The State of Black America
There has been an orchestrated and subversive attempt to make the truth regarding enslavement of Black people go away. If there is not a wholesale removal of what really happened to Black people in America for nearly 400 years, then there is a minimization of its importance. Blacks are urged, mainly by our most successful Blacks, to forget the kidnapping of millions of our people from Africa and the horrible transatlantic passage, chattel slavery, Jim Crow and KKK terrorism, and all of the abuse and trauma that has occurred to us. In fact, there is a trade-off for the success for many Black people – it is called assimilation. The trade-off for many successful Blacks is that for their success and assimilation, they must move farther and farther away from acknowledging slavery and its impact on our people today.
When evaluating the state of Black America, we must look at the state of the entire 45 million population and not some small segment. When we measure our success through an individual lens, we are blinded by the plight of the majority of those that are not successful. Nearly 70 percent of Black families and their children live near, at, or below poverty levels and this population is growing and saddled with a significant and disproportionate level of economic pain and suffering. When we are misguided by the success of Black athletes or entertainers, by default, we burden the rest of the group with an ideology of inferiority and we remain ignorant to the conditions that have produced these unacceptable outcomes. We allow ourselves to be misled by those who claim to lead us.
The basic position I took in part one of this article is the Black community is a miracle, but only if you have a basic understanding of the Black Holocaust and a basic knowledge of the role that white supremacy has and continues to play in America. THE PROBLEM TODAY IS TOO MANY BLACK AND WHITE AMERICANS HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE BLACK HOLOCAUST, NOR DO THEY UNDERSTAND HOW IT ENDED.
The end of slavery was not as glamorous and intentional as history has falsely claimed. In fact, the end of slavery was an unintended consequence and I tried to focus on the fact that we need to know more about the ending of slavery so that we can truly evaluate the State of Black America. How much do we really know of what happened to the nearly six million Blacks after emancipation? THE SHEER MAGNITUDE AND SCALE OF THE BLACK HOLOCAUST IS NEVER CONSIDERED NOR IS IT FULLY APPRECIATED ESPECIALLY ON THE BLACK FAMILY.
What was life like in 1865 – 1900 for Black people and the now “retooled” Black family? How did Blacks, who had been enslaved all of their lives, make the transition to freedom? Do we even know what the transition even looked like? In spite of the remnants of a recent Holocaust, the road ahead for the majority of Black people would be even more trying. Many Black historians have described this period of uncertainty as brutally harsh, extreme and not even wanted by many. We all should be asking the question of what was the State of the Black Family at the End of Our Enslavement.
To say slavery was damaging to Black people is the biggest understatement that one could make. The end of slavery for Black people was the ending of one horror and the beginning of a new horror. Let us be very clear, there was so much damage done to Black people during slavery, with absolutely no support, our people were not only mentally and emotionally damaged, but they were physically ill as well. Reports state that we suffered so many physical ailments, it is a wonder that we even survived.
The very fact that there was no support for the psychological damage caused by our conditions is consistent with how America viewed Blacks then and now. America has swept this under the rug and today, with so much characteristic evidence of this damage, we still are told to “get over it.” How does one measure the organized, repeated, and extended trauma perpetuated against Black people throughout the chattel slavery creating the economic “cornerstone” on which all American wealth and power reside.
News Flash! It is real. The damage and trauma done to the Black man is real and without treatment, he will remain “sick.” We are passing the trauma from one generation to another without any knowledge of what we are doing. The very fact that there was no support for the purposeful psychological damage incurred is consistent with the perception of Blacks then and now. We are not human, so these things do not matter. America has swept this under the rug and today we see the consequences of this damage. Yet, we are told to “get over it.”
Dr. Joy Degruy Leary calls this “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” and states, “Trauma is an injury caused by an outside, usually violent, force, event or experience. We can experience this injury physically, emotionally. Psychologically, and/or spiritually. Trauma can upset our equilibrium and sense of well-being. If trauma is severe enough, it can distort our attitudes and beliefs. Such distortion often results in dysfunctional behaviors, which can in turn produce unwanted consequences. If one traumatic experience can result in distorted attitudes, dysfunctional behaviors and unwanted consequences, this pattern is magnified exponentially when a person repeatedly experiences severe trauma and it is much worse when the trauma is caused by human beings.”
The slave experience and the emancipation was a continual, violent attack on Black people’s bodies, minds and spirits. This freeing of Blacks was also a significant struggle on many levels and not taking into count that while this freedom was underway, the incidence of violent attacks was extremely high and many racists would adopt new strategies to inflict their pain on Blacks. Slavery morphed into a different look, but for years, it had the same lethal “sting” as the oppression of chattel slavery. Blacks not only had to address the many issues that this presented, but none were more than the economic damages and the damage to the Black family, which was by design.
The American institution of slavery was a business that operated on the oppression of the entire Black community, which successfully destroyed the traditional African family core values with a new emphasis placed on the physical reproduction of men and women with the intention of replacing emotions with animalistic relationships.
The family is the bedrock of society and this can be proven by the fact that all over the world, every society is structured by the same pattern. A man and woman marry and form a family. This process is repeated multiple times making multiple families which form villages, regions, and eventually countries. The foundation of this entire process is the family. The family has a crucial role in society by being a model of love in three different aspects; love for the children, love between husband and wife, and finally love in promoting moral values. This was totally imploded in the Black community. The design implemented by racist white slave-owners explicitly sought to destroy any resemblance of family with unspeakable acts that has no match in the history of man. A SYSTEM THAT DENIES A PEOPLE ITS FAMILY STRUCTURE, DENIES THE HUMANITY OF THAT PEOPLE.
Human rights such has marriages, family privileges, parental and child relationships were absolutely denied and discouraged in every physical and tactical way. Like animals, Blacks were no more than property and the buying and selling of Blacks was even more prevalent. Families were continuously separated under the most extreme circumstances. While Blacks adjusted and attempted to function as family, over time, these acts ultimately eroded any semblance of family life and the values that this institution would provide.
Blacks were treated like animals and bred like cattle. To the slave-owner and White America, the Black female was like a cow and the Black male was like a bull with the child like a calf and they were treated as if they were insensitive to pain and the emotions of love, fear, loneliness, and hurt. Millions of Blacks were born as the result of slave master’s brutal and forced union of Black male and female. Once born, the child was then sold and the mother and father would never see the child again. Because of this and other barbaric acts, there was a high level of suicide and massive levels of depression amongst Black woman.
After the abolishment of slavery, Blacks, in addition to so many other things, had to reteach and rebuild the family unit. This was extremely difficult, if not impossible, given what they had to work with.
Because we are visual people, we need to illustrate models of things that are important to our lives, especially the presence and protection of the father; the love and compassion of the mother; and the love relationship between children and their parents.
A man without his family is like a lion without his teeth; he has the heart and he has the power, but he cannot overcome his prey. A woman without her family is like a bird with broken wing; her ability to fly is inhibited. Worst yet, a child without his family is like a ship caught on rough seas without a rudder.
In part four I will continue to articulate the carnage and the aftermath of emancipation as I try to connect the dots to the state of Black America today.