A Telling Exchange between a Free and Enslaved African


I read an interesting exchange in my blog this weekend. The exchange was beneath a post authored earlier this year regarding interracial dating. The comments painted members of the black collective somewhat predictably—those who understand interracial relationships as a strategy of our oppressors and those who individualize the subject and become intractably defensive. However, in reading the exchange it became obvious that the two most spirited participants occupied vastly familiar roles—the runaway and enslaved African.

In examining many contemporary interactions such as this one, it becomes obvious that we as a people have done little to deviate from the plots of land we toiled as abducted Africans. For privacy purposes lets call one “Kwame” and the other “John.” Kwame gave a delineated explanation of how exactly interracial relationships appeases western power systems. He wrote the following:

A non white person having sex with a white person, is like an inmate having sex with the prison warden or a slave having sex with the slave master, or a college professor having sex with their student, a Army general having sex with a private, these situations are frowned upon in white society but white people are ok with bedroom integration. Lets save the bedroom integration until last and solve the problem of racism white supremacy first. A white person engaging in sex with a non white person is an act of maximum racist aggression.

This comment articulates a number of examples that discount relationships from polarized ends of hierarchy as establishing equality. Instead, they exploit power dynamics to heighten sexual gratification for the oppressor. In short, these relationships personalize a collective disenfranchisement by expanding general oppression into bedroom politics.  The comment portrays Kwame as possessing a heightened consciousness, like a former slave freed from the physical and psychological abuse of his master due to unlocking the hidden truth of black culture.

John’s response, which I refuse to quote, was one of a slave blissfully oblivious to the chains encompassing his mind. It was hard to read, because it reflected an ideology consistent with many “new” blacks who disconnect from perils they believe  solely align with their ancestors.

Ancestor Harriet Tubman would make nineteen trips to gift enslaved africans with physical freedom, and Kwame took on a similar battle. By writing back to his lost brethren, the freed African journeyed backwards, only to see that his brother was currently beyond reproach. I can only hope that this is but a stage in John’s journey. But ultimately, John will most likely become like James Weldon Johnson at the end of The Diary of an Ex-Colored Man, envious of the pride and valor of black nationalism after trading in his pride years prior to live in the comfort of post-emancipation slavery.  As Tubman famously said:

I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed. thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

The plantations of our past manifest in current white collar positions and professional jobs, that often convince the enslvaed African that “things are no so bad.” These jobs may place the white man’s money in a black palm, but it also places a noose around a black neck and his chains around black limbs. As a professional lacking a collective consciousness, the black body is but a slave on a much more polished plantation with elevators and a glass ceiling, bound to combat the free African with claims of delusion or envy. I could only imagine that this very dynamic occurred countless times on the plantation. It seems almost a guarantee that runaway slaves met adversity from their enslaved counterparts who safely suckled the breast of white supremacy, misconstruing a headlock as a loving embrace, and force feeding as a suggested serving.

The late Dr. Derrick Bell illustrates a similar exchange between two black male characters in his short story “ Racial Symbols: A Limited Legacy.” The short story follows an esteemed black male professor who encounters a true, but unanticipated intellect—a taxi cab driver ironically named Jesse Semple. Despite being a decorated scholar, the college professor—entangled in white supremacy—downplayed racism, an ideology illustrated in his reference of symbolism as a tangible feat for blacks. Consider the following:

Things are tough for blacks folks. Mr. Semple, but they don’t get any better by ignoring the few positive spots on an otherwise bleak horizon. As the old folks used to say,” I added expansively, “black folks use to not have show, but we sho go show now.”

To many, interracial relationships are a positive symbol of progress. The ability to outwardly marry and fornicate with whites is a pseudo privilege that many enslaved blacks mistake for power. However, this behavior is simply another instance that unveils the white man’s power over the black psyche. As Bell states “… but they were symbols, not of ships and guns, but of white mendacity, white deceit, white chicanery.” Too often the conventionally successfully black acquiesces to the very system that disenfranchised his ancestors and continues to disenfranchise the current black collective, simply because it has seemingly rewarded him. The conventionally successful black is nothing but a contemporary “good slave.” He’s broken by the system and therefore functions with the necessary predictability to ease the white man’s mind.

John is a “good” slave, predictably fighting for his “right” to an integrated bedroom. A “good” slave typically makes significant money, seeing these pieces of paper as a gateway to the “finer” things. Money, of course, is a symbol. Many falsely align money with power, whereas the white man invented this system of commerce to grand tangibility to his wealth. Thus, the money that commonly accompanies conventionality is yet another symbol used to control the black mind.

