Sunday, May 31, 2009

When are you people just going to get over slavery?


I had a conversation with one of my co-workers the other day about race. This is a white dude, and we have talked about race before. We have had the conversation about "why can you say nigger and I can't". We have had the conversation about Jesse and Al, and how he thought they were racist. We have talked about crime and drug dealing and all the stereotypes about black men that he had grown up believing. You see this dude was born privileged, whereas I was born one cornflake away from starving,so this dude and I are complete opposites, but we are cool like that.

Anyways....

We started this conversation off with a movie that we both enjoyed, THE BANK JOB. This is a pretty good movie. For those of you that have not seen it, it is about a crew of second rate thieves that are tasked by the British government to break into a bank vault and steal some pictures of one of the Royals getting her freak on with two big black bucks. Of course the thieves do not know it is the government that they are working for, or what they are actually stealing. The rub is that the guy that has the pictures is a Black revolutionary, pimp and drug dealer, that is blackmailing the government with these pictures in order to stay out of jail.

Well, in one scene the pimp puts a dog collar around a white man's neck and says he is going to bend him to his will the same way the white man's ancestors had bent his ancestors to their will.

Well my coworker said that this scene pissed him off, and his question was.....

When are Black people going to get over slavery?

He wanted to know why we blame him for something that his great-grandfather did 140 years ago.

Well, like I said, me and this dude have gone down this road before. I like talking to him because by talking out our differences we learn that we are really not to far apart in our thought process.

I had to explain to him that even though the great emancipator did free the slaves 140 years ago, he did not really grant us any freedom. We were still slaves mentally and in some cases physically. We were still looked at as being inferior to the "master" race. I proceeded to tell him that if you wanted to get technical about it, we did not see any real freedom until the 60's.

The 1960's.

40 some years ago.

I told him that even though slavery was a very bad thing, slavery was not really the problem. There have been slaves since the beginning of time. Black people were not the first slaves in History, and we won't be the last.

The problem was (and in some cases still is), the treatment of the slaves.
Treating people like animals is not a good thing.
Denying basic human rights to a fellow human is bad.
Eliminating a person's culture, religion, language and heritage is not good.
Forcing a person to accept another religion, culture, language and heritage and then treating them like an outsider when they are doing everything that is asked of them, is very, very bad.

I told him that this is why slavery is still a very sore subject with American Blacks.
I told him that most Black Americans do not blame today's white person for anything. But I told him that there are still some white people today that have the same views that their great-grandparents had.

I told him that American Blacks are playing catch-up in a game that is being orchestrated by the powers (white)that be.I told him that most American Blacks have not figured out the rules to this game because the rules keep changing. When ever a Black person gets close to learning the rules, the powers (white) that be do a change up and make an amendment.

Example.... White People have been voting based on race since they came up with the the rules for voting, but when a black man gets elected to lead them based on the rules they came up with, now voting based on race is a bad thing?

I told him that is why we act the way we do. It is proven everyday that we will not be treated fairly under the rules that we are forced to obey, so we have to make our own.

Contrary to popular belief, the playing field is not level, even with a half-black man as president.

17 comments:

Walt Bennett said...

(Full disclosure: I am a white dude.)

Several years ago my daughter participated in a grade school assembly during black history month. To demonstrate what it was like to have to sit in the back of the bus, the teacher in charge of the assembly had the black children sit in the back of the room.

I was outraged.

And what I was screaming inside was, when will we let it go? How can we move on until we change the subject? None of those children had ever been told where they could sit on a bus, never been excluded from a public accommodation and likely did not know anybody who had. On this day, they were made to feel less than and were informed that their recent ancestors had lived like this, not so long ago.

I could not then and cannot now make the slightest sense of that exercise, and especially of singling out the black students for the very treatment that we worked so hard as a people to abolish.

Never forget that young, dedicated white people fought alongside their black brothers and sisters in the south in the 1960s, in the fight for basic equality for all people.

At some point we must ask, what agenda is being served when we keep yesterday's battles front and center?

Red, I thought your description of current circumstances was clumsy, perhaps not fully developed. For certain, black people do hold white people accountable for things that go on today: the incredible percentage of young black men in jail; the abandonment of the inner city; the lack of opportunity in the white collar world; the assumption by police that a black man is a criminal and a white man is innocent until proven guilty.

And so, you and I agree: it's not about slavery, it's about human decency, and as far as we come, we have so much further to go. In just this past week we have seen fictitious black men accused by a white woman in a bizarre hoax. We have recently discussed how many people dismiss Michael Vick as an "animal" (read: sub-human) who deserves no forgiveness for his acts.

We see around us, every day, that blacks are not accepted as equals by whites.

Not by all whites, for sure, but the legacy does indeed live on.

I needed to be made to understand that, and I have some specific people to thank for that, including Morris O'Kelly and Dwayne T. These are men of my generation who remember where we all come from and clearly understand where we all still need to go.

So yes, in the end it is important to keep talking about it, to acknowledge the progress but to also honestly, consciously acknowledge what is left to do.

