According to some historians,
Afrodescendents first entered these united states in 1619 off the
coast of Virginia. If we believe that narrative, Afrodescendents
have been in this country for 400 years. If the people who were
kidnapped and brought here had to tell the story, would they tell the
same one? Would they say that we came before Columbus? That some of
us might have been here even longer? There were captured Africans
that came from the mother continent in 1619, but also, thanks to the
transatlantic slave trade, Africans here who had come from Bermuda,
Jamaica, and other places.
is this relevant? Because there is this misguided group of
Afrodescendants, who are throwing shade at those who are not
"American descendants of slaves" ADOS. Their shade is an
odd version of the "am I Black enough for you" game that
some folks ran against President Barack Obama, and are now running
against Presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Corey Booker.
What is Black enough, when we, Afrodescendant people, all have
enslavement in our background? Let's make it plain. Europeans went
to the African continents, kidnapped people (sometimes with African
acquiescence), brought them to the Western Hemisphere, and sold us.
Goods and people flowed between England (or New England, the
Americas, and Africa), including sugar, tobacco, manufactured
products, guns and humans. Understand that everyone in the triangle
was affected and that enslaved people were freely traded between the
United States and other parts of the Americas!
am not sure what kinds of warped brains dreamed up the realities of
enslavement and the ways that a minority in the South was able to
control a majority. The laws that managed enslavement included laws
that prevented literacy, ownership, and much else. The laws often
detailed the terms of punishment if restrictive conditions were
breached. A North Carolina law said, "teaching slaves to read
and write, tends to excite dissatisfaction in their minds, and to
produce insurrection and rebellion." Disobeying this law was
punishable by thirty-nine lashes or imprisonment for a free Black
person, or a fine of two hundred dollars then, or about $5000 now.
People violated the laws, of course, but the warped sensibility that
prohibited the dissemination of knowledge is the basis for many sick
stereotypes, such as "if you want to hide something from a Black
person, put it in a book."
four hundred years, or even two. Why are teachers in Louden County,
Virginia, forcing fifth and sixth-grade students to simulate
enslavement with an obstacle course they called "The Underground
Railroad"? Why were many of these students Afrodescendents?
Why are the leaders of the school silent about the discipline that
was ordered on the rogue teachers who took it upon their ignorant
selves to construct such an exercise? Why has David Stewart, the
principal of the Madison Trust School in Louden County, sent out a
vapid apology for a "culturally insensitive" exercise, and
not a more strongly worded condemnation of the racism implicit in
have been here at least 400 years, and still, some folks aren't clear
about the ways enslavement has shaped our nation. In Virginia, where
both the governor and the Attorney General (two of the top three
elected officials in the state) have admitted to masquerading in
Blackface, albeit thirty-odd years ago, teachers don't see anything
wrong with subjecting Black students to a reenactment of enslavement.
Oh, they said they were teaching "teamwork." Really.
have been here at least 400 years, and our nation is not yet clear
about its flawed foundations. There would be no house at 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue, which should not be called the White House, but
the House that Enslaved People Built, were it not for the labor of
kidnapped people and their descendants. There would be no banking
system if enslaved people were not used as collateral for European
devilment. There would be no insurance industry were it not for the
enslaved. But in our collective ignorance allows us, all of us,
African Americans, European Americans, and others, to live in denial,
pretending that there is fairness is a racist, patriarchal,
predatory, capitalist society.
have been here at least 400 years, but we still aren't clear about
the nonsense and exploitation that affects and infuses our very
foundation. Our entire nation needs to go back to school to learn
some history. But there is a special place in hell for teachers in
Louden County, Virginia who think that enslavement is some kind of