Well, as if it weren’t bad enough when The Boston Globe declared Monday’s solar eclipse unfair because it is only passing through “Trump country,” leave it to a Brooklyn Law School and Harvard Law professor to take it a step further and declare the celestial event downright racist.
Along the path of the August 21st solar eclipse, there live almost no African Americans. The peculiar trajectory of the moon’s shadow illuminates racial isolation and compromise, past and present.
If you read the entire article, it’s 23 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back. In fact, don’t read it until after you’ve looked at the eclipse without protective eyewear so you won’t even be able to see it! But as is customary here at TruthRevolt, we’ve done the dirty work for you.
Ristroph begins with a bit of a disclaimer — a very small one — to insist the sun and moon aren’t capable of having an “implicit bias,” but that doesn’t prevent her from saying the moon’s shadow should serve as a reminder about America’s racist past and present.
"We tend to backlight our history, and so run the risk of trying to recover a glory that never existed. When the light in August changes, watch carefully," she writes.
Then, the professor travels the path of the eclipse from the West Coast to the East, noting that the path of totality is nearly totally white:
Oregon, where this begins, is almost entirely white… There are very few black Oregonians, and this is not an accident…
From Oregon, the Great American Eclipse will travel through Idaho and Wyoming. (It will catch a tiny unpopulated piece of Montana, too.) Percentage-wise, Idaho and Wyoming are even whiter than Oregon. And as in Oregon, but even more so, the few non-white residents of Idaho and Wyoming are not black—they are mostly Latino, American Indian, and Alaskan…
After Wyoming, the eclipse will go through Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. This is America’s heartland, and also, literally, the land of compromise… the Missouri Compromise. The deal allowed Missouri its slaves but drew a line across the nation, east-west to the Pacific Ocean, and mandated that slavery would be illegal in all other territories north of the line…
Moving east, the eclipse will pass part of St. Louis, whose overall population is nearly half black. But the black residents are concentrated in the northern half of the metropolitan area, and the total eclipse crosses only the southern half. Eight miles north of the path of totality is Ferguson, where Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown three summers ago. The majority of residents of Ferguson are black, policed by white officers who, like Wilson, live elsewhere…
In Kentucky, Tennessee, and eventually South Carolina, the eclipse will finally pass over black Americans. Even here, though, the path of totality seems to mark the legacy of slavery and the persistence of segregation more than any form of inclusion.
Then the arc of the eclipse “bends toward Charleston… [where] Dylan Roof chose the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church as his shooting ground,” she continues. And then it goes out to sea in Charleston, “the busiest port for the slave trade, receiving about 40 percent of all the African slaves brought into the country.”
It all comes to a head in Ristroph's conclusion, which suggests we all look at the eclipse through her race-baiting lens:
The Great American Eclipse illuminates, or darkens, a land still segregated, a land still in search of equality, a land of people still trying to dominate each other. When the lovely glow of a backlight fades, history is relentless, just one damn fact after another, one damning fact after another. America is a nation with debts that no honest man can pay. It is too much to ask that these debts simply be forgiven. But perhaps the strange path of the eclipse suggests a need for reorganization. We have figured out, more or less, how to count every person. We have not yet found a political system in which every person counts equally.
Or, it’s just a natural event that we can all enjoy without infusing it with dread and despair.