Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Of Slavers and Cayotes
So Ben Carson spoke and caused a storm by referring to slaves as immigrants. In a strict "movement of people" sense it's not a completely wrong statements. But the problem is the larger conflation of people movements into the US and the social and political legacies of those movements. I have long argued that it is a mistake, historically and politically to conflate the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (henceforth referred to as the Maafa) with any other concurrent and subsequent movement of peoples into the United States. The Maafa stands alone in US history as the movement of people as literal property from one geographic location to the US, with the stipulation that offspring of said property (odd thing that property could reproduce...)could maintain the status as property. Other groups that were brought to the US, even those who were indentured servants and treated in the same manner as African slaves (due exception for children), were voluntary. Furthermore, while persons who came to the US long after slavery was legally done with, came, voluntarily and retained relative advantages of not being Black and subject to the various laws that marginalized black citizens. For those who don't understand, this is where the "white privilege" argument comes from. There may indeed have been "No Irish" and whathaveyou signs and social policies in place against various non-black new arrivals, but when it came down to it, the Irish, etc. "became" white in the social racial hierarchy just as how in states like Virginia, native Americans were declared legally "black/colored". For those who don't understand, this is why there is a "social construct" of race, referred to in the US as the One Drop Rule, that is totally different from the scientific determination of races based on genetic traits which can be readily ascertained in a lab. But back to Carson's blunder. The real problem with Carson's statement is that it accepts the "we are all immigrants" line. The failure of black "leadership" to maintain the unique nature of the African presence in America is how other NAM (Non-Asian Minority) groups feed off the Black struggle and eventually marginalize not only founding black Americans but also the white founding populations. It should not need to be said that volunteering to leave one's country of origins to wander across a desert, risking bodily harm and death, to trespass on another nation is not the same as being captured (in whatever circumstances), sold as property and thrown onto a ship, fed near starvation diets and exposed to disease, disembarked and sold once again for the sole purpose of providing "free" labour to some plantation owner. It is the failure of black leadership to keep NAMs off our narrative that has allowed groups to leverage grievances to which they have no rights to at the expense of black folks. Thus this is the real problem with Carson's statement. We are not immigrants, we were property transformed into citizens by law who then had our rights and privileges as citizens trampled upon by other citizens. Our claims to redress is wholly different than that of anyone who volunteered to come here and certainly comes before any foreign national who wishes to come here.