America’s Original Sin…It All Started On the Boat!
In light of comments made a few weeks ago by the dumbest “genius” walking around the country Ben Carson, I want to touch on this whole slavery topic. BTW has anybody verified this man’s credentials? Like for real, do we REALLY know he was a brain surgeon or did we just need a Black hero back then? I need some receipts for this dude seriously! At any rate, I’m not going to give too much more oxygen to what he said. I will suggest that you Google his thoughts on slaves being “immigrants who worked for less” rather than people who were stolen from their native land and forced to do so. Like they were paid minimum wage or something. In the words of the great Beyonce’ BOY BYE!
ANYWAY (early eye roll and head shake for that mess!)
Nobody has ever had a pair big enough to say ‘get over slavery’ to me directly but I have heard the following or something similar.
“Slavery was a long time ago.”
“Don’t blame me for what they did back then” or the old favorite
“Why can’t we move on?”
The fact is, you can’t move on from things that continue to happen or when the consequences of that thing continue to have a negative impact on a race of people.
Sidebar: nobody is blaming you (if you have ever said or thought that), so take your ass off of your shoulders! If you are not in this sack of rocks and have never gone there in your mind, let alone actually said these things out loud, then good for you. Maybe there’s hope. For everyone else that feels like we should just get over it, indulge me once again.
No build up, let’s take this one straight no chaser. Imagine that next week, I go shopping and buy some slaves. We’ll just SAY some White foreigners were caught like wild animals while living in their homeland continents away and forced to come to our country. They were packed on a boat, chained together, sometimes chained to other slaves who died before they made it to America. How did I even find out about slaves for sale you ask? I saw ads on Facebook so I went down to the “Underground” market here in Atlanta where they were having the auction. See what I did there? They were selling slaves at the UNDERGROUND, get it?? It was cute to me…
Ok stay focused. I need some extra help around the house and in the fields and they need something to do now that they’re here. Those that lived. Most of them are young, strong, some are even kids and will be able to hang around for a long time. WIN-WIN for everybody right? Now they don’t know our language or anything about this country though so they will be completely dependent on me and my family for everything. I don’t know (and probably can’t pronounce) any of their names, so I will just give them all new first names and they can take my last name, so there is no mistaking they belong to me. Literally. Now when we bought these slaves there were no rules or restrictions on what we had to do for them. They didn’t come here with any rights, they’re just our property. When the Constitution said ‘all men are created equally’, they weren’t talking, or even thinking about them. So we basically can do whatever we want (or don’t want). That means I don’t even have to teach them to read or write. As a matter of fact, I won’t, that way they will always depend on us and we can be one big happy family for years to come!
Now don’t fret, they will have their own quarters way away from the main house where my family and I live. Of course, I’ll have to lock them in and chain a few up at night so they won’t run away. As good as I treat them most of the time, some of them have the nerve to NOT want to be my slaves. Just ungrateful! Oh yeah, every now and then my husband goes out there (he thinks I don’t know) and has his way with the female slaves so we can literally get more BANG for our buck. To keep them in line, sometimes we might give them a few lashes on their bare backs with a leather whip and make the other slaves watch. We aren’t bad people though, this was mainly so they won’t get any ideas ya know? Just in case one tries to escape, we just chop half of his foot off so he physically can’t run anymore. He still has the other half so he can work, but he won’t be running anywhere that’s for sure. That usually keeps the others from even thinking about running away. When one of them becomes too much trouble or too old to be of value anymore, we’ll sell them off to someone else. This typically means tearing families apart because they never see each other again but hey it is slavery.
One day we get new laws and at the end of say one year, the government made me free my slaves. I didn’t want to, they were making us a lot of money picking that cotton, but I had to let them go be “FREE”. Go on now, the American Dream awaits you. Remember I didn’t let them read or learn the English language so they aren’t educated. They have no money because well, they were my slaves, it wasn’t a job. More like a cotton picking internship for no credit. Some of the people around us felt like they should still be slaves so there were no opportunities for them other than to be “the help” in some capacity. They even had a war to decide if we should or shouldn’t have slaves. Drive through the right cities in the South and you will STILL see some of the flags from the side that wanted to keep slaves. (Shout out to the ‘it’s a symbol of our heritage’ crowd).