This green seduces many with black skin to downplay white evil, and overlook the reality that most blacks do not grow their own food, own their own banks, or have communities flourishing with their own businesses. This deficit illustrates black disenfranchisement, yet escapes the many who feel they are free because they can seemingly shop where the white man shops. Realistically blacks will possess white access because upon perceived as overstepping any boundary, blacks are followed, arrested or killed, because blacks do not make the laws. So what good is the whites man’s money if the black body remains a fugitive of the state? How can a group truly be equitable to another, if dependent on another to survive? Or lynched for even seeking independence?

There is no equity without black ownership, without black community and without black controlled economics. So regardless of how financially comfortable blacks feel making six figures, the black body is only separated from the physical plantation by years. There is a reason why whites burned down Black Wall Street, murdered leaders like Medgar Evans,  Malcolm X, Dr. King and Fred Hampton —because these were not symbols they were a means to actual progress. If interracial dating were actually a means to progress, it would not dominate the images that encompass contemporary western culture. The white world has not and will never encourage blacks to do anything that will free them.

Futhermore, blacks like Kwame serve as the darkness at the end of the underground railroad, signaling a stealth transition and the sustenance to bear mental fruit. Kwame, in his brilliance and intellectual generosity mirrors the African ancestors that left breadcrumbs to all those seeking an elevated consciousness years after their earthly departure.

Melanated folk like John, alternatively,  serve as the light at the end of the tunnel, informing those wishing to escape slavery that they have been found out. For this reason, the enslaved black is the most poisonous being to those seeking an elevated consciousness for the enslaved African reserves  his resentment for his own misplacing his love, dedication, and respect  as sentiments solely reserved for his or her oppressors.

So while presently confined to the comment section beneath a lightly visited blog, these enslaved Africans populate our neighborhoods, workplace, families and maybe even our friendships. Tread carefully my friends, for he or she who falls for white supremacy, inevitably covets the white man’s power and is naturally bound to thwart black advancement.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow excellently written! Exchanges like the ones between Kwame and John, I’m sure have been going on since black people came over to North America on the good ship “Jesus”. I wish there was a fools proof way to reach the enslaved African but there is not. I personally have tried many strategies in trying to reach those melanated beings that are more confused about racism white supremacy, many of the strategies I have employed have forced me to become a better person in my own personal journey. For instance, I had to learn the hard way, that to even get through 5mins of dialogue with mentally enslaved melanated beings, you have to be extremely patient and listen really well, otherwise not only will the dialogue breakdown really fast but the confused enslaved African may become so angry that the disturbance alerts the slave catchers to your intentions and activities. I also dropped cursing from my vocabulary but even with these changes my success rate for freeing minds is still extremely pitiful. I was dialoging with another counter racist earlier and it appears that black people are more interested in feeling good as opposed to the truth of our situation. We have many escapisms as you so elegantly mentioned. The other big stumbling block is as a people we do not seem to be interested in doing root-cause analysis or deep research in regards to our collective problems as a people, and we do not like to read or study our history, this makes it difficult to reach the enslaved African because their consciousness has been shaped solely by an alien force. To melanated beings that have been groomed this way, running away sounds like crazy talk. Speaking to a high school senior about why joining the Army is a grave mistake for any black person, seems like treason talk, how can they understand, if they lack the true historical context of black people in relationship to the military and America as an imperial force. This exchange between the runaway and the enslaved African speaks to this travesty in attempting to awake or free an individual, much like our Great Ancestor Harriet Tubman faced. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, and you can take the chains off black people’s mind but you can’t make them think. Great Post it made me think and of course constructive thoughts usually produce constructive actions. I was not familiar with Dr. Derrick Bell and I will be checking out his short story Racial Symbols and his book Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence of Racism, thank you from bringing this black scholar to my attention!

    1. After you read, let’s discuss! I think Bell is most functional because he paints characters that allow audiences to catch their oppressed ways of thinking.

      Thank you for another great comment! As one of my friends says “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.” Not until the enslaved mind seeks freedom, will the chains fall off. Unfortunately, it seems unless a traumatic moment befalls the black body, many remain entrapped. I agree that patience is necessary, and given your exchange with one of our pre-conscious persons, the collective is in need of more blacks with your intellect and patience.

