Tag Archives: struggle

Black By Popular Demand

I’ve received many emails recently telling me that I have begun to get too political and that I should continue to empower the consciousness of those who have no real connection or understand of the greatest story ever told, which is the African American Diaspora. I received one particular email from a young lady who could not remember when we were Negroes. As a result of this surprising revelation I promised that I would re-post my Black History Month Series “The Twenty-Eight Days of Us.”

Therefore, as I promised this proud Black Woman thirsting for knowledge of self that I would provide her and you with the knowledge she seeks. But I can’t resist talking about that insanity of this political season because it is important to understand that we have, but one choice which is to not to elect the Trumpeter as our president.

What struck me by this request was a comment she made. She said, “make it plain my brother.” This was something that Brother Malcolm used to say, and I was an honor to have been connected to such a powerful statement. So I will do just that and “Make It Plain” starting with this post called “What Happened to the Black Family”!

I have seen a lot of life and at one point in a past life, I taught a college course called the Psychology of the Black Family. From time to time I go back and look through some of those old term papers from that class to which I become enthralled by the content. The assignment given to each student was to write a term paper on “The Breakdown of the African American Family.” As I read through some of the thirty or so papers, I found several very significant points and a common theme throughout the papers. I decided to capture some of the key points from those research papers to share with you.

During slavery, and from the 1800’s through the 1980’s, the concept of family was tight-knit, strongly woven, and the envy of most cultures. The African American family unit survived in spite of unimaginable cruelty and adversity. It is only recently, during the last thirty years or so that the African American family became dysfunctional and lost its direction. One has to think for some twisted reason we do not feel whole because, in many cases, we allow others define us.

I can recall a powerful statement made by one of the students who expressed that she thinks the different social pressures on black men and women have contributed to the weak traditional family structure. Black women have been able to achieve more economical and educational success than black men, leading to them being higher wage earners. This inequality has eroded black women’s reliance on men and their willingness to compromise on their needs or expectations, which in turn has led to resentment and disappointment on both sides.

Black women raise children, too often alone, and the bitterness that difficult task creates causes some women to make derogatory complaints against men in general, tainting their daughters and shaming their sons. Also, it seems that black women do not often hold their sons to as high a standard as their daughters, making them further vulnerable.

If the proper behavior is not modeled for young people, they have difficulty fulfilling those expectations. This creates the perfect ingredients for the dismal situations to occur in our community. She went on to say that a lot of that has to do with our values, and the lack of knowing the importance of loving our communities, our families, and ourselves.

These are 12 conditions expressed that continue to cause irreparable harm to black people:

1. The Vietnam War: Hundreds of thousands of strong, intelligent, hard working black men were shipped abroad to be murdered, returned home shell shocked, severely damaged, or addicted. Many of which were unable to get back on track after returning from war because the government abandoned them.

2. COINTELPRO: The covert actions of J. Edgar Hoover in the wake of the Civil Rights Era and the Black Power Movements all but insured that anyone speaking out against the governments wrong doings would receive either long prison sentences or bullets. This fear silenced our forward progression, fueling distrust, and removing many of our leaders as well as potential future leaders.

3. The Assassinations of the 1960’s: Left a huge void in leadership that has yet to be filled, particularly within the Civil Rights Movement to include within the community. Instead, a universal acceptance of the pimp/hustler image in popular culture that presented alternative heroes to black youth, which resonant in the form of Gangster Rap. This genre leads to the glorification of the criminal element amidst immature minds that lack familial structure. In addition to black on black crime and staying silent while black youth are murdered by other black youth.

4. The Feminist Movement: Backed by liberal white women to fight for the equal rights of women; the same rights most black men had yet to fully be granted. A lot of black women got lost in the rhetoric of how men were keeping them down, losing sight of the fact that black men were down there with them. To this day, the power exchange and infighting among black men and women, is sadly considered the norm, a tool enumerated by Willie Lynch.

