Tag Archives: bondage

Are You Still A Slave?

FotoFlexer_Photo 1Shahrazad Ali is an author of several books, including a paperback called “The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman”. The book was controversial bringing “forth community forums, pickets and heated arguments among blacks in many parts” of the US when it was published in 1989. However, as time has past Sister Shahrazad Ali was absolutely correct about the relationship between black men and women.

This is a very important question to ask yourself. Sister Shahrazad Ali gives some real-talk about the current situation in the black community. How can black people gain anything if we are divided and fight against each other! If her suggestions are followed, Black people will go a long way, although not in physical chain but to break the chains of mental slavery. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


A Slave Holiday Experience

African Americans are, arguably, the most religious people on the face of the earth and have always been since arriving in this place the slaves called “merica.” With that said, I am sure many have wondered, in spite of the wretched system of slavery; how was it celebrated by the slave population?

The American slaves experienced the Christmas holidays in many different ways. Joy, hope, and celebration were naturally a part of the season for many. For other slaves, these holidays conjured up visions of freedom and even the opportunity to bring about their freedom. Still, others saw it as yet another burden to be endured.

I suppose, if there was ever any joy, it might well have been during the Christmas holidays for the enslaved African Americans. At least their captures, in the spirit of Jesus’ birth allowed them to have a day free from drudgery. The prosperity and relaxed discipline associated with Christmas often enabled slaves to interact in ways that they could not during the rest of the year.

They customarily received material goods from their masters: perhaps the slave’s yearly allotment of clothing, an edible delicacy, or a present above and beyond what he or she needed to survive. For this reason, among others, slaves frequently married during the Christmas season. More than any other time of year, Christmas provided slaves with the latitude and prosperity that made a formal wedding possible.

On the plantation, the transfer of Christmas gifts from master to slave was often accompanied by a curious ritual. On Christmas day, “it was always customary in those days to catch people’s Christmas gifts, and they would give you something.” Slaves and children would lie in wait for these pittances.

This ironic annual inversion of power occasionally allowed slaves to acquire real power. Henry, a slave whose tragic life, and death are recounted in Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, saved “Christmas gifts in money” to buy his freedom. Some slaves saw Christmas as an opportunity to escape. They took advantage of relaxed work schedules and the holiday travels of slaveholders, who were too far away to stop them.

While some slaveholders presumably treated the holiday as any other workday, numerous authors record a variety of holiday traditions, including the suspension of work for celebration and family visits. Because many slaves had spouses, children, and family who were owned by different masters and who lived on other properties, slaves often requested passes to travel and visit family during this time. Some slaves used the passes to explain their presence on the road and delay the discovery of their escape through their masters’ expectation that they would soon return from their “family visit.”

Jermain Loguen plotted a Christmas escape, stockpiling supplies and waiting for travel passes, knowing the cover of the holidays was essential for success: “Lord speed the day freedom begins with the holidays!” These plans turned out to be wise, as Loguen and his companions were almost caught crossing a river into Ohio, but were left alone because the white men thought they were free men “who have been to Kentucky to spend the Holidays with their friends.” Harriet Tubman helped her brothers escape at Christmas.

Their master intended to sell them after Christmas but was delayed by the holiday. The brothers were expected to spend the day with their elderly mother but met Tubman in secret. She helped them travel north, gaining a head start on the master who did not discover their disappearance until after the holidays. Likewise, William and Ellen Crafts escaped together at Christmastime. They took advantage of passes that were clearly meant for temporary use.

Christmas could represent not only physical freedom but spiritual freedom, as well as the hope for better things to come. The main protagonist of Martha Griffin Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, Ann, found little positive value in the slaveholder’s version of Christmas equating it with “all sorts of culinary preparations” and extensive house cleaning rituals but she saw the possibility for a better future in the story of the life of Christ.

“This same Jesus, whom the civilized world now worship as their Lord, was once lowly, outcast, and despised; born of the most hated people of the world . . . laid in the manger of a stable at Bethlehem . . . this Jesus is worshiped now”. For Ann, Christmas symbolized the birth of the very hope she used to survive her captivity. Not all enslaved African Americans viewed the holidays as a time of celebration and hope. Rather, Christmas served only to highlight their lack of freedom.

Frederick Douglass described the period of respite that was granted to slaves every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day as a psychological tool of the oppressor. In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey.” He took particular umbrage at the latter practice, which was often encouraged by slave owners through various tactics.

In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass concluded that “all the license allowed [during the holidays] appears to have no other object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it.” While there is no doubt that many enjoyed these holidays, Douglass acutely discerned that they were granted not merely in a spirit of charity or conviviality, but also to appease those who yearned for freedom, ultimately serving the ulterior motives of slave owners.

