First and foremost, please spare me the conspiracy theories, the abstract philosophies, or anything that tries to put shackles around my arms and legs in the year 2012. I am an American. And last time I checked, the period in the United States where it was perfectly legal to own black women as slaves is over.
It is spoken of in past tense for a reason: In the United States of America, it is illegal to own slaves. So if you are reading this while in the US (which by the way, many slaves couldn’t do unless they wanted to be beaten or killed) and find yourself in a situation where slavery as discussed in history books mimics perfectly your everyday life, then yes you are a slave, and you need to run, not walk, to the nearest police station.
Now then, I want to say this again: I am not a slave and neither are the African Americans who LOVE to speak in the present tense about slavery. Some African Americans feel like I am required to take a hold of the experiences of people I don’t know and have never met and make their reality my own…no matter how limited my reality would then become. Well, I refuse to cooperate. I am not going to address any aspect of slavery as being pertinent to who I am as a human being.
I do not claim the hurt, fear, and oppression of people I don’t know for any reason. Especially reasons that say because I am an African American woman, I am a constant reminder of the shame and emasculation of men who weren’t even alive when slavery happened. Men who, between bouts of failing to mask their self-hate, feel perfectly justified in claiming that no man could possibly love me or see me as anything other than a whore, because my blackness makes me inherently inferior and impure.
Nooooooooooooo, thank you. Not even a thank you, just straight up, “No”. The people who buy into this behavior do so at their own expense, and I am not interested in drinking the poisonous kool-aid.
But it’s about more than that, really: Pretending you are a slave, that you have much in common with actual slaves is pathetic and disrespectful. The willful misspeaking of slavery as if it were applicable to your life today is a slap in the face to actual slaves, past and present*. A number of slaves persevered and fought to get off the planation and out of shackles because they believed in the dream of freedom and the opportunities that word could present them and their offspring. And yet centuries later, you have descendants of these people running to claim a word their great great great great grandparents had been happy to leave behind. I don’t want to think about how hard those people are rolling in their graves.
There is nothing in me that feels that the atrocities committed during slavery is a valid excuse for black on black crime, intraracial hatred and misogyny, or glorification of poverty, ignorance, and criminality. These things simply cannot be blamed on anyone but the people who willing perpetrate the behavior today, in real time. And for no other reason than because they choose to. What a reason to sit around and do nothing, be nothing, and know nothing. All because once upon a time, it was believed that black people were naturally less intelligent than other people. Or that whole “if such a person gained knowledge, they might put two and two together and realize that slavery is bad and demand rights”.
The idea that intelligence, affability, and success are “white” is something that may have been accepted at the height of enforced white racial superiority, but it is a new day in the 21st century: They’re actually PAYING black people now. How about that?! And if someone mistreats you, you can file a complaint with human resources. That’s a heap better than the whip across your back as you are told to, “Shut your n***er mouth and get back to work!”
You are not and have never been 3/5 of a human being. You are not treated as an animal nor are you a piece of furniture. If you don’t like the name that was chosen for you by your parents or legal guardians, you have the option of changing it to whatever you want. You can decide your own identity and destiny.
And the truth is, the reason you are able to do that is because so many people fought to make it so. And like it or not, not all of them were black. The movement to change the way we see each other does not belong to any particular person or group. The ability to thrive and achieve doesn’t either. Not everybody is sitting around so full of hate and ignorance, they can think of nothing else. And even those of us that are confronted with the constant reminder that racial ignorance is alive and well daily have the ability to move forward and accomplish whatever we set our minds to. Because we acknowledge freedom and we acknowledge the freedom to choose.
To choose to live your life to the best of your ability, or to choose to blame “the enemy”, “white people”, “The Man” etc. for your unhappiness. To choose to wait for other people to give you permission to feel like a human being or to choose to say, “I deserve love and respect and will settle for nothing less”.
You can choose to be a victim 24/7 because it’s easier than taking responsibility for yourself and accepting accountability for your own thoughts and actions. You can choose to cry “slavery” and act as if everything that happened 200 years ago to someone else is real and present tense for you. You can choose to harass and concern troll African Americans who try and do and want better for themselves back onto the plantation that you built for yourself so you could feel a bit more at home. And you can tell yourself that you have no choice but to address yourself according to how white racism carefully categorized and labeled you, because it’s more important to uphold a dated status quo than to consider the fact that you as a liberated individual can think of yourself however the heck you want and you get the final say.
Or…you can say the heck with all of that and do what free people have the right and audacity to do: Be free.
*Note: I am more than aware of the fact that slavery still exists today. It’s another one of the reasons I get so angry at people who carry on like this. Because while they’re free to sit behind their computers and complain about how “the man is keeping me down”, I know there are people who are being kidnapped and or sold into a life of slavery. It’s bad enough that nobody wants to talk about the reality of slavery in the 21st century. It’s even worse you have people speaking in all seriousness about how what happened to people they don’t even know by name generations ago, directly excuses their own backward thoughts and behavior.
The point of this post is self-accountability and appreciating the freedom you actually have.