Black History Fun Fact Friday – Eugenics and The Caged Man

black-history1

Welcome back to another episode of Black History Fun Fact Friday. It’s been a long time and we have a lot to cover today.

If you’re new to this blog or this segment be sure to visit the BHFFF page HERE for more EPs.


The Caged Man

Mbuti or Bambuti are one of the several indigenous pygmy groups in the Congo region of Africa. One famous Congolese Mbuti, who was made famous in a horrific way, committed suicide 100 years ago. On May 20, 1916, Ota Benga put a gun to his heart and pulled the trigger. Depression and sadness are modest terms we use to understand the spirits that troubled him. But who was he and why is knowing his story important in our time?

In the early 1900s, a “businessman” (more appropriately speaking a slave trader) named Samuel Verner, tasked with the responsibility of acquiring pygmies for a cultural evolution display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, encountered Benga in 1904. Paid by the St. Louis Exposition Company a year earlier to hunt men instead of monkeys, he was to bring African Pygmies to America for the St. Louis World Fair.

Ota’s family were killed by a Belgium militia group who set out to control the natives of that land for the large supply of rubber in the Congo. Ota had a wife and two children who were killed in such raids on villages and survived because he was on a hunting mission. To make a long story short, Ota was kidnapped and taken to America by Samuel along with other pygmies who were kidnapped as well and brought to America.

572b8ba64bbc6.image

Clockwise from top left: Ota Benga at the Bronx Zoo holding a chimpanzee. An article from the New York Times announcing the new exhibit at the zoo. Another photo from the zoo of Ota Benga and the chimpanzee. The Reverend James Gordon who protested Ota being exhibited in the monkey house and who took custody of him after he was released.

Benga’s physical appearance, as is most Mbuti, astonished onlookers who immediately compared him to an animal, specifically for his short stature and razor-sharp teeth. Displays of humans were very common in the early 20th century to prove the theory of the evolution of man. Most specifically, men and women of color from the Eastern part of the world were used as examples of the lower class of humans and often put on display. They were usually those with abnormal features and deformities. It’s no surprise then that Ota and his fellow men became an instant attraction. Ota’s personality was also said to have been lively and the men attracted spectators wherever they went until Ota was eventually caged at a Bronx Zoo in 1906. He eventually became fond, allegedly, of a monkey and so began The Caged Man in the Monkey House.

Identity

Ota’s story is worth telling because Africa is a continent with over fifty countries and comprise many different people and cultures. There are just as many cultures and nationalities of people as there are languages and just as many languages as there are colors. But when you group a people together and call them “Blacks” you deny them their right to heritage and nationhood, because Black does not properly define a people. While I use these terms (Black, African American) for understanding sake, the Bible says nothing about race, nor is the word or concept of different “races” found in the Bible at all (See Gen Ch 10) despite the fact that the term has been used to cause divisions among man. More appropriately, some of the Black “races” of the world are Israelites, some of them Egyptians, Ethiopians, Ghanaians, Senegalese, Congolese, Libyans and so forth. Thus, this story is important to the understanding of identity as well as the medical field and how it fits in with the racial oppression of Blacks in America going back for centuries.

Eugenics

Contrary to popular belief, Eugenics did not start with Margaret Sanger and The American Birth Control League but the concept started much earlier.

Coined by the cousin of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Eugenics comes from the Greek word eugenes, meaning “well-born.” It is a racist scientific process that set out to prove, through alleged psychological and medical evidence, the inferiority of Blacks. From 1924 – 1936, thirteen states in the U.S. utilized Eugenics programs that ranged from isolating those deemed “feeble-minded” from the general population to forced sterilization.

