This past week there's been countless debates on social media about whether or not Kanye was right when he said "slavery was a choice".
Needless to say, there were enslaved people who fought back for over two centuries and there were enslaved people who were psychologically conditioned to accept their way of life. And there were also those who chose "death over bondage".
Going back and forth to say what our ancestors did or didn't do shouldn't be the focal point of the conversation though.
Because it was white settlers in the Americas that CHOSE chattel slavery.
1. Afrikan people didn't choose to be brought here as enslaved people.
2. Black Indigenous people didn't choose to be enslaved on their own land.
3. Melanated people didn't choose for the Americas to become the breeding ground for white supremacy.
So before we go around finger pointing at each other, let's not forget what started it all.
Yeah, I know..
"Not all white people had slaves."
And I know..
"There were white abolitionists."
But even those who opposed slavery didn't necessarily oppose anti-Blackness.
Poor whites were okay with wealthier whites owning slaves if it meant that Black people would be beneath them on the totem pole of society.
Because slavery was also an issue of class..
If you retrace the history you'll notice there was a distinct moment in which slavery in North America changed.
Bacon's Rebellion in 1676.
Bacon's Rebellion was the first armed uprising against the ruling class by a collective group of enslaved Black people and white indentured servants.
And even though the rebellion was lead by a white man, enslaved people had to deal with the political consequences of the uprising.
The Virginia Slave Codes
The Slave Codes would only grow harsher in Virginia and the rest of the colonies to make a clear distinction between enslaved Black people and white servants.
"Act I. It is enacted that all servants... which shall be imported into this country either by sea or by land, whether Negroes, Moors, mulattoes or Indians who and whose parentage and native countries are not Christian at the time of their first purchase by some Christian... and all Indians, which shall be sold by our neighboring Indians, or any other trafficking with us for slaves, are hereby adjudged, deemed and taken to be slaves to all intents and purposes any law, usage, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding."
"All servants imported and brought into the Country... who were not Christians in their native Country... shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion... shall be held to be real estate."
"If any slave resists his master... correcting such a slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction... the master shall be free of all punishment... as if such accident never happened."
These were the type of laws that were put into place to further subjugate Afrikans, Moors, and Black Natives to a legalized system of white supremacy.
And all those poor whites?
They CHOSE to accept their new privileges under the law. They CHOSE to dehumanize Black people. They CHOSE to accept white supremacy.
So let's never forget that while our ancestors were choosing between death and bondage..
..others were choosing between privilege and righteousness.