February 10, 2005

....but what does slavery have to do with today?

Now that its Black history month, PBS is once again presenting a series of documentaries on the oppressive reality of black history in America. Each time I witness these documentaries and others like them, I never become acclimated or desensitized to the horrors and inhumanity of it. It was just atrocious, physically, economically and psychologically upon black people and it lasted an extremely long time.

Black people have been in America for 386 years. From 1619 to the year 2005, we have existed in this land. What that breaks down to in percentages is this. From 1619 to the emancipation of 1864 represents 245 years of black slavery, which constitutes 63% of our total time spent in this land, as a people, in slavery. After emancipation and up to the passage of civil rights laws of the 1964, there was 100 year period of peonage and Jim Crow were governments allowed for the oppression of black people via laws. Those 100 years represents 26% of our total stay in this land under a non slavery form of legal oppression. Thus, adding together the years in slavery and under legalized non slavery oppression of Jim Crow, 345 or our 386 years in this nation has been under the weight of government sanctioned oppression. That represents 89% of our time, as a people, in this land having been under the weight of legal oppression.

Now, invariably, there are people who will look at these documentaries and the inhumanity of it, then place it in a temporal vacuum. They will say "yes that was terrible and inhumane….but what does it have to do with today"? They will note that all the slave masters and all the slaves are now dead and gone and all that is now in the past...so move on. Some people then incredulously and or disingenuously ask, “And what does that past have to do with you or black white dynamics today?” Another way to ask that question where one can see it for its nominal face value is to ask “What does the past have to do with the present?” Well, given that the present is the summation and creation of the past, the past has everything to do with the present.

The physics of existence is that the reaction from impact expands exponentially greater in time and space than the actual moment and place of impact. If one throws a stone into a pond, the moment and place of impact is expanded by time and space in the reaction of the reverberation of waves expanding out in time and space. The actual time that blacks have spent in the impact of slavery will be much smaller in time and space than the reactions that reverberate from slaveries impact. There were 4 million blacks in slavery in 1864 and now there are 40 million black people in America. Slavery existed in certain states, but now blacks are spread all throughout the nation. Thus, physically black people have expanded in time and space and the problems inherited (such as the lack of wealth and problems with racial esteem and indentity) or passed down from our oppression reverberate as well, as long with the benefits to America from our oppression. However, the reverberations fatigue over time, but one cannot intelligently expect that an impact of oppression that lasted 345 years can naturally fatigue or dissipate in 40 years. Hence, the socio-economic gaps between blacks and whites in America are the direct resultant of years of oppression.

Of course there are others, motivated by attempts to obfuscate and misdirect, who will look at the presentation of such history as “victimology” or playing the “Blame game”. What they are doing in effect is protecting the perpetrators and benefactors or accessories to the crime against black humanity. By eliminating the “victim” you also eliminate the "perpetrators or accessories" to the crime. If rapist can convince a rape victim that she wanted, enjoyed and benefited from the act as much as the raper, then she is no longer a victim and hence he is no longer a perpetrator or rapist. He can only be prosecuted if she is willing to see herself as a victim and hence pursue justice. Thus, his self interest is to convince the lady not to prosecute...if possible, by convincing her that she was not a victim. There is a movement to convince black people that we have not been rapped as a people, in order to keep the accessories (the US and state governments) from being prosecuted. They want people to take note of the child created from the brutal and tortuous rape, which we would not have to enjoy if not for the rape. That child is the America of Today, which comes to black people only by virtue of the enslavement of our ancestors. They want us to now look at Africa and think how blessed and fortunate we are to be here in America, the offspring of the brutal rapping of our ancestors and Native Americans. Thus, we are not “victims”, we are "benefactors".

