“They Stole It, But You Must Return It,” is an unusual title. ‘They’ refers to White America, and ‘You’ refers to Black America. Usually, the thief must take the responsibility and pay equal value for what he stole. However, with White America, this did not happen. They stole it, but you must return it. “We” were “Stolen” from our “Native” land “Africa,” and brought to this “Foreign” land.
The family is the most important social unit in any society. A healthy family experience is important for one to develop and maintain social and mental health. It gives one the sense of belonging family members have a bond sealed by common blood. God gave the gift of family to the human race to maintain sanity and stability.
A man without his family is like a lion without his teeth; he has the heart and he has the power, but he cannot overcome his prey. A woman without her family is like a bird with a broken wing; her ability to fly is inhibited. And worse yet, a child without his family is like a ship caught on a rough sea without a rudder.
Any system that deprives a people of its family structure, denies the humanity of that people. The developers of such a system defy the Creator of mankind and insult the Creator’s creation. White America originated such a system in its slavery scheme. White America introduced a new and different type of slavery. It was designed to destroy all elements of the Black family. History has no equal to match the terrible ways in which White America treated and destroyed the Black family. White America stole it, but Black America must return it.
Black America, you are a miracle. You are the product of the greatest survivors on earth. For any group to experience the cruelty, brutality, and wickedness that was thrust upon you by White America, and survive the experience with any semblance of sanity is a miracle. But, that survival experience has left some long lasting consequences; consequences that affect Black Americans today.
White America had a different type of slavery experience awaiting many of the African inhabitants. From across the turbulent Atlantic Ocean, the quiet but imperialistic America stalked the docile motherland of Africa and delivered a decisive blow to her children. This blow would cause wounds which would ooze with pus for centuries. America would boldly violate its own stated creeds, its treatment of the inhabitants stolen from Africa.
To make a Black African a slave, White America chose to destroy the Black family unit. Human rights such as marriages, family privileges, parental and child relationships were taken from Blacks. Blacks were not considered human beings. The buying and selling of slaves was as common as the buying and selling of horses and cattle. Family members were separated. Many never saw each other again. The great freedoms that the early white fathers of America fought and stood for were not applied to the Black family.
How in the world were our forefathers able to endure the cruel inhumanity that they were subjected to simply amazes me. The usual way that they were punished was that they were made to take off their clothes, then their hands were tied in front of them with a rope and then that rope was tied over a beam and they would be drawn up till they stood on the tips of their toes. Then thirty-nine lashes would be inflicted upon them, for the most trifling offense. Who, with any feelings of humanity, could have wielded such inhumane treatment on another human being? And for what? Often for the most trifling fault.
Outside the regular whipping or floggings, White America would cut off the ears, hands and feet of the slaves. Occasionally they would strip a slave naked, force him or her to lie face down with arms and legs outstretched and tied to stakes. The slave master then would take a cat by the tail and rake it across the back of a slave. The claws of the cat would rip the skin of the victim. It was a common occurrence for a slave to be tied by his hands hanging from the rafters for hours. A slave could be beaten with anything and for anything. If death happened in the process, it was just a loss of a slave.
White America milled the manhood of the Black male slave and enriched him as a ‘boy.’ White America tortured and savagely treated the Black male until White America turned these survivors from warriors and family heads to subdued human beings. White America made the Black man into a ‘boy.’ The Black father had no legal marriage, no legal family, and no legal control over his children. The Black male did not have complete choice of who his mate would be. Also, once a mate was chosen and a child was born, the Black father didn’t have authority over his own child. White America took away the Black male’s role as father and husband. Therefore, responsibility, discipline, and direction for his family, including his children, were not in his hands…Not having the opportunity to determine destiny, eventually means that one will not. If not allowed to think, eventually one may not.
The Black man was only a breeder. Parental authority was in the hands of the slavemaster. As a father, the Black man was so humiliated that he was not looked upon as a father or a man. Slavery for the Black males “prevented their coming to emotional maturity by inflicting on them a perpetual childhood, and imposing their master’s ideology on them, resulted in their identifying themselves with their masters.” The slave was the child and the slavemaster was the father. In this boy role, the Black male had to approach White America with bowed head. The Black male had to answer with a ‘yes suh, no suh.’ And the slavemaster and White America called the Black man, ‘boy.’ The slavery experience for the Black man was perpetual childhood.
Truthfully, that was a “Miracle” that was bestowed upon my forefathers for there was no other way they could have survived such madness. But, the effects of such cruelty, did place strong negative factors upon our African American forefathers’ health, which to this day, we are still experiencing. Diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and also heart problems are connected to one being significantly stressed. In order for one to be able to understand the health situation of African Americans today, one must understand what stresses from the past have been passed down throughout the years, throughout generations. Stress was and still is a major factor for a lot of the health problems, throughout the years, that we, as a people have been experiencing. Lord Have Mercy!
To “All” of the above, I can most definitely understand why “Our” history has not and still is not being taught in depth within most of the school systems throughout this country. I can also understand why the “Majority” of police throughout this country behave in the way that they do towards us “Black” folks. As the old folks used to say “An apple does not fall too far from the tree that it has fallen from! Wow!
This Is “African American History Month,” therefore I feel that it is what should be shared with you in my column this month. Please do not allow this information to cause you to “Blow Up,” but allow it to motivate you to become more involved within your communities, making sure that these types of behaviors are wiped out of our communities. Most of the above information was taken from the book “They Stole It But You Must Return It” by Richard Williams, Ed. D. “Praise God!”
This is “Lillie’s Point Of View” and I’m just having my say, and now you can have yours!