Tell the Truth About How We Got Here
“Until lions tell their story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
M. K. Asante, 500 Years Later
So, I have talked a lot before about the misinformation that is portrayed in American history. Today for the second time in several months I got a chance to listen to NiKole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times columnist who is responsible for the 1619 Project. Jones series, although in some ways widely criticized, hits home for black people who know that the history of this country has always been told from their perspective of the hunter. Then when someone comes along does the appropriate research, changes the narrative and the context that person is challenged and worse criticized and maligned.
Despite what date you settle on as the beginning of slavery in America, whether it is 1526 in St Augustine, Florida or 1619 at Jamestown, Virginia, not only did the history books that I read as child leave that out, more importantly it does not note that depriving my ancestors economically still impacts me, 500 years later. Inhumane treatment plus economic deprivation has shaped Black America and I for one am very happy that Nikole Hannah-Jones and others have brought those facts to the forefront.
Some people with obviously bigoted points of views criticize these projects and authors. That, I believe, adds to their validity. A short list of critics of the 1619 project reads like a who’s who among bigots in America. Newt Gingrich, Tom Cotton a senator from Arkansas, Mitch McConnell and Donald John Trump are hardly a group of scholars and to be clear, it is unlikely either has read the piece(s).
You see anytime we intelligently talk about the legacy of the economic robbery that Black people were subjected to when they were enslaved and even after they were “emancipated,” the folks who feel guilty are the first ones to squeal. Have you ever heard the phrase “a hit dog will holler?”
Anytime there is a serious conversation like the one we are having now about reparations the folks who are selfish, many of whom benefited from my ancestors working for free, are the ones who protest. Anytime intelligent black people write, think, talk, and act in ways that does not please the descendants of the masters then we are called unpatriotic.
These are conversations that we simply must have, and we cannot allow the fact that some people are uncomfortable with us writing about it and talking about it to make us stop. The impact of slavery in America may be felt by black people forever. But there is nothing for us to be ashamed about and there is absolutely no reason our children and our children's children, the descendants of the formerly enslaved, should not know the correct history, told from our points of view.
Telling the truth about how we got here, what happened to us here and why it happened is vitally important. America is not America without us and it is up to us to not let America continue to marginalize and ignore us. We are the Lions and, it is time for us to tell our story.