We Never Stopped Being Slaves
December 6, 1865. A day that should be important to every American of African descent. It’s the day the 13th Amendment was added to the US Constitution. Why is that important to us. It’s the day that slavery was officially abolished. It wasn’t actually the Emancipation Proclamation that came two years before. This made it official. We were free. We didn’t have to attempt to escape slavery anymore. It no longer existed. Or so we thought.
July 2, 1964. Another day that should be important to Americans. The day the most current Civil Rights Act had gone into law. Amazing that somehow, after fighting in multiple wars for the country that blacks were finally able to have the “perks” and “privileges” that we believed white folks everywhere had taken so for granted. It took 100 years, and then 300 before then to really be called free. With all that said, I would like to pose multiple questions:
1. Are we really, truly, “free”?
1a. If so, what have we actually done with that so-called “freedom”?
2. What is it that makes us so “free”?
You know, I, along with many people I know have been very busy watching a lot of TV as of late. I’ve been checking out the different specials on television, such as the OWN network’s ‘Dark Girls’ and ‘Light Girls’, ‘Black and Blue: Black in America’ with Soledad O’brien and more. Different shows, different movies, all of which have peaked my interest as a black man. And when I watch such shows, I tend to ask myself, “Have we truly made it, in America?” It’s sad, because I honestly don’t know if I can answer that question with a definitive “YES”.
Now I could go and blame white people for all the travesties that have happened to black people over last 500 some-odd years. While part me believes there’s justification for that, I just can’t help but see the other side of it as well. I tend to think more about the side that belongs to us as a race. As a people who were once enslaved and beaten. Treated as animals, sprayed with fire hoses, and even lynched, just for looking the wrong way. What am I getting at, you ask? Well, I’m getting at my point. That it seems like we (and by ‘we’ I mean black people), have never seemed to fully get over that “slave mentality”.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not speaking about all of us as a whole. For those wondering, YES, we have made great strides in becoming better, yet we still have so far to go. I’m speaking mostly about that group of us that makes the rest of us look bad. Okay, not true, I’m speaking about us as a whole, because that’s generally how we are categorized. As a group. A race of people.
I almost would go as far as to say that since we’ve been free, black people have done a lot to find ways to essentially re-enslave themselves. With things that the TV specials I mentioned above such as issues of “color-ism” (division between a race because of the shade of their own skin). We also have issues with us committing crimes against each other and the once called “crab-mentality”. We create shows like Love and Hip Hop and diss the positive shows that show us in a positive light. And while shows like Love and Hip Hop are somewhat entertaining, we forget that this is what is actually on TV and that white people are seeing this depictions of us, and believing it to be who we actually are.
Now concerning the “crab-mentality”, it seems as though we don’t want to see our fellow man prosper. Like we are somehow jealous of one another. It’s the issue of “color-ism” or the slave mentality, where we saw the light skinned blacks treated better than the darker ones. Again it’s created an envy among us, that makes us want to out-shine one another. Believe it or not, there’s enough prosperity for all, some of us just have to work harder than others. Even Bill Cosby got taken down by someone who was black. A black comedian who gained mass media attention off of what he said about Bill Cosby. We even slammed him for telling us as black people to clean up our own mess. That makes sense even if he is a “rapist”. I’m not saying that everything would be better, because it will take more than just us. The thing is we haven’t really even started to do our part. Most of us who live in poverty let everyone else know. They tell us the neighborhood made them the way they are. Question is this: how can an inanimate object or place make you be someone that breaks the law. They say that’s how I learned love. Yeah I get it. If your mother taught you to steal and kill people, okay. But If she busted her behind to feed you then there’s no excuse for the behaviors you show. Another thing. The black people today buying guns aren’t buying them because of white folks. They are buying them to protect them from their own kind. That’s a fact. And we as a race should really deal with that. I’m not at all absolving white folks from their crimes against humanity and different races as a whole. But I m not gonna blame them for the things that we can control.
For example: If someone said to you, ‘you have to live in this roach infested home for 3 years and then you could move in to a mansion after that, but you had to endure this 3 years’, What would you do? Would you sit there and just complain about the infestation or would you do something about it and call the exterminator to get rid of the mess. They said you had to live there but they didn’t say you had to wallow in the situation. There’s so much that can be done when we pick ourselves up. And there will still be battles to fight, but at least we’ll be fighting the enemy and not ourselves. That’s what I call unified. That’s what I call freedom. When we finally make the decision to be better, things may actually begin to get better. Then the laws that were made to shows give us freedom, may actually become significant for all of, in this “LAND OF THE FREE”.