Now we know, and it was not all that grand occasion! That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

“Just a Season”

Visit: http://johntwills.com

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season

The Horror of Slavery

1004795_10201334073855180_857894681_nIt was in the year of our Lord 1691 on a day that will live in infamy. America lost its soul that day when they dragged this human cargo onto its shores. Now I could make a great argument that the slavers never had a soul. Nonetheless, once on the shores they handed the Africans a Bible to mark the beginning the most horrific journey that would last for centuries. It is with remembrance of these heart-wrenching events to follow an unimaginable struggle that African Americans must teach our children to never forget.

This is how it began when the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo on-board a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into the shores of Jamestown, Virginia, carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the captain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers.” Regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves at first, Fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Governor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation. In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony, through the use of the Africans, had established a successful economy based on tobacco.

Slavery was born and the slave trade became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime ever inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sanctioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified slavery. The next two-hundred years were a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through indoctrination, brutality, savagery, and terror.

I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there was nothing civil about the institution of slavery. To be clear, a slave is chattel, a human being considered property and servant for life. The business of slave trading had one purpose – profit. The process would begin with an African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, capture other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell these captives to Europeans. Now, if stealing and capturing the victims was not misery enough, what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

This horrible journey, known as the “Middle Passage”, ended with a lifetime of bondage awaiting the captives at the end of the voyage. A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal, would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the cargo ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four would be found dead each morning. Africans from Senegal were the most prized commodity because many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their high suicide rate.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb-like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles – crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ring-bolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shackling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus,” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called Jamestown? The devastating effects of bondage would have an effect on a race of people for centuries.

I will continue to pray that we will be able, one day, to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.


The One And Only

On October 1, 1945, the world was gifted with a singer/songwriter/keyboardist best known for his duets with Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway. Donny fused R&B, gospel, jazz, classical, and rock strains in a modestly successful solo career. He was raised in St. Louis by his grandmother, Martha Pitts, a professional gospel singer. From the age of three, Hathaway accompanied her on tours, billed as the Nation’s Youngest Gospel Singer. He attended Howard University in Washington, DC on a fine-arts scholarship.

He worked as a producer and arranger for artists such as Aretha Franklin and the Staple Singers. After serving as the band director the Impressions, he recorded the single “I Thank You” for Curtis Mayfield’s label and sang backup with the Mayfield Singers. His first single “The Ghetto, Part 1” reached #23 on the charts. After recording several more singles and an album, Donny recorded “You’ve Got a Friend” with Roberta Flack. Their single “Where Is the Love?” reached #5 on the charts & earned them a Grammy Award.

He sang the theme song for the television program “Maude” and was hired by Quincy Jones to score the soundtrack for the 1972 film “Come Back Charleston Blue.” In 1973, reportedly suffering from periods of depression, his partnership with Flack deteriorated and Hathaway faded into relative obscurity. Five years later, he recorded “The Closer I Get to You” with Flack. This was their biggest hit & reached #2 on the charts as well as earned them another Grammy nomination.

Gone too soon, but he left a profound footprint upon the souls of mankind. We loved you Brother Donny and miss the gift you shared with the world but you will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace!

Listen to the music I’ve added; trust and believe it will warm you heart. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Put Your Hand In The Hand

Young, Gifted, And Black

What’s Goin On

“Just a Season”

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season


A Blueprint for Accountability

I was being interviewed recently by a radio show host who asked a question that I had not thought much about. The question was “what was the message that I was trying to send and why did I create THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVES?” It made me wonder if the 14,000 plus followers wanted to know the answer too. My response was simple – to empower the minds of mankind. I understand that word have meaning and are powerful. Therefore, if I can induce thought and cause one to see things from a different perspective – I say well done.

Some have commented that my topics are racial, liberal, and too long. I say they are detailed reminders of the ghost of the great who paved the way and wrote the Greatest Story Ever Told! And the perspective’s relating to the political topics; well, they are reminders that as much as things change they remain the same and that history is written by the victor to enslave minds. With that said, this Sunday morning I will not take you to church but I will give you the word!

Think about the message and maybe you can find the strength to make a difference. And That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”

Visit: http://johntwills.com

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season


The Slave Holiday Experience

African American are, arguably, the most religious people on the face of the earth and have always been since arriving in this place the slaves called “merica”. With that said, I am sure many have wondered, in spite of the wretched system of slavery, how was it celebrated by the slave population? Since this is Black History Month I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about it and share an exposé that will hopefully empower you to what it must have been like.

The American slaves experienced the Christmas holidays in many different ways. Joy, hope, and celebration were naturally a part of the season for many. For other slaves, these holidays conjured up visions of freedom and even the opportunity to bring about that freedom. Still others saw it as yet another burden to be endured.

I suppose, if there was ever any joy, it might well have been during the Christmas holidays for the enslaved African Americans. At least their captures, in the spirit of Jesus’ birth allowed them to have a day free from drudgery. The prosperity and relaxed discipline associated with Christmas often enabled slaves to interact in ways that they could not during the rest of the year.