5. Oliver North & the Contras: The volume of drugs, mainly crack cocaine that flooded the black community during the 80 to which most of the drugs came in on U.S. ships with the support of the Government. The CRACK era escalated death and incarceration rates, unwanted pregnancies, neighborhood prostitution and a culture of violence. Folks were selling their kids to hit the pipe, and selling their souls to sell what went in that pipe. This epidemic destroyed our community in ways slavery could never have done. This form of contemporary was the cruelest type of slavery imposed upon our communities.

6. Mass media brainwashing & mind control: The influences of propaganda and distorted images of beauty and male/female roles. Shows like Life Styles of the Rich and Famous, Dynasty, Different Strokes, and the Jefferson’s for example. The American conscious during the 80’s was money driven. Materialism became the idea that stuff defines you and others.

7. Education: The lack of proper education, financing support, and knowledge being taught by African American professionals. In addition our leaders and academics failed us as they fled the hood in droves for the suburbs during those crazy 80’s. Prior to this period, kids saw on a daily basis married couples that looked like them, even if they didn’t live in their households. Yet the great migration to greener pastures left a void in the community leaving it to be filled by the image of the hustler-pimp-thug, ruthlessness, and violence.

8. Communication: This speaks to education of self and listening to the wrong messengers. The communication of values – parents became unavailable to hand down family legacies, traditions and value systems. We’re like POW’s locked in the same building for 20 years, unable to converse thru cement walls confined by our persona’s, egos, insecurities, isms etc.

9. The Black Church: Many churches have lost their way. The business of religion is bankrupting our communities. Many churches are not touching the lives of those outside of the church most in need. Just like back in the day when it was the design of slave masters, who did so much wickedness to use this as a tactic by offering a bible and in most instances nothing more than pain and a promise of a better life to keep us in line. This is not the same as faith which was necessary to survive our struggles.

10. Urbanization – work and home were once connected. Parents were near their families and children understood work as a way of life. Urbanization helped create “latch key” kids and images of hard work disappeared while replacing it with material objects.

11. Social Services: The advent of the system of welfare that demanded the absence of the influence of the black man in the home. Before Claudine during the early 50’s welfare was a Midwestern farmer hook up and back then you HAD to be a complete family to apply. So the laws for welfare changed in the inner-city while many in the farm lands of Mid America started to change in culture to fit the application for welfare. For decades to follow, trillions of dollars in government spending on ineffective social programs in our cities have not by enlarge benefited the mobility of the family.

12. Segregation: Jim Crow Laws and Black Codes that prevented legal marriages, dehumanized people, and discriminatory practices in work/education left many African Americans unable to access resources necessary to build strong family bases causing disillusioned men/husbands/fathers to abandonment rather than face daily reminder of their “failure”.

It is these elements that continue to affect all black people and lastly, let us not forget slavery and the Willie Lynch Theory! So when you look in the mirror or just look at the picture I have inserted; I hope you will think about and understand that it is a designed plan, as it has been from the beginning to enslave a whole race of people. And that’s my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE!


“The Dash”

legacy bookI wonder how many of you have taken the time to reexamine the life you’ve been given. If you were to view the headstone that comes with the end of life; you will see your name inscribed. You will also witness a tiny Dash that separates the years of one’s birth and death that represents the whole of a person’s life. This should bring about an illuminating discovery. So if this tiny dash were to tell your life’s story, what would it say?

A few years ago I was blessed to be the vehicle to channel an epic novel titled “Just a Season” where a man journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. I chose to title this novel “Just a Season” because that’s all God gave us, and this novel is a story of life. It captures the journey, life and times, of an African American man living in America and the significant history witnessed during his journey.

Television Host and Poet Sistah Joy said, “Thank you for your example of tenderness and discipline in what I know is a story of love, delicately shared with readers in a way that says this life, though brief, is significant. So hold it in highest regard for “the dash” is our legacy to love ones, indeed to the world, which we are blessed to share, albeit, for Just a Season.” 

Other reviewers complemented this epic story by saying “This is the stuff movies are made of… not since “Roots” have I read a story that so succinctly chronicles an African American story!” Another said, “Not since The Color Purple have I read a book that evoked such emotions.”

Cheryl Hayes of APOOO Book Club said in her review that “Wills pulls you in from the very first page… Just a Season is a heart-wrenching story about growing up and believing in yourself. I highly recommend this book to young men in high school, trying to find themselves and feeling like they have nowhere to turn.”

