Day 12: Slavery Matters

“The only problem I had with Kenny’s, umm, open letter was, umm, I don’t think anytime something bad happens in the black community we have to talk about slavery. Listen, slavery is, uh, well, I shouldn’t say one of the worst things ever, because I don’t know anything about it other than what I read or what my grandmother told me.” – Charles Barkley on TNT prior to tipoff

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sf-ZC5qQbuY (in it’s entirety)

Let’s address controversial commentary number one. I agree with Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley should NOT be the first person that everyone goes to for the “Black” voice and he should most definitely not be the one that speaks for everyone. Nothing Barkley has ever stated has been something I support, even in basketball. But that’s it, he played basketball.

For some of the things he says, it reflects in my mind the hypocrisy of this world. How dare you call someone else a thug and say the jury got it right, when you’ve been SO privileged that you could throw a man through a window in a bar and get a slap on the wrist. That was because of MONEY, not because you were justified. You were belligerent and drunk.

But I DIGRESS…

The heart of the matter is this… You don’t know anything about slavery except what your grandmother told you? *blank stare* So I take it you didn’t have history in school? Must not have read ANY books by ANY black writers or even by write writers at those times, huh? You never saw any pictures? And let’s move on from that, Charles is from the south. YOU DIDN’T NOTICE JIM CROW???? YOU DON’T RECALL THE HANGINGS? Yes, life in the south and in slavery must have been wonderful and Mary Poppins-ish…. *I’m literally shaking my head at the ignorance of some*

No you weren’t around during that time, but be grateful. Light-skinned or not, you would have still be colored and a second rate citizen. You most definitely wouldn’t have been at Auburn and you wouldn’t have been on TV. You wouldn’t be a millionaire, but you “don’t know anything about it.”

Let’s be serious Chuck. Stick to issues you do know about such as, the number of NBA Championship rings you lack. It is better to let people believe you are a fool than to open your mouth and prove them right.

NEXT

“When I’m sitting around a bunch of socialites and they start talking about the past and stuff, that’s my line,” Harvey said. “I just say it and walk off. I have my little drink in my hand, I just say it. ‘I don’t really care for slavery,’ and walk off. I don’t give a damn if they’re talking about Christopher Columbus. I don’t give a damn if they’re talking about a treaty. I don’t give a damn if they’re talking about an amendment, a bill. I don’t care what the subject is. It could be prohibition,” he continued. “I don’t care what the subject is. When you’re saying it and I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, my favorite line is, ‘I don’t give a damn about slavery.”

So for what it is worth, what he said and what he was implying are two different things. He might not want to get into that conversation, which is fine. That is his prerogative. But to openly say, you don’t give a damn about slavery, when taken out of context, makes you look bad. You look like you’re catering to non-existent fantasy. Not as offensive as Charles, but equally frowned upon.

The fact of the matter is this. Slavery matters and mattered. There’s misconceptions taught in school everyday, and some of us live with the fallacies and inconsistencies of an education system that wants to sugarcoat what really happened.

1. Slavery was bad. No matter the race, no matter the gender, it was bad. Men, women and children. Black, white and native. Everyone (yes even some black folks) owned slaves. Irish people were once enslaved but were not as valuable as black slaves.

2. THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION DID NOT (I repeat) DID NOT FREE ENSLAVED PEOPLE. The 13th Amendment “formally abolishing slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865.” The Proclamation was a written declaration of feelings by Abraham Lincoln declaring that the Union didn’t sit well with people being forced into involuntary servitude while the country claimed to be free. Congratulations, you all been saluting an idea that wasn’t enforced until two whole years later.

3. I did a full out report and debate on FDR being the better president than Lincoln. Funny thing is, research taught me a lot that I hadn’t know about Lincoln and that FDR was more for the poor than Lincoln was. Lincoln said that if he could have ended the war and brought together the country without ending slavery he would have. His end to slavery was not to help black people, BUT to hurt the economic stability of the south (which we know it did.)

4. (this is a repeat) SLAVERY WAS BAD. This was the beginning of the obviousness of a class system and separation of Upper, Middle and Lower class. Slavery was bad, the physical and mental scars. Slavery was bad, even the aftermath of slavery was bad.

5. SLAVERY WAS NOT 400 YEARS AGO!!!!!!! Some of the first slaves were documented to have arrived 600 years ago, with the last slave LEGALLY (didn’t mean they didn’t continue doing it illegally) being brought here was The Clotilde in 1859. Slavery “ended” in 1865. So slavery has been over for 150 years. Let me put that in perspective for you……. I can trace my family lines back to the 1840s.
My great-great-great grandparents were born in the 1840s.
With the exception of three persons, most of my great-great grandparents were born in the decades of 1860-1880. (One was born in 1850s, two were born in 1890).
My great grandparents were born between the years 1893 and 1918.
My grandparents were born in the 1930s.
My parents were born in the 1960s.
I was born in 1985.

There’s only 80 years between me and the last slave-born relative. Consider the Civil Rights movement ended only 45 years ago (15 years before I was born) and it puts into perspective how FRESH slavery really is in history.

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