I often wonder if some black people fantasize about the times of Slavery before and after the Civil War?
Heads up, I’m going to say a lot of things in this provocative essay that might be deemed insensitive or disrespectful. You don’t have to read this. I bow humbly when I say my intentions aren’t to offend. Picture this as me giving a dissertation in the center of some 18th Century university. I have the floor and I’m about speak theories. They may be stupid. They may be wrong. But if there’s one thing I’ve gotten use to in my old age…in saying stupid, wrong things, I’ve come out better enlightened by all those who are so eager (too eager) to correct me. Let’s begin.
What’s the point of Television? It’s just entertainment, right? More than that, some use it for a tool of education, to expand their horizons and learn about new cultures, new worlds. Some use it to find out what’s going on in the world. And some use it to escape their own world.
What do I mean by “world”? I’m talking about your existence. If this is your first time here, until you clicked this essay, until you’ve read my thoughts, I didn’t exist in your world. Recently, the world was introduced to the world of private big cat owners through the Netflix series “Tiger King”. Until that series, I doubt many of us knew such a world even existed.
So what am I getting at? A couple of months back, my mother came to visit me. When asked what movie she wanted to watch, she said “Harriet,” the movie based on Harriet Tubman. There’s nothing wrong with that. Harriet Tubman is an American Hero for her efforts to liberate slaves, leading them from the South to the free North.
However, the thought occurred to me and I had to ask, “Mom, do you think you secretly wish you were back in slavery times?”
She said no. She wasn’t offended by the question. But didn’t really expound on why she has a fondness for watching these movies where blacks are being oppressed and overcome that said oppression. Ever since I was a kid, my mom was always spending our precious afternoons watching these movies displaying the most horrible afflictions, the cruelest injustices cast upon African-Americans. Not just by white people, but even other black people. From “The Color Purple” to “Roots” Alex Haley’s “Queen,” “Attack on Terror,” a movie about the KKK. “Ghosts of Mississippi” Etc.
When I was a kid…I hated those movies. It wasn’t just because I’m black and I don’t like how “my people” were treated…but on a deeper level, I sensed what anyone of any race must feel…when you look into the faces of those oppressed, rather it’s in a movie or real life, you see people who remind you of someone you personally love and care for.
When I was kid, I never saw myself as one of those oppressed because I don’t think I looked like most black people from the old south.
However, my little brother is of a much darker complexion. My father is of a much darker complexion. My cousins are of a much darker complexion. When I saw blacks being blasted by fire hoses, having dogs sicked on them, being lynched by a mob and hanged from a tree…it reminded me of my family. And that’s where the rage blazed. Indignation
And this was a stupid rage. Because there’s nothing I could do about it. The scenes portrayed were either from a movie or a documentary from a time long ago. The victims…died long ago. Was it justice I sought? Revenge? From whom? Of whom? And maybe this was where I differed from others of my race. Even as a child, it seemed illogical to hold an entire race responsible for what a few individuals did. Even if those individuals gathered to form mobs and organizations, I never believed those individuals spoke for the entire race.
Perhaps the reason why I understood this, was because I know for damn sure that Blacks you see on TV, VH1, the Hip Hop Culture, or even Black Lives Matter…those people do not speak for me. And when it comes to racism, most of the racism I’ve experienced have come from other blacks who refused to accept me because I wasn’t black enough. They’d say I wish I was white, oblivious and ignorant to the fact the skin color and culture are two different things.
That’s how I felt when I was growing up…As an Adult, however. I’ve come to see things a bit differently in regards to movies about the Antebellum South or even the Civil Rights Era of the 50s and 60s. I loved the movie “Selma.” I have a great deal of admiration for figures like Martin Luther King Jr., or Fredrick Douglas, or even Solomon’s character in “12 Years a Slave.” It’s the perseverance. Not just that. It’s the strong sense of what’s right and wrong. The same way I look at the Netflix series “Narcos” and applaud the real-life Columbians who stood up for justice in the face of certain death that came from the wrath of Pablo Escobar and the cartels.
It has very little to do with skin color and everything to do with character, is what I’m getting at. So perhaps, I’m answering my own question here. Perhaps it’s the “overcoming adversity” part that people find uplifting. I hope that’s the case. But what if it isn’t?
“Why would anyone fantasize about being a slave? That’s just stupid, Rock. And you’re being disrespectful.”
I’m not one to let the idea of offending people who aren’t even in the room (or in my mind) stop me from critical thought. Especially if it helps me better understand the truth about people. To answer the question of why anyone would fantasize about being a slave…this is going to sound very disrespectful, but being a slave is…Simple. Less complicated. I’m talking about it in the general sense, unless you’re of the variety that every slave owner was sadistic. But in its essential definition of the word, a slave is a servant to his master. Meaning, his master makes all the decisions and takes care of their well-being.
