by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
The following is in response to an article emailed to me by a Ms. Burnette that was copied from a New York Times Article featuring Henry Louis Gates. The article appears below. My comments are first. Read the article below first in order to understand where I’m coming from. Thanks, GDW
I grow tired of the “blame the victim” missages (yes, I said “missages”, not messages — because they are miss-leading info) that we get from our erudite, but not always on target brother. Frankly, I like Prof. Gates. But, as far as I’m concerned, he is not the end-all/be-all when it comes to African/American issues. He definitely has a place and a role, but I think we must be vigilant when it starts to sound more like what the whites are saying than the whites.
I do not like the blame the victim trend of thought we seem to be following lately. It’s especially onerous when the circumstances of the victim is couched in modern mis-interpretations, deliberately overlooking the victim’s lack of sophistication, or understanding of the underlying motivations of a group of predators so skilled in the decimation of whole civilizations for their own rapacious pleasure which is what the invading Europeans who hit Africa like the bubonic plague were.
If Africans “had a hand in the slave trade,” it was due their lack of understanding of the ramifications of the situation. And the invading whites were good for taking advantage of the innocence, good will and ignorance of the people, and used it against them in so many instances.
Like the American Indians in the US, or the indigenous people “discovered” by Columbus, when a tribe vanquished another tribe, they were first subjugated to ignominious tasks and humiliation by the conquering tribe. Generally, however, they later intermarried into the tribe and they all became one. That was the tradition in Africa, in the Caribbean; in Japan; in China; Saudi Arabia, and so many other FIRST WORLD CULTURES. It was how things were done. Some were “sold” into slavery in the peripheral biblical countries. Some were sent to Rome, Spain, Greece, etc. But most of the African tribes active in the trade were not ever aware of the heinous, hideous, nefarious, evil, sinister, debasing, denigrating (can’t say enough bad things about it — because, truth be told, we are still subjected to the same underlying racism) that whites — German, French, BRITISH, American (a/k/a British) Danish, subjected us to via the trans-Atlantic Slave trade, and chattel slavery.
And don’t you dare ever, ever, try to say that Black people had a material hand in the resulting 400 years we endured once we were stolen from the Motherland. (read Stolen Legacy)
Do they owe us? YES!!!!! BIG TIME!!! And they know it. They’ve been trying to duck that responsibility for quite some time. That’s why Lincoln was assassinated. That’s how Johnson became president — he was a southerner that stood for the status quo, rolling back what Lincoln had done. Rutherford B. Hayes actually sealed the deal in dismantling Lincoln’s benevolence.
Fast forward to now, and there is a debate as to whether or not they can do for us what they did for the Japanese and some of the other entities they try to curry favor with They owe us and they owe Africa – big time. The theft of service happened both during and after. And the Rape of Africa continues — in case you haven’t noticed, while at the same time African Americans are still undergoing the remnants of Racism — from substandard housing, ecological racism, substandard education; to the lack of job opportunities, racial profiling, prison industrial military programs, etc.
Yet they can figure out how to repay us. If they can figure out how to wage a war over nothing, they can figure out how to repay us for 400 years. It’s quite simple. They can construct two mega million dollar baseball stadiums in a city that had material complicity in the evisceration of Main Street, while their Wall Street robberymen get away with murder; they can definitely figure out a way to make sure that we receive reparations.
In fact, I’ll make it simple. Give each and every African American who is now living in the U.S. (what is it, 32+ million of us?) $1 million tax free dollars each (upon completion of a post-traumatic slave debriefing, and specific level of education/training for those who have not finished school; and financial literacy for those who have); and one 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house with one car. The reparation can begin now and go over a 10 year period. That, plus the education program kind of levels the playing field. The tax free angle keeps it from being gobbled up by the system; and the financial education means we learn how to manage our money and make sure we use it wisely and invest it intelligently. Three bedrooms, two bath rooms and a car replaces the 40 acres and a mule. Notice I said each person, not each family. The individual must be of legal age to be eligible (18 years).
