Slavery on My Mind

Every day, Facebook asks the same question: “what’s on your mind?” 

Cat videos. 

I share them. Not afraid to admit it. 

Union struggles. 

I share them. Not afraid to say it. 

My friend’s shows. 

I share them. Obviously. 

I read through the posts about folx being slaves to their budgets, slaves to their diets, slaves to their schedules. They call themselves slaves. 

Slavery.  

Slavery is on my mind.  

It’s been exactly 400 years since the first slaves were brought to North America.  

August 1619 

Since the beginning of justifying our inferiority  

With quack science and skewed Bible verses. 

“The more you know.” 

Slavery is on my mind.  

The institution that shaped the economy of this country,  

shaped the social stratification of this country,  

shaped how we treat workers. Corporations, take note. 

Slavery is on my mind. 

When I started rehearing the play, REDWOOD, I read the script over and over, and it made me think about my ancestors and wonder who was that first woman who was kidnapped and brought here and had children? I don’t know her name. How did she deal with that and which of her children were sold and was she ever happy? 

Slavery is on my mind. 

For those of you keeping score at home 

Another entry to the list of “white privilege”is the privilege to forget about slavery. 

The privilege to ignore slavery 

“That’s way in the past, that doesn’t affect me. Or you.” 

My father was born in 1922. My grandfather in 1880. My great grandfather 1845, about. 

My great grandparents were slaves. Let that drop in, friends. 

My father—his parents, my grandparents—their parents were slaves in North Carolina. 

Actual slaves. 

I have walked on the ground of the tobacco farm where they lived. 

Where they were owned. 

Where they worked without pay 

Without choice. 

Slavery is on my mind. 

I wonder if my great grandmother was raped by the men who owned her. 

By the men who had complete control over her body.  

I wonder if her mother was. 

Some of you are uncomfortable right now. 

Some of you have already mentally checked out and are wondering who is next. 

Some of you are forming arguments in your head against everything I am saying. 

Some of you are thinking, “that’s kinda sick, fixating on the rapes of her ancestors.” 

Fight or flight has taken over. 

I don’t fixate. I have mirrors. And whenever I look in a mirror, I can’t  

NOT SEE IT.  

You and you and you can decide not to think about slavery. My light brown skin eviscerates that privilege. 

You and you and you can decide to ignore how slavery made the US a serious economic power. 

My light brown skin is a testament to the horrors experienced by my grandmothers that made this economic super power possible.  Can’t take flight from that.  

You and you and you can silently sit in your privilege and think “they get all the scholarships, they get all the preference in hiring, they get all the diversity casting calls.” 

I am the living breathing proof of those everyday crimes that built your family’s wealth and kept mine from building any. 

Slavery is my DNA. 

Since I can’t take flight, I fight. By writing. By acting. By being. By answering Facebook’s nagging question. 

“What’s on your mind?” 

My white allies: what would change if slavery was on your mind?

Leave a comment

Add comment