“When the infamous German eugenic sterilization initiative began in January 1934, seventeen U.S. states were already performing sterilizations routinely, and that year between two thousand and four thousand Americans were sterilized. Indiana passed legislation requiring the sterilization of the mentally unfit in 1907. By 1911, six states had passed laws providing compulsory sterilization of the mentally unfit. In 1935, twenty-seven states had such laws for the feeble-minded, those on welfare, or those with genetic defects. Forced sterilization was made legal in the infamous 1927 Buck vs Bell.” (Medical Apartheid, Harriet Washington, The Black Stork, pp 202)

Galton, in short, took Darwin’s philosophies and ideas on Evolution and put them into practice in what became known as Eugenics. He proposed that the poor, the sick, the weak and the untalented should be prevented from multiplying. Leonard Darwin, Darwin’s son, was also one of the supporters and proponents of eugenics in Britain. Galton maintained that the principle of the “survival of the fittest” had to be complied with and that only the strongest should be allowed to participate in the world.

“… modern eugenics thought arose in the nineteenth century. The emergence of interest in eugenics during that century had multiple roots. The most important was the theory of evolution, for Francis Galton’s ideas on eugenics – and it was he who created the term “eugenics” – were a direct logical outgrowth of the scientific doctrine elaborated by his cousin, Charles Darwin.” – Ludmerer, Eugenics, In: Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Edited by Mark Lappe, New York: The Free Press, 1978, p. 457

A reviewer of the time said:

“After 1859, the evolutionary schema raised additional questions, particularly whether or not Afro-Americans could survive competition with their white near-relations. The momentous answer was a resounding no…. The African was inferior—he represented the missing link between ape and Teuton.”

John C. Burnham, Science, Vol. 175, February 4, 1972, p. 506.

Nineteenth Century scientists were convinced that the white race (something that doesn’t actually exist) were superior to other races and that this superiority can be found in Darwinian Theory. One key person in the perpetuation of this was Thomas Huxley who said: “No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man.”

And while Darwin claimed to be opposed to slavery and the horrors of the brutality, his own words are questionable. He presumed that man evolved from ape-like creatures and surmised that some races developed more than others:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.” – Charles Darwin: Life and Letters, I, letter to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, p. 316; cited in Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (London, Chatto and Windus, 1959), p. 343.

 And of course, the most debated statement of all:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes… will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. – Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed., New York: A.L. Burt Co., 1874, p. 178

In short, it is a fact that White Supremacists supported Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and used it to further racism. For them, the white race had, in short, moved up the evolutionary ladder and was destined to eliminate the other races in the struggle to survive.

Certain African Americans are not to be excluded. Many prominent Blacks also supported Eugenics. Fisk University’s first Black President and critical contributor to The Harlem Renaissance Charles S. Johnson, said that “Eugenic discrimination was necessary for blacks” and that “the high maternal and infant mortality rates, along with diseases like tuberculosis, typhoid, malaria and venereal infection, made it difficult for large families to adequately sustain themselves.” – Charles S. Johnson, A Question of Negro Health, The Birth Control Review, June 1932, 167-169

He later became an integral part of Margaret Sanger’s Negro Project, but he’s not the only one, many blacks agreed. According to Margaret Sanger’s most infamous quote:

“The most successful approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal….we do not want word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the one who can straighten out that idea if it occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Sanger said this in a 1939 letter where she outlined her plan to reach out to black leaders — specifically ministers — to help dispel community suspicions about the family planning clinics she was opening in the South. It must be noted that Sanger was not the progenitor of this idea but reaching out to ministers and black leaders in the community was the idea of another very prominent man.

“The mass of ignorant Negros still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.”

– National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Founder, W.E.B. Dubois, The Birth Control Review, 1932, Black Folk and Birth Control, pp 166

Dubois went on to say that the Black community were open to “intelligent propaganda of any sort”, and “the American Birth Control League and other agencies ought to get their speakers before church congregations and their arguments in the Negro newspapers.” It worked. Black pastors invited Sanger to speak to their congregations. Black publications, like The Afro-American and The Chicago Defender, featured her writings and the lines between Eugenics and Birth Control became blurred.

