It’s Black America’s Own fault.


My ancestors were slaves. Your ancestors enslaved them, and I will not allow you to forget it. You have gained significant advance from my enslavement, but I will not allow your advantage to define my aspirations. The labor and output of my ancestors have continued to accrue to you and yours, but I will not let that limit my reach.

There is a lack of acknowledgment of the harm that has accrued to the children of the Africans enslaved in the Americas. Among the children of the slave, there is an embarrassment to acknowledge our injury publicly. We seem to have a Stockholm syndrome, like illness. We see the harm but are too cowed to call it out and own it. Instead, we speak quietly so as not to embarrass the children of the enslavers. In so doing we are harming ourselves. We need to own the pain and lay it bare for all to see.

In our private space, we lay the blame and see the continuing injustice of slavery and the results of the accrued resources. We are disadvantaged, and those who deny such are free to do so. What is not acceptable is that we the children of Africa don’t speak more forcibly to the dilemma.
Maybe we don’t speak because we also see that we have caused ourselves almost as much damage.

The damage, as I see it, stems from our cultural denial of the trauma we continue to experience. We have learned from the plantation that we should speak quietly in the presence of the masters but loudly to our co-oppressed. In hiding the truth of our oppression from the children of the enslavers, we have harmed our own.

What is the harm? The harm I am referencing is that insidious self-hatred and disrespect we have for ourselves, and worse the hatred we have developed for all things we consider too much like our oppressors. In doing so, we have lost sight of the skills we need to succeed in a world created by the resources of our labor. We are our worse enemy.

The enemy, as I see it is a culture of self-hate. We treat our sisters in the same manner that the oppressors do and suspect our brothers in the same ways the oppressors did and do. We discourage our children from academic achievement because it looks too much like our oppressors, and in so doing we are allowing them to fulfill the predicted behavior that the oppressor have of them. A vicious cycle is in motion, and like our brothers who flogged us on the plantations, we have become the keepers of order.

This order means to keep us, children of Africa, subservient to the children of our enslavers. We continue to be the enforcers of the order imposed by our enslavers. It is time for us to wake up. We need to turn a new leaf, examine the world we are leaving for our children and determine to affect it positively. No one but ourselves can save us.

Battle Cry of Freedom.


History is filled with stories of both great victories and damning defeats. The story of the American Civil War has all those components. The story of why, where and how is fascinating and is worthy of investigation. The central question today of the reason for the civil war was never a question at the time. It was clear to all why and who started the war. The many compromises made to keep the Union together are documented in national documents. As such, the pre-war the question was, could this Nation survive half free and half slave.

The Negro question, the question of slavery, the issue of the right of the States with the “peculiar ” institution to continue to perpetuate an unethical institution was the base of all decisions. The essential flashpoint was the question of slavery in Kansas. Many citizens of the Northern states saw the admission of a slave State as unethical and worthy of dying to prevent. To that effect, many took up Arms.

The story of how the Civil war played out is filled with many twists and turns and is a reminder of the depth of sacrifice made for the advancement of the idea of freedom and equality.

Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. Mcpherson, is a must-read for all Americans. The great divide then as it is today, is the color line. The joy of emancipation is spoiled by the fact that too many today hold the same view of people of color as was the state of affairs in the 1800’s. If more Americans knew our history, we would be both prouder and more depressed by where we are today. Knowledge is power and those who ignore history will repeat it.

WE ARE WITHOUT SANCTUARY.


I am happy to be living in a country that affords me the opportunity to succeed. As a parent I am happy that my children will have more opportunities open to them than I did. My job is to guide them into success. As I look around America I am worried for my children in spite of all the opportunity that exists. The recent string of killings of men and women of color has helped to refocus my attention on the details. I, like many people of color in this great country have been lolled into a false sense of achievement. Worst is that we have allowed the wider society to accept the fallacy that racial justice as arrived. We have failed in teaching our children the important details.