This book has received rave reviews and I’m honored having my work mentioned in the same sentence with “Roots” and “The Color Purple”. This is evident of its richness and I’m blessed that the story has touched the hearts of so many and mankind. I will say, and you can quote me, “You will see the world through new eyes”. I will say, and you can quote me, “You will see the world through new eyes”.

It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told but there are some that you cannot forget! It’s been several years since “Just a Season” and it’s time to move on. I’ve penned a new novel “Legacy – A New Season“. It is the sequel and the continuation of “Just a Season” and a stand-alone story rich in history on a subject rarely explained to children of this generation concerning the African American struggle.

Legacy – A New Season” the long awaited saga to the epic novel “Just a Season” will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African American Diaspora, as told by a loving grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever.

Prelude to “Just a Season”

A MUST READ!!!A season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon that some call life. One of the first things I learned in this life was that it is a journey. During this passage through time I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter.

Today, I have to face a valley and it’s excruciating. It’s June 28th, a day that I once celebrated as a very special day. Now, it’s filled with sorrow. The reason this day is different from all others is because I have come to the cemetery at Friendly Church.

Normally it’s hot and humid as summer begins, but not so today. It’s a cool gray day with the sky slightly overcast. I hear the echo of birds chirping from a distance. There is also a mist or a light fog hovering very near the ground that gives the aura of a mystical setting.  This is a place where many of my family members who have passed away rest for eternity.  Some have been resting here for over a hundred years. I have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a sister, and many friends here as well. The cemetery is in the most tranquil of places secluded from the rest of the world, very peaceful and beautiful, almost like being near the gateway of heaven.

My heart aches today because I have come here on what would have been my son’s birthday. This is a very hard thing for me to do as the natural order suggests it should be the other way around. Another difficulty is that this is the first time I will see his headstone that was put in place just a few days ago. Although I know what it should look like, it’s going to be hard to actually see it. It will indicate the finality of losing the dearest of all human beings.  It’s hard to imagine what the rest of my life will be like without my precious son.

As I pass Granddaddy’s gravesite, I stop to say hello. After a brief moment, I continue in the direction of my son’s resting place. As I get closer, I begin to receive a rush of emotion to the point that my movements slow as the sight comes into view. I can now see his name clearly and I whisper “God why did you take him?” I become numb as I finally arrive at his gravesite, overwhelmed with this never before known emotion. This is something I never thought I would ever have to do, but here I am!!!

Suddenly, the sky begins to clear somewhat, as I now feel the sun’s rays from above.  At this very moment, I receive an epiphany upon reading the dates inscribed on the stone.  1981 – 2001. What does this really mean? The beginning and the end, surely, but in the final analysis it is just a tiny little dash that represents the whole life of a person. I fall to my knees realizing the profound impact of that thought causing me to look to the heavens and wonder. If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash. What might they say?

Get Your Copies

Just a Season

Legacy – A New Season


The Unspoken Truth

I’ve received numerous requests from followers to re-post a series of articles designed to be a potent source of African America history that I believe is the “greatest story ever told” to empower the minds of mankind. During the next several weeks I will post the entire series speaking to the phenomenal history and difficult struggle of the African American experience.

The legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of those with a diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of a people based on an ideology of supremacy. These stolen souls that exist today are people who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man. Hence, from the beginning, people of African descent were intended to be a nation of people living within a nation without a nationality.

I will call the writings this month “The Unspoken Truth”. It is intended to empower by educating people through knowledge concerning issues that many blacks continue to face today from the untreated wounds of America’s forefathers. This series is a knowledge-based examination of the African American Diaspora. As you travel with me though the next twenty-eight days, my purpose is to simply offer explanations causing people to look at and understand the root cause of the asymptomatic behaviors.

It is my sincere desire to help people understand that there is a conditioning in “certain” communities – this is not an excuse, rather an explanation as to why these behaviors were never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, and an African American, which were the polite terms assigned to make known that African Americans were not American citizens.

