Tori Morrison one of the greatest literary authors of all times had said “Wisdom without data is just a hunch.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Think of how many times we are privy to conversations or interactions where words are spoken and are claimed to be fact. Where are the sources and where are the actual facts. Without that addition of information it is safe to safe that what is being spoken is merely just fiction dressed up to appear as facts. We utter words and phrases for the glamourfication of oneself instead of trying to make an impact in the World. We are not interested in impacting the World. Just or one sense of righteous entitlement.
I read not for knowledge but for wisdom. I usually only gravitate towards non fiction but in rare circumanstances I can be found to indulge in a storey or too. As always intertwined amongst many stories are facts as well as romantic literature to draw others in. At times we chose to only understand the passages that relate to us and our lives and forego the meaning behind the actual words. In circumstances where the storey could point the finger in a direction that implicates another that is when fiction is introduced. When I decided to start reading the words of Tori Morrison it was directly linked to the episode I saw on the view. They had talked about how this literary icon had passed. Once they said that she had won a Literary Nobel Peace Prize for her work I knew I was destined to read at least one of her books (in my possession I know have two-ok on loan). Her existence in time is very important as she not only addresses women in literature but also identifies the impotance of “Black Literature”. This is where I was first introduced to the idea of why it is we define our literature in this way and why in fact it might be important as well.
To fully try and understand what it meant to be one of African descent you do have to submerge yourself into the culture. The problem being though is that I will never identify with the pain and torture that was so many of their lives. Nor can I ever hope to understand the ramifications of how they were treated in some of the most volatile times in history. I have never had my civil rights taken away from me. To my knowledge neither did my ancestors. What I know is during the War ( I believe it was World War 2) my ancestors being Doukobohrs (pacifists) had no desire to engage in a War they believed that couldn’t be won. They took the sea voyage to Canada and from there our lives in freedom had begun. I had heard of many Russian children being seperated from their families and held in camps along with some Japanese near where I grew up (specifically New Denver where there is a monument to somehow show how sorry they were for doing this). Again to my knowledge this did not happen to my family. I do know that my Dad and his siblings were whipped in school for speaking Russian but I believe that to be the only extent.
Maybe it was me being ignorant. Or maybe it is the brain can only conceive what it knows but I am not only horrified but I feel great shame for what the White Canadians did to other humans. I knew that slavery was horrific. I knew it robbed humans of free will, free thought and the overall ability to be free. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that not only did these families grow up beyond poor. They were beaten, raped, starved and treated like they were worthless. How can anybody anywhere be ok with what we as a race have done. The idea that this type of thinking still exists 200 years later is disgusting. Where is it written that one person, one being is the self righteous enforcer of all things holy? No wonder why as a civilization we are subject to mother nature’s wrath. Wouldn’t you be disgusted if the humans you loved, cherished and gave a home to treated each other like that? Imagine this is the torture and rape of innocent minds. WE have stunted their ability to thrive and evolve and then laugh in their faces when they tell us that we were wrong. I use the generalization of us because being silent and watching the horror unfold makes you just as guilty if you had held that whip itself.
Let me tell you a factual storey that will make you sick to your stomach. The words I read are in deed fact. There is nothing more horrific than this. A slave mother who was born into captivity knew only the existence of being owned by another. She was beaten and tortured and raped. She hated her existence and all that it meant. The product of rape is usually the offspring of mixed lineage. Believing that she had found an end to this vicious cycle she believed her children to be the answer to end the cruelty. Imagine watching in horror as you are told that your children don’t belong to you. They are beaten beyond recognition for not being an asset to their master, who in fact is their father. Although everybody knows that fact it is still not acknowledged. Seeing that her children would suffer the same fate and maybe worse for the lighter skin she imagined the unthinkable. Not wanting to let her precious babies live with the pain and agony that she faced she did what she believed to be the only way. In their slumber she covered their faces so they would drift off and become one with their dreams. The only way to release them from this World of hate was to end their suffering. One can imagine the beating that ensued of that poor mom when their master saw that she robbed them of 3 more workers. That was their life. To work and die. No way of ever realizing your full potential. No way to ever be free except for when the angel’s come down and take you back home. How disgusting is this!! Even the wives of these masters treated their slaves like they weren’t human. Imagine a life where you get lashed to the point of exhaustion both on your part on theirs. You can’t can you? We suppressed a beautiful race after removing them from their family. That should always be your true north. That should always be your safety. But for so many they lived and died alone. A tortureous ending for thousands of lives destined for greatness.
