Victim or Villain?

mental Enslavement, 400 years later

By: Taquarius Johnson


Credit: BLM protest sign

 

A Black and white world

The world is very much black and white... and brown, and yellow, and red.

The principle of race has directly influenced our country's operation. Black people were initially seen as property; constitutionally declared as 3/5 of a person. This principle continued for nearly 400 years.

History tells us the turning point was initiated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This era saw the emergence of great activist leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

These men relentlessly fought for black liberation and equality; all while being portrayed as domestic terrorists by the media. Today, we recognize these two for their bravery and perseverance.

This can likely be attributed to our societal evolution. But how much have we truly evolved?

Credit: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X meeting for the first, and only time

 

Broken education

The removal of physical chains served as a great metaphor for what's truly possible. Shortly after, we introduced Jim Crow. From birth, slaves were taught that they were inferior to the white man. These teachings are what allowed slavery to thrive for so long. If slaves were told the truth, a revolution would've taken place. This inferiority complex was the only thing keeping black people in check. This can also apply to modern society, as we are taught about the systemic issues that plague our culture. We are taught that the world is designed against us, specifically. There is truth to be found, as we have well-documented policies to show for it, but this mentality can be very damaging to our youth.

A lot of black kids are brought up in the inner city. The conditions of many of these neighborhoods can range from poor to life-threating, as they were purposely manufactured to be this way. Kids often find themselves getting involved with gangs because it serves as their only means of safety and comradery. America is responsible for this problem. These kids are victims to circumstance, products of their environment. But what does it mean to tell them their lives are supposed to be this way?

It serves as a form of mental enslavement in order to confine us to these settings. If my life is absolutely terrible and I'm taught that it's supposed to be, how can I envision a better future for myself? How can I be motivated when I'm taught that I can't obtain success? The white man bares a great deal of the blame, but when do we start holding ourselves accountable?

 

It's Our Culture

Whether it's film, music, or war happening in real life, Americans love to indulge themselves in a pool of blood. Media outlets often encourage war for this exact reason, as well as monetary gain. Violence is a crucial part of American culture. The same can be said for African American culture. Expressed through the lens of black art, we can see how this lifestyle shapes perspective. Artists like Kendrick Lamar use their expression to shed light on issues that plague our people, with the goal of inspiring change.

Others may use it as a form of advertisement, which often leads to self-snitching. Expression in this way only perpetuates and validates the negative stereotypes reinforced by the white man. Not only that, but it can have an incredibly damaging effect on the youth. Art is powerful. With great power, comes great responsibility.