A lot of white people will try to separate bad white folks from themselves. “My ancestors never owned any slaves”, is the dominant cry. White people have an aversion to connecting themselves to whites when it’s something bad, but have no such aversion when it’s something good. They will tell you that their ancestors never owned any slaves, but they will fail to tell you that their ancestors never lifted a finger to change the situation for the better. There have always been white folks, who fought against slavery, but they were as few as the slave owners themselves and most white folks are not descendants of them. Therefore, they cannot take credit for their “goodness”, just like they refuse to make linkage to white slave-owners “badness”. In fact, most whites were historically accessories to the crime, because they received benefit and knew what was going on. Anytime you eliminate a segment of humanity from the competition for economic opportunity and wealth, probabilities for opportunity and wealth are thus increased for those not eliminated. Moreover, the trickle down economic effect from the wealth created from slavery created many spin off industries and services for the white free economy. Also, more people became rich in America from real estate than by any other means. During the agrarian era, land was made valuable and productive via slavery. There is not question that this nation that whites flocked from Europe to is the fruits of black enslavement and native genocide.

When people like my self present these facts of history, I will invariably be gleaned as a person motivated by hate and resentment. Of course we all know this is an attempt to discredit the message via discrediting the messenger. They cannot refute the truth of the message so they will attempt to discredit the messenger in hopes to misdirect and obfuscate from the impact of the substance . The truth is they never accuse PBS or whites of being motivated by anger and hate when they present the same history and facts. That charge is reserved for black individuals with the audacity to speak the truth. Even though I have never stated in this (or any other) essay that I hate white folks or that I am even angry at them, this is the impression that many, if not most, will come away with. Given that I only presented history and not statements of emotions regarding my feelings towards whites, they must be “projecting” what their minds thinks should be the human response or reaction to such a history….which is anger and hate. In other words, they are telling me that had this been there history, they would be full of hate and anger. Well….its my history and I am not full of hate or anger. I just want the truth to be told, justice and reparations.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger Faheem said...

The wealth attained by the European via our oppression is undeniable and this is what drives white folk crazy. They can not deny the means by which they came to power, their only way of explaining it is to redefine it by use of the inherently racist belief in manifest destiny or as you have articulate by making the victim out be a non-victim thus making them no longer our victimizer or beneficiaries of our victimization. Once Black men and women realize that we are an African people uprooted from our home land and colonized in America, used as the means by which Capitalism came to be we will easily see that reparations is the least of which should be offered to us.

I recorded lasts night program but I shall watch it in the next few days and I am certain like you, it will inspire me to put my thought s down.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

Black people are the only people in America that are actively encouraged to forget their own history because any study of black history, is, by its nature, an indictment of all white Americans, past or present. To study black history means to uncover the lies and theft engaged in by the white man in order to gain the riches he now enjoys. When you read black history, specifically the most horrible parts, whites say, "why do you read about such horrible things?" Of course, if bad things had happened in their history, they would actively study these things, like Jews study the Holocaust. But for some reason when it comes to us, we should just forget about it. I firmly believe that the thing missing most from public schools is black history. When kids find out about the horrors, they have more respect for themselves and their people, for our sometimes miserable state will be revealed as not something inherent in us, but the result of white supremacy of the worst kind.

While most white who claim they "had nothing to do with slavery" frequently hold that line in public, behind closed doors they approve of and reminisce(sp) about the domination their ancestors held. James Baldwin wrote an essay about tha; I linked it on my site a few days ago. When was the last time you heard a white person express disgust at the Indian massacres? Never. The same could be said about slavery. They enjoyed the triumph, and truly feel no remorse.

I watched the PBS documentary last night, and it really made me angry. Specifically, seeing that woman with the cross-bow, steel "collar" on mad me upset. How could someone be so cruel? We've certainly come a long way. And we will go further.

Thank you for the percentage breakdown.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

I was watching... along with my family.

I have a 16 year old step-daughter who's active in a school club that will put on a Black History show with a play on Slavery. A year or so ago, I wrote down some thoughts to summarize our history here, hoping to give her a full picture.

Since I haven't raised her her whole life I haven't been able to combat the constant assault on her self-esteem and sense of confidence in her "race". She was once repulsed by the notion of being associated with Africa/Africans. I think that's changing and she has a geniune, self-motivated interest now with discovering things historical Black/African.

... Also, BOMBS~ could you leave a link to your site?
I would be honored to read some of your writings.

At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noah, I've come to characterize the views of White Americans and their vacillating Vicariousness on this issue (specifically as it relates to Reparations) as their full-fledged version of a KANGAROO COURT.

(Of course, they have a rainbow consortium willing to accomodate and defend the institution.)