Sanger merged the Southern Clinics, the Clinical Research Bureau and The American Birth Control League, to form the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA) and recruited black leadership as Dubois and others advised. Soon, BCFA clinics started popping up in poor black neighborhoods. The first clinic was The Bethlehem Center in urban Nashville, Tennessee (where blacks constituted only 25 percent of the population and no one made more  than $15 a week), opened on February 13, 1940, and the second opened in rural Berkeley County, South Carolina. This site was chosen because South Carolina had been the second state to make limitations on the number of children part of its state public health program after a survey revealed 25 percent of infant deaths occurred in mothers deemed unfit for pregnancy. (These terms: Unfit, Feeble-minded, Poor, Poverty Stricken, Urban, Welfare, Disease Stricken, and the like have been used as code words to refer to the so-called African American since the end of Chattel Slavery.)

“The BCFA members voted unanimously at a special January 29, 1942, meeting to change the organization’s name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. By then, BCFA had 34 state league affiliates. The state leagues followed suit in changing their name and bylaws. Particularly, the New York State Federation for Planned Parenthood’s old bylaws stipulated that the object was: To develop and organize on sound eugenic, social and medical principles, interest in and knowledge of birth control throughout the State of New York as permitted by law [emphasis added]. The new bylaws replaced birth control with planned parenthood. Eugenics was dropped in 1943 because of its unpopular association with the German government’s race-improving eugenics theories.”

Robert G. Marshall and Charles A. Donovan, Blessed are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 24-25.

joice-Heth1

Joice Heth, enslaved African woman whose birthplace was reported to be on the isle of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. She was boldly advertised as “the 161 year old nursemaid to George Washington when he was an infant, The Father of Our Country to be.” – Bethel Historical Society

This brings us back to Ota Benga and others like him. Physicians and Scientists were dependent on slavery not just for economic reasons but also for clinical material. Even after chattel slavery had ended, persons like Saartjie Baartman, the first video vixen if you will, Henry Moss, whose leprosy prompted him to exhibit himself, Joice Heth, who racists claimed was the 161-year-old “Mammy” of George Washington and many others were put on display, to argue the “inferiority” and “animalistic” behavior of Blacks.

Finally, Ota’s story is important also to the understanding of the Institution of Chattel Slavery beyond the cotton fields, for in knowledge of what the business of slaveholding was like is a deeper understanding of the magnitude of its influence on American Society. The Slave Market and the “business” of owning slaves was about more than Plantation Life but was a very well thought out and strategic system that bled into every fabric of American life.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including work in progress and short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at  yecheilyahysrayl.com. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

Advertisements

The Harlem Renaissance No One Talks About – Guest Post by, Yecheilyah Ysrayl…

For some reason I can’t reblog from my mobile anymore.

However, that’s not why you’re here…

Do be sure to check out my latest article on The Story Reading Ape Blog at the link below. We are covering some basic history on The Harlem Renaissance movement, to include what no one talks about.

Click through to the original post at the link below.

http://wp.me/p3mGq7-guo

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Renaissance and if you’ve read it, and you’re so obliged to do so, I’d be honored if you could leave an honest review!

 

Thanks,

Yecheilyah 💕

GET OUT

This is probably the most powerful movie out right now, specifically for the African American and I highly recommend it. This is not conspiracy theory, political, militant, or a religious type deal here and its even a step deeper than racism itself. This is real. I won’t go into it now because I want to give you a chance to go and see it. I’ll just say this: the movie is symbolic of the traumatic experience that black people have been subjected to in America since we got here. Your mind has been put into subjection since the moment you stepped foot into this land and the exposure of such high-level witchcraft is present in this movie. You have been under a spell since stepping foot on these shores. Or from the movie’s perspective, since you’ve stepped foot into that house.

Carter G. Woodson said that once you control a man’s mind you do not have to worry about his actions. You don’t have to tell him to go to the backdoor. Control his mind enough and he will carve one out for his special benefit. Why? Because his education makes it necessary.

The silent auction itself was very powerful. What is a silent auction and what is it symbolic of? Where do modern auctions of today descend from? Oh, so you think there just happens to be people bidding on paintings and furniture and that just came from, what? And what is silence? Silence is representative of a secret, something being done without someone else knowledge. Something hidden. What are they trying to tell you is still going on? Why did Martin Luther King Jr., say that he ran into people who had never seen money? Farming, but have never seen money? This thing is real. Watch the movie.