As a parent of girls of color I have focused on making sure they are confident and well-educated, that is not enough. Over the last few months I have had to re-evaluate everything I have come to believe about equity in America. The history of people of color in this country is one of brutality and subjugation. There has not been enough change in our situation. In the last several month several studies have shown the depth and pervasiveness of our disenfranchisement. Our girls are 6 times more likely to be harshly punished in school compared to white girls. Americans of African heritage with master degrees are paid the same as whites with bachelors degrees and even doctors of African heritage are paid about 10 % less than similarly educated white doctors. Why is this so? I have come a conclusion, that question is not relevant. It is not relevant because those in power do not care to fix the problem. I have given up on the idea of equity in my country. The continued inequity makes me angry and concerns me for the future of my girls. I am angry but I will not be deceived into violence. Protesting does no good. Voting does almost as little.

So, in my quest to find a better answer I have looked around and think I have found the only viable route in the Jewish experience of World War 2. No one is allowed to forget the Jewish Holocaust and so too no one should be allowed to forget American Slavery and Jim Crow. The end of the Jewish Holocaust is celebrated but the brutality of it is what is referenced most often. This is what we all are reminded of daily. As people of color we need to teach our children about the brutality of the American enslavement of out ancestors and the continued brutality of Jim Crow America and the current discrimination. We need to have them understand that the current celebration of Martin Luther King Jr is fake and serves only to assuage the guilty. It is not a sign of contrition, it is hollow and designed to distract from the ever-present and pervasive discrimination against people of color. Our children need to know about the Martin Luther King Jr struggle before they can appreciated his success. They need to know and see the pictures of America brutality to their ancestors. They need to know the name Emmet Louis TIll along with Martin Luther King Jr. The goal is not anger, it is empowerment. Our children need to understand that things have changed and that we have many opportunities, but they also need to understand that they need to succeed in spite of the many race based road blocks. They need to succeed to honor their ancestors.

Violence is not the answer, it is only a way to continue to enslave us in the prison complex which is designed to strip us of the rights our ancestor died to attain. Our children need to understand the context of their lives in this land of opportunity. We need them to take the opportunities and make progress while making sure no one forgets the brutal treatment of our ancestors. We should honor our ancestors for their willingness to stand up for their rights and we should build on their success by taking the opportunities available and making the most of them. We know that we will not be treated fairly nor paid equitably because this is the current state of America. There is no real hope of progress beyond the eventual death of the merchants of death. As parents of children of color we need to prepare them to survive and thrive until that day of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream arrives. Don’t get violent, get angry and achieve.

“12 YEARS A SLAVE”


The best movie of 2013 was “12 years a slave”. It is a well told story with wonderful cinematography. The material covered is apart of American history and was necessary to be told. The beauty and tragedy of the story is that it is not fictional. It is the true story of one man and allegory of many. In telling the story the filmmaker presented the complexity, brutality and the tragedy that was the life of Africans in “slave” America. The representations of violence are not gratuitous, but instructive and do not feel contrived. They do however have you asking why and how? Why did slavery exist in a country that professed equality of all men and how was this system justified for so long? Gladly no attempt was made to answer those questions.

The power of the story can be seen in the reaction of the Africans to their loss of self-determination. The over simplified version is that there were two types of enslaved, the demoralized and the resistant. The demoralized made peace with enslavement and would not resist because he had seen the lot that fell upon those who resisted. While the resistant would continue to resist in spite of the consequences even to his death. The story of loss of freedom is tragic, but illustrates well the fleeting nature of physical freedom. The main character was betrayed by the trust that exists that allows free societies to function effectively. The trust that ensures that all are treated ethically and are equal under the law.

This is a wonderful movie that should not be missed. See it with your children. Make it a community event. Discuss it openly. The essential truth is the revelation that our physical possessions cannot keep us from bondage. The only freedom is that of the mind. The ability to move freely is significant, but the freedom to think as one likes is vital to the establishment a fully free society.