I’ve been thinking as I have been debating with other Blacks across the diaspora, in particular African Americans, about our willingness to be last in this society. At times, we wear being last like a badge of honor most times. We treat our lives, our needs, and our existence as if we’re supposed to let everyone go before us. Black folks often wonder how other groups come to this country and move up the ladder so quickly. After giving our place in the social hierarchy much thought, it’s become clear to me.
White Supremacy has conditioned everyone to see us, Black folks, as last. Folks have been programmed to treat us as we are the least. In society, in politics, education, business, even the workforce, it’s standard operating procedure in the world to put Black people last, in the back, and at the end. Black people are ancillary. We’re the help. We’re the support. Black folks accustomed to being the bridesmaids, never the brides. It’s taught we deserve to be last in the same way slave owners taught the world slaves deserved their punishments.
We’re seen as support staff, essential to anything and everything needed to make this country move, good and bad. We’re used as excuses so folks will have jobs.
If it weren’t for Black folks, police officers wouldn’t have a job. Police were created to catch and police us. If it weren’t for us being bred to grow rice, cotton, and sugar cane, greedy colonizers would’ve never created the industrial revolution that so many people rely on today. Things that used to be made by hand were mostly made by enslaved people. The industrial revolution led to capitalism. Both relied on slave labor for financing. All of these systems were born out of ideas stemming from slavery and slave labor. Slave owners and White lawmakers put Whiteness first, and Black bodies last. Blackness has always been the center of the economic universe though few folks will give us credit for it.
We don’t get credit for much of anything actually. That’s how White power likes things and that’s how they want to keep it. Blacks shall be last, Whites shall be first, in all things. Those Puritans literally kept their promise with that one. Racists ensure the promise is kept by keeping Blacks last.
“Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” — Matthew 20 [15–16] NKJV
We’ve Been Taught Blacks Are Last
Black folks have always been used by everyone to move their collectives forward to where they’re trying to get to. They use us because we gave the least resistance, and everyone knows what happens when we resist. We’re met with massive force. As we’re beaten down, like cream in the coffee, the White rises to the top. Most African Americans and other Blacks around the globe have been fine with being the doormats and moving trucks for White Supremacy. The lack of fight collectively indicates our collective complacency.
As a Southern Black woman, I’m accustomed to being browbeaten with White Supremacy Jesus, the one slaves were taught to worship from the Bible slaves were given, with the understanding and context given to us by slaveowners. I shudder at the thought of my ancestors being told their enslavement punishments, beatings, rapings, lynchings, and second-rate statuses were just, and that their reward was in a place called heaven they could only see after their deaths. Our enslaved ancestors were taught that being last was their job. Over the generations living with the beast called White Supremacy, our elders have conditioned us to believe the same thing. We’ve been taught that being last is just the way it is. Fighting back is too much trouble, so we accept our last place status.
We exhibit our second-class status in the way we advocate for ourselves last and advocate for others first. No other group does this except Black people and it’s frustrating as hell to watch.
There is nothing good about being walked all over and jumped in front of simply trying to survive and exist in a society that believes you don’t matter.
To me, there is nothing honorable about being last considering everything we know about the way White Supremacy works, especially for Black people. What’s perplexing to me is how many Black people continue holding on to White Supremacy’s teachings of how we should live and how we should die. We’re taught we need to be content being last. The Slave Bible helped to program slave minds. White people have gone through great lengths to have Black folks convert Christianity and Catholicism. It was all about control.
Conversion and race in colonial slavery
On the evening of February 25, 1760, an enslaved man named Mathew requested baptism from the Moravian missionaries who…
Religious conversion in a White Supremacist system is and always has been about power and oppression.
Tools Of Oppression
Conversion and assimilation are tools in White Supremacy’s large arsenal/toolkit used to dominate all non-White people. Slave-owning lawmakers throughout the African diaspora wrote whiteness into their lawbooks in order to suppress the political rights of free black Christians. Religion, the unwritten law, was a huge part of reinforcing our place in the social hierarchy. From Barbados to the West Indies, Haiti, and even here in America, White folks have used Christianity to codify White Supremacy.
White lawmakers codified Black folks’ place in the world by making sure racism/White Supremacy deemed non-Black (Polish, Italians, Jews, French, White Hispanics, etc.) got to skip the line ahead of Blacks in the society to be first.
