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How Is the Word Passed

The relentless perversion and revisionism of Black history

We celebrated Juneteenth. Here comes America's Independence Day. There's no better time to put July 4 in historical perspective. We must connect it with the racist redefining of critical race theory.

Clint Smith isn't the first to talk about the centrality of African enslavement to U.S. History. However, the time of his most recent book is undeniably relevant. How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America comes a time when white America is being pummeled with the consequences of the brutal and humane system of slavery and its legacy.

Those of us with political consciousness, along with those of us who are committed to truth, have a responsibility to interrupt the racist narrative that has under-developed our humanity as a nation and demonized Blacks as a people.

Says Smith, “The history of slavery is a history of the United States. It was not peripheral to our founding; it was central to it. It is not irrelevant to our contemporary society; it created it.” A series of events has intensified the pain and trauma of a system whose tentacles still have a hold on all of us in this country, especially those of us of African descent.

We have The 1619 Project which some Black scholars argue didn't go far enough. Apparently, it went too far for many white conservatives. The New York Times ' ongoing project attempts to reframe the narrative of Black people and our history with this country. With prompting from the GOP, white communities are fighting back to preserve their white privilege. The attack on the so-called race theory is the latest battlefront. White parents are rising up to oppose anything "Black" being taught to their children, often referencing The 1619 Project.

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Then there was the public murder of George Floyd, an agonizing reminder of the lynching of Black people at the hand of white people always acting in the interest of white supremacy. The history of the origins of police has its roots in slave catching dating back to the 1700s. It was given legal cover with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, a Congressional deal cut between the Southern slave states and complicity with Northern Free-Soilers. Let's be clear: all captured Black folks were not enslaved, many were free. 12 Years a Slave dramatized this frequent injustice on the big screen for us back in 2013.

Recently the country was forced to come face to face with the horrific 1921 massacre in Tulsa Oklahoma. Like many similar atrocities through the ages, these incidents have been suppressed – even in the very communities where it happened.

Those of us with political consciousness, along with those of us who are committed to truth, have a responsibility to interrupt the racist narrative that has under-developed our humanity as a nation and demonized Blacks as a people.

Clint Smith's voice is part of a chorus that emphatically asserts that this country will never get through the darkness of slavery until it is fully acknowledged, dissected and rectified. The demand for Black reparations must be loud and bold.

This history is now our present and will be our future as long as the system of chattel slavery is suppressed, romanticized and white-washed.

jamala rogers 210

The reckoning of slave history is inevitable. There is no easy, quick or comfortable way to address it. What we must end is the continued devastating impact already done on generations who have gone before us. The past damage is real, measurable and irreparable. Our destiny includes creating not just a different narrative but a different society for those of African descent to live and prosper. To do so averts a violent reckoning that looms ahead.

Jamala Rogers
BlackCommentator