The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. To overcome these indignities we must realize that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize the forces that breed poverty and despair. Regardless of how much we are held down, it is our responsibility to find a way to get up, even if the system is designed to protect the system.

As you follow the Unspoken Truth this month and we embark upon this journey; know that learning without thought is a labor lost; thought without learning is intellectual death; and courage is knowing what’s needed and doing it. As tenacious beings, we must understand that there is no such thing as an inferior mind. So I say it’s time for an awakening, if for no other reason than to honor those who sacrificed so much in order that we could live life in abundance.

As you experience this history remember this: You only have a minute. Sixty seconds in it. Didn’t chose it, can’t refuse it, it’s up to you to use it. It’s just a tiny little minute but an eternity in it. You can change the world but first you must change your mind. And that is my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE!

Purchase “Just a Season” today because Legacy – A New Season the sequel has arrived!!!

http://johntwills.com

AMAZON


A Must Read Novel

I am very fortunate or maybe I should say blessed to have been chosen to channel the story within the pages of the epic novel “Just a Season”.  It chronicles what has been called a contemporary “Roots” with the emotion of “The Color Purple” that will cause you to see the world through new eyes. Another reviewer said, “This is the stuff movies are made of… I have not read anything that so succinctly chronicles an African American story.” I was very pleased and honored to have receive that kind of acclaim.

Just a Season is the predecessor to Legacy – A New Season that will be released very soon. It’s been several years since Just a Season, and it’s time to move on. Generations have come and gone, life is bearable after all, and hope lives in a little boy and in a man who almost lost all hope.

It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told but there are some you cannot forget. “Legacy” – A New Seasonis the perfect compliment to that statement and the continuation of Just a Season.  It is a stand-alone story rich in history on a subject rarely explained to children of this generation – the African American struggle.

This long awaited squeal to the epic novel Just a Season will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African-American Diaspora, as told by a grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever.

I want to share the being of the story which I have been told will capture you from the first page transporting you into John’s word. It is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. What follows is the prelude that I hope you will enjoy. Oh, did I tell you that Just a Season is a must read novel…

__________________________________________

Prelude

A season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon that some call life. One of the first things I learned in this life was that it is a journey. During this passage through time I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter. Today, I have to face a valley and it’s excruciating. It’s June 28th, a day that I once celebrated as a very special day. Now, it’s filled with sorrow. The reason this day is different from all others is because I have come to the cemetery at Friendly Church.

Normally it’s hot and humid as summer begins, but not so today. It’s a cool gray day with the sky slightly overcast. I hear the echo of birds chirping from a distance. There is also a mist or a light fog hovering very near the ground that gives the aura of a mystical setting.  This is a place where many of my family members who have passed away rest for eternity.  Some have been resting here for over a hundred years. I have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a sister, and many friends here as well. The cemetery is in the most tranquil of places secluded from the rest of the world, very peaceful and beautiful, almost like being near the gateway of heaven.

My heart aches today because I have come here on what would have been my son’s birthday. This is a very hard thing for me to do as the natural order suggests it should be the other way around. Another difficulty is that this is the first time I will see his headstone that was put in place just a few days ago. Although I know what it should look like, it’s going to be hard to actually see it. It will indicate the finality of losing the dearest of all human beings.  It’s hard to imagine what the rest of my life will be like without my precious son.

As I pass Granddaddy’s gravesite, I stop to say hello. After a brief moment, I continue in the direction of my son’s resting place. As I get closer, I begin to receive a rush of emotion to the point that my movements slow as the sight comes into view. I can now see his name clearly and I whisper “God why did you take him?” I become numb as I finally arrive at his gravesite, overwhelmed with this never before known emotion. This is something I never thought I would ever have to do, but here I am!!!

Suddenly, the sky begins to clear somewhat, as I now feel the sun’s rays from above.  At this very moment, I receive an epiphany upon reading the dates inscribed on the stone.  1981 – 2001. What does this really mean? The beginning and the end, surely, but in the final analysis it is just a tiny little dash that represents the whole life of a person. I fall to my knees realizing the profound impact of that thought causing me to look to the heavens and wonder. If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash.   What might they say?