If you have not already read The Willie Lynch Letter, I recommend that too. Read that and then watch this movie and we’ll talk about it later.

I won’t say anymore, I’ll wait. Go see it. It’s worth the money.

“Black people are viewed as pawns in an international game of control and manipulation, and our worldwide misuse is an accepted by-product of business as usual.”

– Haki R. Madhubuti
The Psychological Racial Personality, Bobby E. Wright

Race and Rights

Malcolm-X-about-men

When did race and rights become separate entities? Since when has the black problem in America not have to do with both race and rights? Dare you walk the streets of the 1920s and 40s and 50s with your prophet scented blood and expect to transgress the law of separatist signage. That “Whites Only” sign ain’t there by mistake. The one that says Negroes like you must order from the back door. Yo money may be colored like your skin but green has always been worth more than brown. I don’t like to have to go back to slavery. After all, it ain’t like I lived it and yet I can never forget what it feels like. But since we on the subject of feeling, I’m feeling like the same blood pulsing underneath my ancestors skin now pulses through mine so what they felt I feel it too. Perhaps I too was a slave long ago and its just taken me this long to find my voice. So therefore, let me tell you something about what it means to be a slave. A slave is never granted the same rights as a free man, not a physical slave or a psychological one. An inferior race is never granted the same rights as a superior one. Thus anything that’s got to do with rights has also got to do with race. For the Black problem in America has always been centered around identity and always will be. Rights would have never been a problem if the problem wasn’t race. If the hierarchy of the superior and the less superior didn’t exist. If black people never walked around with bywords and proverbs tattooed on their skins there wouldn’t have been a need for them to watch movies in the Nigger Heaven1 of southern movie theaters. Would have been no need of me taking my seat alongside Miss Parks or Miss Morgan all them years ago. A Black Man’s rights and his race are always connected here, like the careful structure of his bones before he emerges from his mother’s womb. It’s the yearn for freedom written in his DNA. Black America’s rights have always and always will be centered around their identity because their problem is not physical it is spiritual. And because a spiritual problem has been long fought with physical weapons the condition of black people in America continue. And so their fight has always been and always will be centered around their freedom.

1. Nigger heaven, n. a designated place, usually the balcony, where blacks were forced to sit, for example, in an integrated movie theater or church as part of Jim Crow Laws.

Week #4: Interracial Blog Feature – Beyond The Colored Line with Andre Wells + Special Gifts!

interracial

 

Since this is the final interview I will skip through the semantics and get straight to the point.

 

 

 

The Interracial Blog Feature was inspired by my new book, “Beyond The Colored Line”, and was created as a means to foster a better understanding of diverse relationships. Not just between  whites and blacks but between all diverse relationships.

Today, we welcome a special guest in as our final interviewee. I didn’t know initially that both he and his wife wanted to be interviewed and being I did have an extra spot left you can imagine my excitement. Help me to welcome Andre Wells, husband to Allison Wells from last weeks segment, to the blogosphere.

EC: Well hello there Mr. Wells. As our first and only male guest I appreciate your boldness in letting me interview you! I was starting to think this was a woman thing LOL. So, you know the routine, can you give the racial background of you and your wife for the record and how long you’ve been together?

AW: Hello EC. My name is Andre Wells and I am African American and my wife is Hispanic and Caucasian. We’ve been together for about 12 years, Married almost 10.

EC: Excellent. Now, the character in my book, Stella May, is what the people of her era deem a mulatto, that is, she is of mixed ancestry. You have children who are biracial. What advice would you give to fathers of mixed children on how to deal with the stigmas that are often placed to them?

AW: Be honest with your children about who they are and the struggles they may have to face. Teach them how to respond to stigmas and challenges.

EC: I like that, “teach them how to respond to stigmas and challenges”. Speaking of challenges, what are some challenges that interracial couples deal with that couples of the same race may not have to deal with?

