The Healing Must Begin

History doesn’t lie. 

It is absolutely true that less than two-hundred years ago black people were bought and sold and it was a perfectly legal transaction. It is absolutely true that humanity is capable of doing such horrible things to his fellow human. 

What also is tragic is that for thousands of years Africans sold their brother and sisters to other tribes, to the highest bidder. Human labor was a commodity.

There are a few reasons why the Black men seemed to fall victim more often to slavery than most other peoples, part of it geographical, part of it had to do with climate, but most of it was because Africa is such a large place, there were just too many settlements, tribes, cultures, languages and traditions that never coalesced into a cohesive core continental government, where a single, common language could have given the African a better way to fight off his neighbors to the north as the Dutch, Spaniards, Middle Eastern and English others came to subjugate the individual tribes while poaching laborers, setting them apart from one another.

It was all the more simple when you had willing traders who sold human capital.

Geography aside, climate was also a driving force in shaping the development of those peoples who lived north.

In colder weather people die quickly when they are not resourceful. Europe and Western Asia saw a millennium of brutal cold, plagues, internecine warfare, black magic, constant starvation and religious and government oppression. These hardships forced those people to create better weapons, devise better methods of survival, organize and develop infrastructure – just to survive! These honed skills, developed and improved over several generations. gave these robust peoples of Europe and Western Asia an advantage when dominating new cultures as Europeans began to explore new worlds, including America and especially Africa, where there was an abundance of slave laborers being sold. 

Similarly, it was what gave newly arriving Europeans an advantage over the American Indians; we had muskets, whiskey and structure. They had a loose confederation and no central government or national federation to push back against the British or the French.

The only difference was Indians didn’t sell their brothers as slaves, and there were simply more Blacks flooding the market with cheap labor as America began to grow out. Contrast this with the modern day dilemma where you have illegal immigrants flooding the American market with cheap labor at the expense of jobs that might otherwise be available to inner city blacks looking for work, and also driving wages down. Two hundred years ago you couldn’t get any cheaper than slavery. It was still considered an investment. In a way, Mexicans have done to the Blacks what Black did to most other newly arriving immigrant class coming to America looking for work.

Of course this all changed on Juneteenth in 1865, when sudden emancipation created instant unemployment. Blacks were free – and unemployed.

It would take a few decades to take 12% of America and create a new working class. Suddenly whites were competing with blacks for jobs. Just as suddenly, new Black neighborhoods grew, communities formed. It is a fact that it takes time for two races to learn to live side by side, especially when one of those races started out owning the other.

These are the historic facts. The only white supremacy I know of is the fiction that fills some people’s minds that being white makes one superior by virtue of skin color alone.  I can assure anyone that very few people ever such utterances in the modern day, and if they did, such a person would quickly lose all credibility. White people are just as stupid, foolish and guilt of bigotry as any other race.

At what point do black people decide for themselves that white people can’t solve all of your problems, nor can you continuously blame white people for creating them.

Before Jim Crow it was easy to say America still had racist laws on the books; Before 1964 you could argue that even our schools still contained a racist undertone baked in from our past. You could also argue that sending such a large number of Black Americans off to war, and then telling them they are no longer needed upon their return, was also devastating to a generation of Black American men. 

…and you can say our efforts to combat drugs later in the 80’s and 90’s, has created a set of problems we didn’t anticipate, such as the large numbers of black people in inner cities who would be getting arrested. Simply arresting drug users and dealers didn’t solve the problem nor rehabilitate the criminal. Instead, our justice system created a generation of people who have no possibility of ever functioning in society once they are released from serving time. We simply must do more to insure felons can truly integrate back into society once they have paid for their debt.

But despite these setbacks, the systemic racism, the years of abuse and neglect, we can hold our head up the the many great Black Americans we can look to who have achieved greatness. The list of contributions by Black Americans is fairly lengthy and it would take me days to share it, which is my point. America is just as much Black as it is White. No one can ever take that away.

Barack Obama

Oprah Winfrey

Frederick Douglas 

Martin Luther King

Colin Powell

Ella Fitzgerald

…the list is so long. 

When I watched the BET Awards  last week, I was very proud of what America has produced. Weren’t you?

So here we are. 

Unwillingly, black hands did help to build this country, and so for that reason I believe every Black American is entitled to feel good about owning a piece of this country. Five generations in, you have just as much right to be here as everyone else. We share in this fact that our ancestors came here for reasons that were harsh for both, criminally harsh for slaves, indeed, but the story starts there. It doesn’t end there.

We also share in the future of this country, and we can be one country or two, it is our choice. We cannot go back, only is the way to go forward not as a White America nor Black America but simply as one American, land of the free, home of the brave, and whatever else we can add to the story.

The healing must begin. That is the only way to honor the memory of the enslaved.

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