Brothers, Sisters, and Slaves
edited: Sunday, November 17, 2002
By Kimberley J. Wilson
Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2002
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Why do we still use the term "House Slave"?
One of the most important things I ever learned about being black happened way back in the 1970s. I must have been six or perhaps seven. My father and I were out walking to I can’t remember where, when a flashily dressed young man in a purple suit and hat greeted my father with a big smile and the greeting, “Good afternoon, brother!” Back in the 70s, black people, especially men, nodded or spoke to just about every other black person they met on the street. My father did not respond. His cheerful expression changed and seemed to set itself into a block of granite. To my shock, we walked past the young man without a single acknowledgement of his greeting.
My father explained that the young man was a drug dealer who sold poison to our own people in our own neighborhood. "His skin is brown like ours," he said, "but he's no brother." On that day I discovered there was more to being a brother or sister in the black community than skin color. It was a lesson I never forgot.
When John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, the so-called Beltway Snipers were arrested last month the reactions from many black people ranged from shock, (They’re black? I can’t believe it!) to embarrassment, (They’re black? I feel terrible!) to half pitying, (They’re black? Those brothers must be sick!). I felt neither shock, nor shame about Muhammad and Malvo. John Allen Muhammad is an evil minded, twisted individual who failed miserably at being a husband, father, soldier and human being. John Lee Malvo, is obviously, despite his youth, a nasty piece of work. I’m not claiming either one of them. Their skins may be brown but they aren’t my black brothers.
Shortly after Muhammad and Malvo’s arrests, Neil Rogers, a Florida based radio talk show host called National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice a house slave and a “black haired answer mammy”, toiling away for her “master” President Bush. Neil Rogers has a right to express his opinions in public, no matter how ugly or ignorant they may sound. What I find curious is the lack of backlash from the black community over them. Imagine if Rogers, who happens to be a white man, had made his statements about Maxine Waters or Halle Berry or Toni Morrison? The protests on behalf of our offended sisters would’ve been huge.
Dr. Condoleeza Rice is the most powerful woman in America, if not the world. Her ideas help shape the foreign policy of this nation. No black woman before her, has ever risen to such heights. People that I’ve spoken to about this tend to counter my argument by pointing out that Dr. Rice works for a Republican administration as if that somehow diminishes her accomplishments or her blackness. If Condoleeza Rice had been Bill Clinton’s advisor she’d still be the same woman. If she’s a house slave then were Mike Espy, Jocelyn Elders, Ron Brown , Rodney Slater, Alexis Herman and Jesse Brown? They all worked for a white man and those who failed him, as Elders and Espy did, were cast aside. And about Bill Clinton’s good buddy and unofficial advisor, Vernon Jordan? Would you dare call any of them slaves? Would you refuse to call them brothers and sisters in the black community?
Back in September, when he was running for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, attorney and business man, Michael Steele was treated with remarkable rudeness by supporters of gubernatorial hopeful, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend when they passed out Oreo cookies to audience members during a debate. What was story behind the cookies? Steele happens to be a Republican. By handing out Oreos Kathleen Kennedy Townsends supporters were saying that Mr. Steele’s political affiliation has affected his blackness. Instead of wondering why their candidate couldn’t find one black Democrat in all of Maryland to be her running mate, these folks felt the need to wind themselves into hateful knots over Michael Steele. Today he is not only the first black Lieutenant Governor in the entire history of the state, but he’s the first black man to elected to a statewide office in Maryland. No other black candidate—not a Democrat, not a Republican and certainly not an Independent has ever been where he is today. Would you call him a house slave?
. Couldn't we drop this old slur? It's not only malicious but it shows an ignorance of what American slavery was really like. I think it's time to judge our black public figures on who they are and what they actually do for the greater good of the world and not on what political party they belong to. It's time to give of the knee jerk reactions and assumptions. Black life is not monolithic. More so than ever before, black people are free to live, love, and see the world in different ways. Some of the people we automatically refer to as brothers and sisters don't deserve the title. It's the same with those we call house slaves. Isn't it time to recognize that?
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|Reviewed by pat Medley
|Thank you for the article that should be published on the front page of every paper in America. Maybe then Black americans can get the quality reporting they need from the media who has used their propoganda to insult americans and stagnate blacks all over the globe. Until we(blacks) start to address the real issues, we will constantly be in a position to insult each other about something so unimportant as what political affliation we are. Maybe with the infiltration of these parties, we can make changes. I'm constantly appalled by the lack of concern we have for a person or persons that stepped outside of the box and became just what the civil rights movement was about,overcoming to be seen not by the color of the skin but the content of the character and the qualities they possess as a person. What difference does it make if Dr. Rice or any other successful role model thinks that being an individual counts as much as race. I have never heard her defy her race as some people incorrectly assume. As a matter of fact her interview with the trotter group should dispel this rumor. Judge the lady based on her job and her ability not her color. Blacks are doing the very thing to her that we say we don't want anyone else to do to us; Stereotype us. Maybe her success has helped paved the way for someone that thinks differently from her. But no, we would prefer the correct role model for "our" race be a drug dealing ganster rappa wannabe that gives peeps and shout outs to all his or her homeys that died from black on black crime, that never voted (republican or democrat). Oh how the people would protest someone talkin badly about them. Wake up people! Forget the democrat Republican think, if there was so much to the party affiliation we would not be in the shape we are in today.|