Slavery is over, get over it. There are no more slaves. You people need to move on. Chances are if you are a black person in America you’ve heard some variation of the previous statements if not all three verbatim. There’s also a chance if you are a black person in America you’ve heard some of the above statements from other black people. This kind of thinking is not considered to be socially unacceptable like blatant and overt racism is, and in fact you will find segments of the population who champion and celebrate this kind of “non-divisive” and “color-blind” thinking.
The fact is the atrocities against blacks were far bigger than slavery. Because if slavery ended in 1865 with the ratification of the thirteenth amendment why didn’t black people’s lives magically improve and gain the same quality of life as whites? That’s because you had other methods such as the black codes laws that allowed authorities to arrest blacks for minor infractions and force them to work. There were other elements to the black codes including prohibition of blacks to own arms and to vote or serve on juries.
Then there are the Jim Crow laws which mandated separate facilities for black and whites with the facilities for blacks being woefully inferior to the facilities for whites. In addition to this blacks were prohibited from voting and these laws were not effectively nullified until 1965. The point of this is even if slavery ended black persecution continued. This means the horrors faced by black people extend far beyond slavery and to call the atrocities against blacks slavery woefully diminishes the scope and complexity of the crimes committed against blacks.
There is also the fact that as Black people were fighting for civil rights in the United States Black people in Africa were throwing off the shackles of colonialism. In their native lands blacks were treated like second hand citizens and facing the same types of oppression as black people in this country. Apartheid is a perfect example of the widespread effects of this systematic and coordinated assault on the world’s black people. This is why the term slavery is absolutely inadequate to describe the atrocities suffered by black people in this country and abroad. A UN group just this week described these crimes as far more extensive than most acknowledge: “The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the U.S. remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,”.
The primary reason why the name describing the extent of suffering must be accurate is that there cannot be an adequate solution to these problems if we cannot adequately define them. That is where the title of this post comes in. The term Maafa is a Swahili word that means great disaster. Another name that is also appropriate is African Holocaust because the suffering black people went through and continue to feel the effects of indirectly and directly is coordinated and calculated to cause harm and suffering. These are facts we cannot ignore or forget if we are to be successful in repairing the damage to our collective psyche. There is no doubt that as black people we have much work to do in fixing the problems in our communities and countries, but we must always be mindful that there are people who hate us because we are black and whom have the power and influence to enact their personal desires upon black people.
We must work together to bring an end to the African Holocaust in all of it’s various forms and ensure it is never repeated.