Blacks are still slaves in some very real ways. That is a scary thought, but we don't accomplish anything by denying or ignoring it.

Dirty Red said...

Walt,

Damn good comment man! You should have post jacked me and put this up on your spot. Only one thing though...Istand by my comment about most American Blacks do not blame today's white people for the mistakes of their fathers. At least the ones I know anyway. It is the media that hypes up this shit. Most of us want to work, play and live in harmony. But some people do refuse to let go of the old ways.

MoMo said...

This was an excellent post, very thought provoking. I think the word slavery is used as a catchall phrase to represent mostly the social injustices that are still prevalent today. TODAY!!!! Not 40 yrs ago or 140 yrs ago. For example, The salary discrepencies between to equally qualified men or women, difference only being their skin color.

My mom went to a segregated school until she was in the 6th grade, and that was many many years AFTER the ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.

Besides, we mention history, so that we can hopefully learn from past mistakes and not repeat them instead.

Mo

Marcus said...

It seems pretty damn simple, blacks will let the past go, when white people let the past go.

I no longer want to hear about "the forefathers".

I am 33 years old, when I was in school (I was one of 3 black kids) I never learned a damn thing about the Black contribution to American history, but I did get a whole
sh!tload of "forefather" propaganda shoved down my throat, while wondering if the only thing my real "forefathers" did was slave. And nowadays people complain about Black history month, lol are you serious??

Black people should never forget what has happened to our ancestors who never had a chance and were treated like subhumans in this hell on earth we call America until the 1960's, lol my mother was born in 1956.

It is interesting how Blacks should let the evil aspects of american history "go" and whites just want to remember the "good" parts.

I don't understand why Black people insist on trying to educate whites on how other human beings react to situations. If they can't figure it out, F'em. Keep it moving and provide for you and yours.
Some Blacks seem to act like they need white people in their lives to be accomplished or relevant, IMO.

Walt Bennett said...

Red,

It sounds like I misunderstood your original point about blame. Your point was that blacks do not hold whites accountable for historical injustices, and my point was that there are injustices going on right now, and blacks rightly blame whites for those. It's not as simple as name-calling and beating people with bats, but let me say that I see plenty of evidence in the blogosphere that blacks do hold the "white world" accountable as an institution.

And again, rightly.

I am a computer programmer, have been since the Air Force in 1979. I have been a member of the white collar world since 1982, and in that time I can count on one hand the number of blacks with whom I worked. Overwhelmingly, that world is white, with whites making the decisions about who to hire. Women have made much more progress entering that world in the last 30 years than black men have. It's just a plain fact. And I read something recently, from Michael Eric Dyson (who I "met" via STAND. This is something he said on a CNN special:
===
By the end of the last century, there were nearly a third more black men in prison and jail than in colleges and universities. That means the number of black men in jail or prison has increased fivefold in the last 20 years. In 1980, at the dawn of the prison construction boom, black men were three times more likely to be enrolled in college than incarcerated.

In 2000, there were 791,600 black men in jail or prison, while only 603,032 were enrolled in colleges or universities. In 1980, there were 143,000 black men in jail or prison and 463,700 matriculating in higher educational institutions.
===

That is just staggering, and it speaks to a cultural malaise. There is a certain degree of momentum in certain communities, and it is hard to crack. (Pun intended.)

You and I know our history. In the post war industrial era, blacks flooded northern cities to escape social oppression and to be paid a decent wage for an honest day's work. Whites fled the cities, collapsing the tax base and severely impacting social services. As the cities themselves died through neglect, crime and the collapse of certain industries, blacks (and to some extent, hispanics) became marginalized, almost roped off from the rest of society. They had no equity to allow them to relocate, no job skills that were transferable to new industries, and limited access to services which could lift them out of poverty. Jesse Jackson spent the 1980s trying to get us to take this malaise seriously, warning that if you do not give people hope, they won't put down the gun.

(If there was one thing about STAND that bothered me, it was the caricaturization of Jackson, who is a very important figure in post-60s race relations and the first black man ever to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.)

Here we are in 2008, and blacks have made great strides. We live in truly homogeneous times; my children treat skin color like hair color, it makes no difference to them. But we know that in Philly and Pittsburgh and Easton and Allentown and right here in Harrisburg, there are black slums that receive no notice from the community unless somebody gets robbed or shot there.

Conditions are ripe for another Eldridge Cleaver or Malcolm X. Conditions are ripe for a major city to be set off. What goes around comes around, and if we have not yet learned that we cannot solve this problem by throwing more black men in jail, then we are going to have to learn it the hard way.

Walt Bennett said...

Red, I took your advice and posted on this topic:

http://waltbennett.com/wordpress/?p=793

Folk said...

man, truer words haven't been spoken today in blogdom. preach my friend. preach.

cosigning this blog on the real.

ZACK said...

Walt,

GO TO HELL! I mean that shit. How dare you come on somebody's blog and try to tell them what to do. You are not the representative for white guilt, so sit yo ass down.