The Bible’s Book of Matthew (Chapter 20 Verse 20: 15–16 in the New King James Version) states “So the last will be first, and the first last.” That one verse is a staple in the Black church and in the Black community. The verse is also a staple of White Supremacy. I wish it would die.
So much of Black thinking, living, and even our dying is tied to our conversion to Christianity and Catholicism. It’s the Black theology of the last place. Religious conversions to the slave owner’s religion led to our lack of fighting for ourselves. The link between religion and our actions today and undeniable. Scriptures about slaves rebelling were removed from the Holy Bible, leaving slaves to read and learn scripture of slaves who were oppressed, happy, subjugated, non-violent, and meek.
Black folks being nice, kind, quiet, and last are staples of Western Christianity and Western Civilization. The world has been programmed to believe Black people are to be last, and Black people have seemingly accepted this placement in some respects. It’s understandable though. Resisting in the past led to our extermination, so we’ve settled into our last place on society’s totem pole to avoid death. Death is the only place left after the bottoms. It’s getting uncomfortable here at the bottom again, and I am not sure what my people are planning on doing about it.
It’s time for Black folks to stop being comfortable with being last in society.
As White Supremacy resets in an effort to remain in power, Black folks need to decolonize their minds immediately, doing a hard reset on the way we think. That “last shall be first and first shall be the last” mantra should be erased from our psyches altogether. No other group of people gets pushback for demanding to be centered except Black folks. It’s as if folks are telling us our place without coming right out and saying that’s what they are implying. Normalize being uncomfortable being last and doing something about it.
All Black people need to get out of the habit of sacrificing their comfort, safety, physical, financial, and emotional wellbeing for White Supremacy.
It is not our job to save America despite White folks having the nerve to say that racist/White Supremacist shit with their own mouths. Saving America means we are choosing to be last and White people continually asking us to keep saving America from White Supremacy is asking us to remain last. Those requests are tied to something quite sinister dating back to the days of colonialism, and we must break the shackles of that thing to move us forward as a people. Being last physically and being okay with it emotionally and spiritually needs to end.
Why Being Last For White Supremacy Is Bad
When Black folks exercise their political voices and perspectives, we’re told to wait and sacrifice for the good of everyone else. When we demand justice, we’re told to wait, there are more important things going on than us being treated fairly. When we ask to be treated equally, we’re told others have had it harder or are worse off than we are as if we haven’t suffered. When we demand what we’re owed financially, we’re told we need to forget about it, or there is no money to repay what we are rightfully owed. Racism/White Supremacy is a slick motherfucker, and all White people participate in its plan to keep us last.
I want us to stop telling each other the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Stop wearing being last as if it's some sort of badge of honor.
Remember who gave you those words in the first place. Remember who taught you this place. Every time we put those words into the atmosphere, we are letting the enemy know it is okay to oppress us every day we walk this earth. I’m not entertaining this line of thinking anymore.
Extermination, conversion, subjugation, and domination are White Supremacy’s end game for Black people. Being kept last makes it easy for White Supremacy to find us. Entertaining being last keeps us in bondage.
It’s up to us to decenter everyone else and finally become comfortable centering ourselves because it’s the only way to ensure we’re not last. We can be first and even if we’re not first, we don’t have to be last.
We need to become comfortable attending to us. Sometimes, we need to take spirituality out of the mix, especially Western spirituality. We need to begin to see everything as programming. Everything we Black folks do in Western society is ultimately for the benefit of White Supremacy unless we go out of our way to do something countering White Supremacy.
Because I understand my ancestors’ history as well as their spiritual journeys until we clashed so violently with White Supremacy, I’m simply not going to continue pretending Black people being last has always been a thing. The world loves erasing us. I need my people to get permanent Sharpie markers and not only write us back into world history but also begin seeing us in a different place. Liberation for oppressed people often begins with dreams of freedom. When you can visualize a life free of oppression you can see yourself elsewhere.
When we are content being last and waiting to be put first, we are standing still. We’re not moving. We’re allowing others to come before us. It’s time we decolonize our minds and our spirituality.
I want us to stop being comfortable with being last in our society. Our place shouldn’t be last all the time. White Supremacy and intentional inequity keep us last. We need to understand how Blacks being last in society has been codified and we need to work on dismantling the systems that allow this to continue
I want us to begin pushing back on anyone, everyone, and everything demanding we wait for justice, economic remunerations, and liberation as if we have no rights to those things. The last shall be first and the first shall be last was in concert with Jesus’ discussing his death and his resurrection. I’m not waiting to die in search of a heavenly reward of peace. I want us to see ourselves first now. I want Black folks to fight to get out of last place today.