They customarily received material goods from their masters: perhaps the slave’s yearly allotment of clothing, an edible delicacy, or a present above and beyond what he or she needed to survive. For this reason, among others, slaves frequently married during the Christmas season. For example, when Dice, a female slave in Nina Hill Robinson’s Aunt Dice, came to her master “one Christmas Eve, and asked his consent to her marriage with Caesar,” her master allowed the ceremony, and a “great feast was spread”.

Dice and Caesar were married in “the mistress’s own parlor. . . before the white minister”. More than any other time of year, Christmas provided slaves with the latitude and prosperity that made a formal wedding possible. On the plantation, the transfer of Christmas gifts from master to slave was often accompanied by a curious ritual. On Christmas day, “it was always customary in those days to catch peoples Christmas gifts and they would give you something.” Slaves and children would lie in wait for those with the means to provide presents and capture them, crying ‘Christmas gift’ and refusing to release their prisoners until they received a gift in return.

This ironic annual inversion of power occasionally allowed slaves to acquire real power. Henry, a slave whose tragic life and death is recounted in Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, saved “Christmas gifts in money” to buy his freedom. Some slaves saw Christmas as an opportunity to escape. They took advantage of relaxed work schedules and the holiday travels of slaveholders, who were too far away to stop them.

While some slaveholders presumably treated the holiday as any other workday, numerous authors record a variety of holiday traditions, including the suspension of work for celebration and family visits. Because many slaves had spouses, children, and family who were owned by different masters and who lived on other properties, slaves often requested passes to travel and visit family during this time. Some slaves used the passes to explain their presence on the road and delay the discovery of their escape through their masters’ expectation that they would soon return from their “family visit.”

Jermain Loguen plotted a Christmas escape, stockpiling supplies and waiting for travel passes, knowing the cover of the holidays was essential for success: “Lord speed the day!–freedom begins with the holidays!” These plans turned out to be wise, as Loguen and his companions were almost caught crossing a river into Ohio, but were left alone because the white men thought they were free men “who have been to Kentucky to spend the Holidays with their friends”. Harriet Tubman helped her brothers escape at Christmas.

Their master intended to sell them after Christmas but was delayed by the holiday. The brothers were expected to spend the day with their elderly mother but met Tubman in secret. She helped them travel north, gaining a head start on the master who did not discover their disappearance until the end of the holidays. Likewise, William and Ellen Crafts escaped together at Christmastime. They took advantage of passes that were clearly meant for temporary use.

Ellen “obtained a pass from her mistress, allowing her to be away for a few days. The cabinet-maker with whom I worked gave me a similar paper, but said that he needed my services very much, and wished me to return as soon as the time granted was up. I thanked him kindly; but somehow I have not been able to make it convenient to return yet; and, as the free air of good old England agrees so well with my wife and our dear little ones, as well as with myself, it is not at all likely we shall return at present to the ‘peculiar institution’ of chains and stripes”.

Christmas could represent not only physical freedom, but spiritual freedom, as well as the hope for better things to come. The main protagonist of Martha Griffin Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, Ann, found little positive value in the slaveholder’s version of Christmas equating it with “all sorts of culinary preparations” and extensive house cleaning rituals but she saw the possibility for a better future in the story of the life of Christ: “This same Jesus, whom the civilized world now worship as their Lord, was once lowly, outcast, and despised; born of the most hated people of the world . . . laid in the manger of a stable at Bethlehem . . . this Jesus is worshipped now”.

For Ann, Christmas symbolized the birth of the very hope she used to survive her captivity. Not all enslaved African Americans viewed the holidays as a time of celebration and hope. Rather, Christmas served only to highlight their lack of freedom. As a young boy, Louis Hughes was bought in December and introduced to his new household on Christmas Eve “as a Christmas gift to the madam”. When Peter Bruner tried to claim a Christmas gift from his master, “he took me and threw me in the tan vat and nearly drowned me. Every time I made an attempt to get out he would kick me back in again until I was almost dead”.

Frederick Douglass described the period of respite that was granted to slaves every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day as a psychological tool of the oppressor. In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey”. He took particular umbrage at the latter practice, which was often encouraged by slave owners through various tactics. “One plan [was] to make bets on their slaves, as to who can drink the most whiskey without getting drunk; and in this way they succeed in getting whole multitudes to drink to excess”.

In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass concluded that “[a]ll the license allowed [during the holidays] appears to have no other object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it”. While there is no doubt that many enjoyed these holidays, Douglass acutely discerned that they were granted not merely in a spirit of charity or conviviality, but also to appease those who yearned for freedom, ultimately serving the ulterior motives of slave owners.

Now we know and that is my Thought Provoking Perspective!

Black History Everyday because Black History is American History.

“Just a Season”

Visit: http://johntwills.com

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season the sequel is coming!

%d bloggers like this: