Let’s go back in time, to the 1700s while we’re at it, and watch the harbor in Africa. Imagine for a moment you see a huge group of male and female Africans being chained up and thrown into a cramped slave ship. Imagine the harrowing and horrifying voyage and the consequences thereafter. Reread the stories of the latter slaves who were born slaves in America. Due to the recent comments by none other than black rapper Kanye West, I’d like to paint a picture of slavery that only my African American studies professor would approve of, though none of us are proud of it.
What if Kanye were along for the journey from Africa through the Middle Passage to the Americas to work? Kanye would have been separated from the women of his lineage, and the whole idea of separation of men and women was according to the history of benefit to the sailors. Mulana Caranga writes in the book we used in black studies that the sailors raped the women. I’m also paraphrasing the lecture the professor gave us. Kanye would have to have suffered among piles of men, men who would later be branded on the butt, chest, or other part of the torso such that the white masters could dehumanize them. Kanye would have been sold and forced to take the last name of his master, but worse, he’d have to work in the fields as a carpenter, plantation picker, or perhaps a livestock tender. Kanye’s ancestors were renamed from their African names because whites wanted it that way.
The sad thing about this disaster called the Slave Trade, in all seriousness, was that great men like Cotton Mather owned slaves. Cotton was the son of a Great Awakening preacher, Increase Mather. The Mathers owned Onesimus, a Gurumantes slave who was purchased by Cotton’s church congregation of all things. UGh. How could a church purchase slaves!
Now, in cases like the male ancestors of Kanye West, their fates could have led them to death.
What of the slaves of the antebellum South? First, if Kanye had skipped down to 1858 which was two or three years before Confederates waged war with the perfect Union, Kanye would have witnessed many of his ancestors being beaten and raped, and imagine his reaction to what Master Brodas’s slaves called the Big House. Harriet Tubman was born a slave, and her sisters were sold. OF course, her master was Edward Brodas, but he and his young son died, so Harriet was sold out a few times. The master and mistress tried to hire her as a cook, a child’s nurse, etc., and only at 7 years of age. Neither of her employers, or potential owners, were people of quality. THey expected Harriet or Araminta Ross, as she was known at birth, to do chores around the house automatically, as if she had been programmed, and without pay at that.
What if Kanye looked through Harriet Tubman’s eyes? IF he’d only understood the great lengths she went through and traveled with her on the Underground Railroad, he’d understand the risks she was taking to free her people. She even freed her parents, Ben Ross and his wife Harriet. Yes, Harriet’s mom was Harriet as well, but she was called Old Rit by the others. IF only Mr. West would have seen how many bounty hunters were after escaped slaves, the Fugitive Slave Law and its aftereffects, the wanted posters for Harriet Tubman and others, he would have then reevaluated his comments on slavery. Slavery was not a choice for yet another famous female named Harriet Ann Jacobs, born to a carpenter and his wife, born a slave herself. She was bequeathed to Emily Flint, also known as Mary Matilda Messmore, who married a man named Daniel Messmore. He was about to take home Ms. Jacobs, all could have been bad for her, but the Willises, who employed her, namely Nathaniel Parker Willis and his wife, freed her by having a group purchase her. She had fled north obviously because of James Norcom who was her master at the time. She had no choice in the matter of James Norcom and his advances, he was ruthless and tried to make her succumb to sexual abuse again and again. Suppose that happened to someone in Mr. West’s family? If that did happen, Kanye would have had no choice but to watch as a sister dies in childbirth and the mistress looks on and says, “Cost of doing business.” It’s life that should not be taken, and the black woman who dies in childbirth is not a write off for doing business.
My family had a mixed lady somewhere there. Hebert is a common bloodline in Louisiana. There are black and white family members who would find Kanye’s comments about his own people disturbing. If he thought the interracial marriage laws were a choice, they were only for the white slaveholding families who wanted the race pure, and for the family I deal with every day who doesn’t want me to marry an African American Florida Seminole Blackfoot whatever else is thrown in there. Racism exists today in the form of brutality against Kanye’s own people, and now he owes these descendants of greats like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Jacobs a full and decent apology. Not only that, he must accept punishment for bad deeds done as a result of said comments. No more playing Kanye songs on certain radio playlists, and this is already happening. I will never think of Gold Digger the same way again, and Mr. West ought to realize that his comments came with a much higher price. It’ll be a much much higher price than his ancestors were worth at the auction block. If Kanye himself had been betrayed and sold by “Mass’r” and he had to answer to a new one, he would not be feeling this way. The only reason why I empathize with his or should I say my people is because I am descended from a slave as well, and so is Trenton’s ancestry. We both have splashes of many different colors in our family, which is a lot to say for the slaveholding whites who married cousins. Look at Gone with the Wind.
Scarlett was not the best mistress of slaves, and Prissy was often whipped if she didn’t do her thing. I wouldn’t want to live like Prissy, Scarlett’s maid. I wouldn’t want to be a forced “Mami” which was a joke word later used in an animated Disney short about dolls of all things. The “Mammi” jokes just kept coming post Gone with the Wind.
Kanye should watch and then perhaps talk to his own daughters about why they even have Kim’s blood in their veins. Slavery and race division was no choice of Kanye’s people. Kim would not have been allowed to marry or adopt with Kanye not long ago. Now, look they have two girls, and those girls better learn the right stuff in slave narratives and books, and Solomon Northup’s book Twelve Years a Slave should speak a lot. Mr. Northup has a very good definitive slave narrative that was made into a movie. I hope that my children someday watch this without trying to cry or ask too many weird questions, but if they do ask questions, they’ll get answers,, lots of answers. Anyway, all of this should be taken into account in selecting a proper punishment for Kanye. He should be made to perhaps live as a refuse slave, a disabled black person who was usually thrown on an island to die. He clearly doesn’t get it, and should be made to see this post and look back at his own family tree.