Of course as a race we have stunted our evolution. I don’t think we will ever be a race worthy of a greater existence. We treat each other with such disregard its alarming. I used to have incredible anxiety just going out. Not because of my color but just the overall way we interact with each other. We don’t interact with each other. Take a walk outside and all you will hear is the hum of the power lines and the whirring of vehicles. Where is the laughter? Where is the tranquil peace? How can we let ourselves be subject to this behaviour any longer? Who is the one that told us that treating each other in this way would be ok? Shouldn’t we hold those at fault for teaching us this behaviour. Behaviour is taught. The deplorable ways we were told to teach each other was handed down. Now for the simplicty of moving forward let’s identify the exact origin in time when we decided that another human being born into being is only worthy enough to be held captive. The only way I can forgive myself for the horror of mankind is to understand where it truly began. My apology means nothing to those that endured this life. In fact most of those that were subject to the most horror didn’t survive to tell their tales. Only the ones who hands did the bidding. Of course their stories would be skewed in ways to try and get us to believe that their are races inferior to ours.
Hate is the evil that lies between two people being able to be friends. Hate seperates the room and demands for you to take a side. You can’t have both. Nor should you want to have both. If you are still undecided if this treatment was warranted let me tell you one more fact. I use the words fact because although it is not something that is finite there is truth behind the words. The horror of the tool used to suppress and dehumanize the victim has only ever been explained as “The Bit”. There are no pictures to expalin exactly what it was. Nor could it be bought. It was something that was handed down in between slave masters. Each master designed their own bit. The only thing in common was the way it was used. It was torture. They even used it on their own women. It was used anytime they wanted to shut anybody up. It was inserted in the mouth and left the mouth open. It held down the tongue to prevent you from talking or swallowing. It would be left on for as long as they determined it was necessary. Imagine!! The only thing I can imagine this too is that dental damn at the dentist. And for the hour that it is on my mouth I hate it. Imagine going days. The one gentleman who explained it to Ms Morrison said that after wearing the bit you were forever changed. It took the human out of you and replaced it with a wild animal. He couldn’t go on to explain it further both out of respect for himself and for his company. What he did say in the days that he wore the bit he would walk by the chicken coop. There in all his glory was this decrepit rooster with his mismatched feet. He would crow in his face like he was laughing at him. How is it that this mangy old rooster got a life of freedom but he was destined to this torture designed to rob him of his soul.
We suppressed a whole race for centuries and still do to this day. Racism is so fluent in all of our interactions without even knowing it. We are so over sensitized to what we think is wrong that we are quick to give our opinion without trying to learn the facts. I am one of those. Common knowledge tells us that slavery is bad. If we don’t try to understand the lives that lived through it then we are just as bad. I can’t imagine the feelings that coursed through their vines. How could I possibly. I have never had 100 lashes for just laughing. I never had salt thrown on my wounds only to hear my master laughing. I never had to wish that my child was never born into existence out of fear for the lives that they might have to endure. I will never fully understand. What I can try to do is honour their lives and existence but learning what I can from that period of time. It is not enough to say that I am not racist. It will never ben enough for those who suffered. Maybe our obligation lies to those that are living to ensure that they didn’t suffer and die in vain. We need to show them that in their absence we can give their ancestors a life full of purpose and meaning. That submerging ourselves in fact that we will become more knowledgable in how to do this. That maybe in some ways we can become wise and make for a brighter tomorrow by remembering those that have fallen in our past.