Personal identity is crucial to personal development. The stripping away of the Africans identity and culture in order to make the slave has had tremendous effects on our society, as the slave masters created a people that would perpetually be self hating and destructive, perfectly suiting their desire to have a self perpetuated working class. The church and educational institutions were used to destroy African culture in an attempt to assimilate peoples to the Western system and standard of living. By looking at the treatment of Native and African Americans, you can learn the history, but more important you can better plan for the future, because not much has changed when it comes down to how minorities are marginalized in this society. When we focus on fixing the conditions that cause Native and African Americans to be the poorest groups in this nation, we would have addressed the same problems that are barriers for other minority groups; barriers that when entering this country, you do not see right away; more importantly, for other minorities to understand the struggle of Indians and Africans, and aid them instead of using them for their own advancement in this country. Native and African American people will always be disadvantage in the current system, not only because of institutionalized racism, but years of oppression have caused other ills in health and development, and thus causing us to operate differently than our counterparts. I know that Wikipedia is not the best source of information, but I found it interesting that they noted the Civil Rights movement as “a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980.”; and “the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the movements in the United States aimed at outlawing discrimination against African Americans and restoring voting rights to them.” Even though I knew that there was international support for the movement, I never thought of the Civil Rights movement as two movements. Once again, dividing minorities by elevating one group of people over another group and having them think that they are fighting two different fights in order to keep the African people from being able to join forces with other groups, as they had in THE Civil Rights movement, which is still being fought today. By breaking the bond of solidarity that can be held by peoples in a foreign land and creating an environment that perpetuates fear of the African American has caused the African American to further be isolated in this land as they watch their foreign brothers and sisters advance while they are stuck, trapped in the slave legacy, killing their self esteem, hopes, and dreams of really being free again. We are further isolated by the destruction of our family units; a systematic destruction as outlined in the Willie Lynch Letter written in the early 1700’s. No family support, no home, no language, and with everyone afraid of the African, we were never meant to survive here. Being of Native decent was just as devastating, because you know from where you come, you know you have been robbed, marked for extinction, and reminded everyday that your home is no longer your home and you must now assimilate to a way of life contradictory to your customs and core beliefs and be dishonored, or die. This month signifies a time for our nation to recognize the struggles and accomplishments of African Americans, but more importantly, it should serve as a time of solidarity for minorities to bond over the American struggle, and for ALL peoples to put aside the indifference’s and fears and plan how we will make contributions to creating a fair system that allows everyone to reach their full potential.
I recently watched this video series on The History of Racism. It is the most comprehensive video on the topic that I have ever seen. It is a two part series that will take some time to get through, but it was worth it. I had a friend tell me that his friend, who is white, said that he did not want to see the video because it makes him feel bad to be white. I do not wish to make anyone feel bad by sharing this video. I simply would like for everyone to really understand the history, and our individual realities, so we may all be more sensitive to the conditions that continue to plague this nation. Guilt and shame are the devils way of keeping us ignorant to the positive creative power that comes with knowledge. If we all know the problems that create the brokenness in our humanity, we can collectively make a conscience effort to fix it.
Peace and blessings.