Soooooooo, although Black people weren’t in shackles anymore, they still weren’t free. Many of them were so used to being slaves they remained that way even when we told them they didn’t have to be. It was all they knew. Now, if you’re White, imagine these were YOUR ancestors from back in the day. Yea I know Blacks owning Whites ain’t quite how it went down, but roll with it. What if these things had happened to YOUR parents, grandparents, great grand-parents uncles, aunts…
Imagine that I owned you and your whole family and after ONE year I set you all “free”. Then imagine your grandmother bumping into me at Wal-Mart one day. Don’t you think that there would still be a LITTLE resentment? If you were with Granny, don’t you think you would throw a LITTLE shade my way being your former slave owner and all? I don’t know why though. After all I did let you go right? It’s over. All is forgiven, let’s “move on”. If you can say that’s how you or anyone in your family would feel after just a year, I would bet at least $5 that you’re not being truthful with yourself. Now multiply that same and sometimes even worse treatment of multitudes of people times 400 years. How can you ask generations of Black people who have carried the weight of this history, the oppression, the lack of opportunity, the fear, the scars…to just get over it? I get what SOME of you are trying to say when you want to move beyond our sins as a country. However, shouldn’t we at least get the equal time that people were slaves to be “free” before we start talking about getting over it? I mean hell we just got the right to vote in 1965! And although we don’t have to count the number of bubbles on a bar of soap to vote today, the suppression is still very real! I believe they refer to today’s tactics as “gerrymandering”. Sounds like a new ice cream flavor. “Yea, can I get two scoops of that gerrymander in a waffle cone??”
As I was saying. If we can’t have another 400 years to get beyond things, how about we stop continuing to enslave people today so the healing can begin? The legit racist doesn’t give a damn so they really mean get over it, they don’t care. Those trying to understand and go to a different level, do something you probably have never done before. Marinate in our truth as a people and as a country. Marinate in that dark history that still haunts us to this day. How you ask? Mass incarceration, voting rights disenfranchisement, housing discrimination, police brutality, poor schools & education, unequal opportunities in the workforce, and the list goes on. For the love of whatever God you serve, please stop telling Black people to get over things that still affect them TO.THIS.DAY. The chains are off, but the racists, alt righters, white nationalists and the klan is alive and well. They are in the White House, the Senate, the Department of Justice, House of Representatives, local police forces, you name it!
Slave ship (yes those were HUMAN bodies)
Modern Day prison dorm
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK MALES EITHER!
Brown vs Board of Education, the case that was the so-called turning point towards equality in education and little Black school kids getting the same opportunities as their White counterparts. NOT! We still see how the 400 year delay affects most poor, under-served communities (which almost always translates into Black & other people of color). Teachers with little to no resources or only what they buy themselves, having to teach classes with up to 30 or more kids. Schools are dilapidated, funding is scarce and hope is gone in most cases. Educating Black folks was NEVER a priority so why are we surprised that it’s not one now? If you were caught reading or trying to teach someone to read as a slave you were severely punished maybe even killed. So for generations, no one ever appropriately taught Black people as a race the value of education. Well actually they did by teaching them it was very valuable for OTHERS. What a better way to hold an entire race back than to deny or obstruct them from getting a basic education? Some of our educational pioneers like Mary McLeod Bethune got it though and began forming schools for Black students. Not because she wanted to or as a part of some scheme to get away from White people but because they HAD to. So when dumbass Betsy Devos stands up and says that HBCU’s (historically Black colleges and universities) were “examples of our first charter schools and school choice”…girrrrrrl GOSITYOASSDOWN! That wasn’t about choice, most other schools in the early days of education didn’t want us! There was no choice. I’m sorry but I was NOT mad at those graduates booing her at Bethune-Cookman college’s graduation ceremony. I hope the school got a check that was worth that embarrassment.