AW: Some people think I am over dominant over my wife or feel the woman must be the head of house because the black man must not be that responsible.

5143497-120875522_3-v1

EC: Interesting. There is a big controversy within the black community concerning role reversal or the topic of submission and authority in general.

Mr. Wells, when African-Americans and Whites marry, there is more likely to be an African-American husband and a white wife. In fact, 73 percent of all African-American and White marriages have this setup. In your personal opinion, since you would know more than any of our guests! As a black man, and your experience with Interracial Relationships, what do you think attracts other ethnicities to black men?

AW: Black men are unique. Unique in our looks; unique in the way we carry ourselves; even the way we raise our families. In most cases white women want black men but don’t want the stigmas that come along with it.

EC: Wow. Speaking of black men, I hear a lot of black people, women in particular, accusing other blacks of being “sell outs” when they date outside their race. Have you or your wife ever had the misfortune of the title and why do you think this is?

AW: I’ve heard that term in reference to relationships such as mine. I think it stems from feeling betrayed, jealousy, misunderstanding and some just down right racism.

EC: Speaking of opinions, a lot of people discern that blacks who speak with a professional tongue are trying to sound white. I speak from experience. My husband is not white but he’s very educated and he grew up in a diverse city as well where the majority of people in the town were white. Of the blacks present, he was teased by them a lot for his speech. They said that he sounded, “White”. As a man married to a “bi-racial” woman, what are your thoughts on this?

AW: Black men / women who have to live in a world where success is often based on one’s professionalism and ability to communicate properly, some may face scrutiny when trying to present themselves as respectable individuals in society.

EC: Mr. Wells I am enjoying this interview I must say. Now, speaking of speech, I’ve always wondered about the conversations between interracial couples concerning the ongoing racial tensions surrounding blacks and whites. Are there any moments when you and your wife disagree with a subject that is race related? If so, how do you deal with that?

AW: For the most part we understand and agree concerning each others racial differences. We look to the bible to help us have knowledge of who we are and that generally relieves any confusion we may have.

EC: Speak brother speak! Hope I’m not offending anyone out there, yall know I’m silly hee hee. So loving this interview right now yaass LOL. Were almost done though. Any time before 1967 your relationship would technically be illegal. How does that make you feel today with the knowledge that you’ve chosen to be with someone outside of your race?

Photo Credit: Copyright© Andre and Allison Wells. Used with permission.

AW: I didn’t have knowledge of who I was when I met Allison. But even so, I didn’t even begin to discriminate or allow race to determine who or how I love someone. To me, those days demonstrated racism and racism restricts people from fulfilled lives.

EC: Indeed. Andre, I want to thank you again for being part of this series, it has truly been a pleasure. If there is one form of advice you would give to people still struggling to accept Interracial Relationships, what would it be?

AW: Know that not every “interracial relationship” is joined together because they deny their own or even prefer another race. Some are actually together; love enjoins them and friendship maintains them.

EC: Can I ask you that same question again? I need you to repeat your answer for the record lol. No, seriously, in closing, as someone who has been married for some time, name one thing that has kept your relationship going.

AW: A relationship together in spirit and in truth.

EC: Thank you Mr. Wells, it has truly been a pleasure.

AW: Anytime.

***

It is unusual for me not to put much thought into scheduling Mr. Well’s interview last, simply because I tend to plan everything (well, mostly everything). From the dates I choose to release my books to a subject as complex as this one, nothing I ever do hardly come without reason or significance. That said however, I didn’t put much thought into scheduling Mr. Wells interview last. But as I reflect on his answers, I am thankful for how this series has ended. His answers, in my opinion, summed everything up very nicely. I love how he brought in the bible and spoke concerning identity. What people must understand is that when I bring up these kinds of topics it is not about white or black. I am not trying to unite a color of people. It is not, then, about blacks or whites; it is about identity and nationhood.

