She was a slave, he was the master, she was Black African, he was White American, she stepped out of his plantation on a Sunday “a somewhat work-free day” to a neighbouring plantation to visit a friend who was a free “very fortunate” black woman by virtue of being married to a White Man. Later, she arrived back at her master’s plantation not knowing that he was infuriated by her absence and, instigated by his already hateful wife would strip her naked, tie her to a stake and, energetically and fiercely flog the skin, flesh and dignity off her back.

You probably figured out what movie I’m trying to vividly paint in your mind. I just described a very emotional scene from the classic; “12 years a slave”. If you ever watched this movie, then this most likely is the scene you felt the strongest emotions; ranging from sadness and anger to grief. African Americans have a long history of existential pain that Africans can relate to due to similarities in our shared history such as slavery for them and colonialism for us, Racism for them, Nepotism, and tribalism among us. To say I want to write about Black History (African American) is to attempt the impossible because how do you want to start? How do I begin? What angles do you want to take on? The journey, the struggle, or the triumphs? It’s Funny in a cruel manner how in that order you get to triumphs only to arrive at the beginning of another struggle.

The journey from Africa, whether you were kidnapped or sold, did you make it alive on that gruesome trip in shackles or, did you turn out to be fish feed at the bottom of the ocean? Ah-ha! thank God some of you made it seeing as life is a gift and with it comes to hope, but as you arrived on the shores of a new land fettered and being bargained over, poked, prodded, and spun around, your teeth opened, and your body treated like “a thing”. Other humans looking you over like choice cattle or maybe not choice but a necessary evil they would tag you later in their debates where they decided your fate as free men or born slaves, forgetting God created no slaves, men made slaves. Did you know what awaited you, did you know that upon your blood and sweat a civilization would rise rapidly, and yet you and your children would benefit the least from it? But then you adjusted, you braced and braved the pain that lay before you, you plowed the earth till you fainted in the blazing sun and when you wake, you quickly return to the work that enriched not your pockets but Massa’s.

You felt every human emotion, of course, you did, you found ways to smile, laugh and sing, you did the blues and by some sheer miracle or irony you did find rhythm too, you cried and you had too many reasons to, you loved your lover, you loved your children and I imagine what went through your mind every-time you knew you were with child. Did you allow yourself to feel warm fuzzy feelings about it working the fields and trying to meet your daily quota or regrets that you procreated in a dark-dark world or maybe you had nightmares of the life that awaited the precious bun you were baking your precious, sorry one more slave for Massa. You knew that precious little child could be sold right under. Every time you loved, did it not scare you to death that it was emotion too risky to invest in, because this person could vanish at any time, as I said earlier Massa’s business decisions first. And yet in the stubbornness of the hearts of men lay that basic instinct just like the one for food, water and sex, a deep longing for connection and the ability to love and live for another because you too are just human, you still loved and worked so hard, prayed and cried, groveled, pleaded, begged and paid to keep yours together. You were starved, you were shackled, you were beaten, disfigured, taxed, and even raped. I hate the last word but indeed you were not just physically assaulted, it was a rape and an attack of all the faculties that hold a man’s sanity together.

Through sheer grit, strong-will and purpose, through the God-given gift of the desire to survive and thrive, you pushed through unbelievable barriers, you made it to the next day and the next, and the next even with your kin dying around you. You tried and tried hoping the rules would change as you tried to wiggle your way out of what they said was your God-given station in life. You were Heathen remember? Godless people or rather unbelievers so you deserved it. But when you embraced God and became believers, it was simply your station in life.

You can tell by now that this is not an intellectual piece. I tried to take a short walk in the shoes of a slave based on historical facts and the emotional and mental burden that weighs heavily upon the soul. I feel the weight of darkness that was a permanent cloud of hopelessness and uncertainty, the constant companion of they that came before I feel the pain even though I’m not living that exact reality right now. but wait am I not? Ahhh I understand why it still hurts like that, I hear the names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Atatiana Jefferson, and the same dark cloud re-appears, I realize I probably share one thing apart from humanity in common with them, Blackness! Yes, that’s how they saw it, black not as the beauty of the night sky nor the elegance of your little black dress (LBD) and the tuxedo that wins the adoration of a woman’s eyes, not as the power of a king’s staff or the excitement of a mystery of the unknown dark. It was Black as blackmail, black as the devil and his evil horde) as a blacklist, as blackballing(rejection) and the black market (illicitness).

I stay here and it gets too dark so instead today I choose to celebrate freedom, but do I freely say so, do I really believe it, for I may not bear the physical marks of the lashes of stinging whips but I do bear the lashes of racism on my soul. I feel the pain of knowing and my children may grow in a world where Andre Hill (victims of fatal racial based police brutality) was also born into, one where they are allowed to ride in a bus thanks to Rosa parks but are always looked on as a target, as a problem, or as something to be approached with caution. I have decided that like the descendants who took control I’ll take control today, I’ll tell them that there is a broken world and there is you, there is you piercing through the darkness because you are a ball of melanin dynamite, you are a soul so unique, you are strong, you are fierce and you are only limited by the things you accept and call limitations. You are the continuation of a story that is ascending in the light like the beauty of the horizon where the sun rises above the sea, look at each generation, how a group of fine young Black Men and Women distinguish themselves by the belief and knowledge of the greatness of God’s deposit within them. There is no limit to how many can be distinguished. All that is needed is self-discovery, a belief in creating the reality we want to see, and mastery through the practice of the process that gets us there. I will tell them You have everything to be just like Madam C.J. Walker, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, Jay Z, Oprah Winfrey, Barrack Obama, and all those who just like you and in most cases were worse off but have left you the blueprint on how to create light out of darkness and make the impossible a reality.

From now going forward Black America and black the world over, the excellence of our heroes’ past is the starting point. There will be evil in the world so long as there is good but in the journey of racial emancipation and true equality do not fret or be weary true Justice and equality shall be achieved if we continue from where the heroes past stopped. To borrow a leaf from Kanye West, it’s happy Black history/ Black Future month!

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