By Kevin Palmer
For native Black Americans the incentive to sell-out their race began in slavery.
In 1710 Virginia passed the Meritorious Manumission Act. Meritorious means something earned. Manumission means becoming free or freedom. In his book, A Black History Reader, Dr. Claud Anderson wrote, “The [Meritorious Manumission Act] enabled slaveholders to legally free a slave for good deeds. A slaveholder could grant freedom to a slave who saved the life of a white person, designed or invented something that enriched the life of a white person, or snitched on other Blacks who were resisting or contemplating a revolt. The policies were intended to keep Blacks non-threatening and under control.”
Dr. Anderson continues, “Meritorious Manumission rewarded Blacks who, for personal gain, would thwart, openly or nefariously, the efforts by other Blacks to alter the racial status quo [of keeping Blacks as a group on the bottom]. Meritorious Manumission behavior is often observed in the ranks of Black-elected officials, ministers, civil rights leaders, athletes and entertainment personalities. They abandon their own people in exchange for public attention, financial resources, and personal comfort. They eagerly support public policies that subordinate the interest of native Black Americans to the interest of white women, LGBT, immigrants, and other fabricated minorities.”
In Augusta, Meritorious Manumission behavior could explain why Black leaders in a predominately Black school district appear not motivated to reverse skyrocketing discipline incidents or to improve overall academic performance. Also, it could explain why Black politicians and civic leaders more interested improving neighborhoods for white occupancy are rather than investing in low-income Black neighborhoods to benefit Black residents.