Contrabands_at_Headquarters_of_General_Lafayette_by_Mathew_BradyIt’s been a long ride for our people here in the America’s; from slavery, to Jim Crow, to racism, imprisonment, police brutality, the list goes on. Black people are the only group of people whose nationality changes with the census. They are the only people who cannot trace their lineage back to their natural heritage. If there is any people on the face of the earth more discriminated against than they, more despised and more afflicted then they please, inform me. They are such; the African American is, because their problem is not physical. Being deeper than racism itself, their problem is spiritual. If African Americans can begin to search deeper into the question of “Who am I and what is my purpose?” Then race and the concept of black and white in general will eventually fade. As I have stated on this blog plenty of times and as I will continue to state, I use black and white as terms for understanding, but I do not consider it my nationality. Black is, after all, a color but it does not define nationhood.

I want to thank everyone so much who has taken the time to support this series, either as interviewees or as interactions. I know it touched someone somewhere and for that I am thankful.

As a token of my appreciation for those who have opted to share a piece of themselves with us, I have a special gift.

6482435-120875522_3-v1

Over the course of my writing career I have published a number of books and I have carefully chosen a few of them (the ones I think are the best lol) and placed them here. I want you (Interviewees) to each choose which book you would like to have and I will mail it to you at no cost. I am a hard-copy type person so your book will be a hard-copy. It is my way of saying thank you. Choose any one of these you like and email me your mailing address (Please visit the website to see what each book is about. I don’t want to list it here to preserve space on an already lengthy post. Just click on each book as if you were buying it and it shows what each is about):

Stella Book #2

26372935

Stella Book #1

Stella front

Pearls Before Swine Vol #1 (a play)

PBS bc front

From Girlhood to Womanhood (poetry)

Yecheilyah-72dpi-1500x2000-e-book

In Case You Missed It:

The Interracial Blog Feature – Interviews Beyond The Colored Line:

Week #1
Week #2
Week #3
Week #4

Slavery and Affliction: The Difference Between

dylan-roof-in-custody

10 weeks ago, in Charleston North Carolina, an unarmed black man (Walter Scott) was shot in the back. The footage was caught on video. Today, his murderer sits in a cell next to last weeks Charleston Shooter, as many are now calling him. After killing 9 people, Dylan Roof went on the run and was caught 16 hours later by Law Enforcement. Once captured, FBI began to question Roof. Shortly after that, according to a statement given to the Charlotte Observer, they took Roof to Burger King because he said that he was hungry.

uptown_freddie_gray

Two months ago, 25 year old black man, Freddie Gray, was arrested by police, taken into custody, and critically injured in the transporting van. He fell into a coma and died due to injuries to his Spinal Cord. His death would lead to ongoing protest in downtown Baltimore. Pending further investigation into the incident, the six suspected police would be suspended… with pay.

*****

I know it annoys a lot of people, the constant conversations about blacks and race. The constant eruption of discussion concerning racist whites against blacks. The constant pushing forth of articles and posts concerning the relationship between these groups of people. At some point in History, every nation of people have experienced some form of racism within the context in which we know it. Specifically, when we talk about blacks in America, the subject of slavery often accompany the explanation concerning our captivity and struggles here. You’d be hard pressed to sit in on a conversation that does not include that part of history. What people who are not black, however, must understand is that it is not just about slavery. The institution itself was very traumatic for our people and has had, as a result, a dramatic effect on us so much so that it leaves a mental stain even until this day. However, this alone does not make our story unique, though it plays a pivotal  role. Just as other nations have been discriminated against, other nations too have seen some form of slavery (though not to the extent of our confinement). This is the commonality of our servitude. The difference however, is this:

The reason you will always hear of blacks when discussing racism is not just because they have been slaves, nor is it simply because they have been mistreated once or twice. But in addition to slavery, being black in America also has to do with our affliction in America. We have not been slaves for 400 years, but we have been afflicted for nearly 400 years. Since 1619, when the first blacks were brought through the ports of Jamestown Virginia to begin what we know as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, we have been mistreated and afflicted for the entire time that we have been in this land. Meaning there has not been a let up; not one moment of peace and it has been nearly 400 years, this is what makes our captivity unique. From slavery, to Jim Crow, to police brutality, racism and discrimination, high prison population, drugs, disease, you name it, we’ve seen it. Name one instance in History, from 1619 forward, where blacks have not experienced some form of humiliation.