Why would anyone want this?
Because it’s easy. Whoa~ Calm down. Sure the work was hard. Sometimes the master might ask an impossible task of the slave. But the thinking, the decisions, the concerns, the responsibility. If all you had to do was your job and not worry about the expenses, whether or not it was enough for all your food for yourself and everyone for the month, or the rent, or water, or electricity….Gosh, I know this sounds horrible for me to even be typing this. But how else do I explain it?
Damn, I’ll just come out and say it. Perhaps, freedom isn’t for everyone? Liberation can be a scary thing when and if you aren’t equipped to face what’s in the wilderness once you’re set free. Especially if you’re used to having others protect and provide for you.
Consider this. How well would a fully grown lion fare on the Serengeti when he’s spent its entire life confined and provided for in a zoo? How well will it hunt or find a mate? How well will it survive? Easy…We’re humans. We’d survive. But chances are it’d be due to the mercy and kindness of others.
Recently, regarding the COVID-19 Quarantine and the States opening up after being closed, I had a conversation with a family member where he was upset about the government “forcing people to get back to work.” When I told him that I like the “option” (freedom) of staying at home if people didn’t feel comfortable getting back to work so soon, he said, “yeah, but if those people don’t go to work then the employers will have to hire someone else.”
That’s when the thought occurred to me. And I said, “it sounds like you’re saying you’d rather have the government make the difficult choices so you won’t have to.”
Because it is a difficult choice. To go back to work, you risk being exposed to the Coronavirus. But if you don’t work, you may not be able to provide for yourself (assuming you’re not taking advantage of unemployment checks). And I told him plainly, if I had to choose between getting the Coronavirus, getting sick and dying…or living impoverished with no means to provide for myself…I’d rather die. I know that sounds morbid, but it makes sense for me. I’m a single male in my 30s with no children or a romantic companion. If I’m not productive, I have no purpose. And as a Christian, I look forward to a better world. So I don’t cling to this one as much as others do.
Might sound harsh, but it’s the truth for me and I don’t think I’m alone in that aspect. People like me don’t need the government or anyone else to make the tough choices for us. We know the risks, but we venture forth anyway. Just like our ancestors who had to hunt and gather under threat of being mauled by bears or ambushed by rival Native American tribes. It’s a risk. But it’s our risk. And if you’re argument is that we’re risking the safety of others, I’d counter by asking why are you taking the risk by being out at the same time as me?
And if the government’s making choices for you…is this what they mean when they talk about the “Plantation” and how some black never left? Forgive me, I know that’s a touchy thing to say. And for that matter, may I go even further by saying…So what if you’d rather have the government make those tough choices for you? If you like your government and trust them, then by all means, have at it. Just know that its still your choice to have them make those choices for you. So…no matter what, you’re still responsible for what happens to you.
Regarding the fantasizing of slavery, maybe I’m looking about it the wrong way. Perhaps I’m focusing too much on the oppression and struggle…when I should be considering the lifestyle and culture. Think of “Driving Ms. Daisy”.
There is a bit of Romanticism in the nostalgia of people being polite, kind, and talkative to one another. Nowadays, it’s be considered rude, everyone all up in everyone’s business. And it’s not just Black people who are like this. But I imagine “Downton Abbey” had the same effect on some White people. Yes, I’ve watched Downton Abbey and even there, you have a scenario where, they aren’t called “slaves” but many characters are definitely servants to a master.
“SEE ROCK! It’s all about racism. Whites would never treat other whites the same way blacks were treated by whites!”
You sure about that? I ask in earnest. Because…I was only born in 1986. In America, a country’s whose education system withheld certain historical truths that I wouldn’t learn until later. Like the Nanjing Massacre. Or the fact that abduction and slavery wasn’t exclusive to America but occurred all around the world, from Israel, ancient China to Rome and don’t even get me started with Africa itself.
All I know about the world before 1986 was what I read in books or what’s been passed down through the cinemas and word of mouth. How do we really know what happened? History is written by the victors. Does that make their perspective of the truth universal for all? And as an author myself, I know for a fact that those with money and influence pick and choose how history is remembered by publishing and promoting the writers and books that present the history, the culture that they want to be remembered.
“Are you saying that wealthy people purposely promoted the idea that all white slave owners were abusive and cruel to their slaves? Why would they do that? It makes them all look bad.”
