American Racism is the Cousin of Chattel Slavery

White People cannot fight for equality before addressing Black liberty. All men aren’t equal in America, and we damned sure aren’t all free.

1941 — Mulatto ex-slave in her house near Greensboro, Alabama. Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Chattel Slavery, America’s Original Sin

America as we know it today (the one created after its 1.5 billion acres of lands were stolen from Native Americans) was founded by slave owners. In the Western world, there were two types of enslavement practiced by slave holders, enslavement and chattel enslavement.

European (White) governments and monarchs supported and legalized chattel slavery. Chattel slavery meant an enslaved person could be owned forever by their slaveowners, and the children and children’s children of enslaved persons born into the chattel enslavement would automatically become enslaved. America practiced chattel slavery for centuries. While the United Kingdom finally abolished chattel slavery in 1838, America didn’t end the practice until 1863 when slavery was abolished, a whole twenty-five years later.

Chattel Slavery Was Sanctioned By The First Federal Government

Chattel slavery in America history is significant because it sets the stage for this nation’s disdain for African-American Blacks and explains why America has no desire to treat African-American Black people specifically with respect. American White people and our racist state, local, and federal governments have always treated Black people as if they were property and problems instead of free human beings with as much rights to liberty as Whites living in our society. The remnants of chattel slavery are the reason Black people can still feel our oppression. Black people are born without liberty because of their Black skin. White people still treat Black people as if we are their property.

The only people in America officially documented in the Constitution as chattel slaves were African-American Black people, and America enslaved no other group of people longer than African-American Black people. Chattel slavery was the heart and soul of America for centuries. For example, Southern Whites relied on chattel slavery for existence so much so, they required provisions be placed in the Constitution so they could continue the barbaric practice before they would vote to ratify the Constitution. The first federal government not only supported chattel slavery, they would continue making accommodations to Southern racists to keep the peace. The federal government has always made concessions for racists. They are the biggest Black folks’ biggest oppressor.

The slave holding founders included provisions in the first Constitution which allowed racist southern states to (1) count chattel slaves as 3/5 persons for apportionment in Congress, (2) deny Congress the power to prohibit importation of new slaves (until 1808), and (3) prevent free states from enacting laws protecting fugitive slaves. The chattel slavery concession reflects the control and influence Southern states had over the federal government back then, and it’s led to the tight grip racist Southern states have over the federal government today. Mitch McConnell, Brain Kemp, John Cornyn, David Duke, Henry McMasters, and other “good old boy” Southern White racist politicians come from a liberty infringing factory we Black Southerners affectionately call America, and the federal government has always allowed good ole White boys to get away with treating Black people as second-class citizens.

This is one reason hardcore racism and White Supremacy have been so rampant in the South since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and why White folks (particularly White men) in Southern states have sought to keep Black people in their places through Jim Crow and Black codes. “In our places” means Black people are not free and aren’t allowed to have the same rights and freedoms Whites are entitled to simply for being born with White skin.

Unfortunately, the South’s Jim Crow and America’s government sanctioned chattel slavery property and inferiority attitude was spread throughout the United States. Racism is everywhere, there isn’t a part of this country not touched by the remnants of chattel slavery and Jim Crow. White people still see Black people are property they can control.

It’s why no one’s vote is undermined in America except African-American Blacks.

It’s why African-American Blacks have a hard time running state wide political races.

It’s why few African-American Black people are allowed to move up out of our “inferior” places in society, and when we do, White people believe it’s their jobs to inform us we do not belong in their spaces.

Liberty is not ours, saith White people!

White folks’ disregard for Black lives can be traced back to the belief Black people are nothing more than their property to control. Those beliefs and the liberty infringing behavior White people engage in are the side-effects of allowing over 400-years of chattel slavery, then another 150-years of Jim Crow. White people “act” privileged because they’ve always been privileged, even the poorest, lowest White men. Even when all things were equal.

Also problematic is the federal government has always allowed White people to treat Black people as if they were still their property, even after it signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 (see Summer 2020s civil unrest about Black people). Racist White people are still angry we Black folks are free, and they work tirelessly to ensure we don’t have the same liberties they do. Many work to ensure we have no liberties at all. The federal government has not only condoned White people controlling the liberties, lives, and fortunes of Black people, they also took part in it, while disregarding the cries and petitions from its Black citizenry petitioning to live freely — proving all men aren’t created equal in America.