I’ll wait.

Others have been, and are mistreated, but none outside the so called African American can produce documentation that will prove that their people have endured one continual stomping, blow by blow by blow for nearly 400 years straight. Blacks were not part of the U.S. Constitution, they are an add on; an amendment if you will. And this is the difference between having been a slave and having endured a continual affliction even after that  slavery has ended. Thus, while we have not been in physical chains this whole time, we have been afflicted this whole time (aside from the affliction of chains) more than any other people. Our psychological troubles then, and the anger built up among many of our lost brethren, is because they have seen their people as constant targets.

The “N Word”: A Wake-Up Call

President Barack Obama used the n-word to make a point about the reality of racism in America during an interview released Monday, June 22, 2015 with comedian Marc Maron. Obama weighed in on the national debate on race relations and gun control that has been reignited after the Charleston shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Many of you have probably already noticed that I have no problem using the “N Word” on this blog. You have probably asked yourself why, “Surely she understands it’s history..?” Of course I do.

I figured since Obama just used it, which means it’s fresh in your minds, this is a good time to talk about it.

Here’s the thing:

Words have meaning. They are not idle and do not exist just because, but words always have and always will have meaning. In a recent post, I discussed the many titles placed upon black people in the attempt to define their nationality. I used words like Black, African (or Afro) American, Colored, Negro and I threw Nigger in there too. These are all bywords and proverbs and mockeries placed on us throughout our history here. They are proverbs and mockeries because they do not define who we are. (Duet. 28:37).

nas-and-kelisLogically speaking, all emotion aside, I’m going to put this as real as I only know how. Just as words are not idle, action is not either. Every thought, and every action means something. If you want people to stop using “The N Word”, then stop acting like niggas. Stop degrading yourself and your people by accepting ratchet behavior and slave like mentalities. When you know something is wrong and you continue to do it, that is disobedient behavior and only niggas and thugs and hood rats are disobedient. Stop accepting mediocrity and then calling it racism. Now I am no fool, I know there are tons of Europeans who use this word with every intent of harnessing the spirit of slavery. This is why it hits hard with blacks because people feel it in their spirit, and in their bones, that the tone in which some use it is a mere shadow, a reflection, of the generational racism in which many have been raised. Time doesn’t matter, there are still white people who are racist and they don’t want to admit it. I understand that. But not all of our white brothers and sisters are racist, we need to understand that too.

Everyone must be held accountable for their actions and the results they incur. If a slave is released from his chains and yet he stays in the same spot, then you cannot blame the slave master if the slave refuses to free himself. If you want other people to stop making mockery of you then show them a different you. I’m not saying bigotry is OK, for racism and discrimination has never left the fabric of America  and that is hard for some people to believe. But as for us, to be given something different you have to show something different. I don’t call my friends niggas and my girlfriends are not my bitches. In addition, I refer to my people as brothers and sisters unless they have otherwise shown me something different. I give respect to those I love and to people who have shown me respect.

When I said, in a recent post, “We will not be niggas too much longer, I meant that we will no longer exhibit wild and disobedient behavior; we will not rob and steal and oppress one another. The Pookies and Ray-Ray’s will rise to be the prophets and priests they were chosen to be and their names no longer associated with wildness but with the fear that is respect and the strength that comes along with it. That is what it means to no longer be niggas. Not that everyone will erase the N word from their vocabularies and racism will magically disappear.

I’ll end with this: a person cannot change his name if he wishes not to also change his actions. The whole purpose of name changes is to exhibit the characteristics of this new name, thereby becoming a new person. If you want to get rid of the “N Word”, you have to first get rid of the behavior associated with it and this cannot be done by always placing the blame on someone else. In the words of Carter G. Woodson:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his proper place and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

– Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro