After 30 years as a community college Psychology Professor, I retired to spend the last 15 years researching, reflecting and writing about the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Said differently, after teaching over 10,000 low-income and minority students who (unbeknown to them or me) were still very much impacted by the Transatlantic Slave Trade, I’ve spent the last 15 years seeking to find out what actually happened. This purpose-driven project has been a fascinating ride that has taken me to 25 countries and counting. I have lived on three continents.
Full disclosure: I was born in the Jim Crow South. Officially, Jim Crow Laws ended in 1965 after the passage of the Civil Rights Package, that included Affirmative Action and Voter’s Rights. Because of Affirmative Action I headed north to get three college degrees – a BA, MA and PhD. I was smart, determined and focused on living my best life. I enthusiastically dived into northern icy waters.
Prior to that dive, I had had a front row seat on important events in my lifetime. For example, I did not read about using colored washrooms and water fountains or entering via the back door, etc., I lived that. Once in the North, I did not read about the 60s and 70s resistance movements (e.g. anti-War or anti-police violence), I participated in them. All this (and much more) was woven into the fabric of today’s culture because of the unmentionable slave trade that began its evolution 524 years earlier.
Many say, the world has always had slavery. To this I say, yes, but – This Slavery was different, (Part I & II. (Please read my LinkedIn Blog posts for more details). To illustrate this difference, I’ll supply an easily understood example. Before, slavery was a mom and pop general store type operation. With the Transatlantic Slave Trade, slavery got scaled and supersized. Now, it’s Walmart or Amazon online. Before, it was local and culturally specific. Now, it’s invisible, global and corporate focused on capitalism, individualism and materialism. No other slavery has ever had all these dimensions.
Unfortunately, most people are not aware of slavery’s multi-dimensional evolution – now called human trafficking. Thus, our thinking reflects that lack of awareness. I’ll begin with something that many people misunderstood, the Kanye West – slavery was a choice — statement. When I heard it, I agreed with him. He correctly noted that nothing occurs for over 400 years unless chosen. But Kanye had not done 15 years of research, and only he had the microphone.
Many got indignant. He was shamed and blamed. This too common reaction, of shaming and blaming, is Exhibit A in this blog post. It points to the conditioning (i.e. brainwashing) people, worldwide, have experienced since Africans were brought to the New World (North, South and Central America) beginning in 1444.
With this reaction, Exhibit A, I want to begin to move your conditioning from “go-to” reactive response mode. To begin, let’s step back and get some distance. Who and what are missing from this conversation? Then repeat something you might already know: the majority of the Africans of the Transatlantic Slave Trade were kidnapped. Kidnapping is NEVER a choice for the person kidnapped. (If you are having difficulty with this, please read the LinkedIn blog Part I). Five hundred years later, the kidnapped persons cannot be held responsible for what happened to them. Somehow Blacks today are. People continue to be mad at Kanye for that statement.
Instead of getting mad and reacting, I suggest that you (and he) flip the choice coin and ask a question: WHO chose this African slavery? Under the radar, there is an agreed upon answer, the European Oligarchy using its “new and improving” Banking system. (No, you will not hear this on the news or read it in any school textbook. It’s a well-kept secret.) I’ll do another blog on this Banking system. In this blog, the focus is just the European Oligarchy. Their choices need to come out of the clouds and given more clarity and significance. You see, these exact same Europeans chose the language you speak, the laws you follow, the foods you eat, and the God you pray to. This is the very short, basic list. All Africans/indigenous cultural norms and habits were deliberately not chosen. They were judged as “uncivilized” and vilified.
Now, some (the ones ready to address the brainwashing) may ask, how did the European Oligarchs get to choose so much? Well, along with kidnapping Africans, they stole the land from Native Americans (Indians) and created satellite countries in the New World (aka colonies from Canada to Chile).
Most likely, back then, if your ancestors were kidnapped and sent to Jamaica, Belize, or USA, etc. (owned by Britain), today you speak only English. If they were sent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba or Honduras, etc. (owned by Spain), you speak only Spanish. Continue around the New World countries identifying former colonies owned by France, the Netherlands or Portugal. Without exception, they still speak French, Dutch and Portuguese.
Along with the language, they decided all of the cultural elements (like first and last names, land ownership, agriculture practices, clothes, type of money, etc.) that your ancestors could choose from. These were the only basic materials, raw or man-made, which were commonly available. These choices impacted the day-to-day existence of everybody. Over many generations, these cultural practices are so pronounced and real that Hispaniola, an island, today still has a French side (Haiti), and a Spain side (the Dominican Republic).
If you have never thought about this post-Transatlantic Slave Trade reality, please pause.
Let these core life choices sink in.
Back then, some choices got changed. At the macro level, if the British and the French fought, then the colony would change with the winner – so from French to English; or vice versa. The laws and the religion could also change. Bottom-line, the Europeans were determining every aspect of your ancestor’s life – and now, by design, to many aspects of your life.
Another example, at the micro level, your ancestors did not choose who got lynched and what happened to their possessions. Most often those lynched were uppity people who were challenging the status quo. Rather than be silent about these ancestors, once we understand, we can celebrate the fighting spirit these former slaves and their supporters were expressing.
Today, many generations later, I’m sure that you know people from former colonies that validate what I’m saying. You can even use your personal life to think about your ancestral patterns. Think about all of them – from eating (family receipts) and drinking habits, to home ownership (titled land or not), religious choices – and beyond. So much of your daily habits came from imposed patterns of behavior and mindsets from your ancestors’ European masters.
Some (not necessarily all) of their choices have had a destructive impact on you or other family members. For example, you no longer need to press, perm (or weave) your hair, bleach your skin, eat sugar and meat or drink milk. Why? Because these conditioned behaviors (aka habits), remnants of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, harm you, your self-esteem and/or the environment. This is some serious stuff! Once you truly understand the significance of this conditioning/these habits, then hopefully you will take the time to consciously/deliberately make some different choices to improve YOUR life. You can learn another language or visit countries outside your native land. You could become vegan or Hindu. After sampling other options, inside and outside your country, then and only then can you, an adult, take full responsibility for your life choices.
I also hope you are slowly beginning to understand how reacting causes you to have a one-sided, complicit, misinformed opinion. You do not have to react, just ask a few questions. Acquiring correct information is the effective way to break this conditioning. You, a vibrant human with a spirit, are hard wired to do very few things. The rest of your behavior could simply be your choices.
Then, Africans did not choose the new corporate slavery, regardless of what people say, now. It was violently imposed. They requested no ship; they could not stop them from coming, after all the African continent is HUGE. With eyes wide open, I am not suggesting that we hate. In fact, it is OK to love some of the choices that our former enslaver “suggested.” However, I invite you to re-think any and everything from the past that causes you to be physically or mentally sick.
To speed up your journey, I invite you to follow me. I’ll expose the lies and provide you with the truth. My perspective is unique and honed. I am following the money. I will NOT lead you to reactive, hateful, unproductive opinions or unsustainable solutions.
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You can also read my book, Through the Lens of the Transatlantic SlaveTrade (2013, Honoring the Heart Publishing Company), available at vimitamochricks.com or at Amazon.