From Plan­ta­tion to House Ne­gro, still Slav­ery!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Monetta Wil­son

In the days of sys­temised slav­ery the “house nig­ger” con­sid­ered him­self su­pe­rior to his slave brother who toiled in the field. He had ar­rived. His days of toil­ing in the harsh­est of con­di­tions be­hind him, he could trade in his filthy rags for ill-fit­ting hand-me-downs from his mas­ter. It mat­tered not that he or she was still the mas­ter’s prop­erty, to be re­turned to the field or sold for less than the price of a good work­horse.

Sad to say, not much has changed. Our so­ci­ety still com­prises too many who rep­re­sent the mod­ern ver­sion of the house slave. With the small­est suc­cess, we quickly for­get our roots; where we came from. We consider our­selves pow­er­ful, even though in re­al­ity what we have is a pow­er­less power.

If we un­der­stand that we have been so­cially en­gi­neered for gen­er­a­tions to fight over mean­ing­less po­si­tions we will un­der­stand why we con­tinue to vote for au­to­cratic, in­ef­fec­tive lead­ers and why our women are con­tin­u­ally de­based and as­saulted at ev­ery turn.

Deny it all you want but the slave-mas­ter mind­set is still deeply in­grained in our col­lec­tive psy­che. We show lit­tle re­spect for the leader or boss who lis­tens and acts for the com­mon good. We save our ado­ra­tion for the so-called “strong leader” who im­poses his will on the peo­ple re­gard­less of their as­pi­ra­tions. We point him out to our chil­dren as an ex­em­plar wor­thy of em­u­la­tion. As he passes by with hardly a word to any­one, we imag­ine he cares for us, feels our pain, and we whis­per: Sa se nom!

Mind­lessly we per­pet­u­ate the myth of his power. We cel­e­brate his bravado, his bul­ly­ing and machismo as in­di­ca­tors of his man­hood and lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

We iden­tify with the op­pres­sor and praise his ev­ery word and ac­tion in an­tic­i­pa­tion of some measly re­ward. We even turn on friends who say the em­peror is naked. So much of the Kool Aid have we con­sumed that his re­al­ity has be­come our re­al­ity, re­gard­less of what our own eyes might tell us. We are, in ef­fect, his prop­erty, in time to be dis­carded like old shoes.

It is this colo­nial mind­set and thirst for what we take for power that has led to what seems to be open sea­son on Saint Lu­cian women. It’s so easy to cry out and ex­press ou­trage at the news that a home has been bro­ken into and its fe­male oc­cu­pant rav­aged be­yond be­lief. To cry out for vengeance when the lat­est rape vic­tim is an 80- or 90-yearold does not take much. De­mand­ing that the gov­ern­ment of the day hon­ours its prom­ise to pro­tect the pop­u­lace is hardly ever done, for that might in­vite the wrath of a politi­cian. And that risk most of us are not pre­pared to take. So again the slave in our DNA re­turns us to the plan­ta­tion.

Consider the fol­low­ing: “Any­time I reach in­side of the jam and I win­ing on a woman, that’s my prop­erty.” Let’s take an­other minute to ex­am­ine the root of the quoted phrase.

His­tor­i­cally, black women did not have the right of con­sent. Their bod­ies were not con­sid­ered their own, so they were ef­fec­tively in no po­si­tion to de­ter­mine who should have ac­cess to their bod­ies. She with her body ex­isted for the plea­sures of the slave mas­ter, the over­seer— just about any­one could take what­ever they wanted from her, when­ever they wanted. There was noth­ing she could say or do to pre­vent it. You could not rape a black woman be­cause ev­ery­one knew “these over­sexed whores want it all the time". Force­fully pen­e­trat­ing the body of a black woman was just an­other way to as­sert your power and dom­i­nance over her. Is it any won­der so many rape al­le­ga­tions have been made against men with power, whether or not pre­sumed?

In the face of this we con­tinue to sing “Hurt It” and chuckle know­ingly at other sug­ges­tive lyrics. But when some­one ac­tu­ally “hurts it” we vil­ify them as brutes and heart­less crea­tures. Thus con­tin­ues the hypocrisy that feeds on the teats of ig­no­rance and greed. We con­tinue to com­plain half­heart­edly, almost never de­mand­ing jus­tice and ac­count­abil­ity. When we do, such de­mands are short-lived. We con­tinue to pre­tend our ridicu­lous quest for im­po­tent sta­tus is an in­ven­tion of mod­ern times when in fact it is a per­pet­u­a­tion of slave-plan­ta­tion pro­pa­ganda de­signed to keep us in our place. We deny our his­tory while pre­tend­ing we’ve risen far above our slave roots. We choose not to see it is our his­tory that ren­ders us blind to what’s inches from our noses.

It is time to wake up and smell the cof­fee; time to wise up and put an end to the re­tard­ing hypocrisy. It is time to see the sit­u­a­tion for what it re­ally is. Just as we learned the “house nig­ger” was never an el­e­va­tion, so too we must see pre­sumed sta­tus for what it is. All the ti­tles and imag­ined gold threads can­not help us if our minds re­main stuck in the plan­ta­tion mud whence came the vast ma­jor­ity of us. If I may bor­row from our most fa­mous “red nig­ger”, is high time to stop be­hav­ing like “dogs root­ing at the trough for scraps of favour!”

From the movie 12 Years a Slave: Patsy and Mis­tress Har­riet en­joy some tea giv­ing off a fa­cade much like many of our women to­day who re­main shack­led by the house slave men­tal­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.