A Nation Built on Slavery

A Nation Built on Slavery

Picture retrieved from:  Yes! Magazine

At the time of this post, the History Channel, PBS, and A&E are showing Roots Reimagined, simultaneously, in a four-part series.  Similar to the first groundbreaking series, there seem to be a great deal of dialog around this mini-series.  Some people believe too many movies are being produced about slavery and not enough about the rich history of black people before the slave trade.  Some believe slavery is not shown or talked about enough.  Others have boldly suggested that black people should forget about slavery because it happened in the past.  Roland Martin, host of News One Now said, “Many movies have been made about the Holocaust and cannot recall hearing any complaints.”  He continued by saying, “Society would not dare ask Jews to simply forget about the Holocaust.”

For hundreds of years, white people have carried the burden of slavery, black people have carried the mental, physical, and economic pain from slavery, but no one will talk about their burdens or pain.  Why is it so hard to have dialog around this subject?  Could the economic risk be too great?  In a Yes! Magazine article titled 40 acres and a Mule, the authors said, “Slavery made America the wealthiest country in the world but racist policies since have blocked Black Americans wealth-building.”  The authors asked, “can the economic damage be calculated?”  Some people would argue that America is not the wealthiest country in the world, therefore there is no reason to calculate wealth from the slave trade.

In the Business Insider the United States ranked seventh on a list of the world’s richest countries, based on their GDP per capita.  However, in Forbes, a South-Africa based firm, the New World Wealth graded the richest countries based on individual wealth held.  New World Wealth defines “total individual wealth as the private wealth held by all individuals in each nation, wealth defined as all net assets, including all property, cash, equities, and business interests.”  Based on New World Wealth’s findings, the United States ranks as the richest nation in the world by total individual wealth.  Slaves were owned by individuals for the purpose of wealth building, with the full support of the United States Government.

In the Yes! Magazine article, a statement quoted by Dr. King said, “Black Americans are owed approximately $800 billion.”  Further in the article it said, “In today’s dollars, the estimated amount owed to Black Americans range from $6.4 trillion to $59 trillion.”

So I ask again, is the economic risk too great to fix what has clearly been broken? How long is the guilt from one side and the anger from the other side going to keep white folks and black folks locked in a cycle of perpetual silence?

A past where one pretends never existed, known as cognitive dissonance and a past that is too painful for the other to forget, known as post traumatic slave syndrome (PTSS).






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