What to Know: African American-Black History

“We have come to reclaim the house of history. We are dedicated to the revision of the role of the African in the world’s great civilizations, the contribution of Africa to the achievement of man in the arts and sciences. We shall emphasize what Africa has given to the world, not what it has lost.” -Ivan Van Sertima, historian

Slavery began through European traders “buying” debtors and prisoners from African leaders. Most chiefs didn’t know what was happening, because the African system of slavery didn’t involve dehumanizations and cruelty. As the demand for slaves increased, Europeans worked to create more warfare between African tribes. When a chief or King wouldn’t sell his prisoners to the Europeans, they gave guns to another tribe, and had them kidnap the chief’s people. In 1441, when the European slave trading in Africa started, slaves worked as servants, but were also used to supply Europeans strategic information about Africa. In 1442, Church authorities promised all those who’d join the slave raiding parties spiritual reward and eternal salvation. In 1453, the Pope allowed Portuguese traders to enslave all “infidels and enemies of Christ” in West Africa (meaning everyone).

Before bringing slaves to America, they were brought to “breaker” islands like Jamaica, where they were stripped of their native culture and beaten until they were “broken in.” The historical period of American slavery is called the Maafa, or the “African Holocaust” because of how many lives were stolen and lost (estimates range between 25-100 million). The first Englishman to bring slaves to America was a Christian trader named John Hawkins, on a ship named Jesus. Queen Elizabeth rewarded him by making him a knight. Hawkins chose as his coat of arms the image of a Black man in chains. According to historian Herbert Aptheker, whites used the Bible to back up everything they did to Blacks. They created what he called “slave religion,” and “the aim of this instruction was to inculcate meekness and docility.”

Most of America’s cities and buildings (including many government buildings) were built using slave labor. Many of today’s wealthy white families made their fortunes through slave labor. During the slave trade, many slaves from the former Songhay Empire were highly educated and taught Caribbean and American farmers successful agricultural techniques. Blacks arrived in the New World free from tuberculosis, syphilis, or other venereal diseases. However, West Africans were often exposed to malaria, which actually made local people physically stronger over time.

So many dead bodies were thrown overboard during the middle passage that sharks looking for food still follow that route to this day. The infamous Bermuda Triangle was also a significant point in the slave trade.

Griots in West Africa have said that the “very best” of their people were sent to be captured, intentionally, by the slave traders. Their plan was that these people would produce a lineage of greatness that would one day emerge to redeem it’s right place in the world. Slaves weren’t only brought to North America and the Caribbean. Even today, South America has a large Black population because of the millions of slaves that were brought there. During the Revolutionary War, runaway slaves armed by the British terrorized the South. Some slaves overpowered their masters and handed their plantations over to the British. On March 25, 1807, the “Abolition of the Slave Trade Act” was passed, outlawing slavery throughout the British Empire, after economic changes made slavery impractical for Europe. The British, once the biggest slave traders, soon became the biggest abolitionists.

Oppression takes many forms. Modern capitalism was built off the destruction of people of color. Karl Marx said that what was good for Europeans was obtained at the expense of untold suffering by Africans and Native Americans. Slaves were shown off, physically “inspected,” and bid upon in public auctions. One of the biggest slave auctions became what is now known as Wall Street.

This month of February, which is the month which has been chosen to share our history to the world, should also be the month which nothing but “Black History” is taught within the school systems throughout the “Entire” United States of America. There is so much that is not known, which should be known. Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! Let me leave you with these “great” words of wisdom from some of our most gifted and brave warriors:

“I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves.” – Harriet Tubman

“The worst crime you can commit is to teach a child that their history begins with slavery.” – Runoko Rashidi

“Take down the pictures of white men and women from your walls and elevate your own men and women to that place of honor…We have a beautiful history, and we shall create another one in the future. When savage, heathens, and pagans inhabited Europe, Africa was peopled with a race of cultured Black men, who were masters in art, science, and literature. Whatsoever a Black man has done, a Black man can do.” – Marcus Garvey

“You have to be careful, very careful, introducing the truth to the Black man who has never previously heard the truth about himself, his own kind, and the white man… The Black brother is so brainwashed that he may even be repelled when he first hears the truth. Reginald advised that the truth had to be dropped only a little bit at a time. And you had to wait a while to let it sink in before advancing the next step.” – Malcolm X

This is “Lillie’s Point Of View” and I’m just having my say! Now you can have yours!”

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