Tea Party in Baltimore and Ferguson?

Ian4Column by Ian MacRae

As Americans we get it when folks in other countries have riots for freedom. After all, high school history class thought us about the Boston Massacre, the British response to riotous Bostonians, unhappy with London’s unpopular rule. Then the rebellious American patriots destroyed property during the infamous Tea party. Thus we can relate when we see un-free people in Ukraine, Egypt, and Iran riot, as we too where once fed up with the half promises of freedom and took violently to the streets. Those early Boston settlers risked their lives leaving their known world of England on the promise of prosperity once they arrived in the New World, only to find their prosperity stunted by the crown’s rules. Thus American understands the foreigner’s social unrest is pursuit of freedom, these are not “thugs” their “freedom fighters”.

America: we are a country of immigrants (98.5 % non native), most of whom made the journey to this new world on the promise of freedom and prosperity. Take President’s John Kennedy’s family tree, Patrick Kennedy, born in Ireland and arrives in America in 1849 fleeing famine that claims the lives of close family members in Ireland. He works rough jobs in Boston, and likely endures the hatred the native English breed Bostonians for the working class Irish. However through his hard work, his children advance to the highest places of power in the land. The story plays itself out again and again, even with our President today, you come to America and within a few generations your family can achieve greatness.

The majority of slaves were brought to America between 1720 and 1780. The importation of new African slaves is outlawed in 1808. When Patrick Kennedy came to America to do manual labor to support his family and build that American dream, he would be competing against millions of slaves for the same jobs who had already lived here for generations. In fact, it’s in part to due to this unfair competition between the free and the enslaved that lead the free to fight a great civil war, and “frees” African slaves from their southern bondage. Yet freedom is quickly stunted by Jim Crow, and six million African Americans migrate to northern cities, like Detroit and Baltimore, in the early 20th century. As many black families start to gain political and economic freedom and aspire for the middle class, their America changes, the economic engines of northern industrial cities where they have settled sputter. Competition from abroad guts many of those manufacturing stalling middle class growth the Economist states that income level have remained roughly the same for poor and the middle class since the 1970s.

Many middle class families pass down wealth through home ownership. My wife and I are both only children and come from modest means. My wife’s grandmother who was born in the 1920s and just passed away and we inherited a modest amount, enough to pre-pay for our son’s college and make a few investments. Most of the inheritance was due to the sale of her grandmother’s home in Richmond, a home built and mortgage when a black family likely would have struggled due to discrimination to buy a new house in the suburbs. Look online, you can buy a home in Baltimore or Detroit for $1,000, maybe less. I can image the frustration if escaping Jim Crow you settled and purchased a home in the city only to have the cities collapse around you and your home become valueless. With real-estate, the old saying goes location, location, location. However, the locations where black families could by a house or get a mortgage were tightly controlled by race up until the early 1970s.

Ian MacRae has a passion for helping people with technology. This is a good thing, as he’s also the owner of encomputers.com, a 20 person IT services company which now supports over 900 users throughout Virginia and Washington DC. When not working he spends time with his wife Briana, a medical lab administrator for UVA, and his young son Adam. Ian’s passionate about learning and solving problem with what he’s learned. A Virginia native, Ian loves travel and architecture and wants to bring the best of the world home and introduce the world to the best of Virginia.


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