A NATION CAUGHT UP IN THE UNFINISHED LEGACY OF AMERICA’S SLAVERY
Dr. Joyce Watford, an Educator and a Descendant of America’s Slaves
August 27, 2016
JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED! TOO MANY DUPES AND TOO MANY LIES!
“Justice delayed is justice denied” translates into “no justice”—just “injustice.”
The above statement aptly describes how the majority of the members of the collective group of native black Americans perceive their life circumstances in the country of their birth, the United States of America. Justice, freedom, and equality have eluded them and their forebears since the beginning of America’s Slave Industry in 1666, going on four centuries ago. Their history has been (and still is) one of disfranchisement, secrecy and deceit, shrouded in pretense to mislead and in practices of double standards and/or hypocrisy—based on race and skin color, resulting ironically in racial deficits, with blacks always on the short end, despite their historically unique contributions to the making of their great country.
Given the historical facts that the American Slaves and their descendants not only developed and built our great country—which had only been vast wildernesses about two hundred years before—into an independent nation of power and wealth, but they also kept the newly founded country united when a civil war among its people threatened to tear it apart. The unique contributions and value of the American Slaves and their descendants to the making of this great nation are indisputable, yet the American Slaves and their descendants remain oppressed, unappreciated, undocumented, unfree, and unentitled to the rights, privileges, and opportunities that are (and always have been) available to whites, for no other reason than the color of their skin.
Because of the unfinished legacy of slavery—the failure to properly identify America’s slaves and their descendants and to bestow upon them their rightful birthright the same as other groups in the country who call themselves “Americans” have—we are today a nation on the brink of being torn apart by escalating racial tensions and unrest. The racial tensions and unrest confronting us today must be dealt with fairly, responsibly, and justly, if we as a people are to move forward, whole and united, in the 21st Century.
Too many dupes and too many lies have obstructed justice for America’s slaves and their descendants. Until we confront the dupes and lies and make responsible efforts to remedy them, there will always be that blight on the soul of our country which threatens its true identity and diminishes its true greatness.
The first duping of America’s slaves and their descendants began with the founding fathers, who deliberately left unrecorded and/or hidden in irrelevant euphemisms the true existence of America’s Slaves, in the Constitution of the United States. The exact, specific name of the unique group and/or race of “people in servitude” who were being bred and born for the new nation’s first economic industry of wealth and power in the world—its Slave Industry—was/ is not mentioned in the Constitution. There are generic allusions, lumping America’s slaves and their descendants with other groups—but no specific mentions of the names “America’s /American Slaves” and “the Descendants of America’s/American Slaves” and their unique origin, purpose, and place in the growth and development of a colony into a new nation, paving its way on the world-scene in an unprecedented manner. America’s Slave Industry was so profitable that it enabled the forefathers to rise up and challenge the Mother Country for their Independence (in the American Revolution), which took place in fewer than two hundred years after the birth of the colony—an unprecedented amount of time in the evolution of nations/countries, unmatched in the history of the world—made possible by the free labor which the slaves and their descendants provided and sustained. However, America’s Slaves and the Descendants of America’s Slaves remain an undocumented, unidentified people in the Constitution of the United States of America. Thus begins the root of the unfinished legacy of slavery.
History has recorded that the second duping occurred with the handling of America’s Slaves and their descendants during the Civil War. Most people believe that the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln, freed the slaves and their descendants. However, Lincoln, through an Executive Order, freed only those slaves in the rebellious Confederate states to enable the slaves and their descendants to enlist in the Civil War for the North (the Union) and to tip the outcome of the war in favor of the North. Lincoln was not interested in the human and civil rights of the slaves and their descendants beyond the founding fathers’ vision in the Constitution, but he did not want the country to break into two countries on his watch. At whatever cost, the country had to remain united; and the only way for that to happen was to allow slaves and their descendants in the South to fight for the North so that the North could win the war. After the North won the war, the freed slaves and the unfreed slaves posed another problem for Lincoln and white people, in general.During and after the Civil War, President Lincoln had thought long and hard about what freeing some slaves and not all slaves would do and had done to the institution of slavery in the country. The institution was now broken, and there were no laws in place to determine what would happen to it in the aftermath. Many people in the United States were concerned that the rights granted by war-time legislation (which was what the Emancipation Proclamation was) could and would be overturned which would create further unrest in the country. Lincoln and some members of Congress believed the Constitution had to be amended to include the abolishment of slavery entirely and to include freed slaves as citizens of the United States. On the heel of the end of the Civil War in 1865, Lincoln and Congress pushed for Constitutional amendments that would be more permanent and binding than the Emancipation Proclamation. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were the first amendments made to the Constitution, after the Civil War. These Amendments are historically referred to as the Civil War Amendments.
However, the matters of freeing America’s slaves and their descendants have proven disingenuous, without any intent of permanently elevating the status of the slaves and their descendants and bestowing upon them their birthright equal to the birthright of white Americans. The historical fact is that time has proven that the Emancipation Proclamation never intended to free the “colored” race as free as the white race in the United States of America. It gave the “colored” race nothing more than a “generic” freedom from the bondage of “chattel” slavery.
