It is deeply embedded in the melanocytes of my basal epidermis. Fiction to some, reality to others. An entity that you do not have to experience first hand to know or understand the consequences and despair that continue to ripple through time. That is, assuming you seek the knowledge of such things, solely with good intentions in mind. Its one of the reasons why inequality still has yet to truly arrive. It’s sparked countless debates, demands for reparations, and has been the catalyst to revolt and revolution.
Yet, as distorted as some may view it, despite how far some may go to erase it: slavery happened. It’s not fiction. It’s reality. A reality that “ended” in December 1895, only for African American/Black people to still experience Jim Crow. African-American/Black people still had to flee (The Great Migration) due to legislation that did nothing to protect them. “We The People” did not apply and frankly, its quite arguable if it, not only is currently present, but ever truly existed.
Collectively, as a society, we have Freedom Of Speech. The opportunity to influence and convey with our voice the depths of our thoughts, concerns, ideas, and a magnitude of other things. Some individuals, such as Kanye West, much rather believe and convey that slavery was a choice. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. The fact that those words even formulated into a black individual, a black man’s mind, let alone uttered, still astonishes me to this moment.
To add a bit more perspective, the Civil Rights Act was not signed until July 2, 1964. That was approximately 54 years ago. People speak in regard to slavery as if it is some ancient event that transpired when large reptiles ran the world. Again, SLAVERY HAPPENED. Just as well as the Holocaust and an disgusting amount of other genocides and inhumane acts throughout history. I’m not sure why that is such a hard reality for some to grasp. A saddening one, yes, among various other negatively correlated emotions, but you cannot just erase it unfortunately. Furthermore, you certainly should not being saying that such pivotal, horrific, traumatic, events were by choice of the victims.
I’m sure there are vast amounts of people, majority of the population, that would not chose to be uprooted from their native land. They would not chose to drown to their deaths because a life of servitude was one that was unfathomable. To be enslaved, stripped away of your humanity, relinquishing the entire capacity of your being: would YOU chose that? People in jail do not even chose to be there. This ideology, ill will, attempt to disregard the truths and realities of nations, cultures, people, is dangerous. Disgraceful. Disappointing.
There is a difference between being a “free-thinker” and just being totally oblivious to the world around you. Why is that every time someone says and/or does some of the most off-the-spectrum thing, their defense if that they are a free-thinker? If you’re going to refer to yourself as a free-thinker, I would hope that you would model the attributes of other free-thinkers such as W.E.B. DuBois.
Regardless of how you live your life and what you believe religiously, you can not discount the anguish the reality of slavery has brought and the impact that is still experienced in present time. There is nothing wrong with being an independent thinker, quite in fact some of the greatest advancements of mankind have come from free- thinkers. However at the core of every opinion, belief, and voice should be a place that serves as positivity for humanity. Yet that’s not a choice for some people. It’s much easier (for some) to promote systemic cycles.
For those of us with the ability to think independently yet still house compassion for others among the world, I truly salute you. We need all of the positivity we can receive in today’s world.
Alex N. Wanderland