I don’t think I’ve ever been able to fully wrap my mind around slavery as it existed in America.
Factually, it makes sense. I learned about the transatlantic slave trade in school. I read Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. I watched Cynthia Erivo sing hymns in the Harriet Tubman movie. I understand that it happened, that Black people were enslaved in this country longer than we’ve been free.
But every now and then, it actually hits me.
White people OWNED Black people.
They bred us for money. They sold mothers away from their children. They beat, raped, murdered, and tortured, all without consequence. White people my age, 18-years-old, were waited on by older enslaved adults.
Humans just as real as I am.
That is the most baffling part, that white people could live with themselves and the atrocious crimes they committed every single day. Their ability to justify the existence of a practice so heinous must have taken an incredible toll on the mind and spirit.
They had to convince themselves Black people were subhuman, 3/5ths of a person to be exact. They had to lie to themselves using religion as an oppressive tool.
They had to shift the ideas of right and wrong, forever skewing their scale of morality.
To this day, the scales are still off balance.
I see it in white people’s ability to be indifferent towards acts of egregious police violence and in their willingness to write Mexican immigrants off as criminals with no evidence on which to base these beliefs.
I see it in many Republican’s responses to the evidence presented during Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Many have voiced their disgust, outrage, and devastation at the violent acts of the Capitol Insurrection. It was a traumatic moment for the United States as a whole, and for all the Senators whose lives were threatened.
Yet, many Republicans still refuse to name Trump as an instigator of these events.
Despite a meticulously laid out timeline including interviews, tweets, press conferences, and an array of damning evidence showing how the former president incited the violent acts that took place, they refuse. Despite plain logic and straight up facts, many Republican Senators are persistent with their continued faith in Donald Trump.
It’s that same tactic of compartmentalizing used to justify decades of Afrikan enslavement, the tilting of the moral scales so it leans in white people’s favor.
I see it everywhere, alive and terrifyingly well.