Specifically... White people (to whom it applies - aka many) want to be:

1] THE JUDGE (the try-er of fact and law)
2] THE JURY (the only authorized deliberators)
3] THE ADVOCATE (self-appointed, non-hired representative)
4] THE WITNESSES (those who feel they can attest to what was)
5] THE EXECUTIONER (ones commissioned to implement the judgement rendered)

By definition, any one of those figures above who prejudice themselves -- vicariously identifying with the perpetrator or otherwise identifying with obvious sympathies for him -- show a Conflict Of Interest and by law and/or ethics must remove themselves from the process. The prevailing idea that White people and/or all Americans have a say in what Reparations should be if they are ever to be is then exposed for its fraudulent pretense.

The prejudice "judge" must recuse himself...
The biased witness must be dropped from the list, etc.

So with that, I put people on notice.

I also challenged those people (many of whom try that "You Hate" and other assorted forms of personalized obfuscation) who conveniently pretend they're interested in moving forward to present something other than the status quo notions that forego Reparations and Radical Changes In The Structure Of American Society (MLK's words).

My challenge for all those of any color with those notions with a belief "in the system" is for them to propose what will successfully interdict this:
At the slow rate that the Black-white poverty gap has been narrowing since 1968, it would take 150 years, until 2152, to close.

For every dollar of white per-capita income, African Americans had 55 cents in 1968 – and only 57 cents in 2001. At this pace, it would take Blacks 581 years to get the remaining 43 cents.


People can talk about a goal of achieving parity through whatever "join the system" means or whatever but they have to step up their games with something more than rhetoric because the Handrighting Is On The Wall.

The conveners of the KANGAROO COURT know exactly what it says and that's why they're all for it.

So, let's talk about what's "practical" and what leads to the desired end "faster". As Faheem's says best, "The times of the greatest progress for Black people have come from CONFRONTING the system, etc."

So, we come and revisit what David Walker deliberated over in his APPEAL and his life's work:
That it will take Revolution/Revolutionary thinking to transform our situtation.

Those who contend with that... have to face what their views lead to. 150 years to viritual Infinity before their ideas even faintly become true. All the more reason to reinvigorate MLK's reply-demand WHY WE CAN'T WAIT!

At 5:31 PM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...

The above comments-rant are mine.


At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brother Noah,

As a so-called educated brother (I'd rather call it "certified") who has received numerous awards and scholarships for my study and research of black history, I must say that I'm extremely impressed with how you broke down the number of years in terms of percentages blacks in North America have suffered under some form of government sanctioned and legalized oppression. I've never quite saw it presented in that fashion, so precise and clear. And we know the numbers don’t lie. You've just armed me with another angle from which to bombard the sheer hypocrisy this American White man is so infamous at least in my book) for .


At 7:44 PM, Blogger NmagiNATE said...


The corollary to Noah's numbers would be the 345 years of near 100% White Privilege and Preference vs the fractional so-called preferences Blacks supposedly get.

I had one clown say something stupid (going along with the prevailing notions of course) like those preferences for Blacks somehow meant that Blacks were "inferior". So, I turned the preponderance of the evidence of American history of White Preferences around on him and his logic.

Of course, he didn't take a likin' to me pointing out -- by his logic -- that for at least those 345 years Whites were "inferior".

Anyways... Noah's calculations fits in with his usual focus on the logic of Math Equations. What's been added/subtracted to one side must be added/subtracted to the other.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...


My site is www.thestateof.com

(Please excuse my link, Noah and Faheem, he asked.)

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Brother X said...

hi every one!
My slave name is Silva Da costa because we have been disconnected or cuff off from our land, language and culture. Now, i am in search my real name, for now call me X. The point i am making is why we still see ourselves as afro- americans, black british or whatever that is. I think this is the time to see ourselves as african people, otherwise we will never overcome the struggle. how can we overcome the struggle if the majority of black peoole don't know the knowlegdge of themselves. I agree completly with what brother Malcolm X said :being bron in america does not make you american, being born in britain does not make you british or english. America does not belong to black people, nor white people( the oppressor/agressors) that's all about mentality control, the control we have over our lives. we are all africans, and we need to know how get control of what trully belong to us. We need to go back to our country.

Brother X


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