The movie 12 Years A Slave has received rave reviews and a lot of critical acclaim. The film was so well liked the director and several people who played on-screen and off-screen roles are being considered for numerous awards.
I know you don’t like for me to write like this but it’s true. In the history of America, the worst thing you could be is a slave and the second worst thing you can be is a descendant of slaves.
Years ago, plantation owners loved the slaves who would entertain everybody at the big house.
If you could run fast, carry heavy weights, fight other slaves, sing Negro spirituals, play the banjo or the fiddle, buck dance and tell funny slave stories, you probably could get an extra plate of chitterlings or sleep on a wood floor instead of on the ground.
In 2014, the same behavior is still admired by modern-day slave masters and overseers. If you’re a comedian, a clown or a jack-legged preacher who will criticize or make fun of black men and women, you can get a network TV, cable TV or national radio show.
If you can sing, rap and do the new-age buck dances, such as the twerk, you can get a recording contract but don’t ever go to sleep and dream about having a major record label or being a record distributor because that big music money will go to the new bosses.
Don’t think about standing up and speaking out like Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell or Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
If you’re a good athlete, you have to shut up like Michael Jordan if you want a sneaker endorsement deal and don’t say a damn thing about the plight of disenfranchised black people in America, just like the slaves had to keep quiet and speak in secret.
During slavery days, there were certain things slaves couldn’t do and, today, 400 years later, there are still things that the black man cannot do.
Let me explain. During slavery, slave masters did everything they could to prevent slaves from voting.
In 2014, politicians are doing possible to suppress black votes, to deny black votes and to prevent eligible African Americans from going to the polls to cast ballots for the candidates of their choice.
No American citizen should have to pay for a specified identification card just to vote and every prisoner should be allowed to vote once he or she has served the time and paid the debt to society.
Every American slave had to work for a white American slave master.
Slaves couldn’t open up a business, no matter how good they were at shoeing horses, caring for white children or farming the land. And, in 2014, to be respected, black people have to work for white folk to be recognized and considered as experts.
Every black community has non-blacks in the neighborhood selling goods and services to black people but if you open a restaurant or a corner store in a white neighborhood, nobody will shop with you. They will pass your store every day and drive for miles to spend money with their own kind.
The term “black” automatically infers that your business is substandard, your newspaper is inadequate, your web site is imperfect, your restaurant is inferior, your car repair shop is a “shade tree,” your barbershop can cut only black hair, your consulting firm is second-class and your ice is never as cold as the white man’s ice.
In the movie, slaves got beaten with leather whips but the everyday slaves get beat with economic whips.
They beat us when they tell us only black vendors and contractors seeking government contracts and businesses must be “certified.”They beat us when they red-line our communities and say banks won’t lend to businesses in black neighborhoods.
They beat us when they say “real” minorities are white women, Hispanics, Asians and disabled white men and being a black business person doesn’t matter and has no significance in government or corporate America whatsoever.
It doesn’t surprise me one bit when black people say they want to leave America and move to another country, work in another country or study in another country.
Real slaves and movie slaves all felt a need to run away. They wanted to run away from brutality, run away from oppression, run away from exploitation, run away from hatred, run away from disrespect and run away from poverty and mistreatment.
The everyday slaves of 2014 need to consider running away too.
*Lucius Gantt, a political consultant based in Tallahassee, is author of the book Beast Too: Dead Man Writing which is available at Amazon.com. You can like The Gantt Report page on Facebook and contact Gantt at www.allworldconsultants.net