When a schoolmate of mine in Newnan, GA was asked what did he aspire to become as an adult, he would say “work killed my daddy.” His “daddy” had been anoverworked and underpaid laborer during Jim Crow. His “daddy” had died while he was a baby.
Obviously, work had been a traumatic experience. My schoolmate had an adverse reaction to work even though his “daddy” had been a breadwinner. This was a cumulative experience. In slavery, our ancestors had to work from sunup to sundown. The slave-driver and his whip kept the line moving. Any mishap resulted in a scarred back.
South Carolina penned a slave codewhich limited work to fifteen hours. A slaveholder could be fined for working a “slave” for over fifteen hours per day. This would allow for a “slave” to go straight to bed afterwards and get eight hours of sleep. The operative word on a plantation is production. A “slave” had to keep his slaveholder “in the black.”
Among other crops, indigo was in high demand in England. Indigo is a labor-intensive crop. South Carolina had the distinction of being the only colony that produced indigo as a major crop. Indigo produced blue dye. It was in high demand in the woolen industries.
Today, I have found that most blacks in New York have the same reaction to work as my schoolmate had in Georgia. It did not help that emancipation was simultaneously, in existence, in 1799, with the prison-industrial complex and that New York became known as the “welfare state.”
Personally, my reaction to work was different. I believed that if my ancestors owedfifteen hours daily to slaveholders, I owed “24/7” for my own liberation. Equal obligations would be insufficient to wrought my liberation. This is mathematics. Numbers do not lie.
President Thomas Jefferson advised white men: “The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance.” In any other words, “freedom is not free.” Descendants of enslaved Africans never had to factor “cost” into any venture. “Cost” was never a factor on the plantation. It is a factor in acquiring freedom.
Jefferson was engaged in a class action. He was advising all free, white men that their freedom was tied into keeping awatch on all “slaves” at all times. A militia, on the other hand, required ethics among all white men. New York City embraced a “standing army” in 1845 and rejected ethics. It was called a “Day and Night Police.”
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