The nearly-century long Jim Crow era remains one of the most reflected-upon periods in American history. Seeing native-born Americans living in separation simply due to their pigmentation has always been a strange picture for someone like myself who was born in 1984. I couldn’t imagine having to think twice about where I can stay if I travel, which entrance I need to enter, or who I dare interact with.
This period seems so far away yet it’s only a generation away for me. My mother was born in 1960, 4 years before the signing of the Civil Rights Act. She was born in Missouri but grew up in Boston. The reason it feels so far away though is because of the progress that’s been made to move away from this immoral part of our history.
But I want to ask a naïve question: why is segregation bad? This is not to imply that I think segregation is good. However, I want us to examine the reasons why Jim Crow segregation was terrible for America as a whole.
First, Jim Crow segregation laws put the government in charge of societal construction for black and white Americans. Like the examples above, these laws dictated how people interacted with each other in public, access to resources, and facilitated discrimination.
Jim Crow segregation laws forced businesses to restrict access to resources in a discriminatory manner. For example, it allowed businesses to keep out a certain demographic of people from employment and even who can patronize their business.
The most insidious part of Jim Crow segregation was that it was painted as a societal benefit and legitimized with the “separate but equal” legal doctrine. That doctrine, of course, was utterly untrue. For one demographic, you were given stipulations to your rights while another demographic was defaulted to allowing free reign.
Once the government enforces segregation, people comply. We underestimate the power of governmental legitimization, and we naively default to believing that government institutions know what is best for us more than ourselves. This is why our obedience to the government should always come with skepticism.
Jim Crow showed us what a society looks like when it always complies with government sanctions & mandates.
Segregation is a violation of the constitution and a violation of our civil liberties. We either have the freedom to roam this country equally or we don’t. Segregation is either good in all situations or it’s bad in all situations.
Without a doubt, Americans believe racial segregation is a stain in our country’s history. However, because it feels so far away, we’ve lost our vision and principles for fighting off a new form of segregation: medical segregation.
Some of our local governments have been placing mandates, not laws, to comply with their no-holds-barred COVID-19 vaccine restrictions. New York City has forced private businesses, like indoor dining, gyms and indoor entertainment, to require someone to show proof of vaccination or otherwise they’ll be restricted.
Consequently, these actions by the government have forced private businesses to restrict a particular demographic of Americans. They even go as far as promoting an environment for businesses to fire anyone who is unvaccinated.
I will say it again, once the government enforces segregation, people comply. Once the President of the United States goes on television to encourage businesses to require their employees to get vaccinated, you’re creating a second class of people. We are all supposed to be socially okay with this mentality because it’s painted as a social benefit. But again, we’ve all heard this before.
During a time of economic struggle for many Americans due to COVID related layoffs, business closings, rising housing costs and skyrocketing gas prices, the threat of compliance feels like economic bribery. That it’s legitimized by government bureaucrats makes it even worse.
What if you have a medical condition like Multiple Sclerosis? What if the vaccine violates your religious principles? What if your doctor simply says you shouldn’t take it? In New York City, there are no exemptions. Comply or be denied is the new mantra of ‘The Big Apple’.
Without using critical thinking, we’re complying to the promotion of medical segregation. We aren’t asking critical questions about the vaccine or the benefits of it. We don’t fully know how effective it is. On top of that, we don’t know the potential side effects of a vaccine that was developed so quickly.
More so, we aren’t asking why it matters when the vaccinated can still transmit the virus just like the unvaccinated. Lastly, we aren’t questioning the same government entity that has failed and lied numerous times since the beginning of the pandemic.
This new alleged societal good is now separating Americans and hurting Americans. I generally loathe making Jim Crow era comparisons to the present, but it’s necessary. We need to question using government enforcement as a social good. That starts with being wary of potentially creating second class citizens like how blacks were treated during Jim Crow.
Without this scrutiny, politicians will continue to enforce new policies that continue to violate our civil liberties and separate Americans.
Without this scrutiny, politicians like Bill De Blasio will continue to be the modern-day George Wallace as he stands behind his podium bloviating to the cameras “Medical Segregation Today, Medical Segregation Tomorrow, Medical Segregation Forever!”
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