(I'm sorry Red, but you are fighting for our country to protect the freedom of speech that this douchebag is abusing)

SHAME ON YOU, WALT! SHAME ON YOU! How dare you even try to run his blog or my blog. Build your own damn blog. But oh, I forgot. You don't put anything on there worth reading.

I'd rather read something from Terry Roadhouse (another blog bully of mine) than read your nonsense anymore.

Walt Bennett said...

Zack,

All I can say is: Get some therapy.

Dirty Red said...

Everyone that posted thanks for reading my little ole blog. All y'all made some very good points and I apreciate y'all.

Now....

Zack,
Slow your role man. I understand that you got some problems with Walt, but I don't. So please let me give the beatdowns and 'get the fuck outs' on my site. I love you man, but you got's to learn to chill. Walt made some good points. I didn't see any thing condiscending about anything he said, matter a fact I agree with what he said. But I ain't mad at cha. You still one of my favorite bloggers.

ZACK said...

Joe, I ain't finna get the "fucks out" of nowhere, B.

I'm the one actually giving a shit about you fighting for our country. That's more important than kissing some white boys ass...but I forgot- you're in the military. What the fuck was I thinking?

You know, Red, it's amazing that you're SO MUCH OLDER than me and still feel beholden to white folks. It's such a shame. Maybe that's why you're in the military. That's an even bigger shame.

You can't even see that Walt "hands you your ass" (as he said on my blog that you just did to me)

He brings no intellect to the conversation, just faux-liberal, racist white propaganda.

I'll never speak to your black ass again and will remove your bullshit comments off my site dude.

I can't see you anymore and not because you're dark skinned, but because you're dark hearted.

MoMo said...

Your former friend I guess Zach is very funny...and he has a point too about you know who. But like you said its your blog.

Walt Bennett said...

Momo,

I'm right here and I don't speak in code.

How about you say what you have to say, to me directly?

Walt Bennett said...

I would also like to add that I find it interesting that I am taking criticism for commenting on a post about a conversation Red had with a white man.

Seems he's not afraid to just talk with people, no matter what their background, and see what each might learn from the other.

Which is why I'm a regular reader.

MoMo said...

Red, I'll go ahead and apologize ahead of time, for speaking my peace on your spot, but since Walt seems to be riding your jock more than his own blog, I just wanted make sure he got this message.
Well Walt you wanted me to speak directly to you just like I was speaking directly to Red when I posted on his blog about Zack's comments, well here I am. I can agree with or find any thing I like funny and all you can do is ASSume you know what I'm talking about. I love how you feel you can say anything, but all you are doing is reiterating exactly what Zack accused you of doing. I could give shit about what color you are white boy. You are the one who keeps bringing it up in every other sentence that you write. How about you just be an individual, just like me. That's real talk, feel free to continue this discussion, or act your age, because you are way older than me. Or then again maybe that's the problem, you still stuck in the past just like you still accusing us blacks of being. How bout that? I'm finished you can get with me on my blog. feel free..

Walt Bennett said...

Momo,

Chances are that Red would rather we continue this discussion elsewhere, and I have emailed you in order to do so.

Let me just say that in discussions such as this my skin color is relevant and so I make it clear up front for those who don't already know. Second, please quote for me where I've accused "blacks" of anything. Third, you refer to being "stuck in the past." My response would be, do all those young black men believe they are stuck in the past, or stuck in jail?

You may wonder why I care that so many young black men are in jail. You may think it's my flavor of the week. All I can say is, get to know me. As a citizen of this nation, I take it quite seriously when atrocities are committed, and my intent is to understand the problem as best I can so that I can be a part of the solution.

And I will ask you the same question I asked Zack: How exactly do we make progress, other than by talking to each other?

ghetto whiteboy said...

Ghetto whiteboy from Detroit.I might be wrong.but who sold the black man to the white man ? Heres where I'm coming from and hell no you ain't gonna like most of it. My daddy was a share cropper in the south before he came north to get a job.like every other poor person of any color.most of my hood was/is black/brown pimps,dealers,hookers.so you know where I'm real.being judge by your color first is a mother-fucker ain't right and ain't never gonna be right.I saw a picture in the paper today of 5 mildly disturb adults black and white laughing and doing no less the hokey poky !I thought right then who are the ones that are truly disturbed ? Now
Here's might real point about slavery! My friend had a tear in his eye when Obama was elected and rightly so. I felt very proud for him.I don't vote cause as long as money runs it,ain't nothing gonna be done for me ! So I started to pay attention. read about H.R bill 1388, called the give bill. It's whacked. it say its going to put all poor and minority kids in a camp with uniforms, will get a signature from the parents, nothing voluntary about it, Government going to teach them what they want and to snitch.Theres a plan in there for older people who are not working and not yet 64 years old.called a national service plan.I wish i could say this is all a lie ,but it ain't! Its a shame to see our first black man for president take us back to slavery.I agree with Jessie Jackson .when he said I should have cut his balls off.