Chapter One

The story begins in late November 1951 on a clear sunny Sunday afternoon. It was fairly cool for an autumn day and as it was the custom in the Reid family, everyone had gone to church early to give praise to the Lord. This was a special day for this family. It was a special day because of their anticipation of a new member into the family. So it was a great, great feeling of joy and excitement that filled their home. Ruth and Josie did not attend church this day, because Josie was overdue and expecting to give birth at anytime.

The Reid residence was Granddaddy’s house, where friends and family gathered after church for dinner most Sundays. Granddaddy was the anchor and his home was viewed as a welcoming sanctuary to all who came. Granddaddy and his family lived on a farm of about two hundred acres. In a time when living was tough in this very segregated rural area of Maryland, it was even harder being a sharecropper. In fact, this was really just a step above slavery and not much of a step, I might add.

This was a very small family, tightly woven together, and built on faith. The Reid family was proud, respected, and well known in this community. The family’s core was Sylvanus, affectionately called Vanus, but to me he was Granddaddy. A quiet hard working family minded man. He married Miss Gladys in the mid nineteen twenties and had lived on this place since then. Although they did not own the farm nor did they have very many material possessions, they were rich in love and strong in faith. The farm was all they knew and this family was their life.

Granddaddy was a proud man who commanded respect by his mere presence. He was strong, and had to be, because of his life’s existence. He believed the event about to take place would be the blessing for which he had long dreamed. To him this was a bright beacon of hope. He believed firmly that faith was being sure of what you hoped for and certain of what you could not see. Granddaddy conceived this understanding, maybe through a vision, that this child would be key to the future of his family. He had very high hopes that this event would bring the gift for which he had long waited.

Miss Gladys, his beloved wife, was a good Christian woman and a real fighter. She was known throughout the community as Big Momma, and Big Momma was something else. If that’s the way she saw it, that’s the way it ought ta be. She would always say, “I’m like a blue hen chicken, I cluck but I never sit.” I don’t think anyone really understood what she meant by that, but she was the boss. Well, she was the boss to everyone but Granddaddy.

Their union produced one son, Sonny, who was Ruth’s husband. They had three children. Their names were Effie, Dottie, and Buddy. Martha, their oldest daughter had one child, a son, whose name was Willie. Then there was Josie, the youngest of Granddaddy’s children. Which meant, as the baby of the family she was special. Oh yeah, there was also a child Granddaddy raised whose name was Lilly and this was pretty much the Reid family.  Also present on this day was Martha’s boyfriend Lonnie, as he was on most weekends. The gathering on this day also included a few of the good church folk who came by after the church service.

If you love history and want to know our story visit http://johntwills.com for more information and to purchase the novels. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Snake

My Granddaddy use to tell me fascinating stories designed to make me a man. In fact, he would tell me every day that “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you may have to do but when the time comes, you do it.” He said it so often throughout my youth that it was embedded into my mind and to this very day a warm smile appears “when I have to do it”.

I loved this wise man more than life itself. I knew, even then, his teachings were an inspired declaration of his celestial will or more simply put – his vision that shaped my destiny and it defined my purpose. Pop’s would teach me lessons, often times, like an Aesop Fables to make me think and it was my job to figure out the moral of the story.

This is my favorite:

The way the story was told to me, Granddaddy’s friend, Mr. Bob whose job was to offer a prayer every Sunday morning at church during the service prior to the preacher’s sermon, a job he had held for years. Sunday was a special day for the community, and for him to have a position where he would have the attention of everyone was a big deal. More accurately stated it was a platform for him to perform. He would have been a great entertainer.

Mr. Bob would walk to church every Sunday morning, rain or shine, from his home. The trip was several miles up and down hills and around curves, and he would be dressed in his best suit for the morning service. During the walk he would practice his part for the service, the prayer, with the intention of making it a show complete with screams and tears. This show would sometimes last thirty minutes. There were many Sundays one would wonder how one man could have so much to ask of the Lord and maybe say, please, let somebody else get a blessing.

