Bryant Gumbel, Alan West and others, please stop with the slavery analogies…
(ThyBlackMan.com) Whether it is politics, the sports arena or general labor disputes, the analogy comparing modern labor disputes with the permanent stain of slavery just keep coming. The latest comparison was made by HBO’s Real Sports anchor Bryant Gumbel who said that NBA commissioner David Stern was some kind of modern-day plantation overseer. Republican and Tea Party favored Representative Alan West (R-FL), two months ago called Jesse Jackson and others out as overseers of a plantation boldly stating that he was going to lead blacks off the plantation.
In August, Representative Alan West (R-FL) appeared on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor where smiling like a gapped toothed Uncle Tom said “So you have this 21st Century plantation … where the Democrat party has forever taken the black vote for granted, and you have established certain black leaders who are nothing more than the overseers of that plantation,” West said. “And now the people on that plantation are upset because they’ve been disregarded, disrespected and their concerns are not cared about.”
West was commenting on news about outrage expressed at town hall style meetings in urban black communities where unemployment rates are far higher than the national average. Many right wing conservatives and commentators favor the slavery analogy. They consider it part the GOP’s so-called outreach strategy to black voters. The “Insult them and they will come” strategy.
West was even more egotistical and insulting to blacks in his reply to reporters when asked for clarification on how he compares to Harriet Tubman.
“Harriet Tubman is known for her efforts to rescue slaves and bring them off of the plantations to freedom. It took one person to begin a process which eventually led to the end of slavery,” West said. “Today in the black community, we see individuals who are either wedded to a subsistence check or an employment check.”
Alan West is not risking life or freedom on behalf of black people by representing a Tea Party leaning district made up of a majority of white voters who favor the GOP. Alan West comparing himself to such a icon in the black community and American history, whose efforts included not only freeing enslaved Africans by guiding them along the Underground Railroad, but also serving as a Union spy behind enemy lines is “absurd “.
However, how in the hell does collecting unemployment checks compare to people who were perpetually employed because of slavery? Things slow around the plantation,Massagone lay off some slaves? Of course, not,Massasold them off to another plantation, business or brothel. Besides receiving the innards of recently slaughtered animals destined for Massa’s table, the meager subsistence provided for slaves in no way is comparable to a food-stamp program, Medicaid, Medicare, disaster relief or any other safety net provided by various programs.
There have been those who have even suggested that if you have a job and bank account you are equal to an enslaved human being because you are dependent on the system. Really? Working a set amount of hours, receiving a paycheck and hopefully health insurance, going home each day to spend the rest of my time and money how I choose with whom I choose makes one a slave?
Tuesday night in closing comments on HBO’s Real Sports, Bryant Gumbel compared NBA Commissioner David Stern to a slave plantation overseer.
Talking about the labor dispute between NBA players and team owners, Gumbel said about Commissioner David Stern part in the lockout, “His efforts are typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern-day plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. … His moves are intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.”
One can always argue that one side or another is being exploitive of a weaker class, for clarification on the economic difference between players and owners read “They Ain’t Wealthy, They Are Rich: Economic Lessons from the NBA Lockout”. Regardless of the economic difference between the two sides, to compare either side to being slaves or plantation owners is just as absurd as Alan West comparing himself to Harriet Tubman.
While athletes today may be physically inspected for certain attributes on the blocks as a kidnapped African would be in chains, the only chains on athletes today are the platinum or gold ones hanging from their necks or wrists. While athletes can be traded from team to team, they usually have some say in the matter or they could simply quit and walk away as the NFL great Jim Brown did in the sixties. Instead of the money they earn going intoMassa’s bank account, hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars are deposited into a professional athlete bank account every year.
The point is that too many people inappropriately use slavery and enslaved people to make points about things that are nowhere close to comparison. All of these casual slavery analogies do nothing but diminish one of the worst crimes against humanity in human history. Comparing enslaved Africans, or anyone else for that matter since slavery still exists for many enslaved people, is not only absurd, it is just plain disrespectful to the memory of the millions who perished under the worst kind of injustice.
Staff Writer; Scotty Reid
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