Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Cost of Slavery

There can be no doubt that slavery has existed throughout history from the very beginning of mankind. Nations needed labor in order to grow their economies, and those in charge resorted to whatever course of action it would take to use people within their immediate vicinity, country or wherever the closest place of finding labor could be acquired.

From Rome, the occupation of England (Britannica) and other countries under its rule labor was needed and taken. Only those with education would have the chance of avoiding this fate.

It’s an unfortunate truth, but it’s how civilizations have advanced throughout history. As nations evolved these practices became outlawed. However none can be so evident as the development of the United States. This can be traced back to the early 1500’s. Immigrants were brought in from all parts of eastern Europe and as the American continent started to grow after a very gloomy beginning, it was rampant from South America to the North, the West Indies became the largest place of trading before it started in the U.S. itself.  The tobacco fields of Virginia became the reason for the massive growth of the import of African slaves to this country.

It was big business primarily dominated by the Spanish then other nations joined in to the profitable business. The first English sponsored support took place in the reign of Charles ll in 1660 and was finally abolished by British parliament in 1807. There were also independent smugglers, who were personal profiteers too. After the tobacco industry flourished in Virginia, it also became business for the Carolinas. In the deep South, the Southern States grew their business in cotton, and with the discovery of cotton gin the trade grew at an alarming rate. At its height there was around 4 million African slaves working in unthinkable conditions from ‘sun up’ to ‘sun down’ six days a week.

The conditions provided were unthinkable, and many died from disease and malnutrition. The stories of brutality are too numerous to mention. How this form of work could be allowed under such conditions is unthinkable. After the civil war in 1865, on 31 January the thirteenth amendment was ratified and slavery was abolished. However many in the Southern states opposed the new law and continued their ways as many of the owners had seats in congress and the North didn’t wish to impose its will on a defeated South.

Each State had its own rules and with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in 1865 it was made harder to impose justice and equality. The KKK died out in the 1870’s but resurrected itself again in in 1915. However a strict undercurrent existed and it reemerged again in the 60’s, where in response the Black community started the Black Panther movement started in Oakland in order to stand up for Black rights.  The Watts riots from an arrest made on August 11th 1965 triggered a firestorm of riots and protests. Black people feeling that they had no rights resulted in this going across the nation. Police brutality played a part. There’s no doubt that the KKK have played a significant role in impeding the integration of the Black culture into todays world. The 1960’s was clearly the outburst of the Black people feeling they had no rights under the constitution and a ten point request was made by the Black Panther movement in order to proclaim justice. The 60’s left some serious scars, which still have not been healed to this very day.

After 1865 for those in the Black community who were now free and made their way North it was difficult for them to integrate with the Whites. In the South where they were offered a pittance for their work, racial prejudice still survived. After watching the movie series ‘ROOTS’, I wept at the injustice, this is I why I felt a need to respond in this blog.

When I arrived here on June 9 1967 after being born and raised in England. I was under contract to work for the then General Dynamics, in Fort Worth, Texas. I had no clue of this history. I arrived slam-dunk in the middle of all this and could not believe the amount of racial prejudice I was faced with. Not having all the facts I chose to keep a neutral opinion, but with time I came to know what only could be a brain washing that had to be passed down from white families generation to generation, and the same for those in the Black community. It was however very clear there was an extreme undercurrent of feeling, which I had not found later in the North, Canada, and certainly not where I grew up in England. After some heated conversations where I was called a ‘nigger lover’, I chose to keep my mouth shut, but did I have an opinion, yes I certainly did and still do! In the year after I arrived there was the sad demise of Martin Luther King, and it seems only then that the nation as a whole changed, but after one hundred years, when freedom was given to all Blacks, couldn’t get my head around that? Even unto this very day that feeling is still felt, but I must gladly say to a far better and lesser extent.

Scene from Ferguson, Missouri during the aftermath of the shooting of Mike Brown.

Recent riots in Ferguson Missouri are only a shadow of the past.  So what’s the solution? Time of course, but if I was a Black person I would beg borrow and steel to educate myself, ‘metaphorically speaking of course’. Should more have been done to consider the Black populations service through slavery to this country been given? Undoubtedly yes. With time and patience this has been improved but in my opinion not as much as could have been done.  So what remains for the Black community to do today? Is to fight harder, work harder, because everyone and anyone need’s good people. Be the best, never quit and show the world that your forefathers didn’t die in vain! Your lives today must be the very essence of redemption for those Africans who were dragged here against their will, treated like animals, bought and sold like an animals, must now shake off the unbelievable injustice, as other nations have through history. Turn those ‘SCARS INTO STARS’, honor the teachings of Martin Luther King, and show the world you have talents as good as any white man or anyone else, and better? Stop blaming today's generation, they are no more at fault than you. It’s all about today, and tomorrow we can make a difference. Yes easier said than done, but many an immigrant has hit these shores penniless, Black people included and have shown themselves and the world around them that they too can be the best and set an example for others. Then all of their forefathers and yours too can sing and say it was all worth it in the end.
President Obama is the first Black U.S. President to deliver the Commencement at Morehouse College.

My conclusion is, that this is the true and only legacy. Your faith and belief in God, and God only knows the faith your forefathers must have had in order for you to be here today is unbelievable and unquestionable! Embrace this gift of life and don’t waist another minute on blaming the passed. Change your paradigm; remember your forefather’s genes live on in you. We still live in a world where injustice is alive and well, child labor, forced prostitution, the mutilation of women and disrespect, in third world countries, and so on. Life may not be perfect in America, but it sure beats the hell out of any other country I've ever lived in! I truly believe more must be done through education to balance the playing field among all of us who are Americans first and foremost.