The Legacy of Slavery in the US

Racism against the black community in my country is different. It is built on slavery. It is not overt, but like a frog slowly boiled in water, accepted and part of the fabric of our culture.

We are strong individualists and it is a stumbling block in recognizing the legacy that slavery has left to an entire people group. We expect people to rise up out of their circumstances by themselves, hard work, education, ethics and self determination. This can obscure the burden, baggage and the barriers the black community face in having true socio-economic equality.

In a family, if one member is hindered by a disability the other family members (should) sacrifice to help that one member to find self-realization.

I don’t think you can understand the burden of slavery that still exists unless you visit the south, where all of this began. It’s too easy to dismiss unless you look it in the face. It reminds me of the Holocaust deniers who deny Jewish extermination in Germany by the Nazis and Hitler. Many of our citizens who haven’t tasted and touched the roots of slavery cannot grasp the impact it has had on the black community.

If you want to understand why the black community is hurt, angry, deeply wounded don’t look just to the heinous murder of George Floyd, look to slavery. I wish each person could walk through the plantations of the south, see with their eyes where oppressed people (slaves) lived, read their names, read the names of those who died on the slave ships coming from Africa. I wish each person in the US could talk to the descendants of the Africans who were by law kept from learning to read and write,  and hear their oral history. I wish each of our citizens could walk through the large cities of the south and see what color of skin those who live in wealth are and those who live in poverty are. Only in the south can you still taste the remnants of slavery. You can see the buildings; the slave auction house that still stands in downtown Charleston, the slave quarters, the statues to the confederate soldiers (and witness fresh flowers recently placed for them), the remnants of great wealth of the slave owners. Only in the south can you fully appreciate the degradation and oppression of an entire people group.

This is why the black community suffers a form of racism that is different than the rest of the world. We (all US people) should be outraged, mourn, grieve, care, and take responsibility for legacy of slavery that still exists. We should do something concrete. We should have diversity programs, look to the incarceration rate, develop programs, demand justice reform. This is not a generalization either. I believe that as individuals we should each be actively involved in some sort of action. We have a responsibility that goes beyond saying that racism is wrong. Let us act!

Let our black citizens have space to hurt, to voice their pain, to ask for change, to be angry.

We have come a long way since the days where black lives were bought and sold. The civil rights movement brought along much needed change. But until we have true equality and opportunity we have not arrived.

*I took this picture in Charleston in October, 2019. Please note the FRESH flowers that had been placed at the base of the statue*

5 thoughts on “The Legacy of Slavery in the US

  1. It’s horrifying. Shameful beyond belief. I have never really been in the south, but you painted a picture of things I’ve never seen. Many statues of men who owned slaves, no matter who they were, are coming down. Some of the families are asking that it be done. As far as I’m concerned, they should all be removed. This was an excellent post. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Most definitely. I’m so glad you wrote it the way you did. People from the north don’t really know about slave markets or anything. Just what we may have read or seen pictures of. Horrible.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. While I agree with your overall message, racism is very much a part of American culture at large and doesn’t only exist in the South. I personally know many white southerners who have fought long and hard to erase the horrible stain of slavery on their local communities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Henry, I agree with both of your points. The reason I bring up the south is because the roots of racism are more evident there; some visibly so such as the historical evidence and others such as the high poverty rate among the black communities (more so than in the north and west) and more of a presence of overt white supremacy groups and accepted mainstream articulated racism. There is indeed racism throughout the US, much which is systemic in which a people group experience exclusion, injustice and encounter barriers in socio-economic equality.

      Liked by 1 person

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