I have just added to my ever longer reading list the book by Gene Bétit “Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid — African American’s 400 Years in North America, 1619-2019.”
Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid is a comprehensive study of the treatment African Americans have encountered since their arrival in Virginia in 1619, a saga of racism and white supremacy. It is actual history, not the popular mythology about the Civil War and its aftermath taught in our schools. Numerous tables, photographs, maps, and charts make the study easy to read. The topic is extremely pertinent due to the four hundredth anniversary of African Americans’ presence in North America in 2019 and encouragement of racism from the White House.
Chapters cover white supremacy and racism, slavery, the service of US Colored Troops in the Civil War, devastation of the South, evolution of emancipation, and Reconstruction and the Freedman’s Bureau. Other chapters address “redemption” and the “lost cause,” Jim Crow, blacks’ significant military contributions in the two world wars, the Great Migration, the civil rights movement, and the backlash that continues today.
The book also addresses contemporary issues, including white supremacy, Confederate statuary, and evaluates the status of blacks compared to other groups in society. Note is taken of Professor James Whitman’s observation that Hitler admired Jim Crow and antimiscegenation laws, as well as Richard Rothstein’s study of federal and local housing law, documenting whites’ responsibility for creating inner-city ghettos.