Chattel slavery transformed into racial discrimination, which is the cousin of chattel slavery. It’s a fancy new name, same old concept, enslavement and subjugation.

Black people Still Aren’t Free

African-American Black people may have been freed on paper in 1863, but America created and enforced racial codes for descendants of freed Black/negro enslaved men, women, and children, ensuring my people weren’t able to live free, and so White people could still treat them like their property. Today, Black people are enslaved by a new type of enslavement, the kind in which they view the enslavement of Blacks as a “civil relationship.” A civil relationship is a legal relationship which can be registered by two people who aren’t related to each other. Birth certificates became a way to secure birthright citizenship. Birth certificates are also the way Black people entered civil partnerships with America. America uses our birth certificates not only to determine where we are born and who we were born to, it also allows White people to use them to determine every child’s race and the race of our parents. States, which have always been run by Whites, then used this info to designate our class/status in society.

Birth certificates in America determine who has rights and who is free, which is why they hassle Brown illegal immigrants about them so much. The level of freedom and liberty Black and Brown people have is determined by White people. They control citizenship.

The thing that makes living in America “civil relationships” for African-American Black people is that once they freed chattel slaves, White people would still have absolute power over the lives, fortunes, and liberties of “freed” Black people. The absolute powers White people have had to control Black folks’ lives, fortunes, and liberties are why African-American Black people have never truly been free. White folks have the freedom to engage in racial discrimination, bodily harm, and financial, physical, emotional injury, and death, often with no punishment. The lack of justice over the centuries has emboldened White people to continue behaving in the same racist, barbaric manner as their ancestors did when we were chattel slaves, their property.

Freedom has been an illusion sold to Black people all across America to keep us working for White folks and making them wealthy as they worked to grow in numbers to amass political power, societal power, and wealth, especially in the deep South. We all know we aren’t free, even White people. They just don’t care to do anything about it.

I’ll briefly show you some ways remnants of chattel slavery still exist in America, and why Black people specifically should never stop fighting for their freedom. You’ll also learn why we Black folks shouldn’t ever be happy with any half-hearted, White-centered promises to address racism the federal government throws our way. Our civil relationship with White America has been anything but civil, because White folks’ vehicles of choice to practice modern enslavement have been racial discrimination and overt anti-Blackness. You don’t have to on a plantation or on a boat in shackles to not be free. Not having the ability to do as one pleases and the inability to be free within American society the same way Whites is the equivalent of enslavement for African-American Black people. History, data, and current events confirm my thoughts on Black liberty.

African-American Black people specifically do not have the same freedom, liberty, or ability to amass fortunes the way Whites and other immigrants groups do because we’re still yoked with the remnants of chattel enslavement. It’s time we discuss it so White people can reckon with it. To go on this journey, please put aside the visuals of slavery we’ve been taught about what chattel slavery looked like in the past. We’re going to take hard looks at the evolution of chattel slavery in America.

How White America Controls Black Lives

The lives of Black people are controlled by White people. White people control every aspect of our lives, like where we live and how we live in the country together; how we’re educated and the resources available to us to attain education; the amount of political power we’re able to amass in order to govern ourselves; our schools and school districts, educational systems; our career options and the pathways to those options. They control how we wear our hair; they govern the way we dress, and they even dictate when and how we rebel against the lack of liberties we have. White people predominantly control all branches of the federal government and state and local government in the nation, and they determine which Black folks White folks will allow to govern us. They make decisions which are not in the best interests of Black people. Black freedom doesn’t really exist. Freedom is an illusion.

White folks have always controlled how we communicate with them and with others by forcing us to speak their native tongue. They also censor us (even online using racist artificial intelligence created by racist, anti-Black human beings) so we cannot discuss racism (the infringement of our liberties) publicly, because racism is directly addressing White folks’ misbehavior, and heavens forbid we talk about the ways White people keep Black people oppressed.

White doctors have the power to withhold care and practice racialized medicine leading to the maltreatment of Black patients, legally.

White people even get the privilege of going into a medical facility and demanding to be treated by only White doctors, which is supposed to be against law, but is tolerated in the medical community despite it being unethical.

White America can still exclude Black people from society anytime they want to, regardless of our professional and educational achievement.

Racism and racialized terror has been so bad in recent years, the American Medical Association finally deemed it a public health crisis and a threat to public health (see racist, Trump loving anti-maskers in 2020 and the White men and who allow this).

