Pro- Black And Black Resistance Part 2
In my class we learned the differences between overt resistance and covert resistance. There were many kinds of resistance. Extreme measures like Africans bashing the heads of their beloved babies on rocks upon capture to prevent them from being taken into transatlantic slavery, mass suicide of runaway slaves to prevent recapture, starvation during the middle passage and jumping from slave ships. There were revolts against slavery.
It’s now hard to believe what seems like common sense -that slavery was evil. But back then many people didn’t believe it was. Some people thought extreme stories of brutality were just that- extreme. The image of the benevolent slave master protecting his slaves from themselves was an common accepted perception. This propaganda kept people comfortable with this great evil. The idea that slavery in Africa was similar to slavery in the Americas is a common talk piece to excuse transatlantic slavery. We have seen how propaganda has been used to cover atrocities and it was no different then. Those that supported slavery did not want to see Africans as smart people with their own lives and families or having set up systems of education and advancement before they were stolen from the continent. The belief that Africans had no record of history before slavery is more propaganda. It was easier to see them as ignorant people being rescued by slavery. The slave narratives- written testimonies of the atrocities of slavery and the humanity of black people were written and published as a form of resistance. They were used to tell the truth about what was happening.
As a black person, learning to read in America was at one point an illegal form of resistance. Art has been used as a form of resistance. Back during slavery, songs and rhymes were used as a means of resistance to carry on culture and stories and as a means of literal escape from slave plantations. We resisted laws that were enacted to keep us on the bottom rung. The building up of the family after slavery was important. Where families previously had no ownership of themselves or a choice to stay together, with freedom, this was the priority. The focus on education and excellence in a world that once denied (and some still do) the capabilities of black people, is a form of resistance.
Are people programmed to see celebrations of black culture and togetherness as a threat or a negative form of resistance? The destruction of black wall street showed that it was seen as a threat. Most people, if you ask them would say no, but then in the same breath might say that they don’t understand why we need to have black history month. They may question why statements with the word “black” are not considered racist while statements that use the word “White” in it are. Choosing to understand the deeper issue of why we have a month of focus on our history and contributions is important for us all. While many things historically had the word “White” in it as a form of exclusion- things with the word black in it signify the unique black experience and the deepening one’s knowledge of history (pre slavery and post) and the present. Being aware and pro-black is a state of mind that actively resists negative narratives and allows us to see things for what they are. It empowers and allows us to build the next generation.
What do you think of when you hear the term pro-black?
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