We Are Enslaved Still | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

We Are Enslaved Still

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Funmi F. Franklin

If you're white and you're wrong, then you're wrong. If you're black and you're wrong, you're wrong. People are people. Black, blue, pink, green—God makes no rules about color; only society makes rules where my people suffer, and that's why we must have redemption and redemption now.

I've heard people say everything from slavery being over to black folk being lazy, all in an effort to erase the shame (or ignorance) of admitting that there has never been a struggle to keep us from equality. By us, I do mean black people, to clarify.

So, I've written about white privilege being real. I heard your displeasure. That didn't change the facts, but I heard you. Now, I'm moving on with more truth that you won't like.

Let us talk a little bit about how much society has changed and not changed at the same damn time. Let us talk about how the opposition to racism and inequality has not changed. We still want to light candles and place teddy bears in the streets where our boys are killed. We want to march and call meetings. We are doing what worked for Martin Luther King Jr. without realizing that our children are not the same sons and daughters as our mothers and fathers.

While the world around us has changed its face, ultimately the struggle is the same.

We are not free; we are enslaved still. We are not treated justly, fairly or equally. No doubt about that. However, the shield that covers the struggle is indeed different. The face of oppression is different today than in the 1960s or even in the 1690s. Just as times change, so then should our approach to abolition of slavery.

To those who say slavery is over, I beg of you to stop spewing that ignorance out loud and on blogs where you feel safe. Slavery has not gone anywhere. It has only changed its image. It has contoured its face to mix and mingle without notice.

Brainwashing a race of people to believe they are not valuable beyond material things and worldly possessions is slavery. Paying less money for more work is slavery. Killing black men in the street for sport and then protecting the perpetrators by using laws created to ensure that we never rise is slavery.

We are indeed enslaved.

So if the face of slavery has changed, so too must the faces of those who fight for justice and the means by which we go about it. The struggle today is for freedom from mental slavery. We have this entire idea of life mixed up. We have boxed ourselves in to what society dictates to us.

Society says what's cool, acceptable and attractive. Society tells us what to eat, listen to, sing about and even what to be angry about.

Society is controlling us; raising our children. This society is using our brains to think our thoughts. We have become a nation of followers. Crosses are not burned in yards today. These days the cross-burners might sign our checks. They are still controlling us by making sure we never get to where they are, financially or otherwise.

Plantation masters don't hover over us in the field and count the barrels of cotton. But they do make us clock in and sign their names to work we spend hours collecting, studying and preparing.

We don't see "White only" and "Colored only" signs anymore. But go to a business meeting and see how the black people shuffle to one end of the room, while the whites go to the other, in many situations.

It's not as common to have the help take home the leftovers after the masters have taken what they wish. Still, we shop at businesses that non-blacks own because we haven't learned yet the value of circulating black dollars. This is a lesson other races have mastered.

Bob Marley said it best, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds."

Marching is not going to tackle the type of enslavement that we are facing today. We must build bridges to each other and stop looking elsewhere for answers to our issues.

We know what our issues are. We've carried them for generations, and we can free ourselves of them.

We have prayed, marched, picketed and boycotted. We have had a dream; we've kept hope alive by any means necessary. It's time to adjust and conquer in ways we haven't embraced.

We must become mentally free from all the hurt and the reactionary pain we've allowed to guide us.

We must do it now, and we must do it ourselves.

Funmi "Queen" Franklin is a word lover, poet and advocate for sisterhood. She has a weakness for reality shows.

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