      1. I am going to order Dr. Bell’s book today, it looks like a lot of constructive information that I can benefit from. That is absolutely right “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” It certainly appears that the black collective is not quite ready. It seems that a lot of our people do not want to even hear the information and are hostile about anything that has to do with enlightenment. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said present our people with only the glass of dirty water they will drink it, if they are thirsty and have no other choice but if you present our people with both glasses of water one dirty and one clean, they will choose the clean glass of water. Today this does not appear to be the case, I could be incorrect, but our Ancestors have left so much valuable knowledge, not to mention many of our people on the planet now such as yourself are putting out life changing information. It appears at least to me that a large portion of our people are looking at the dirty glass of water and the clean glass and deliberately choosing the dirty glass. Dr. Kamal Kambon said racism white supremacy has effected us at the cellular level. I see evidence of this when our people ignore facts. I am the youngest of 5 children, my two sisters are the oldest both have their Masters degrees, and they are very opposite. My sister that helped me a lot is very conscious and aware my oldest sister that lives here in Houston is very confused, and really has a serious white identification problem, we do not clash as much as one would think because I have greatly altered my behavior around her. I had to eventually tell her I do not do interracial parties anymore, I said I do this already when I can’t get out of it at work. My sister calls herself having a best white friend, I told her that’s impossible, I’ve known this white woman since my early twenties when I was much more confused, as I was working through my own confusion and starting to understand racism white supremacy a little better, I started seeing the monumental incorrectness to this type of behavior. As I begin analyzing their so-called friendship I made the following observations. My sister and this white woman NEVER talk about anything contentious, they certainly never discuss race, or all the racial strife that has taken place in the last several years. I asked my sister who did her white friend vote for, of course my sister did not know because they do not discuss politics, but this is your best friend, that’s puzzling. My sister basically is the one doing the most in the relationship, basically chasing this white woman. I observed how uncomfortable the white woman is around other black people, as I’ve grown up she is not at all comfortable with me. My sister ignores this, just so she can say she has a white friend, and I guess this boosts the white woman’s ego and she gets to say she is not a racist because she has one black so-called friend. What’s strange is this is not a liberal type of white woman, this is a very white Texas type Conservative white woman, married to a very Texas type Conservative racist white man, but my sister is not race conscious, I told her your interracial friendship would be over in a matter of minutes if you just asked a few questions to your white friend. It disappoints me to see how bad some of us need to have at least one white person to validate them, I’m under no illusion and I know from years of observing this white woman she is a racist, not even that refined of a racist, it’s quite obvious, which is why I decided to opt out of any future gatherings with them. So as for my oldest sister, I gotten her to think about a few things here and there but overall she is not ready to face the truth, I have suggested readings and shared your blog with her but you can’t force a enslaved mind to read or see the truth they do not want to see, they have to do that on their own accord, I simply try to help her where I can but in the meantime I’m not participating in the foolishness with her. Unfortunately Dr. Kamal Kambon said the same thing, when asked what will it take for black people to become focused on solving the problem of racism white supremacy, he said a traumatic event.

      2. Facing the truth is hard, it’s admirable that you tried to gift your sister with consciousness. I think we’ve all been here. I too wanted to believe that inter racial friendships functioned , but each and every time a “moment of difference” occurred and I couldn’t unsee what I saw. I have a novella worth of experiences, as I’m sure you and every member of the diaspora does. And what Each instance showed me was a racist seeking to stand on my back to bask in their fictive superiority. It was consistent trauma that steered me from black minded into seeking an elevated consciousness, and I can only hope that more blacks stop treating pure racism as isolated incidents. As always thank you for your comment and informative anecdotes!

  2. Steve says:

    “There is a reason why whites burned down Black Wall Street, murdered leaders like Medgar Evans, Malcolm X, Dr. King and Fred Hampton —because these were not symbols they were a means to actual progress. If interracial dating were actually a means to progress, it would not dominate the images that encompass contemporary western culture. The white world has not and will never encourage blacks to do anything that will free them.”

    Bang! You hit the nail right on the head with that one!! And to blackempowerment1, your statement about “the confused enslaved African may become so angry that the disturbance alerts the slave catchers to your intentions and activities” sounds to me like GIP, the Ghetto Informant Program that worked alongside the Feds Cointelpro that turned blacks against blacks. So it’s definitely important to be aware of who we try to wake up especially in this day and age.

  3. Wondeargue post CC! Will have to share this! Great analysis on racism!

    1. Thank you Prince!

      1. You’re welcome.

  4. Sorry for the misspelling. Meant to say wonderful lol

  5. Mr. Mitchell says:

    The only time I encourage interracial dating (which includes interracial sex) is when a black person in general, and a black woman in particular, has already participated in interracial dating.

    Once that line is crossed, there is no turning back, for the black woman has been tainted and trashed. The damage has been done and is irreversible. She’s (black woman) better off sticking with whites at that point.

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