White folks have always had the power to lock us up and throw away the keys, sentencing us to hard, free prison labor, and creating a bail bond system that keeps White men gainfully employed as police and government employees.

White people allow White police to kill us, White neighbors klansmen, Proud Boys, and Alt Right groups to terrorize us, and they’ve even created laws preventing us from accessing firearms to protect us from them.

White people quota how many of us Blacks get into their pearly White gates, and they even control other Blacks to help them keep us out of those gates.

White folks have kept and keep us from accessing and purchasing land through displacement, exclusion, and segregation. Black people do not possess the ability to live freely because where we live is controlled by racist White people. Every aspect of Black life is controlled by White society, therefore we are not free. Black freedom is an illusion, and White people are masterful magicians. White folks have millions of Black people running around America singing national anthems and believing they are free when the truth of the matter is, we’ve never been free. Black people are free on paper. We all know we can’t do what White people do. It’s so clear today even White people have to admit it.

If we were truly free, there wouldn’t be so much policing of Black thought, Black movement, or our Black bodies, and there wouldn’t be so many White people monitoring and obstructing our movements. White America controls Black society.

How White America Controls Black Wealth (Fortunes)

All the stuff noted in the last section is connected to Black wealth and the lack thereof. The reason we cannot amass the fortunes White people amass is because they specifically create institutions, structures, and invisible laws and codes which make amassing wealth impossible for Black people. People without wealth cannot be free. Poverty is the gateway to enslavement, and in America, White people have intentionally made Black people collectively poorer than any other racial group to ensure we’re their forever indentured servants, apprentices, share croppers, machinists, laborers, and worker bees. They allowed other immigrants to come in, join society, and surpass us in accruing wealth, grandfathering these non-Black immigrant groups into Whiteness.

White society works in a myriad of complex ways to put the kibosh on Black people’s ability to accrue wealth in America to move into a higher class. The lack of Black wealth results in the lack of Black freedom.

By controlling our wealth and opportunities to access wealth, they have solidified our status in society as second-class citizens, no matter what the job or career field is. And when we are allowed to amass some wealth, it’s through some vehicle White people have created which benefits them more (i.e. collegiate and professional sports).

Wealth is power, and White people understand this, which is why they keep creating schemes to extract wealth from Black people. Black people unfortunately do not understand this. Liberty and wealth are connected. The more wealth your group amasses, the more freedom you’re allowed to have.

According to a report by the Brookings Institute, in 2019, the median white household held $188,200 in wealth, which was 7.8 times that of the typical Black household which held only $24,100 in wealth. The only way this could possibly happen in a “free” society after being free on paper for 158-years, is that Blacks are victims of institutional racism (an extension of chattel slavery which infringes on their freedom to attain wealth at the same level of Whites). The pandemic of 2020 has highlighted how wealth inequality killed so many Black because of the types of employment opportunities available to us, and because of the generational wealth handed down to many White people along with their White skin. White liberty made their living possible and made our deaths inevitable.

White people control Black people by controlling Black wealth. Black misfortune has led to Whites making fortunes.

How White America Controls Black Liberty

After slavery ended and Reconstruction Era, Whites took away Black liberty. America (the federal and state governments) allowed the South to create a new set of racial codes and laws. Those laws ensured African-American Blacks were inferior in the nation’s social order, and that White people could control them. White people could police our manners, words, tones, movements, and actions. We were not free.

Jim Crow was a way to put Black people into indentured servitude. Laws supported this racist code of behavior. Back then and just like today, whenever traditional racial customs weakened or broke down in practice (like when we tire of the police beating our asses, living in poverty, inequality, employment discrimination, or racist, lying Karens, etc.), Whites people turned to their favorite pastimes of violence against Blacks to reinforce White rule and to control Black folks’ behavior.

Black people weren’t and still aren’t allowed to rebel against our oppression (see Colin Kaepernick taking a knee). Recall the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. Remember how state and local police and Trump’s federal government responded to our pleas nationally? Remember the militias? When Black people rebel, White people resist our resistance with violence and good ole White apathy.

Jim Crow is still in effect, and White people in America are perfectly fine with it. It’s the reason most are concerned about “property” instead of the racism and oppression driving any property destruction. Their old property has conflicts with their new property. It’s the reason I believe all White people are wired to be racist, and it’s the hill I am going to die on! White folks control Black folks’ liberties, even with their apathy, because they all are racist.

