In my history book
Slavery is on page
Sandwiched between The
Restoration And The Glorious
I wonder, what did they restore? And what could have been so glorious when chains still rattled, and whips still cracked?
2: Revision in Red Ink.
“Slavery grew hugely when Europeans established colonies in the Americas from the 1500s on.” Established what in the Americas? I’m sorry, I can’t seem to hear you. Go on.
“At first, the settlers used Native Americans as slaves, but as numbers dwindled (numbers of what? machines, chattel, or people?), they took
slaves from Africa to work on new sugar plantations” (no, they took people. please revise.)
Europeans (savage white enslavers) shipped (stole) 10-12 million black (capitalize) slaves from Africa to the Americas (no, they took 10-12 million Black people from their homes to the barren slave camps of the new world…where are you getting your facts? please see me after class).”
“The slave trade involved shipping several hundred thousand Africans across the Atlantic from the
‘Slave Coast’ (that is not the correct name and I have never heard the Ebony Coast referred to that way) of West Africa to the West Indies and the USA.”
“In the West Indies and Brazil, there were more blacks than whites, and slaves often revolted. The great
est revolution was on French Haiti, where the slave Toussaint l’Ouverture led 500,000 slaves to take over the country in 1791 (revised word choices).”
“The USA banned the import of
slaves (enslavement) in 1808.”
3: untitled 2.
The last thing on page 379 is this so-called “Fascinating Fact” –
“Conditions in the slave ships were so dreadful that 2 million slaves died on them.”
A few suggestions: instead of Fascinating Fact, try Horrifying Statistic. Instead of saying 2 million slaves died on them, try saying 2 million people were killed. I think you’ll find that makes the word tears roll off your cheek tongue a little easier.
4: on watching you hesitate over the title of “I Am Not Your Negro”
Go ahead, choke on that word.
I can’t tell you what to do or say.
I am not your negro, not your mother, not your teacher,
And I will not hold your hand as your tongue stumbles over another slur. So go ahead, say it. Or don’t. I don’t make the rules.
5: a fool learns to navigate a scary new world.
Fools! The world you saw through the drunk goggles of stereotypes is the same world you live in now. It was always like this, unpredictable and steeped in turmoil, whether you cared to realize it or not. Your safety net was full of holes all along.
Look, see the man walking towards you on the sidewalk. Is he Black? Is he white? Is he a man at all? You remember this, don’t you? You remember how this will go? You will fall back into the waiting arms of stereotypes to shield you from the storm they created.
Suppose on the sidewalk, quickly approaching, it’s a woman, not a man. You’re safe now, they whisper in your ear, it’s only a woman, only a girl slut queen madonna whore virgin. And what harm can they inflict? What a stereotype can’t tell you, doesn’t know, is that she has a knife in her purse, powdered and pink. Fall to your knees and press your hands to the pavement beneath your palms. It’s the same world that existed before, only you were ignorant of it then. Get up from your knees, fool. The woman man Black white Asian none of the above approaches, her powder pink knife in hand. And here you thought you were safe! Brace yourself, you poor pitiful fool. Prepare to feel the hilt of her plush pink blood red blade meet your chest.
Only…with a wary look, she passes you by. Ballet flats stilettos socked feet and boots tick tick tick on the pavement around you. Oh my. The stale stereotypes you clutch to your chest did not prepare you for this. Perhaps she was scared of you, Black white man woman? Maybe she has removed her drunk goggles as well and you are terrifying in your own category, in your own way, entirely of your own making.
Take off your blindfold, you poor little fool. There is nothing there in the dark that wasn’t there in the light—or maybe there’s nothing present in the light that doesn’t make its home in the dark as well. Get up from your knees, fool, and venture out into this strange new world.