Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011
“History is repeating itself. They’re trying to take us back to slavery days.”
That’s what one of my older Black coworkers said to me after we watched a recent video of a cop beating up an elderly Black woman. My response to that, “In order for history to repeat itself that suggests that certain events would have stopped for a period of time. The events that are happening today have never stopped. They slowed down a little, happened a little less frequently, but certainly NEVER stopped.”
Slavery, as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is the legal or economic system in which principles of property law are applied to humans allowing them to be classified as property, to be owned, bought and sold accordingly. The enslavement of Black people began roughly around 1501 and extended through 1865. We were finally ‘set free’ through the emancipation process that started in 1863, and wasn’t fully enforced until 1865 ( thank you so much Mr. Abraham Lincoln). Now this act still didn’t guarantee instant freedom. We still had to find a way out, usually by running away or with the help of the Union Army. Even though slavery was abolished, there were still exceptions to the rule. Like the fact that slavery served as a form of punishment for committed crimes. And who was committing all of the crimes? You guessed it: Black people.
It’s 2017…we’re free now right? Nope! With the growth of the prison system, and Black men making up 40.2% of the prison population, we now have institutionalized slavery. The number is despite the fact that Black people only make up 13.6% of the U.S. population. Prime example is the difference between two different criminal cases in the same city and state. A white woman in Lincoln, NE steals over $3000 from the teller drawers of a Wells Fargo bank, of which she is employed, and is sentenced to probation. A Black man is arrested for pointing a toy gun into a crowd. They allegedly find drugs on him and he’s sentenced to almost 2 years in prison. I guess we should be happy that the Black man didn’t get shot.
While the Emancipation Proclamation declared us separate but not equal, Jim Crow came along and said we were still separate but at least now we were equal. During the Jim Crow era everything was racially segregated. Now you may be saying, “We aren’t racially segregated today.” Ummm, yeah we are. There are still establishments that won’t serve us or they serve us begrudgingly. We are still fighting to belong to certain social and business groups that refuse to let us in. What about the race riots: the Cincinnati riots of 1829, the Snow Riot in Washington, D.C. in 1835, and the most famous Tulsa Race Riots in 1921. They destroyed any and everything that Black people owned. Have we not seen this happen today? Maybe not on as large a scale, but they are still attacking our businesses, vandalizing our homes and churches. From the 1960s up to today, protesters have been killed by police officers, with those killings being justified because of course the protesters were being unruly. Officers have been killing us and getting away with it for years. The only difference is now we have camera phones and social media, so everything is being documented and displayed for the world to see. The lynchings never stopped, they just slowed down and were no longer made into a public event. We’re still being lynched! Don’t believe me? Just ask the families of Otis Byrd, Alfred Wright, Lennon Lacy, and James Craig Anderson. These lynchings occurred between 2008 and 2015.
So please stop saying history is repeating itself. It’s not! We were never accepted, they are just tolerating us because the law slightly says they have to. We aren’t free. We are still enslaved, we are still called niggers, we are still beat and killed by the police, we are still victims of racially motivated hate crimes. We are still the strange fruit hanging from the trees. Our history is continuous.
Until next time,