Appetite to write like Fredrick Douglass with his Slave Hand
Wycleff Jean - How many Mics
Ok I'm really tired. Been a long and trying week. Was going to post this yesterday and then blogger wouldn't allow me
I watched part of the second part of the slavery show on PBS on Wednesday night before falling asleep in the part I really was interested in. The segment about the civil war. (Kind of a wanna be civil war buff so I find that stuff rather interesting). Oh well good thing I taped it all. Anyway show aside I've got a few things on slavery to talk about motivated by the show but not necessarily motivated by the show if you follow me. First off there is this question I've pondered at various points over the years and that I've asked a bunch of folk years ago. Camp and Burke might remember that.
What kind of slave would you have been? Now come on, put some thought into it now I want some honesty because as much as we respect the rebellion leaders all y'all know you wouldn't have been no Nat Turner or Bussa or Sam Sharpe or Toussainte L'Overture. So take into consideration your personalities and then give me an answer. Tough question isn't it? Would you have been the really obedient one, or the rebellious one, the one who smiles in massa's face but spits in his food, the one in the plantation house secretly hearing all the plans and telling your family in the fields what was going on? Remember your overwhelming motivation is probably survival so you are doing everything you can in order to not make things worse for yourself. Its a difficult question to answer though.
Maybe I'll give my answer at the end of this. Got to think on it a bit.
Two other slavery related points to talk about.
One. Whenever you see any shows on slavery you usually see some story showing that those white male Plantation owners and overseers were real sexual predators preying on many of their black slave women and girls. They were really dangerous to any black woman in their possession over a certain age. Ok so this is fact and many of us bear the marks of those conquests but now answer this question. Why or How is it that now society has flipped it so that its now black males who are seen as the sexual predators and the danger to women, white women in particular? As Kayne would say "what's the basis?"
Two. I got mad love for Malcolm X. His autobiography was one of the first books I read when I came to North America and I got some interesting thoughts on his philosophy which I may or may not share at some point. One thing about Malcolm that I sort of disagree with though is that speech attributed to him in which he disses the "House Negro".
"There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes - they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good 'cause they ate his food -- what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. ........ The house Negro, if the master said, 'We got a good house here,' the house Negro would say, 'Yeah, we got a good house here.' ...................... He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, 'Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate,' the house Negro would look at you and say, 'Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?' That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a 'house nigger.' And that's what we call him today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here." - Malcolm X
Now don't get me wrong, I understand the purpose of these words. Its basically saying every black person didn't think the same and some of them were working with the oppressors, some of them were "sellouts" so to speak. As Chuck D said "Every brother aint a brother cause of color." However using the house negros as the symbol of these traitors I think was a mistake on Malcolm's part.
From where I'm standing the house negroes may not have been in the sun picking cotton , sugar, tobacco and rice but they probably worked as hard as the other slaves. Plus they were in a position where the women in the plantation house were being attacked on the daily by massa so that was another stress as it stands. Plus it was those house negroes who were the eyes and ears of the other slaves in the field cause they were basically spies for the cause. They were up there in the Plantation house trying to find out what was going on, where the master kept his guns, what the abolitionists were saying, who the massa was going to take to auction, when was the massa and them having a big party and going to be drunk so Betsy and Jim could make a run for it, trying to sneak a little piece of pork skin out the backdoor to season the stew, trying to learn to read so they could pass it on to the others, in general trying to get the knowledge needed to help the others. You guys with me?
Aside: imagine black people wanting to read hmm things dun change aint it. If those slave owners were smart and wanted to keep slavery going they should of invented an Xbox or started a pro sport league, all like now our asses would still be picking cotton. There is a Dave Chappell skit in there somewhere. Dave holla at ya boy! I got ideas son. I want to be rich too dammit.
So from that perspective I think the use of the word house negro, or house nigga is a misappropriation. We've been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amuk. I understand the sentiment and the way that the term has now come to be interpreted but I think a whole segment of the slave population has been unfairly cast as sellouts. Just some thoughts. Give me some feedback.
Anyway I'm not going to say what type of slave I would have been for now, let me hear from you guys first if you feel like it. No pressure.