On his way to church this particular Sunday, Mr. Bob came across an injured snake. In what he perceived as divine intervention, God said to him, help this poor creature. He realized he did not have a prayer for that day’s service, so he thought, wow, if I help the snake I can pray for us to have the strength to help all of God’s creatures. Since the snake is the lowliest of all creatures, this would really inspire the congregation and hopefully give them the encouragement to do the same at least until next Sunday’s message. So he picked up the badly injured snake and placed him in a safe place until he could return from church.

With great energy, and now inspired, Mr. Bob went on his way. He planned and practiced his prayer as he marched on to church. After he arrived and exchanged a few greetings, the service began with a joyful noise, as they say, meaning full of song. Then it was his turn to pray. He began to pray with a powerful tone, full of emotion. He asked God to give each person within the sound of his voice the strength to reach out and help all God’s creatures, from the loving dove to the lowly snake. His message had many in the tiny church standing with shouts of Amen. He felt he had done his job as he closed, asking God to bless the church and said Amen. In his usual style this took about a half hour.

To his surprise, the pastor also chose a sermon nearly identical to his message which took about another hour and a half, talking about helping all of God’s creatures. What a great day it was, Mr. Bob thought. Normally after the service ended everyone hung around and fellowshipped as it was one of the few chances they had to socialize. Mr. Bob would not hang around on this day – he had a mission and left church in a hurry. He rushed back to the spot where his injured snake was placed hoping it would still be there. He was very excited when he arrived to find it was where he left it. He put his snake in a burlap bag he had gotten from the church and took the snake home.

Over the next several weeks Mr. Bob cared for this creature, desperately trying to save the snake and nursing it back to health. About three weeks later he thought it was time to take his snake back to where he found it, thinking it was well enough to be set free. The following Sunday, he put on his best suit and started his journey to church with snake in hand. As he arrived at the spot where he had found it, he thought, what a wonderful thing he had done. He was sure to receive God’s blessing for this act of kindness.

He rubbed the snake gently and said goodbye. However, when he reached into the bag to grab it, suddenly the snake raised his head and bit him. Then bit him again and again. Mr. Bob cried out, “Why would you bite me after all I’ve done for you? My God why?” I guess he was expecting an answer from God, but none came. He repeated his cry once more. Then the snake stuck his head out of the bag and said, “I am a snake and that’s what we do.”After hearing this story over and over again, I finally figured out what it meant. It was a lesson that would prove to be invaluable.

Be careful in your dealings with people because people, just like the snake, will hurt you – that’s what they do.

Taken from the phenomenal novel “Just a Season
© 2007 All Rights Reserved


The Scene of the Crime

It is a fact that our history was destroyed by slavery. However, I have resurrected our amazing and often horrific journey through black history. I have tried to bring into remembrance some heart wrenching events and glorious victories resulting from the unimaginable struggle that African Americans have had to endure.

During this expedition , particularly those legendary segregated communities and the greats who made them prosperous, I would be remiss if I did not start at the beginning with an article that takes us back to the scene of the crime.

The Jamestown Colony, England’s first permanent settle­ment in North America, was a marshy wasteland, poor for agricul­ture, and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. HIS-Story describes this as the “starving times,” but all would change.

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo onboard 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, 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 ringbolts 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.

“Just a Season”

Legacy – A New Season is coming!

What Happened to the BLACK FAMILY? You’re Thoughts…

I posted the first part of this commentary last week where I provided excerpts from several research papers submitted by a group of students I once taught. As powerful as the dozen points outlined where I believe the root cause or the real issue we face, as a community, was not fully addressed. Most of us know that many of these issues were handed down from America’s forefathers creating this mental conditioning and yes it is mental.

There have been many legal obstructive systems imputed upon African American life designed to destroy our culture and families. We know that and our ancestors overcame the horrors of slavery. So what is our excuse? I am going to cut right to the chase; we must take responsibility as Black men, step up and be the head of the family, which is a necessary component to the whole concept family. Moreover, ladies – he must be allowed to guide, direct, and lead. As simple as this sound, it is the single most contributor to our demise.

