February 4th, 2010 | By Sonnie Johnson
White people, don’t be mad. This isn’t about you. This is about the Black communities constant need to equate Black History Month with “What White People Did to Black People History Month”. I have but one request. Don’t learn about what happened to Black people, learn what Black people did against all odds. We need a little change in perspective.
This is coming from one angry Black woman who only now is learning what the schools refuse to teach. We learned about slaves, sharecropping, and Civil Rights, but there was never a true conversation about the Black Faces and who they were as People. The power of Black History is not in the pain of slavery, the injustice of Jim Crow, or the segregation of the ’60’s. The true motivating force behind Black History are the INDIVIDUALS who wielded extraordinary strength againt overwhelming odds.
Normally, a myriad of names would enter the spotlight but what’s the point? We will hear they invented this, said that, or became the first to…..whatever. We will learn they were spit on, hung from trees, and separated from their families. Then February will fade and so will all those Great People until next year. As a people, we should be ashamed.
We glimpse over a Rich American Black History and claim Africa as our homeland. Why? Africa didn’t want us, that’s how we got on slave ships. Our ancestors’ African enemies won, rounded us up, and sold us off to build up their territory. We were casualties of War or God had a plan for us. He knew that this GREAT NATION lay on the horizon and would be incomplete without his beautiful Black Children.
Should we forget where we came from? NO. But we can’t forget African Kings like Gezo of the Dahomey who said “The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth……the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery….” Now, this may sound silly but I have a little more hatred for another black man that tries to break my spirit. While we picture Kunta Kinte being broken in America, imagine how he felt when his own kind lead him to those ships and away from everything he had ever known. Turned from a man into property long before he reached America.
And this is where the BS starts. The constant chatter and talk about my personal attachment to master or my inability to couple reality with history. It’s my inability to uncouple reality with history that makes me write articles like this. I can’t look past people like Anthony Johnson, one of the first slaves to reach America. He worked, got his freedom, made some money, and bought himself an indentured servant, John Casor. When Casors time was up, he demanded his freedom. Johnson said “NO” and went to the courts to maintain possession of his property. He won and Casor became his slave until death do them part.
A black man, who was once a slave himself, knew the potential of America and took advantage. Was it right? Of course not. But it happened. Since the very inception of slavery in America, black men have been slave owners. Even when their brothers and sisters were in chains, they were looking out for their own self interest. That’s important imformation to have in this day and age of blacks leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Don’t you even say it. No, we are not going to talk about white slave owners, it’s Black History Month. I want to talk about the strength of a WOMAN. Imagine having no rights due to the color of your skin and top it off with having no respect due to your gender. Imagine not only risking your life on the Underground Railroad but also trying to protect yourself in a male dominated society. Image you’re Harriet Tubman trying to convince a slave God has ordained their freedom and all they have to do is trust a BLACK WOMAN.
While we revel in the wonder and strength that is Harriet Tubman, she would be nothing if there weren’t people willing to follow her. They had jobs, shelter, food, and a structured existence but they RAN away from it all. They left everything and everyone they had ever known because GOD had sent them an Angel and Guide away from the conformity of slavery. No longer was everything given to them, now they had to work for it because “not even God will do for man what man can do for himself.” Nannie Burroughs
Another great lesson to learn in this day and age. Slavery is about conformity and acceptance. You conform to your surroundings and you accept what ever is handed to you. While we fester in Ghettos and public housing accepting welfare and food stamps, there is a modern day Harriet Tubman. She is a mother that walks her child to school everyday in Chicago because she believes God has ordained him to be more than a street thug. Now imagine her son looking at the holes in her shoes or naps in her hair, wondering if he should have faith in this BLACK WOMAN.
And this is just part one. Both good and bad aspects of Black History told without white people. A focus on how the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of our history treated each other, in addition to their contributions to America. A glaring mirror into what is loss when we value the actions of others and forget the inaction of our own. A plea to remember not just inventions, but faith in God, character, determination, and strength.