Ask A Black Guy (Friendly Edition)|| Why Do Black People Keep Bringing Up Slavery ?

I was asked this question by a friend of mine. I thought to share my take as WordPress’ own Friendly Neighbourhood Negro.

Why Do Black People Keep Bringing Up Slavery ?


Cleaning Up The Question

Technically the question should be why do African- American in particular keep bringing up slavery. This question doesn’t make mention of the context that elicits responding to by bringing up slavery. Secondly the phrase “keep bringing up”implies that there is a measurable frequency to slavery being mentioned, and however much it comes up it’s too much for, I would imagine, other races to tolerate. Also this questions brings up many other questions, like:

  1. What are African-American views on Slavery?
  2. Who are these African-Americans that are bringing it up? Are they Upper Middle Class ?  Lower Class (economically) ? Rich ?
  3. What are the ramifications of slavery Internationally? Domestically ?
  4. Are there long term sociological/political/economical/psychological  effects of Slavery ?
  5. When did slavery end ? Did it end ? Can remnants or traces of it still be seen in our country today ?
  6. Under what context do the black who do talk about  Slavery, talk about it ?
  7. What is an acceptable number of times for slavery to be mentioned in a month? a week ? a year? by an African-American ?
  8. Who is offended by the mention of slavery and why ?

There are many more questions but these 8 alone would have to be addressed if we are to seriously answer the main question.

Moving On

Slavery has been in the media frequently: the film 12 years as a Slave is out, Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr‘s six part documentary about the evolution of the African-American people throughout the years  is currently being shown on PBS. And the following were only two of many recent articles on race.

Black Woman Shot to Death for Asking for Help in a White Neighborhood

Last Saturday morning at around 2:30am 19-year-old Renisha McBride got into a car accident in Dearborn Heights, a predominately white Detroit suburb. Because her cell phone battery was dead, she went to nearby home for assistance. The unnamed person who answered the door didn’t offer to help the stranded teen out, instead fatally shot McBride in the head.

Slavery Isn’t a Thing of the Past

The United States is home to about 60,000 people who can fairly be called modern versions of slaves, according to a new Global Slavery Index released last month by the Walk Free Foundation, which fights human trafficking. Those counted today include illegal immigrants forced to work without pay under threat of violence and teenage girls coerced to sell sex and hand all the money to their pimps.

I picked these two articles to introduce my point:


  1. The Institution of Slavery still exists, not just in the US but Globally. In the US its outer form may have changed but it is still as alive and strong as ever. Which means for that racism, a sociological practice instituted to make institutionalize slavery sell-able is not only prevalent in American society but is articulated in a very surreptitious fashion

Getting into the Nitty Gritty

Reason # 1: Persistence of certain Mindsets and Institutionalized practices

There is some controversy as to whether she said this or not and I haven’t found anything to say that she didn’t. Until I do it stands. Btw – look into her life and her eugenics program its interesting

I believe that we cannot look at the international phenomenon of slavery separate from the multi-national, geopolitical and economic institutions that created it. Please keep in mind that slavery was an economic system, meaning class and economic play a very important role in the history of its global expression.

Hyper-segregation of American cities, the Prison-Industrial Complex, Police Brutality, Voter Suppression, Inequality of wages allow this exploitation along the basis of both race and class to continue. Always as a man of color when I bring up the issue it’s my depravity or the depravity of the race: our inherent laziness, our inherent criminality, and violence that necessitates the treatment we get.

Reason # 2: We haven’t dealt with it as a Culture/Society/Nation/Global Community

The following is from an interview with Dr Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard Professor of African American studies:

Schools are failing in terms of teaching the black experience. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently issued a report – and you can Google this – on how well the civil rights movement, just the civil rights movement.. Only three states received an “A”: Alabama, Florida and New York. And only three even received a “B”: Georgia, Illinois and South Carolina. For adequate coverage of the civil rights movement thirty-five states received an “F,” including the great state of California. You can imagine if they did a similar survey of slavery, the results would be even worse

On a personal level we cannot tackle issues until we educate ourselves about them. It’s hard to get over the ramifications of slavery when we are ignorant to what actually happened.

These are only some of the many reasons. This is as you can imagine a complex subject. There is much more to be said but this has taken me a while already so I will leave it here unless you got comments , questions or concerns


Some Interesting Books 

  1. Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present Harriet A. Washington
  2. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
  3. Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice David M. Oshinsky
  4. The Mis-Education of the Negro Paperback –by Carter Godwin Woodson


  1. Excellent post, Dave! This is a topic that certainly needs to be addressed, even in this century…and by the way, isn’t that just sad?

    While human trafficking affects every “race”, both sexes, and a variety of age groups, I don’t believe it’s somehow ‘incorrect’ for people to immediately think of Black slavery. After all, it was THE most predominant form worldwide, and every continent participated in it (other than Antarctica, obviously). For this to still be the ‘poster child’ of slavery is understandable. And yes…the effects of it can still be seen today, not just in extreme examples like what you’ve shown above, but in little things like white women clutching their purses tighter around black people, or a white/Asian boss remarking on how “articulate” their black employee is.

    What I think the core of the problem about “bringing up slavery all the time” is boils down to this: I, a white person born in the 1980s, was never a part of it. In fact, my mother’s side only came over from Germany in the 1920s, and my father’s side from Ireland and France in the 1900s. I’ve traced back about 6 generations…and at no point were any of my family members rich/well off enough to have servants, much less own slaves. So when I’m told in school and parts of the media that I’m necessarily “guilty” of slavery simply because I happen to have been born from European/Caucasian stock…yes, it chafes a little. It puts an onus on me (and presumably other white people) to apologize for something they never took part in, approved of, or allowed to happen.

    In my opinion, slavery *should* still be brought up. It *should* still be taught about in history class. It *should* be acknowledged and condemned as a faulty way of thinking about different people. And yes, we *should* understand that it was predominantly white on black systematic violence and oppression. But then let’s move forward instead of pointing fingers at people who are long since dead. Continuing a cycle of guilt, hate, and misunderstanding based on “the sins of the father” (and in cases like mine, “the sins of the skin color”) will only lead to more of what any rational person would seek to eradicate from their society. Instead of using justified talks about racism to make certain groups feel badly, it should be used as a jumping point for talks of what the majority can do to help the minority, how aspects of racially biased thinking can seep into how everyone behaves, and good ways to combat racism on a daily basis.


    • Sup Cheri,

      in the words of the late heavy D, Got nothing but love for you too !!!

      You’re more than welcome to bust a move like it’s Soul Train, pre-Shemar Moore.

      Love your blog, the post about granny’s homemade bread made me hungry and I liked the oil paintings of you , your friend is talented


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