Wednesday, March 20, 2019

We Helped Build It, But We Can’t Claim It!

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(“Would America have been America without her Negro people?” – W.E. B. DuBois

We is free!” Those exhilarating words of a slave in 1863, as he crouched at dawn before his makeshift cabin, brought an end to one of the most dreadful chapters in American history.

Slavery which ended in 1863, with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, has many asking would America be America without the slaves who worked relentlessly to build it? Let’s pause and give that question time to marinate. Would this country be an economic gold mine without the blood, sweat, and tears of Black men, women, and children? What do you think?

In noting our role as builders, were it not for slaves using hoes and axes to plant, clear land and grow cotton and tobacco; would America be what it is today?  I don’t know about the rest of  the country’s  42 million African-Americans, but I’m outraged because although our ancestors played a key role in building this country we can’t claim a damn thing, not even honorable mention.

If that offends you, let me beef up this controversy by saying, there is something terribly wrong with a country that enslaved people, forced them to work long and tortuous hours under inhumane conditions and has yet to say thank you.

As with most things about slavery, it is the thank you aspect that Whites have difficulty understanding. Many have even said Black History Month is this country’s way of saying thank you. However, Blacks argue the annual celebration has nothing to do with Whites acknowledging Blacks for their hard work. Besides, we don’t need people telling us what we already know about ourselves. Right?

For anyone who’s not familiar with famous structures built by slaves, here is a partial listing.

1. The White House

The same White House, currently occupied by the biggest psychopath in presidential history. I would wager that if someone told Chief Lying Tongue that his home away from Mar-a-Lago was built by slaves, he would call it “fake news.”  Oops, there goes the neighborhood!

2. Railroads

How many people know that when they board a train, they’re riding on tracks built by slaves? Among the famous rails, they constructed are; CSX, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and one that will surprise you, Canadian National.   Who Knew!

3. The Thomas Jefferson Estate

It’s no secret that America’s third president and key author of the Declaration of Independence was a slave owner. Hence, it was slaves who built the sprawling home Jefferson called Monticello. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the house, now a museum took 40 years to complete.

As one of the most recognizable landmarks in America, the 11,000 sq. ft. building with its domes, pillars and lush surroundings, is a reminder of how much this country has benefited from black labor. Still, they say, we haven’t done nothing. Really?

In reflecting on race and labor, it’s appalling that we don’t have a stake in a country we helped build. That’s why Blacks find it easy to leave out American when people ask what we like to be called. For us, Black will always come first and American second. That is if we choose to align ourselves with this egotistical nation. Yeah, we helped build it, but we can’t claim it. And after giving it a lot of thought, do we really want to?


Staff Writer; Peggy S. Butler

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