In many parts of the country still today, there are White spaces Black people aren’t allowed in after sundown, restaurants Black people aren’t welcomed dine in, and jobs that Black people aren’t allowed to have despite being qualified for them and it being illegal for these institutions to engage in such behavior. Jim Crow is alive and well in America, and the invisible racial code ensures Black people do not and cannot have liberty as Whites.

This lack of freedom translates into us being unable to live anywhere we want to in peace; we can’t gather without being harassed, we can’t move in cars without being suspected, walk on sidewalks without being expected to submit, or shop in stores without being under surveillance by White people who believe their primary jobs on this earth are to monitor Black people. It all stems from Jim Crow, the cousin of chattel slavery.

Jim Crow and Black codes have been the prevented the progress and upward mobility of African American Blacks. If we are not truly free, then what are we exactly, in a purgatory holding status awaiting freedom? Simply put, Black people do not have the same liberties as Whites, and we never have.

The real question is, what are White people going to do about it? Playing dumb is out of style, doing nothing has worn thing, and asking us what to do to change your behavior for you in no longer acceptable White readers. This year is the year of discomfort, and you’ve been duly warned. Black people want liberty, and we want what we’re owed.

In Conclusion

Black people aren’t free, and if any Black person is saying otherwise, assume they are the tokenized Black friend White people love and don’t listen to a word he or she says. Black freedom is an illusion. Any sane Black person, regardless of status or educational attainment level, can attest to the ways White America controls our lives, fortunes, and liberties.

While many Black people may see these challenges simply as racial discrimination and oppression, the correct definition of what Black people have and are continually experiencing in America is a continuation of chattel slavery. We do not have the freedom to move as White people; we are viewed by White people as White folks’ property to police and control.

The wealth Black folks have been allowed to amass is pennies compared to Whites because of structural, institutional, and individual racism sanctioned by federal and state governments. Racial discrimination is illegal on paper, but not enforced to protect Black people in particular. We have laws to protect our liberties, but those laws cannot protect our liberties because White people don’t obey those laws.

White people still control Black lives.

They allow police, the original slave catchers and klansmen, to kill us extra judiciously, and they’ve created many mechanisms to ensure there are no penalties for them for doing so. This sends a clear, chilling message to Black people. Our lives don’t matter, and there is nothing we can do about it. Black liberty therefore does not exist.

White people control all aspects of our lives, from our public education; whether we live in standard or substandard housing; if we live on or near toxic waste lands; whether we have access to affordable healthcare; and how the way they police us. They control if we have healthy food options in our communities; the type of health care we receive; whether or children live or die, and if we go to prison or have long criminal records which prevent us from contributing to society in meaningful ways. White people prevent where we work and if we’re promoted, and if we are rewarded for working hard. The ensure we don’t have equal pay and ensure we aren’t seen equally in the eyes of the law. The list goes on and on. White people control every aspect of African-American Black folks’ lives, the same way they did when we were enslaved.

We can all sit around and pretend it’s not as big of a deal as I’m making it and my view of the state of Black America is extreme, but the stats don’t lie, our history doesn’t lie, and the state of Black America isn’t lying. White people have essentially made Black people second-class citizens because of informal civil relationship that resembles chattel slavery for over 150-years and counting.

It’s time for White people to end America’s alternative version of chattel enslavement of African-Americans Blacks and give us what we’re owed. It’s long overdue.

We want Black people to finally matter. We should have the liberty to live our lives freely.

We want our freedom. If we’re free of racial discrimination and a racialized citizenship status, we would have liberty to move in America and throughout the world freely.

We want reparations for our pain and suffering and the ability to earn a living free from the White gaze. Reparations and punishment for the injustices tied to centuries of racial discrimination would increase our fortunes, maybe. I say maybe because White people would just rebel and find a new way to stay ahead.

Before Black people can even begin fighting for equality, they must fight for their freedom, and before Black people can fight for freedom, we must understand how America has kept Black people in bondage. Liberty for Black people is an illusion. Racial discrimination and White Supremacy are enslavement. We are in a civil and sometimes uncivil relationship with America’s White people. Racial discrimination is the first cousin of chattel slavery.

Black will never be equal in America until we are finally freed. Before we achieve equality, White folks must finally free us. The problem is White people, and the only people who control White people are White people.

Marley K, thinking about stuff in quarantine, 2021

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