We can all agree that there is no one, 5, or 12 reasons for our plight. My point is this is more significant than all others and should be at the top of the list. The dynamics between black men and women, full of anger and resentment, continue to weaken our families. Of course, the centuries of mistreatment has had a lethal impact on the health of our people and it would take many books to list everything that we’ve survived. I don’t need to retell the story; we all know that since 1619 Black people have been in this land, now the USA, for centuries as indentured servants, slaves, property, 2nd class “citizens”, the list goes on.

Generational transference of tactics from slavery that indirectly taught our children to suppress or minimize personality traits not conducive to survival in a society aimed at their destruction. Traits like compromise, trust, acceptance, conflict resolution, pride in accomplishment is communally absent. During slavery, we were taught thru examples of violence to downplay our children’s accomplishments for fear of calling attention to them and thus making them a target for racial discrimination. For example knowing how to read was shrouded in secrecy, which had validity to some degree and a dramatic effect on self-confidence that we are still paying the price for today.

We have created a form of mental slavery whereby reason is of the abstract. We know slavery was horrible but we are taught and perpetuate everyday in subtle and not so subtle ways that somehow slavery was not as horrible as the conditions we now face. They say segregation has ended, which means the horrors of Black Wall Street, American before Brown v Board of Education, Rosewood and frankly all of our American history never existed because of integration. We seem to have forgotten what Malcolm said, “anywhere south of Canada was south” and by extension caused a separation of unity within the black family structure.

Let me be clear, integration was necessary to short circuit the INSTITUTIONALIZED system of “separate but equal” but it diluted the focus on economic independence in our communities. Therefore, the unintended consequence of this was to further separate our people. Cognitive dissonance is the root of all of this, in my opinion. This conflict in reality coupled with what we are taught has caused far reaching mental and emotional issues that we do not face or deal with as a people. We fight, blame and mistrust each other because of this and do not focus on the true issues.

We don’t fight for proper condolences, recognition or respect for those who died and fought for our rights to be “human” in America. It is obvious because we can see the impact and the symptoms as we point the collective finger at each other when the big pink elephant of our denial hugely sit in the room. To correct this we must start with the complete acceptance of the facts and until we are all ready to look to each other and seek viable resolutions or the solution will continue to elude us. I attribute this to the extreme stresses of an oppressive social system that keeps large numbers of people in poverty or near-poverty conditions, and to the widespread ghetto mentality, which all stem from trying to cope with those oppressive living conditions.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you are one who believe the black family is “broken”; implying that it wasn’t before. We then have to first identify the time(s) when these families were “whole”. Was it during slavery, when a child could be ripped from its mother’s arms and sold to another owner in the same manner as dairy calves? Was it during the era of lynching, when a successful business owner could be dragged from his home and hung from a tree, leaving behind a family? Perhaps it was soon after desegregation, when Blacks were no longer forced to support the local black-owned business in the community and could shop at the better, whiter stores, so long as it wasn’t their shop that went under with the exodus of patronage?

Segregation was really an impetus to support Black communities (schools, residences, economies, etc.). Once Blacks were no longer forced to support each other…we didn’t; and why should we? Blackness was/is considered other, ugly, and less than, something one did not willingly associate with. It’s no coincidence that the mantras “Black is beautiful” and “I’m Black and Proud” were coined soon segregation ended. We needed to be convinced that we were indeed beautiful and worthy of pride, and continue to be. I think it’s fair to say that since the Civil Rights movement, the only tie left that connects black folks to each other are our collective experiences with present-day racism.

The very thing that plagues us is the one thing that we can all still identify with on some level. We don’t listen to each other long enough to determine or recognize what is necessary for us to survive. We base our perception on what our peers and mass media says as opposed to the issues concerning our collective salvation. In an ideal world, Blacks shouldn’t be forced to or even need to “stick together” to make our families stable, loving, and satisfying. But we’ve been broken down, systematically, as an entire race, which I believe we have to build ourselves back up as an entire race.

At the end of the day, regardless of how we choose to identify ourselves, we are not afforded all of the privileges to which we are entitled in this country simply because of our complexion, which is used as the power to divide and compartmentalize people. Therefore, it requires action from the person you see in the mirror to understand that it requires responsibility and unity to do what our forefathers did, which was to continue the species. “We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.” And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective.

What do you think???

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