Monday, June 10, 2024

Where is the Monument?

February 1, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( Black History Month: A time for African-American slave descendants to reflect, uplift the honorable triumphs attained by ancestors, and pay righteous homage to African-American ascendants whom fought hard for the freedoms in which African Americans are privileged today? Or is it?

Descendants of African-American slaves seem to place no value on the valor, courage and fortitude demonstrated by their ascendants. The life and death struggles seem to be unappreciated by these sons and daughters of those once subjugated.

How is it that some of the most significant moments in Black American History remain ignored and ill-appreciated? For instance, the Middle Passage. African-Americans of today seem to disregard, rather than cherish, the memories of the millions who lost their lives after being forced–shackled and underfed–to walk in slave caravans–sometimes as far as 1,000 miles–to a fate worse than death:

Ascendants were placed on slave ships bound for the Americas; those too sick or weary to keep pace with the caravans were often killed or left to die. Others that did make the ship either voluntarily jumped overboard as means of escaping the horrific new life, or were deliberately pushed overboard due to failing health. No honoring the memories of these millions who perished during the Middle Passage exists.

As for the countless numbers who survived the Middle Passage, they were met with an even more dismal fate than the voyage to the new world–the harsh realities of enslavement. They were stripped of their identities, given new names, and taught to envision themselves and their African heritage as inferior and barbaric. Their slave masters insisted on total obedience. This led to complete dependence on the master, which cultivated infantile characteristics in many of the slaves. The masters taught slaves to reject their past while adopting the values of their masters. These transformations were achieved in the most heinous and inhumane ways–through torture, maiming, castrating, sodomizing–ever before witnessed by humankind.

However, in spite of all torturous experiences endured, the resilience of the African-American slave prevailed. Somehow from these ashes of despair, like the mighty phoenix, arose a solid, strong, and magnificent race of people founded on individuality, pride, and dignity. Negro Spirituals, Blues and Jazz are all by-products of African American ingenuity during these trying times, created to maintain a sense of sanity, individuality, and heritage. These innovations also represented their sheer refusal to allow their spirit to be defeated.

Yet the struggles, sacrifices, and accomplishments of the African slaves have largely been ignored or underappreciated by their descendants. As though to rub salt into one’s wound, no greater evidence exists to support this argument than that of the shameless embracing–by the progenies of African slaves–a word that was used to dehumanize, degrade and demean their ascendants: the n-word.

This month, rapper Nas will shamelessly release an album entitled, N**ger, and the on-going saga of Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks continues. These entertainment figures, comedians, other rappers and entertainers alike, along with many in the general public, are all byproducts of a dastardly mind-controlling past which has conditioned them to disrespect themselves and the sacred memories of their ancestry.

The chilling effects of a mind manipulating process that slaves fought hard not to succumb to and African-American civil rights leaders gave their lives to reverse has withstood the test of time, continues to be passed down through the generations, and prevails in this 21st Century–at the hand of African Americans. Carter G. Woodson said it best: “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.”

This trickling down effect is highly evident in Nas’s thought process, who has not only elected the word “N**ger” for the title of his album, but deliberately chose to wait until this month, Black History Month, to release the album. Self-respect, honor, dignity and pride are non-existent among way too many descendants of the once proud and self-respecting African slaves.

Black History Month seemingly becomes less significant with each passing year. This year is proving to be no exception. Nas will so obligingly demonstrate that his black voice serves as a ventriloquist from the acculturation of the slavery process, casting further aspersions upon the true significance of Black History Month.

Instead of erecting a monument to the sacred and cherished memories of their ascendants, a maelstrom of contempt, disrespect and rejection exists in its place. Centuries ago, blacks were leading other blacks into physical enslavement. Centuries later, history is repeating itself. Blacks are once again leading other blacks into enslavement, only this time, towards mental bondage.

Message to the Black Family

If your children don’t remember,
Who their ancestors were,
Please don’t let them forget,
That they were a Dignified and Spiritual People.

~ Gerald W. Deas, M.D., 1988

Written By H. Lewis Smith

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