America is not a racist country: It was back then, but then is now.  

( A tribute to Tim Scott)  

A joint venture poem by Courtenay Barnett and George Garwood.  

1. There was actual chattel slavery in the US  

when human beings at a time  

were bought and sold as property –  

but that was way back then, but then is now.  

2. After emancipation in 1863  

there were lynchings –  

but that was way back then, but then is now.  

3. There was the burning of ‘Black Wall Street’ in 1921  

when an entire prosperous town was destroyed  

and burned to the ground by a White mob  

for the Blacks had committed the crime of improving their lot in life  

post-emancipation, and had made themselves wealthy  

and that was quite some time ago –  

but that was way back then, but then is now  

4. After lynchings there was still ‘Jim Crow’ (Apartheid segregation)  

but segregation laws on the books actually ended around 1967  

when Virginia repealed the last miscegenation statute in the US –  

but that was way back then, but then is now.  

In the 1950s there was Federally approved segregation  

via the housing policy applied  

which directly excluded Blacks from benefiting  

from these Federal funds as well illustrated on Long Island  

and the instance of Levittown*– and that was in the 1950s –  

but that was way back then, but then is now.  

5. Even in the 1960s there had to be marches to obtain civil rights  

and that was some time ago in the 60s –  

but that was way back then, but then is now.  

6. Up to the early 1970s there was the ‘scientific experiment’ on  

Black male prisoners  

letting the disease of syphilis run its course  

to study and document the full nature of the disease  

as the bodies of these ‘human guinea pigs’ were made  

knowingly to decay – and this was permitted at  

the administrative and governmental level   

and that was some time ago in the 1970s –  

but that was way back then, but then is now.  

7. Oh Timmy – now I just love this last one –  

it was the day before yesterday  

and home boy George Floyd got his wind-pipe squeezed  

with the cop’s knee upon his neck  

but that was just regular and standard policing  

applied on a Black man  

while on the internet we still see postings of White Americans  

and some non-white Americans  

seeking to justify police action – and that in 2021.  

But eyes don’t lie. This wasn’t way back then –  

but then is now.  

8. So – please Tim Scott – do not disgrace the  

struggle and/or sacrifices of Black folks in  the US, for  

over the centuries, as you know, your mantra is untrue  

When you say, “America is not a racist country”-  

or when you say: that was way back then, for then is now.  

* A clause in the original Levittown covenant prevented tenants from allowing non-Caucasians to use or occupy Levitt houses…. In Levittown, Black veterans were unable to purchase homes, and the Levitts justified the clause by stating that it maintained the value of the properties, since most whites at the time preferred not to live in mixed communities.  

COURTENAY BARNETT is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over thirty-nine years, has been arrested for defending his views, and has argued public interest and human rights cases. GEORGE GARWOODis a Jamaican writer and professor of world religions. He resides in Florida, USA, but is a peripatetic observer of human affairs as he travels around trying to understand human behaviour.


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