(Todd A. Smith)

Imagine if someone said that Jewish people benefitted from the Holocaust because they made lifelong friends at the concentration camp.

After all, many kids make lifelong friends at summer camp.

Furthermore, the Nazis gave them free clothes and free tattoos while at those concentration camps.

Therefore, concentration camps were not so bad.

Imagine if I said that Japanese Americans benefited from the internment camps during World War II when America forced other Americans out of their own homes because they no longer had to pay the mortgage or the rent on their homes.

At the internment camps, Japanese Americans had free room and board like they had just gotten a college scholarship.

Imagine if I said that victims of Sept. 11, and their families, benefitted from al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks because they got a refund from their unused hotel rooms or from their unused return flights.

Do you see how ignorant I sound?

Imagine if I responded to offended survivors of the Holocaust, Japanese American internment camps or the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by blaming the woke mob for trying to indoctrinate our young children.

Well, you do not have to imagine such ignorance.

A person only must look to Florida, its Gov. Ron DeSantis and other right-wing politicians and media personalities who are obviously illiterate, ignorant or just plain ole idiotic and imbecilic if they believe that Black people benefitted from their own enslavement.

Conservatives throughout the country have tried their hardest to rewrite history to erase the hatred inflicted upon Black Americans by White Americans of the past.

Fragile White parents have even cried at school board meetings because they felt teaching the truth about slavery and the days of Jim Crow made them feel guilty.

But have you noticed that very few White allies at these meetings are saying that truthful American history makes them feel guilty?

That is because one cannot be made to feel guilty unless they truly are guilty.

And trust me, I have had many conversations with so-called non-racist White people who know nothing about American history and want it whitewashed to make it seem that America’s terrorism towards the Black community wasn’t that bad.

And the more these non-racists talk, the more the stereotypes and tropes they have toward Black folks come out.

Florida, and other conservative states, sugarcoating what happened to my family members who survived slavery like Sam Jones, Cecilia Jones, Solomon Huff and Celia Huff is a slap in the face to every respectable Black person in America.

And their actions will not stop the true history of our country from getting taught to the masses.

I have always considered myself a history buff.

And I’ve learned more about history outside of the classroom than inside of the classroom.

So, nothing can stop the transfer of knowledge and the subsequent transfer of power because with knowledge comes power.

And anyone that knows anything about the history of slavery knows how horrific it was.

Just read the memoir 12 Years of a Slave by Solomon Northup to learn how horrific the institution of slavery was, and how much the slaves hated it.

Sure, some slave masters treated their slaves a little better than others because they realized that a healthy slave would produce more money for them than a hurt slave.

But make no mistakes about it, I cannot find one slave narrative of a Black person held in captivity who liked being the White man’s property.

That is why so many changed their surnames to names like Freeman (aka free man), because they wanted to disassociate themselves from their former owners as quickly as possible.

That is why so many slaves went through hell to find their lost relatives after slavery ended.

They did not say “to hell with my actual family because Massa is my family now.”

When slavery ended, they got the hell out of dodge so quickly that the former slaves in Galveston, Texas did not even wait to hear the reading of the entire Emancipation Proclamation before exiting the premises.

And sure, some slaves were forced to learn trades while “working” on the plantation.

But those slaves did not get paid for their services, so I do not know how they benefitted from slavery.

The slave master, who did nothing all day, got all the financial benefits from slavery, not the enslaved.

And yes, some continued that trade, once freed, to feed their families.

But couldn’t they learn those same trades as a free man or woman at a trade school like normal people?

That is like saying that the Central Park Five benefitted from being falsely imprisoned by getting a GED, or maybe even a college degree or trade, while in jail for a crime they did not commit.

If the racism and the crooked legal system had not put five young boys of color in prison for nothing, they would have gotten the same education while also being able to enjoy time with friends and families, something that was stripped from them and their loved-ones.

And yes, as Booker T. Washington put it in his autobiography Up From Slavery, some White people struggled after emancipation because they did not have the work skills necessary to run their plantations because the former slaves had done all the work for generations.

But I still do not see how that benefitted the slaves because, at least, those unskilled White families got centuries of free labor from Black folks.

At least those unskilled White families got reparations to help ease their transition into having a paid workforce, even though Black folks got nothing for all those centuries of free labor.

What did Black people get after emancipation?

They got Jim Crow.

They got the Ku Klux Klan.

They got slavery under another name in convict leasing.

When some slipped through cracks and pulled themselves up from their own bootstraps like those on Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Okla., they saw their communities decimated by angry and racist White mobs.

And when Black people began speaking up for equal rights during the Civil Rights Movement, many got an assassin’s bullet.

So maybe DeSantis and his conservative cronies have a different definition of the word benefit.

But I do not see the benefit in any of the aforementioned examples.

But imagine if I actually made the same benefit bull-crap excuse about another demographic’s oppression.

I would be canceled immediately and rightfully so.

Therefore, anyone making the argument that my relatives benefited from their enslavement should face cancelation immediately too because those racist people should not be able to indoctrinate our children with lies, nonsense and blatant disrespect.

Todd A. Smith
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