Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting a guy I’ll call P. He asked me my background, as in nationality, and I had no answer for him. I never have an answer to that question because I honestly don’t know. All I know is that I am of slave decent, so most times that’s what I say.
Usually it’s said in jest to defy the people that are clearly of Black decent but since they don’t know their African heritage, they claim every other nationality. Either way my answer is “of slave decent”.
P had a problem with this. He shared with me his distaste of the word slave. He explained that, to him, slave is almost like calling someone a loser. Its like proclaiming that you are not worthy of anything you work for. “It’s like saying you are of loser decent”, says P.
I explained to him that in the South “slave” is a common word. Not used commonly, but definitely heard. I went into detail about how Richmond was built from slaves. You can not speak of the history of Richmond, Virginia without referencing slaves and their impact on the city. My great great grandparents, my BLOODLINE, were slaves and I can not deny that.
He didn’t care. He thought the term was just NOT to be used. P believed that the term was negative and that I was instilling a subconscious mentality of “loser” in myself. In short, P believed that I was carrying and perpetuating this terrible portrayal of black people by saying I was of slave decent. As to not get into a heavy debate, I acknowledged his point of view and shifted the conversation to something more light hearted.
Allow me to share with you my point of view…
The stories of the slaves I heard of we’re definitely not losers. They were hard workers that worked tediously, arduously, and tirelessly day in and out! Whether it was to please their master or to free themselves to provide a better way. Some slaves believed in their value so much that they formed uprisings against their oppressors.
The slaves I hear stories of fought! From survival to freedom, they always stayed optimistic by encouraging each other, bonding together and providing a way for each other. In no way do I feel like I represent the decent of a loser.
In fact, I feel like I am a representative of one of the hardest working races in America that over-assisted in laying down the foundation for America to be what it is today. I’m proud to say that I am from a race who has endured years of abuse, violence, disrespect, humiliation, invisibility, and oppression and is still standing today. Hell, even running our country!
Though, today, we may not be the perfect portrayal of what our ancestors have fought for for so long (take a moment to reflect on that), I choose to be freed from the negative connotations associated with my race.
How you define yourself speaks volumes! Life is all about YOUR perception, how you ingest and how you react. No, today may not be OUR Independence Day, but decide that you will free yourself from anything holding you back. Whether its the negativity surrounding how you define yourself or just the negative company you keep, let today be your first Independence Day. Be free.