Slavery and racism are two separate issues. Slavery is not a black issue. Since time immortal, slavery has existed. It is the conquerors enslaving the conquered such as the Greeks enslaving Persians, Romans enslaving Gauls or “Black” Africans enslaving “Black” Africans. If your focus is the Americas, it was practiced by the Inca, the Aztecs, the Iroquois, the Mohawks and most other Native Americans.

It is not a black vs. white issue. It is not negatively “ingrained in our laws, institutions and cultures.” If it were, Kenneth Chenault would not have been CEO of American Express, Richard Parsons would not have been CEO of Citicorp, Stanley O’Neal would not have been CEO of Merrill Lynch, Don Thompson would not have been CEO of McDonald's, Barack Obama would not have been president of the United States, Roger Ferguson would not be president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, etc., etc.

Since the founding of the U.S., our laws have been anti-slavery. The 1787 Northwest Ordinance, the Slave Importation Act of 1808 (which forbid the importation of slaves into the U.S.), the Missouri Compromise, the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850 … were all attempts by a majority of whites inhabiting "most" of the U.S. to limit and prevent the advancement of slavery.

If you want to make an issue of slavery today, fight the economic slavery that engulfs most of us … debt slavery. Banks pay us 1 percent and charge us 20 percent. That slavery is worth your attention.

Racism is an “individual” affliction, not a cultural one. It has to be painfully cured, one “mental patient” at a time (like rabies). When 85-90 percent of Americans don’t judge a person by his color, why pay attention to the imbecilic 10-15 percent who do? When mothers warn their children about police, maybe that’s because police training is focusing on “dominating” and not “helping” nor “protecting” the citizens. The “shoot-first” mentality of poorly educated police officers should be a concern to all of us, not just black people. It’s why BLM flags should fly at police stations and not high schools. However, mothers who constantly emphasize a difference in skin shades to their children are only perpetuating their own prejudice forward to a new generation.

In 1777, before it was a state, Vermont was the first territory to forbid slavery. Today, we have more important issues to demand our Legislature’s time (global warming, global financial collapse, armed confrontation with Russia/China, etc.) than altering a few words on a great historical document. Let’s not waste time; there is real work to be done.

Frederick Adams lives in Rutland.

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