|George Washington and his slaves in Mount Vernon (courtesy of Britannica)|
When my son was in fifth grade, he had an assignment about George Washington as a hero and patriot. In my son's version of the report (being my son), he argued that George Washington owned slaves, and when he became president and had to live in Philadelphia, he would swap his servants between Virginia and Philly every five months because of the laws in Pennsylvania, where if you resided with a slave for six months, you had to set them free. He called Washington a "hypocrite". Mrs B, his teacher, saw this as a good point and raised it as a point of discussion in class, and a highly valid point of view.
Set back the clock to the late 1970's and we have my fourth grade experience. My teacher gave us an
assignment to write about freedom fighters in American history. Many students chose the
Revolutionary War, and some picked World War I and II; and one even wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr.. I wrote my report on Nat Turner and his rebellion. My teacher was quite upset that I was able to draw parallels in my essay between Nat Turner's group and the Continental Congress, fighting for freedom and that slaves freeing themselves is in line with the precepts of the Declaration of Independence. "It's not the same thing," Mrs K tried to reason with me. "What Nat Turner did was misguided and violent."
"Isn't war violent? Wasn't slavery wrong?" I asked.
"Yes, but it was something to ended by the powers that be. Like Abraham Lincoln." She replied.
"Didn't he just free the slaves as a war tactic?" I asked
Mrs K's eyes grew big and her face became angry, that kind of angry look that her face got when she yelled at us in the school yard. "The point is, you need to pick another subject for your essay!" she yelled as she shoved my papers back at me. At the time, I didn't know about David Walker and his book, Walker's APPEAL, which probably would have made me a candidate for expulsion.
In the wake of sudden awareness to police brutality against males of color, largely thanks to social media, the image of America as a racist country has once again become global. Law enforcements brutality against people of color is an unfortunately long-standing legacy in this country. One of many early examples, in the mid 1800's, ships with Black sailors aboard, when reaching ports in Louisiana and South Carolina had to be placed in the local jail until the ships were ready to leave port; especially following the publication and distribution of David Walker's "Appeal", calling for enslaved Blacks to free themselves by any means necessary, and for free Black people to assist in this liberation by any way that they can. Walker's text was seen as an atrocity, even by many abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison who believed that reason and non-violent means would be the way to emancipate enslaved Africans.
A proclamation went out throughout many southern states that any "Negro" found with Walker's book in their possession would be immediately put to death. Walker's text was among the items found on Nat Turner's person when he was eventually captured, tried and executed. In reviewing the writings of several leading abolitionists, including Garrison and the well-intentioned efforts of Harriet Beecher Stowe, one could easily conclude that the abolish ion of slavery was a cause similar to the prevention of cruelty to animals, and movements to save endangered species of plants and animal: recognition of the actual humanity of their subjects was noticeably absent.
|Lynching Victim, Georgia, circa 1930's|
Yes, we need to embrace and remind ourselves that Black Lives Matter every time the excuse of
|Frederick J Carter, Lynched in Mississippi, 2010|
How does it manifest? Try telling an eastern Native American that they look Black... then run for your life. Do the same thing to somebody who originates from Sicily... and run. Take note of the fact that many in both groups use the 'N-word' and other cute albeit derogatory terms for Black people more than your stereotypical southern bigot, simply because it has been indoctrinated into the American psyche of all ethno-cultural groups, across the globe that the American "Negro" is the lowest form of humanity and it is not by accident that one of the first efforts of any group coming into the United States is to disassociate themselves from American Blacks.
Consider these grossly fallacious points that have been imbedded and engrained in the American psyche, culture and indoctrination, and you will especially understand why it's important to understand, embrace and accept that "Black Lives Matter".
To be continued...
Bhopal R (December 2007). "The beautiful skull and Blumenbach's errors: the birth of the scientific concept of race". dpi: BMJ 335 (7633): 1308–9.
Fredrickson, George M. Racism: A Short History, Princeton University Press (2002)
Moore, Richard B, The Name "Negro", It's Origin and Evil Use; Black Classic: 1997, New York