I believe that there will always be those who benefit from conflict. I don’t believe it makes the entire race look bad because of reasons I’ve previously stated. We’re individuals. I can’t fault an entire race for the actions of an unjust few.
In recent years, popular media’s gone through great lengths to portray whites as abusers and blacks as oppressed. But have you ever heard of a man named William Lloyd Garrison? Or Angelina Grimke? Or John Brown? I say that last one with reluctance because I’m not entirely sure if I could condone John Brown’s butchery. My point being, all of these are White people who fought for blacks under the threat of certain death. Another thing they had in common was that they were strong Christians, but that’s for another essay.
The question of whether some blacks fantasize about slavery…again, I know it sounds disrespectful. But a mind such as mine can’t help but wonder.
“Well, do you fantasize about slavery, Rock?”
I have, to an extent. Lol, I’m sure I’m not alone in daydreaming about somehow being transported to slavery times as I am now and how I would survive? I also thought of a movie premise about being a black detective who endeavors to solve the mystery of whether Crispus Attucks was killed during the Boston Massacre or murdered with the massacre providing cover for a more heinous crime in the works.
And honestly, I do sometime fantasize about being a servant, in many ways. I wouldn’t mind serving behind a leader with a strong moral compass and a viable plan for the future. I’ve daydreamed about my older brother being king and me serving as his general in the field. I’ve had this same dream where it’s my boss and mentor, Kevin (a white man) being king of a post-war Florida. His family establishing themselves as nobility in a new Florida, and I am their trusted man in the field, foiling the schemes of rivals and going to battle to protect their newfound kingdom.
I dream of war. Of battle. Of fighting. And dying. All for a cause.
I don’t know if I’m the only one who’s like this, but perhaps it should give you some insight on why I’m raising the question about slavery in the first place. If a man like me could dream of fighting and dying for a cause…it’s not a stretch to think that maybe some people fantasize of a time where their lives weren’t spent working a nine-to-five job every week. But they had a greater purpose, such as freedom from slavery against a tyrannical master.
I dare say, I believe this is how a lot Social Justice Warriors think. So when people ask, “do they have nothing better to do with their time than to protest, dox, and call for resignations…” I’m like,…No. They don’t. It gives them purpose. They have something that they believe is worth fighting and going to jail for. Not saying I agree with them…but I understand.
Anyway…these are just thoughts. They may very well be stupid thoughts. They may be wrong thoughts. But while we’re on the subject of what’s wrong…would you inject hatred and animosity into the heart of an innocent child? Is it right to have your children and your children’s children carry on the afflictions you yourself have faced? If you overcame adversity, didn’t you do it so your children didn’t have to go through the same thing you went through? Or is it vanity, that you’d have them know your pain?
To hurt the way you did?
I was watching a documentary about the history of New York, where a historian recalled being a 2nd Generation immigrant from Ireland. He recalled one night walking by his father’s door and hearing his father crying from the foot of his bed. His father worked 12-hour days just to have provide a shelter for his family and food on the table. Those were long days, day before guidelines and restrictions stepped in to care for the average worker.
The historian said, when he heard his father crying he knew… “he had to honor that pain. That sacrifice his father was making for him.”
I believe in that. I believe in honoring the sacrifices of others, that we are able to live the way we live. However, if it was their intention to carry on the hatred and animosity for others because of what they went through…I’d say they had the wrong intentions. I won’t be honoring that.
Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross, having had the flesh whipped from his back and agonizing with each breath because of the weight of his body was stretched out. He didn’t scream out, “AVENGE ME!”. He didn’t tell his Apostles to hate the Jews. He looked up to our Heavenly father and said, “forgive them.” He told his apostles to love them.
Jesus Chris is my Lord and Savior. That’s what he said. So that’s what I’ll do. (or try to do…at the best of my abilities)
Fantasise, no, but compelled by DNA results less than two and a half years ago to honour my unexpectedly close link to African Americans – and slavery.. Apart from people I knew already, one of my new closest links is an African American woman. Sharing a great-great grandfather means almost in living memory. Side by side, we prove how shallow racism is…
Now I understand the intensity of my mother and grandfather’s anti-slavery, anti-racism position… My parents denied having any connection whatsoever with Ireland – raised when UK landlords could say ‘ No blacks, no Irish, no dogs. – and get away with it, They feared white English racism so much, they changed their last names, made up a new family ‘ story. – to protect us from anti Irish racism – and their Irish family included Jewish exiles…
Slavery, feudalism ? On UK TV, several years ago, the late Terry Jones tried to explain that the life of a medieval peasant was;’ t all brutal oppression… True, they had to work for the lord of the manor – but more of the year was spent working for themselves. Rather like us – paying tax…