For some perspective on how far we really haven’t come, please remember that the Brown vs Board of Education case was only sixty-three years ago. SIXTY-THREE, as in a year after my mother was born! Sorry Mama for telling your age but you still look good…Black don’t crack! She’s going to kill me, I love you Mama 🙂
Again, Brown in 1954 was a landmark civil rights case that was going to do away with school segregation and deemed it “unconstitutional” (supposedly). I say supposedly because in MAY 2016, a year ago, a judge had to ORDER DESEGREGATION of a school district in Cleveland, Mississippi literally separated by train tracks. White folks schools on one side of the tracks and Black folks on the other side. They had to be MADE to start mingling the races in 2016. Y’all that was like 365 or so days ago and apparently they are not happy about it. Don’t think they are the only schools still on this BS either, Google it!
Look, until the playing field starts to get more leveled for Blacks, Hispanics, and any other groups of marginalized individuals including women and girls, the finger pointing for me is at the boat. We apologize and have even given reparations to Jewish folks for the way they were treated during the Holocaust. We tiptoe around that black eye in history and handle it with care and it happened in another country! Maybe Black people can start getting over stuff when people in this country fully acknowledge what happened. Stop acting like every hateful thing done to Black folks after the ‘end’ of slavery wasn’t a direct result of one or a combination of things beginning with:
1. How people were once allowed to treat Black folks like property/animals in the first place
2. The attitude that some people thought we should have never been anything but slaves
3. The lack of value placed on the lives of Black people (except the monetary value earned from slave labor)
Legal segregation, Jim Crow and all of that was just another form of slavery. Less blatant than chains but it fit the times. Like today, the pipelines to prisons that exist all over our country are just the new slave trade. Prisons are for-profit now, which makes them the new plantation. Unarmed Black folks getting gunned down in the streets, by police officers who get off with no punishment. That’s not new either. That’s been going on since they brought us here too. Nobody had a problem with it then, you MUST have done something wrong for a White man to want to kill you right? Sounds like the “if they would just comply” crowd.
So we as a country have found more PC ways of still getting our hate on, but don’t be fooled by the lack of physical chains. We have found more humane ways of marginalizing and discriminating than putting signs on the door that tell you which bathroom to use, where you can sit in a restaurant (or if they let you in at all) or which water fountain you’re allowed to drink from. Do I personally suffer from being discriminated against on a regular basis, no not that I’m aware of but some folks do. I do worry about my father and other male family members/friends being pulled over by the police and it going left for no reason at all. MLK Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If you’re doing it to anybody you’re doing it to all of us.
Although I may not get called out of my name, bullied and harassed on a daily basis, I have experienced my fair share of CIB (‘Cuz I’m Black) moments:
- Like being pulled over for driving while Black and given a ticket for expired tags that were NOT expired and ‘illegally changing lanes’ when I used my blinker. Had to go to court to prove otherwise, all charges were thrown out and even called BS by the judge.
- After basketball practice one day in 7th grade I was walking to my uncle’s house a few blocks from our very White middle school. One of my teachers saw me and offered a ride the rest of the way. When I showed her which house it was and prepared to get out (it was like one of the biggest ones on the block) she said “are you serious? Your family doesn’t live here.” I still can see her face with that fake smile that tried to cover her disbelief that MY family could afford a house in THAT neighborhood. Sad thing is I don’t think my 13 y/o brain even caught it. I remember just laughing and getting out of the car like whatever lady, bye see you tomorrow! #microaggression
- I went to a PREDOMINANTLY White, Catholic university in TN and just about every other Black girl that lived on campus (like the other 3 or 4) was assigned to our suite. Segregation or integration? I mean they let us in the school, maybe they felt we would be more comfortable being with “our kind”. Wait, we did have a Mexican girl with us too, smiled all the time, didn’t know a lick of English but we said “Hola” 75 times a day! She was doing the bus stop & electric slide by the end of the school year though #SenoritaDebbie
All jokes aside, don’t tell people to get over something that continues to affect their daily lives. As a matter of fact, don’t tell people to get over anything just because you think they should. Don’t ask me to keep it moving as if nothing ever happened. Slavery is and will always be America’s greatest sin and forgiveness of that sin still hasn’t been asked for.
“I wake up every morning in a house built by slaves!” – Michelle Obama