The Heritage of Slavery

PNP249338 A slave auction at Richmond, Virginia, 1856 (oil on canvas) by American School, (19th century); Private Collection; Peter Newark American Pictures; American, out of copyright


This is a powerful and exceptionally well done documentary looking at the legacy of our people in the Lands of the Great Captivity, opening in Charleston (where upwards of 50% of the enslaved Africans entered North America), moving over to Mississippi (where so many of our families can trace their roots), and on to Chicago (where the pioneers were drawn from to initiate the Great Exodus in 1967). It was produced in 1968, meaning that the interviews were being made in the time that the Saints were escaping Chicago for Liberia. I don’t recall ever seeing it, at least not on this side of being conscious! It is enormously relevant for today, in speaking to the condition of our people, and the challenges that are immediately upon them.

Many feel that the “awakening” to consciousness – particularly to their Hebrew Israelite identity, and its accompanying expectation of a deliverance from the Babylonian captivity – is a new phenomenon. It is anything but. Whether listening to the pastor at the church of Denmark Vesey in Charleston (the same church that Dylann Roof attacked in 2015) speaking of those who betrayed Vesey (that you “can’t have the backbone of a jellyfish”); or Fannie Lou Hamer (that the American flag “is drenched with our blood”… “This country is desperately sick, and man is on the critical list. I really don’t know where we go from here.”); or the various elders, teachers and leaders speaking, even “the brothers on the street” – they all make it clear that they were awakened to the reality of our condition. It is apparent that many simply hit the snooze button and went back to sleep! Some sat on the edge of the bed, only to scratch and nod (many literally under the effects of the drug epidemic would overtake the community) as we often can be found doing when arising from a deep sleep!

I recall Ben Ammi’s words in God the Black Man and Truth: “The problems of Black America are defined as the most complex in the world…. Today we still see the social problem, economic problem, educational problem, political problem, and race problem as acute as they ever were. Therefore, either America cannot solve these problems, or will not solve these problems. Either way, it leaves us no choice. We must take our destiny into our own hands and solve the problems ourselves.” I can hear him berating our tendency to “seek for figs among thistles, and grapes among thorns” – in other words, looking for justice from a people who have repeatedly demonstrated their reprobate penchant for injustice! These voices in the documentary clearly articulated that there could be – would be – no future for them in an unjust America. And they even linked America’s destiny with whether or not she would deal justly with us: if they didn’t get justice, they proclaimed that there would be no America!

The language that the whites being interviewed use – relating to us as “happy nigras” – is surreal. But they were abundantly clear that they had no intentions of changing or yielding control! Surely their attitudes haven’t changed over the course of one or two generations, even if they use “dog whistle” language today.

Note the definition of “community” that is discussed, and how the same strategy was employed upon our arrival in Israel: to “define us outside” of the definition of those entitled to be a part of Israeli society via the Law of Return. And then marvel at the community – a sanctuary of righteous-minded men and women, an environment in which the spirit of Yah may dwell comfortably – that we have successfully established in the face of great opposition, not just here in Dimona, but across the globe!

Faced with obsolescence in a modern society and a hastening holocaust, they “wait for almost anything to happen,” reminiscent of many an Israelite’s mantra that “it’s not time”. Rather than accept the “burdens of freedom,” they prefer to suffer the “burdens of slavery”.

Note that the “activist” is seen smoking and the speakers allowed their mentees to smoke in their presence. Sure, there were no laws prohibiting smoking in public places back then, and perhaps the dangers weren’t so well known. But the point is perfectly expressed by one of the brothers: “all revolutions are led by a hardcore disciplined group”. Don’t think you can be masters of the universe and haven’t disciplined self in the area of basic ! True revolutionaries would have to exercise what the brother says about guerilla warfare not being about weapons, but “a training in the use of the mind”. (By the way, our people loved to heap praises upon President Obama for his being so intelligent… but how intelligent, really, could he be if he still smokes?!)

Lerone Bennett, Jr. ties our resisting of the dehumanizing experience to something that no longer has value in the current society: “their manhood demands that they act in this way”! What is the image and form of a man in 2017? He went on to say that “America would have to face itself through Black people or go under”. Well, in 2017, it should be obvious that America is “going under for the third time”! What more do we need to witness?! Sadly, it’s just not for everyone to see, hear or understand. As the presenter says in his closing statements: “America is mad at each other right now…. Most Black people don’t want to wreck this parade, they want to join it.” It was as if he was covering the societal meltdown and racial tensions that are boiling up at this very moment from police abuse in St. Louis and an host of other locales, those frustrated at the benign neglect of the poor and dark-complexioned in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean in the wake of devastating hurricanes, and the ranting of a transparently hateful, intellectually shallow and pathologically unstable “leader of the free world”. Again, I hear Ben Ammi reminding us of the content of Yeshua’s prayer: “to deliver us from evil,” not to demand a greater share of it!

Regardless of our geographical location or our spiritual consciousness, this documentary is worthy of review and study, whether as a humbling reminder or shocking wakeup call. It is a compelling look at “from whence we have come”.

We are eternally thankful unto Yah Yahwah in this great season of Yom Kippur, for being on this side of the water (whether we actually live in Israel or elsewhere, but recognize Israel as our spiritual base)… and for being on this side of the judgment (in “post-judgment”) that is obviously upon the nations at this time… and for having sent us His Anointed Son and Servant Ben Ammi, who so faithfully and diligently adhered to the mission he was given: to establish the long-awaited Kingdom of Yah and raise up the Messianic people!

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