It’s just that simple. We don’t need algorithms; we don’t need actuarial scientists; it ain’t rocket science folks. And if we stop the stupid war with Iraq, we would most definitely have the money to do that, underwrite the new health laws, as well as put together an educational system that truly EDUCATES all Americans.
But tt’s too easy to try to shuffle along and put the blame on the victim; while the victim in turn continues to duck and dodge the issue; and the slave traders’ progeny continues to profit from our misery.
I, for one am tired of hearing this. Read Tom Burrell’s Brainwashed. That might clarify the amount of propaganda we are subjected to on an ongoing basis. Read Joy Degruy Leary’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome; how about from Slavery to Freedom by Lerone Bennet? Study J.A. Rogers “World’s Great Men of Color,” WEB duBois (anything and everything he writes is golden); Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson. We need to re-educate ourselves. We need to stop allowing them to slide out from under their very real culpability, past and present, that still pervades this country.
African Americans need to wake up and inform themselves Pull out all those old, original books that were honestly written by Black men and women who lives were on the line, but made it their business to tell the truth.
I don’t ever remember there being any signs, placards, books or ads written by Africans in any African language or dialect inviting whites in to come to Africa and buy human Black slaves to take back to America or England to torture, rape, castrate, and hang. Don’t remember there ever being any such friendship between the chiefs and the white marauders — the chiefs were as likely to be killed as the people they ruled. Don’t remember there ever been any floor plans designed by Africans whereby they diagrammed how to lay their people end to end on top of each other so that more of them could fit in the vessel, so in case one of them didn’t make it, they could be thrown overboard and still have enough cargo to realize a profit. If you come across any documentation of the sort, I would certainly like to see it.
And stop trying to make President Obama the scapegoat in this issue. Yes he has a role to play, but you’re not going to dump all this on his shoulders without him having the full weight of the information before him as well. The President is a very intelligent brother. His sense of history runs a lot deeper than a few clippings in a publication that has spent most of its time trying to vilify him and his efforts. Additionally, this takes all of us reading from the same page, so to speak to make it work for all of us.
Frankly, I think it’s time to either start Saturday Schools or Sunday Sessions where we as a people across the nation begin to reacquaint ourselves, our history, our cross cultural similarities (i.e. where did all those boats that shipped us from Africa land, and how are we similar and how are we different. We need to begin reconnecting our fragmented history now. If we start now, we can have a compendium of ECLECTIC BLACK HISTORY that will debunk the lies and begin the system of communication to get us reunited –Africans/African-American/African-Jamaicans/African-Trinidadians/African-Haitians/African-Caribbeans/African-Brazilians/African-Venezuelans/African-Guyanese/African-Martiniquans/African-St. Lucians/African-Asians, and on and on and on.
There is a healing needed. We have to do it from the inside out. Of course we deserve reparations. We deserve apologies. We deserve all of that and more. But we also have to look at the fact that as a result of the horrors we’ve endured, we’ve been the subject of our own self-hatred. As such, we have to forgive ourselves and each other and begin to work together to heal ourselves.
I appreciate Dr. Gates tracing of our various ancestral lines. I think we do need to know where we emanated from. But, given the fact that we were forcefully “bred” during our enslavement, it really doesn’t matter in the long run. If we decide on a particular tribe we want to affiliate with in Africa, we should be able to be welcomed into that family source. They can’t prove us wrong. If we use what we know to help Africa get back on her feet, we should be welcome regardless of what the tribal underpinnings are (of course I know that many of our brothers and sisters there are a long way away from such considerations; but perhaps this is one of the other focal points we need to be looking at). Neither of us can afford to continue wallowing in our ignorance, allowing others to make pronouncements and decisions for us.
It really does all begin with us. We have to make the first steps. We have to make sure that we are as knowledgeable about who we are as anyone who sets out to define us (white or Black). And if it does not move us forward as a people, we have the responsibility to keep digging. Or decide to redefine ourselves in such a way that it has the maximum benefit for us as ECLECTICALLY BLACK PEOPLE of the World. But we most definitely and assuredly deserve reparations, and no flimsy rationalization of some African involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade mitigates the debt owe us by the miscreants who started it. They benefited, now we deserve compensation.
Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist who is new to the bullet. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com