Monday, July 30, 2012

The Great Migration:

                                               ~ Jim Crow Laws          
         I write this note to my readers whom I assume, have some interest in the history of human’s behavior, value the precious life of a human being, and appreciate the motivations of their acts. Also, to who can allow him/herself be taught by our own history, be inspired by it and be courageous and stand out at the face of social injustices to impede of being driven by it.

       As I get deep into history, I find more difficult to live with the disturbance that produces the learning of human’s steps, steps that brought it where it is. To fully understand our present, we have to make a short trip to the past. It is, indeed, a very short trip if you put in perspective how long we have been affecting the nature of the Earth; if you could picture our galaxy’s existence in a time-scale of one year, then, according to my professor of astronomy, early humans born in the beginning of that year’s last month, all human’s history that you can possibly track back would last one week, all modern history (meaning more or less, from Columbus to now) would last one day, then, the experience of a single human would have a life span of just one second 'to be generous with us on the count', he said. This is, all the worries of your life in a single breath. Considering this reality, which we don’t usually consciously live with, and all the harm that humans cause in such a short period of time, I’m afraid of the future. I’m scared of what we are capable to do to one another when moved by hatred.

        The unconstitutional black segregation of the turn of the 20th century is one of the darkest chapters of the US history. It shouldn’t be so proud of its material achievements knowing in what they have built its foundation. Its multinational enterprises of tobacco, rice, citruses, and cotton have been built on 400 years of transatlantic trade of 12 million of made-slave Africans working in the Southern States against their will. But let’s say that the US acted according to the call of the era (since other governments were doing the same). So, when slavery trade was completely abolished after the Civil War of 1865, and former slaves gained ownership of their labor, what was their excuse to reduce ex-slaves as to an inferior caste by social restrictions, other than to maintain their material supremacy over them? I personally don't see anything darker than the fruit of greed.

             US society started working on upholding its arrogance, oftentimes supported by the law, by putting into practice Jim Crow statutes. The 1880 doctrine of 'separate by equal' marked the highest stage of 'white supremacy' by denying to free African-Americans of their full natural rights, and excluding them from society to prevent integration, according to Thomas Jefferson.

    Throughout America the market-oriented society, perpetrator of violating human rights, did unspeakable things to keep control of labor and capital to maintain supremacy over other humans, when finding someone 'trying to act like a white person', or when just being contradicted.

         What is most remarkable of the African-Americans is that after decades of being the subject of all sort of exploitative abuses, at one point, when life got truly unbearable, they gathered enough strength to leave in the search of The Warmth of Other Suns instead of staying to feed themselves with frustration and rage. They couldn’t go back from where they were brought from, not just because they couldn’t afford a transatlantic passage to Africa, but because after several generations of adjusting to the white civilization, and to the disruptive psychological damage that these experiences caused on their natural way of life wrought by the oppressive modern world, there were no routes leading ‘home’. There wasn’t a place that they could call it ‘home’ for them to go.

          So, after emancipation, those workers who were free of debts from their landlords decided to move out the Southern states. In 60 years spam, 6 million black southerners moved to urban areas of the north and west of the United States, this is; the farthest possible from the plantations, to a world unknown to them; a step of faith that allowed them to make a way out of no way.
        They transformed the urban landscape of the American west, Chicago, Detroit, New York and northern Philadelphia, where they were hired in manufacturing and packaging factories, underground railroads, and mines. By ‘walking in the thin line between being a person and acting as a slave’, they discovered and reinvented themselves.

           And this is what I love the most from the darkest events of our history; our capability to decide if we’ll live resented about the mistreatment of life, or if we’ll let ourselves resurge in a new form like the phoenix. They choose the latest.

        The facto segregation of the most industrialized northern cities as Chicago, which were hiring tons of immigrants to work on their industries, produced continuous ghettos of Mexican, Irish, and Italian communities in which African-Americans settled. Many emancipated former slaves moved to New York city. The community formed in Harlem became the nest of a vibrant culture symbolized by the ‘Harlem Renaissance’ between 1920s and 1930s which popularized the 'New Negro' by artists and intellectuals who, re-evaluating the African identity throughout the African continent, and the world, emphasized on the integrity of race and personality.
         The struggle for liberation emerged with the form of black Jazz artists who awakened a self-consciousness linked to a pan-African movement that, at the same time, challenged any attempts to ‘whiten’ jazz, or 'bleachen' their identity, ideas inspired by Frantz Fanon, Richard Wright, and other writers, and intellectuals of the time.

                                                    Nina Simone 'I'm Feeling Good'

        According to Malcolm X ‘Civil rights means you’re asking Uncle Tom to treat you right. Human rights are something you were born with (…) God given rights.’
        This movement inspired for decades segregated Blacks that raised for social justice around the world as the Mizrahi Black Panthers movement in the Israel of the 1970s (Yosef, 2004).

         Then yes, after 1990, when they wanted to go home, they could look South and feel that an important part of them belonged there. ‘Home’, said Dwane Walls, ‘It is the church and the graveyard, where parents and brothers, sisters and babies are buried. It is the debt still owed to the bank or the store or the landlord –a debt that never seems to go away no matter how good the crop.’

           Our past deeds surprise me many times. History contains the meaning of the algebraic sum of our self. We are the result of the built up facts from the past. The end of this story is, certainly, inspiring to me. 
          If I could just let go and forgive the hurts of life like they did, then I’d feel like I learn a valuable lesson.