Recently, the Black community celebrated the oldest holiday in the African American community, Juneteenth. Though many Black people have been celebrating it for years, it did not become an official Federal holiday until June, 2021. By the time the last slaves were freed, Emancipation had been in effect for two years, which meant that a sizeable number of African Americans did not know that they were free! And so it is today.
Back in the day, Black people were kept in a vicious type of bondage. Their bodies bore the marks of chains and brandings; they did not have the freedom of movement; every act was scrutinized; education was denied them, and life was very, very harsh.
The difference between those days and the conditions Black Americans face today is one of degree and focus.
In yesteryear, the slavery was de jure, in other words, it was legally instituted. Today, slavery is de facto. It is true that enslavement is not legal, per se, but it is a fact of life.
Slavery today is manifested by shackles that have been placed on the minds of people.
Of course, we cannot negate the horrendous impact of the outrageous maltreatment that Black people have endured. Treatment of this kind resulted in the implantation of a mindset of failure. Some people are on automatic pilot and refuse to believe that freedom is even possible.
Though the history books document Emancipation, there are those who have not really internalized the concept. It is like a famed historian once said (paraphrased), if Blacks were made to use the back door, and none was present, they would create a back door in order to obey their internal indoctrination.
A serious truth is becoming more evident every day, and that is freedom comes with a certain state of MIND. Actually, even during the period when slavery was legal, there were Black Americans who were free, and incredibly, some of these owned slaves themselves!
The question we have not adequately asked ourselves is this: What is the difference between those Blacks who are held back by physical or psychological slavery, and those who are not? It cannot be denied that a lot of African Americans today are achieving in various and diverse endeavors, with some achieving such heights of personal and professional accomplishment that they are changing the world!
When examining this condition, the mechanism of slavery becomes evident; in order to enslave a person, the mind must first be engaged.
This is what “buck breaking” was about; people had to be conditioned to accept their servitude. No doubt, there were many who lost their lives because they refused to acquiesce to the mechanics of brutality that would result in a life of bondage. There were others, however, who successfully maneuvered life’s circumstances to their benefit. They were able to free their minds, and by so doing, freed their bodies.
Today, things are not different. There are people who refuse to believe that it is even possible to be self-actuating. They believe the white man’s ice is colder; they believe they are inferior.
They create systems that encourage negative behaviors; they work hard to create those mental prisons that keep a lot of Black people enslaved which often come in the form of negative, self-deprecating music and art. The outrageous acts of fratricide in Black communities are partially the result of toxic popular culture that is keeping many Blacks mentally enslaved.
On the other hand, there are those who have refused to drink the Kool-Aid of despair and have learned that they can create their own destinies. They have embraced a mindset of achievement and have eschewed the negativity that permeates a lot of Black popular culture. They don’t believe that to embrace education and opt for occupations that are not related to bouncing balls and rapping is acting white. They believe in education.
Today as we rejoice in the renewed attention to the Juneteenth holiday, it is important that we keep in mind that a new type of emancipation has become necessary: the emancipation of the mind.
People have to understand that they create their own realities by preparing themselves for accomplishment. They must then bond with others who have attained this mindset. Ultimately, the Black community will not become totally free until the number of self-actualized, self-loving Black people outnumber the laggards and unify to create a new reality. That is the Emancipation that is needed now! A Luta Continua.