America is like a beautiful, ornate mansion with pristine gardens and well manicured lawns on the outside, however, once you enter through the front door, the stench of the filth that lurks within arrests the human senses like that of a powerful and intoxicating gas, and can render one unconscious; and once you’ve awakened you find that you are enslaved within the walls of an ominous and sinister dungeon; shackled by Capitalistic greed and chained with link, after link, after link of social injustice that leads to dehumanization.” La Royce
This quote came to me after viewing the documentary, “The House I Live In”. In particular, the scenario that played out in the scenes of brother, after brother, after brother becoming lured and trapped into the system of Mass Incarceration. Subdued and confined within the walls of chain-linked fences. Criminalized and demonized as days pass into months, and months to years of unfair sentencing that certainly surpasses the intent of the so-called “crime”. While being molded and labeled to reside as valuable commodities of the profiteers of the “modern day slave trade”.
Yet, as I viewed the film, “12 Years a Slave”, this same quote came to mind. As Solomon Northrop awoke in shackles and chains, after being lured and seduced within his comfort zone of living life blindly as a Northern Freeman, his life as he knew it, was never to be the same. Solomon was rendered unconscious, as his enslaved brothers and sisters toiled through the brutality of the overseers’ wicked hand. Still, Solomon’s odor emanated. Although faint, its aroma still blended with the staggering stench of injustice that led to the oppressive chain of being sold on the block as a day-laborer, a musician on demand (when Massa desired his attention) and, eventually, being labeled as a criminal when he fought back using the same whip that had been used on him.
And, again this quote resonated with me as I witnessed the film, “Django: Unchained”. Little Jodi was about to be punished for breaking eggs. But, the occupants of the plantation went about the business of minding their business. Going about their day while turning a blind eye to the brutality that they knew one of their sisters was about to suffer. Conforming to quietly falling in line and hoping not to bring any cause of attention to themselves. Chained to silence.
In each of these films, the vividness of the chain becomes clear. Yet, in our everyday lives the lackluster of the chain produces a dullness in which we choose to ignore. The chain is still there linking us to an unjust society. Linking us to Mass Incarceration; linking us to Voter suppression; linking us to a failed education system; linking us to financial predators within our neighborhoods; linking us to a deafening silence in which we’ve become accustomed and complacent to continue latching on.
How long will we continue to mis-educate our children by remaining complacent, silent and, yes I dare say, afraid? What have we conveyed to our children by sitting on the sidelines and just going about our own selfish lives? That it’s acceptable to remain silent when our people are being imprisoned in unprecedented numbers for the sake of the oppressors’ bank account? That it’s acceptable to ignore the mistreatment of our poor, overworked and underpaid brothers and sisters? That it’s acceptable to turn a blind eye to the abuse and misuse of our brothers and sisters crying out for us to do something, anything to cease their overwhelming pain and needless struggle?
I ponder brothers and sisters, what will it take to break the links of the chain of oppression of our unjust society?
We were sought,
Hunted, then caught,
Middle Passage we fought,
We landed and were quickly bought.
Then stripped of any cultural thought
Conformed to what Massa brutally taught
Bought into what he thought we ought
Hunted, kidnapped, bought
Stripped, conformed, mis-taught…
Now we choose not to seek, so nothing’s sought,
We claim to be free, but really we still caught,
Our complacency insults those who stood and fought,
Pawns of fool’s gold, keeps us selling, so we bought.
Writing our own history should be more than a thought
Surrender, repent and ask for wisdom to be taught
So we can live according to His Will, as we ought
Seek, claim, and free your mind of binding thought
Surrender; stand unbossed, and unbought…
Just my thoughts