American Apartheid

In 2023, Black people remain second-class citizens

Pax Ahimsa Gethen
3 min readJul 19


Black and white photo of Walthall House in Newbern, Alabama, with the words “American Apartheid” superimposed. Adapted from a public domain image.

Today, I read a story that brought me to tears. In 2020, Patrick Braxton was elected as the first Black mayor of Newbern, Alabama. But the town’s white residents have kept him from serving through racist intimidation and harassment. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; please read the story to understand the extent of this injustice.

The town of Newbern is 85% Black, with 69% of the Black people living in poverty. This is not South Africa in the 1960s, this is the year 2023 in the United States of America. But the ongoing oppression of Black residents by the white minority is, for all intents and purposes, apartheid.

Yes, this is rural Alabama, but that doesn’t make blatant racism acceptable or excusable. The Black citizens there are US-Americans just as much as I am here in the (supposedly) progressive city of San Francisco. They are just as entitled to have their civil rights respected. Instead, they are literally being treated as second-class citizens.

Racism anywhere affects Black people everywhere. The same is true of sexism and transphobia. This country is called the United States, but to me, a Black trans person, it feels like fifty separate countries where human rights can be ignored or nullified the moment you cross a border. Whether this kind of “democracy” is what our country’s founders (all cis white men) intended or not is irrelevant to me; it’s morally inexcusable.

This situation illustrates why I am fed up with liberals responding to every social injustice with “Vote!” Voting is simply not enough to counter the racism that has been deeply ingrained in this country since its founding. Not when white supremacists can ignore the results and keep Black folks as an underclass.

It doesn’t matter that we had a Black president for eight years. It doesn’t matter that some Black people have achieved financial success and positions of leadership despite the odds. It doesn’t matter that some Black people are…



Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their.,

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