“When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years? That sound like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years, and it’s all of y’all?”
After watching the two interviews I mentioned in the previous post, I came to the conclusion that, yes, slavery was…AND STILL IS…a choice.
[Insert unbothered face here, bwahahahahaha!!!]
What made the enslavement of our people so effective wasn’t its physical brutality. The beating, raping, and killing of our ancestors were only a means to an end. It all served to instill a specific mentality. In order for slavery to accomplish its goal, we, the enslaved, would have to be made to believe that we were inferior and incapable of anything substantive. We had to believe that we were less than our masters. We had to be forcefully severed from everything that identified us as sons and daughters of our Mother Land; our dress, our language, our culture, and our spirituality, among many other things. Their aim was to break us so thoroughly that we could never put ourselves back together. Our oppressors executed this well, except for one problem…
It didn’t work completely. AND IT NEVER WILL.
And this leads me to my first argument about why slavery was a choice: Too many of our foremothers and forefathers fought back. From the moment we saw ourselves fighting for our survival on our home soil, to the moment we were hoarded onto slave ships, to the moment we were herded off those ships, and beyond, our resistance to bondage has been documented, not just by us, but by our oppressors. From the Amistad slave boat rebellion to the Haitian Revolution, from Nat Turner to Harriet Tubman, from Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X, MLK, Jr, and everywhere outside and in between, we’ve shown a willingness to fight for our lives.
I CANNOT, in good conscience, sit here and let y’all so called defenders of the Black race push this ideology that our people were powerless in their situation.
The whole “mind control” argument, in my mind, casts aside the people who stood up and resisted in whatever way they could. This line of “defense” asserts that the slaves were so thoroughly brainwashed that it made it impossible to choose to resist or escape. Anyone peddling that train of thought might as well say that our most celebrated heroes, in any era of slavery, were simply anomalies. They must have been sick. How could they possibly resist such mind control so much so that they try to leave? Drapetomania much…?
This defense dismisses the intellectual capacity of our people. For starters, let’s be clear: “slaves” weren’t taken from Africa. Doctors, spiritual healers, priests, scholars, queens, kings, artisans, warriors, and many other people of prestige were among the innumerable souls kidnapped from their homelands.
They. Didn’t. Kid. Nap. Dummies.
Our people fought and died to keep our history, knowledge of self, and dignity alive through generations of the most brutal treatment in history. Total annihilation of our people would have been the only way Willie Lynch could have subjugated us.
This “choice” the slaves had to make wasn’t an easy one. Escape could bring punishment and death not only to the escapee, but to those he/she left behind. Retribution usually awaited those who stayed behind. Would it have been selfish for a slave to remain in captivity, understanding that it was all but inevitable that nothing would change for him/her or his/her family for perhaps generations to come? Or would it have been more selfish to make a run for it? Should one go alone or should one take his/her family?
Simply asking, “what would you have done?” verifies that you also believe slavery is a choice.
And no, I don’t know what I would have done back then. I wouldn’t expect you to know, either.
When I say slavery is a choice, it isn’t something I say lightly. A choice is a choice, no matter how dire the options are, and I don’t blame them with either selection, because we wouldn’t be here if they made the wrong choice.
I can’t end this without addressing the Black social media #IfSlaveryWasAChoice clapback. As I mentioned before, the pushback was hilarious, and I definitely saved a bunch of those memes and shared even more. I know we meant well, but our response revealed something deep within our collective psyche that we need to dig up and confront.
It revealed a sort of hopelessness, hidden behind satire and humor, that we still cling to, that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we won’t ever shake our chains completely loose. There’s a definite air of contempt for any line of thought that even suggests that we may have assisted in our continued capture, absolving our oppressors of any guilt and responsibility for our past and current state.
…the NERVE of y’all to think I’d let’em off that easily.
We’re still in a mental state of slavery, one that discourages us from getting uncomfortable. It holds our hopes and dreams hostage. It restrains us and our families. And it convinces us that it’s the safest, most surefire way to live. We’ve seen in our history countless examples of how our leaders have been violently dispatched without having pointed a single firearm in any direction. This type of terror seeks to keep us in submission, to accept crumbs when there’s enough out here for everyone to eat well.
The response to Kanye’s words, in my mind, proved that we still have a long way to go to convince our masses that, if we work together, we can wage the kind of war that will eventually end our subservience.
So, when I say slavery is a choice, it has nothing in common with any politically conservative, Fox News-esque ideology. It is the most empowering thing I can say to my fellow Black man, in America, and the world over. It’s saying that we have the power to deliver what it is we seek: freedom, for ourselves, for our families, and for our future. No situation is hopeless.
‘Ye reminds me of so much of Andre from “Get Out.” When you hear him speak, you know something is off. But just when you think all is lost, he yells with his proverbial last breath…
“Get out. Get out. GET THE FUCK OUT!”
Kanye’s “slavery is a choice” may be his “Get Out” moment. Make your choice, Chris.
I love y’all.