While I understand your logic here, and the desire to sort of cut to the chase and not approach things in ways that all too often lead to dead ends as you say, this is very, very dangerous. Maybe the most dangerous way to approach these issues. One key reason people wind up with the sort of views we’re talking about here–the ones John_Reynolds notes–is that they have zero understanding of their own history. They purport to understand our country but they only understand one tiny portion of a mythology, a mythology largely created to obscure most of what really matters.
Ok, I was trained as a historian, so I’m not unbiased here. But in teaching my college classes–none of which are actually history classes anymore, even–the one thing that stands out more than anything else is the total, utter lack of familiarity with how our society got to where we are today. And it’ snot just Gen Z kids either, it’s true across a whole gamut of ages and backgrounds. Even folks who on the surface fall on the liberal or progressive side of most issues do so from a precarious perspective. They “know” racism is bad. The “know” slavery was bad. They “know” there is economic inequity. But they don’t understand any of it. They can’t process the past as part of a continuum of experience that keeps on having influence, or that is part of systemic processes that have in many ways never gone away.
Faulkner says “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” He was referring to the South, but it apples to the whole country. Even the southerners who get so much flak for “living in the past,” though, aren’t really knowing the past. Like the Bourbons of France, and like most Americans today, they forget nothing and learn nothing.
Slavery is a great example. People dismiss discussions of it with precisely the response “not my fault,” or “long ago, doesn’t matter,” or whatever, often because they are responding to simplistic attempts to make direct personal links between today’s Americans and Americans of the antebellum period or what not. The reality is much more complex, and much more insidious. It’s not about personal morality. It’s about systemic, calculated oppression in the service of an economic and political elite that has, since the founding of the Republic, been benefiting from the oppression of others.
So, people say “slavery is over, the slave owners were beaten down, any issues after that are the responsibility of black people,” or something similar. What’s never said, because it is not known or understood or recognized, is that slavery as an institution was sanctioned by the entire USA, not just the South. It was enforced by the entire nation. It profited the entire nation. The prosperity and growth of the USA through 1860 was largely dependent on slavery. And the aftermath of slavery saw the development of an again nationally sanctioned system of racial oppression designed to, you guessed it, keep the agricultural products flowing (cotton until the boll weevil of the early 20th century, even), the poor whites in line, and support the hegemony of a new class of capitalists not just in the south but nation-wide, who outside the South skillfully played immigrant groups against each other to keep wages low and power centralized in elite hands.
The idea that somehow this massive system of racial oppression in the service of market capitalism and social and political control (voter suppression was a key part of all of this) , a system that has been sustained over centuries, and still is in operation in some form today, has zero affect on today’s America is laughable, but that’s just what people are arguing when they dismiss slavery as an issue or something to be considered. It’s exactly the same argument as was being made during actual slavery, when whites would point to the “degraded” condition of blacks and say “see? that’s why they have to be enslaved!,” totally ignoring the reality that, duh, they are like that because they are enslaved.
tl;dr history matters, sometimes it’s the most important thing of all. YMMV.