Are There Any Similarities found in the Mindsets of Southern Slaves and Today’s African-American Americans?
Many within the African-American community continue to talk about a phenomenon called “the slave mentality.” It’s a very controversial topic that’s discussed during African-American forums, in African-American media outlets, and at just about any gathering where the attendees are all African-American.
The reason is likely because both blacks and whites feel very uncomfortable talking about this in racially mixed company–especially and when you consider America ‘s history of slavery.
But is it real? I believe it is and a clear definition is needed. But I was never a slave. And neither was anyone else that’s tried to define this term in modern times.
But this mindset that needs to be examined and understood by all, but especially by those in the African-American community if certain issues are to be dealt with.
And I think the most qualified people to define the term are people who were former slaves themselves-Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
Both Douglass and Tubman escaped slavery and spent their lives helping others do the same. As outstanding members of the Abolitionist Movement, they contended with the slave mentality on a regular basis. And they walked among those that had this mindset. As far as I’m concerned, that makes Douglass and Tubman leading authorities on the subject.
What is the Slave Mentality?
Frederick Douglass documents his experience with other slaves in his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.” And among the many things he says, we find this statement: “I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right….”
Harriet Tubman, who led many slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad, said this about the slave mentality; “I freed a thousand slaves. I would’ve freed a thousand more, if they only knew they were slaves.”
Based on Douglass and Tubman’s experience, we can define the slave mentality as follows: A person conditioned to quietly, and without objection, accept harmful circumstances for themselves as the natural order of things. They’re also conditioned to accept their master’s view and beliefs, about themselves, and strive to get others, within their group, to accept the master’s view.
I think this definition summarizes a slave’s way of thinking. But is this phenomenon thriving in African-Americans today? If so, where is it clearly seen?
Do People with Enslaved Minds Act Alike?
Nowhere is it seen more clearly seen than in the relationship between the African-American community and the Democrat Party. Let’s take a closer look and see if our definition accurately applies.
For decades, black people have supported the Democrat Party at every level of government. As a result, the Democrats have maintained control of inner cities across America . And, until the 2010 elections, they maintained control of many state governments.
But let’s examine the results of this alliance. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Department of Criminal Statistics, African-Americans account for more than 45 percent of all murder victims in 2007. And about 90 percent of those murders are committed by other African-Americans. And this trend has been going on for decades.
And consider the trend of the African-American population itself, which is in full reverse! Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health show that three out of five African-American pregnancies, in New York , end in abortion. And nationally, African-Americans account for 36.4 percent of all abortions but account for only 13 percent of the country’s population.
On the education front, many African-American children, in junior high and high school, are unable to read at their grade level. This has been going on for a long time also. And with the Democrats in charge of education, the literacy rate for African-Americans has been on a downward spiral.
And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, African-American unemployment was at 12.6 percent in January of 2009. It now stands at 15.3 percent as of February 2011. Yet the Democrats will, undoubtedly, receive over 90 percent of the black vote in 2012.
African-Americans never express their dissatisfaction Democrats in general. In fact, African-Americans reward them by voting them back into office each election year.
This behavior meets our definition of the slave mentality, in which African-Americans appear to accept harmful circumstances quietly and without objection.
The same can be said about the African-American murder rate. However other aspects of the slave mentality apply here also. Many of today’s African-Americans appear to accept the 19th century slave owner’s view of themselves. During that time, a slave’s life was worth little or nothing. In fact it was not illegal to kill a slave whether the murderer was black or white.
And can the Democrats argue that they value the lives of African-Americans when they support and promote the abortion industry, which has most of their facilities in minority neighborhoods?
Frederick Douglass’ statement about “a contented slave having his moral and mental vision darkened” clearly explains why the African-American community tolerates extremely high murder and abortion rates.
It also explains how the African-American community can embrace the use of the N-Word within its culture. The N-word carries every horrible, degrading concept used, by their oppressors, to justify the enslavement of black people. And no matter how hard black people try to justify its use among them, it’ll always carry those meanings. And when African-Americans use it to describe themselves, it’s very destructive.
Slaves also nurtured a concept that told them they were completely dependent on their slave owners. They believed they couldn’t survive without them. And no one can dispute that the same thinking was planted in the minds of African-Americans by the Democrats since the Lyndon Johnson era. And whenever the government talks about cutting programs, many black people don’t believe they’ll survive.
And recently we’ve seen the slave mentality work through Rev. Al Sharpton. When pro-life groups placed billboards in New York ‘s black neighborhoods, Sharpton led the charge to have them removed. This places Sharpton in the role of the slave who strives to get other slaves to accept their master’s viewpoint and accept their circumstances.
Based on all of this, we can conclude that many within the black community make decisions according to the judgment of a slave.
But is this type of judgment exclusive to black people? No, it’s not. The slave mentality is the result of conditioning that’s been learned and passed down from generation to generation. And since it was the black race that was enslaved in America , this mindset is easily found in their descendants.
However, if you look and compare eastern European races to their ancestors that experienced the same thing historically, it’s very likely that you’ll see the same behavior.
What Can We Do About It?
Constitutional amendments cannot abolish the slave mentality. So how does someone stop thinking like a slave? For the answer we must, again, consult Frederick Douglass who said “I prayed for freedom for 20 years and received no answer, until I prayed with my legs.” Douglass also said “To educate a man is to make him unfit to be a slave.”
Black people must find the courage to assert their independence and individuality in the face of their peers and their slave masters. While living in Maryland , Douglass was constantly warned, by other slaves, to stop reading for his own safety. Other slaves told Douglass that he must sound and act like them. As a slave, Douglass was also denied reading and writing material by law. But he used rocks, lumber, and anything that would make, or leave, a mark as his pen and paper.
Douglass understood that other slaves were concerned for his welfare, but knew that he couldn’t accept his master’s view of him. Douglass accepted God’s view. And after he found the inner strength to resist his peers and his master, he educated himself and became a free man.
Today, that translates into African-Americans asserting their independence from Democrats, who were the supporters and practitioners of slavery anyway.
Black people must also resist the self-destructive aspects of their culture even when other African-Americans, like Al Sharpton, say they must accept them.
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,”-Proverbs 23:7.
Ken Raymond is a member of the Frederick Douglass Foundation