It never aimed or intended to give newly freed slaves all the rights of the ruling white race, but it did leave them equally free (with the white race) of the bondage of chattel slavery, and it did leave them equally subject to or governed by state jurisdiction and laws (with the white race [which set the stage for social control over the freed slaves through “law and order”!]).To have done more for the freed slaves would have been in defiance of state laws and/or rights over which the federal laws and government had no authorization. Seeing that the Emancipation Proclamation could prove nil and void in preventing the states to revert back to chattel slavery, Lincoln and Congress came up with a means to block the reintroduction of chattel slavery by the South. This was the only reason that Lincoln and Congress attached (for the “colored” race) their claim for special legislation (the wartime amendments) to the Constitution. The Civil War Amendments were also the only way Lincoln and Congress could then exercise authority over state rights and laws to effect “any relation to or influence on the white race of freemen.”
History reveals, as many believe today, that the American Slaves were tricked into thinking they had been adequately freed (just as their descendants were tricked into thinking they had finally achieved equal rights after the second Civil Rights Revolution, from 1954 to the ‘70s!).
Instead of acquiring the same rights as the ruling white raceand being elevated to the pinnacle of free whites, American Slaves and their descendants, after they were freed, were left in the same position and condition as they were before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued (except, now, they were subject to white people’s state jurisdictions and laws (of course, for social control, over every aspect of the freed slaves’ existence). This scenario depicting what happened to the slaves and their descendants over a hundred years ago also feels chillingly familiar today, in our lifetime—“the more things change, the more they remain the same”!
History bears out that the Emancipation Proclamation only ended chattel slavery and made freed slaves subject to punishment under state jurisdictions and laws, which prescribed a system of “law and order” to be imposed upon the slaves and their descendants by the same dominant white group— in the same dominant white society—which had, before, enslaved them for more than two hundred years! Here is where the conflict started and continues today between the police, the courts, and DAS and their communities!
Let’s reiterate:The Emancipation Proclamation did not elevate American Slaves to social or political equality with the white race. It neither gave nor aimed to give newly freed slaves all the rights of the ruling white race (which would have been in defiance of state laws), but it left the slaves free of the bondage of chattel slavery in all the states; and, while the slaves had no recognizable rights, they were made equally subject to state jurisdictions and state laws (for the purpose of enforcing punishments against them) the same as was done for all other groups who had never been enslaved! Newly freed slaves were suddenly cast out on their own without rights, protections of the law, money, shelter, work, and food. Can you imagine what that was like? Ironically, it sounds a lot like what life is still like for American Slaves and their descendants today!
The Civil War Amendments intended to be colorblind and to create conditions of equality for all persons, regardless of race, color, national origin, or circumstances of birth. These conditions, however, were not intended to explicitly apply to American Slaves and their descendants who were never named or documented as a historically unique collective group in the United States of America, in both the Constitution of the United States and its Civil War Amendments. The framers of the government and its guiding documents were very careful to try to hide and/or obliterate this dark side of American history.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution were careful to avoid properly identifying the people that were bred to be slaves. There are a lot of euphemisms alluding to the slaves and their descendants, but never the words “America’s/American Slaves,” or “Descendants of America’s/American Slaves!” Thus this sinister act of abhorrent neglect, deceit, and dishonesty continues to nurture the monstrous root of the unfinished legacy of slavery!
Is there any wonder now why, after the Civil War, the government participated in all kinds of great schemes to export the American Slaves and their descendants out of the country—even after these very same people had saved the country from splitting into two—and when those schemes failed, Black Codes and Jim Crow emerged to deprive former Slaves and their descendants of due civil rights?
After more than two hundred years of being present in the country of their birth, at the time of the Constitution, and after four hundred years later, America’s/American Slaves and “Descendants of America’s/American Slaves are still misidentified and/or hidden! After having toiled, labored, and even died untimely deaths to tame and build up this vast wilderness that became the “New World,” America’s Slaves and their descendants are viciously overlooked! After helping lay the foundation that supports the nation that accumulated unprecedented wealth and accomplishments faster than any nation on the planet had ever done before, Descendants of America’s/American Slaves today are brutally oppressed, repressed, suppressed, and of course depressed as they are historically, systemically relegated to the bottom of America’s economic prosperity where they get no economic recognition or help at all. After helping America declare its Independence from its Mother Country in record-breaking time, Descendants of America’s Slaves are still enslaved (as were their American Slave ancestors). Like their American Slave ancestors, Descendants of American Slaves are still held in intellectual and socioeconomic captivity, resulting in what is characterized as a “slave mentality” and perpetual disfranchisement.
After saving the young nation from being torn apart in a war by its own people — the Slaves and their descendants who saved the young country from itself were never acknowledged or rewarded for their contributory roles, as were other groups for less than stellar contributions. But if it had not been for America’s Slaves and their descendants—the first truly original American people of this land who were uniquely bred and borne only for their country and its prosperity—the United States of America, as we know it, would not be the country that it is today!
Justice must not continue to hang in the balance for America’s Slaves and their descendants. Historic, systemic poverty, injustices, and inequalities make for impatience and racial/social unrest at their tipping points. What we are observing today with police brutality in race-related confrontations is not new and is an outgrowth of slavery’s unfinished legacy, which keeps repeating itself. Therefore, police brutality in race-related confrontations today must be dealt with in the context of slavery’s unfinished legacy and/or business, and it must be done so immediately, but not with centuries-old mindsets, approaches, and strategies, perpetuating and imposing division, racism, and white supremacy as the solution to historic, systemic problems from the past that no longer have a place in 21st Century times.