Melvin Robertson

#SlaveryWasAChoice! by: Melvin Robertson

There’s been some backlash about Kanye West comment on slavery being a choice. I’m sorry if I offend anyone because that’s furtherest from my intent. I feel that people who were offended by Mr. West comment rushed to judgement only because the content is inflammatory in nature. “He said WHAT?”… “That was the most ignorant statement I’ve ever heard!”… “He is seriously mentally ill!”

Those were some of the comments made in response to Mr. West. I agree with him. Slavery for 400 years (although I question that number) was a choice! Now in 1691 when they first brought Africans to America that was NOT a choice. (If that date is accurate, in terms of when the first ship filled with slaves arrived, then 400 years of slavery is inaccurate.) For the sake of argument, it still was nothing short of deceit, manipulation and kidnapping. Not only was America a foreign land, but the African people just witnessed a journey across thousands of miles on ocean water where their counterparts starved to death, were raped, tortured and murdered. All at gunpoint. So yes, initially the African people that were victims of slavery in the beginning did not have a choice. For all the slavery ships that came behind them didn’t have a choice either in terms of individual ships and being out numbered by white men with guns and bad intentions.

This is where “Choice” comes in. Slaves were given a significant amount of freedom. Even though most were on plantations they had their own huts/homes/barns. They roamed around the city despite curfews. More importantly, they had access to each other. Do you realize that most of the towns in the South slaves outnumbered white people 3 to 1? No matter who you are, how you look at it, where you are, or where you trying to get to there is strength and success in numbers.

I can see the first few years of being confused, docile and scared while you sat back and watched your people be tortured, murdered, raped, abused and mistreated. BUT 400 years!!!! Come on! When do you say enough is enough? When is lynching your husband, raping your wife, abusing your kids and working your parents for 20 hour days for many, many, many years become enough motivation for you to stand up for your right to live in peace? If you can make the choice to do Nothing as a result of fear or whatever then you are able to make a choice to rebel and resist the inhumane and deplorable living conditions you’re subjected to day in and day out for, again, 400 years and do Something!

I’m sorry, but there is nothing in my mind that can justify or rationalize being enslaved for 10 years let alone 400! Case in point, the Americas were already populated in 1492 long before Christopher Columbus and other Englishmen arrived. Native Indians. At some point, the Englishmen tried to enslave Indians on a massive scale after deceitful ways to infiltrate and/or populate and claim the Americas. Englishmen essentially had the same tools and weapons at their disposal when they went to Africa. The Indians were not accepting enslavement or any other ill-will Englishman attempted to impose upon them. They fought long and hard with the same kind of weapons the Africans had. When captured took their own lives in some cases. Ships continued to arrive full of Englishmen with more guns and ammunition, but the Indians did not waiver. They ultimately lost control of vast amounts of land, but maintained their dignity, self respect and honor. I tip my hat to the Indians, because they were not going for it.

Not only did Africans become enslaved, but at some point they even turned on each other to appease their slave owners. I can state so much more on this issue, but my point has been made. So instead of Common, Will I Am, John Legend and even Kanye West, along with everyone else that feel slavery was or was not a choice, you need to wise up and do something about Modern Day Slavery. I’d respect your position and opinion a lot more if you stop crying about what was and focus on what is!

Mass incarceration is a form of modern day slavery. And just like our African Slave Ancestors black people sit back and do nothing!!! The first thing y’all say is they shouldn’t have did this or that to end up like they are. That’s turning your back on your own people, because you fail to acknowledge most, if not all, black people were bred in atmospheres and/or environments strategically designed by white pioneers where 100% of us would fall for some sort of trap naturally created by the very conditions we were born into. Poverty! These traps range from being uneducated, drug dependency, to desperate measures to feed your hungry baby and ALL in between. This is what people should be bickering about. Even more, doing something about it! Yet, we’ve accepted this way of life even though a large percentage of rich and famous black people are in a position to initiate real change! Yet, our choice is acceptance. We even had a black President and even he made a choice to do Nothing! Slavery never ended. It just took on a different form. And you know what? 400+ years and counting! S.M.H.

Melvin Robertson
DOC #582196

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2 replies »

  1. This is a really interesting piece, and I respect your viewpoint. I am no expert- but one thing I would probably add is that the difference between the Indian/Native American population and the black slave population is that the blacks were not a cohesive culture. They often didn’t even speak the same language and came from African different cultures, so initially it would be difficult to expect them to rebel. The Native Americans also had a sense that this was ‘their’ land. Another point, I think, would be that slavery became a legal, enshrined system. Also, to have a mass rebellion to try to throw off slavery, you need to be able to communicate and organize yourselves. I’m not disagreeing with you or throwing your argument out, I’m just pointing out things to explain why rebellion or resistance didn’t happen right away. I’m not sure that automatically makes it a ‘choice.’ But will be interested to read more of your thoughts though!

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