 vote, your VOTE matters!

 I have made it my activist duty to help educate, mobilize and register eligible at-promise youth and immigrants to become active, fully informed voters for over 30 years. For those folks in our community that are not eligible to vote, I remind them that they can be informed, organized and active civic leaders of their communities. A dear friend many years ago told me that “everyone has a role in the revolution. We just have to organize, tener ganas, and we will find our calling. Everybody’s effort to make our communities better counts. Hechandole un granito de sal a la sopa de la democracia y adelante!”

I have volunteered (mi granito) to work as an election worker for the upcoming presidential election. I will do everything within my power to help and assist any and all registered voters at the polls that desire to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

We are rapidly approaching the November 3, 2020 presidential election, and our democracy is in peril. We are currently in that very unique moment in American history where a catastrophic event, The Covid-19 pandemic and a psychopathic tyrannical leader appear on the scene simultaneously, and many of us fear that the republic will not withstand this assault! But we will get through this! We have been here before and America will survive Trump, perhaps this next time around we the voters will be a bit smarter to recreate a more democratic, tolerant and equitable nation.  But for now we have Trump bludgeoning the American psyche it seems every day with one racist and hate filled rant after another. His racist dog whistle is so finely tuned that nearly half of the country’s electorate will follow him, even at the expense of our democracy, into the bowels of tyranny. We must America examine the Lie that got Trump(ism) elected in the first place.

All of America, all of us, must come to terms and recognize, remember and never, ever forget(deal with and admit the denial) the Lie that was originally created and perpetrated to diabolically cover-up, distort, bury, somehow pathetically try to disappear and erase, from the entirety of the American psyche (our collective history) the 500 history years of slavery, murder, torture, rape, lynching, violence, sale, ownership and possession, total and complete, of  human being lives as though we were nothing more than beast of burden, and of the countless  hundreds of other atrocities and crimes committed against Black, Red, Brown and Yellow people of this country. That is the first and mandatory order of business that this nation must undertake if this country is to truly heal and make peace with its horrific, murderous and racist past.

There are many white American, and others, that argue that what happened 500 years ago, or 244 years ago, or even yesterday, that they absolutely had nothing to do with those heinous crimes, and are therefore not responsible for the sins and actions of their now mostly deceased white brethren. And they would be absolutely right, except that line of logic falls morally bankrupt and fraudulent in the current irrefutable fact that they are the unique beneficiaries of an immense white privilege power structure, and have dominion over every single institution of government, business, and capital in this nation that comes with that white privilege, courtesy of their white ancestors, at the exclusive expense of Blacks and other minorities throughout this nations history. 

This nation is currently (again) being torn, apart by hatred and racism, a predictable and pathetic cyclic pattern that will not be resolved until the Lie is confronted and completely dispelled from the American psyche. At the dinner table of every American and at highest level of the land, and we would encourage Joe Biden if he is elected President, to seriously talk  about our brutal past that is insidiously tearing us apart today, and consider the convocation of a truth and reconciliation court, a United State of America Reconciliation Commission (USARC). 

The USARC would be a court-like restorative justice body modelled after the South African Reconciliation Commission that Nelson Mandel, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and others called for and actually convened after the end of the murderous and brutal period of white rule apartheid in South Africa. Witnesses, the aggrieved, and experts identified victims of gross human rights volitions and were invited to give written statement and oral testimony about their horrific experiences. South African perpetrators of crime against humanity (a tricky proposition in America, as many of these alleged perpetrators may be dead) where give the right to give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution. The South African Truth and Justice Commission of the late 1990’s, was the first of over 103 international TRC’s, that were convened by governments and social justice groups throughout the world. The TRC’s were the crucial, mandatory and vital first step in South Africa, and other countries that underwent this soul searching and arduous journey into a brutally painful, honest, transparent examination of their horrific past before moving forward toward a more equitable, just, peaceful and inclusive democratic society.