I want my people to center us collectively with a sense of urgency immediately. I continue to stress the history of the Reconstruction Era, specifically the end of it. Check out Wiliam Spivey’s The End of the Reconstruction Era. He provides a robust account of what happened to Black people when White people decided to take back what they felt we shouldn’t have. It’s the period when we Blacks went from being equals to being last again. Black people are still last as a result of institutions put in place after the Reconstruction Era. We’re headed here.
The End of the Reconstruction Era
The Violent Saga Erased From the History Books and How it Compares to the Present.
Black folks have quite a few decisions to make, and we don’t have much time.
The answers will be required in 2022 and in 2024. We need to decide whether we are going to continue being last. Are we going to continue to allow others to decenter us? Are we going to continue decentering ourselves and going against our own best interests? Are we going to continue allowing other non- Black groups to make their priorities our priorities in a White Supremacist system making us last?
Everybody comes here and takes. No one wants to build, fight, contribute and pay homage to us for our sacrifices. These people contribute to us being last. Wherever racism/White Supremacy exists, there is oppression and anti-Blackness.
Where there are White people, there is a social hierarchy or social construct which requires anyone not White to be bothered. Dismantling Racism/White Supremacy means destroying the social hierarchy which places Whites first, Browns somewhere in the middle, and Blacks in the back (last).
Our children shouldn’t have to be last. You shouldn’t be making the least amount of money on your job. You shouldn't be the last promoted at your workplace. As a collective, we shouldn’t always be the last ones to receive substantive political legislation. Let’s end Western Society’s practice of placing Black people last.
Start by speaking first into existence by walking it out in your daily lives, voting like it where your politics are concerned, and arguing with anyone and I mean anyone who insists you as a Black person should wait longer as if 400-years of waiting is cool. Wait for what?
We’ve done waiting and it does not change our condition or standing.
Demand to move from last place like your house is on fire because it is. Time is running out and we don’t have much time left. They want us to be last and they want us to stay last. Don’ be last.
As for White people, stop centering yourselves. You’ve hogged up all the good air. You’ve eaten all the good food. You’ve reaped all the benefits from being first and being born White a society. You can listen to Black people and move out of the way. You can be quiet and stop talking down to Black folks telling you how life could be better if they weren’t remanded to the last place.
Stop accepting the last Black people. That’s not our place. That’s White Supremacy’s official designation for us. Give them that shit back. Resist. It’s okay to move. Demand better. It’s the only language White Supremacy respects.
Our silence is consent, and I’m revoking consent for us. Black people are not the doormats of the world, and last isn’t our official place in society. When they try to push you back, you push them back harder.
Dismantling White Supremacy means not getting rid of any tolerance of Black people being last in any way, shape, or form.
Black people being last is anti-Blackness.
Accepting Black people being last is racist/White Supremacist.
Engaging in activities that keep Black people last is racism/White Supremacy.
Black people settling for the last place, especially in politics, is settling for our subjugation.
Believing Black people are last because of something they've done to themselves is racist.
We must begin looking at the back of the line first instead of always focusing on the front of it because those at the front are responsible for the people being at the back. Examine your thoughts on who is last, who is first, and why that’s so. Deconstruct racist/White Supremacist/prejudice attitudes in your own life about Black people and understand where our place in the social hierarchy comes from. Christianity and Catholicism have played a huge role in the placement of Blacks in society being last.
Dismantling White Supremacy means confronting wrongs and making them right. It also means taking religion off the pedestal along with the men (and women) who serve it to us.
The next time you feel the sudden urge to tell a Black person they should wait, bite your tongue and examine your place in the social hierarchy. Check your racism too, because you definitely have some if you believe White people should be first and centered every issue, and every moment of every day.
Black people are not the world’s doormats. Let’s start acting like it. The last needs to act like it's the first and feel guilt-free about it.
Marley K, 2021
For additional reading about our place in society and how difficult it is to move from the bottom, I suggest reading Faces At The Bottom Of The Well by Derrick Bell:
Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism
Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism [Bell, Derrick] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying…
Listen to this beautiful song about the conflicts between history, religion, and White Supremacy for indigenous people in Australia. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The struggle sounds very American.