Reparation is a historical broken promise that, many believe, holds legal remedies for today’s Blacks and other people of color that were enslaved, dispossessed, and slaughtered. It is the next mandatory step in America’s healing process. At the end of the Civil War around 1865, General William T. Sherman promised “40 acres and a Mule” in an ill-fated attempt at reparation by the redistribution of property along the Atlantic sea coast to black Americans that had been recently freed. President Abraham Lincoln and Congress gave approval of this land redistribution concession. About 40,000 free black men started to build and farm their own land. Within months after the assignation of Lincoln, the new president Andrew Johnson rescinded the order and returned the land to the former owners. America has been very consistent in rescinding, ignoring, or violating every single treaty, legal document and contract that the federal government has ever had with the Black, Brown, Red and Yellow folk of this country. So the 40 acres and a mule reparation concession was, of course, summarily spat upon and ignored by Andrew Jackson and his administration.  Some form of Reparation must take place and can no longer be ignored if this nation is to truly heal!

The calls and demands for reparation, by black folk and other aggrieved populations of color, as noted above, are not new in this county. As Ta-Nehisi Coates argures in his highly influential essay published in the the Atalantic in 2014, “legalized discrimination and state-sanctioned brutality, murder, dispossession, llegalized discrimination and disenfranchisement continue to this day” State sanction domestic war on black folk and other people of color profoundly and irrevocably blunted and in many cases destroyed the ability of the minorities to create and accumulate wealth and gain equal and equitable access to wealth, justice, jobs, housing, education, and health care. “Equality is not likely to be obtained without some form of reparations,” David H. Swinton, an economist and former president of Benedict College, wrote in the 1990 collection “The Wealth of Races” 

William A. Darity Jr, an economist at Duke University, has taken a “today’s dollars” look into the “40 acres and mule” broken concession promise of made by General William T. Sherman in 1695. If the promise was now an honored reparation effort for the millions of blacks of this nations the bill paid in full would be about 2.6 trillion dollars. Professor Darity begins with the cost of an acre in 1865: about $10. Forty acres divided among a family of four comes to 10 acres per person, or about $100 for each of the four million former slaves. Taking account of compounding interest and inflation, Mr. Darity has put the present value at $2.6 trillion. Assuming roughly 30 million descendants of ex-slaves, he concluded it worked out to about $80,000 a person.  While a majority of black Americans in a 2016 Marist poll supported reparations, whites rejected it by an overwhelming margin.  Reparation in nothing more than a good faith payment on a government promise made and then broken. Reparation, in some form is well over due, and it finalizes a historically neglected contract that is finally honored, and we can move on as a nation.

Our Redemption must be an act of fully atoning for the sins of the past and to right the wrongs that were committed and still plague this country. Our redemption must be action driven, purposeful and heartfelt if we are to recreate our republic. As a people are we willing to go there? White folks are you ready to go there? Redemption requires love driven and purposeful action so that we may be absolved of past transgressions. How about the price tag of 2.6 trillion dollars paid as reparation to the roughly 30 million decedents of ex-slaves.

We can no longer run from the lie, it is currently (again) tearing this nation apart. We must fully come to terms with our racist past and deal with our racist present before we can move into the future as a reborn nation. In our collective acts of remembrance, reconciliation, reparation, and redemption we can be reborn as a more tolerant, equitable, inclusive and democratic nation. The Rebirth of this nation begins with your vote on November 3, 2020!


Armando Vazquez, M.Ed.  is Executive Director of  Acuna Art Gallery/Café on A, Executive Director for The KEYS Leadership Academy and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health/coalition


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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Mike Smith
Mike Smith
6 months ago

If Armando Vazquez’ parents felt the way he does about America, they would not have immigrated here.

Oh, the irony!

6 months ago

You are one sic M—er, Armando. Get help before it’s too late.

You have also bought into the Marxist school BS hook, line and sinker- 100%.

You claim to have a Masters in Education? You hate America and everything it stands for, yet have taken many of its benefits. You have failed miserably in your ambitions, which mostly consist of rent-seeking projects to get government money for your pathetic projects.

If the USA is sooo bad, why don’t you take your considerable academic skills, go back home to Mexico and apply them to heal your deeply disturbed nation? It would be a win-win for the USA and Mexico, right?

6 months ago

Sorry dude. You have a chip on your shoulder and need to deal with it.
You are the one that is racist. The rest of us (Black, White, brown, yellow) have moved on as Americans.