I Was Never a Slave. How ’bout You?

How often have you heard or uttered yourself some statement that highlighted the transgressions of The Past. Why do we use them? Of what utility do they serve? What child who has ever entered a school has not learned of our nation’s shameful Past?

Not forgetting The Past is very important as a way of keeping people grounded and eager (Usually) to not repeat those historical mistakes. But, for far too many black persons, that history of enslavement is unsheathed like a broad and mighty sword. At the ready to slay any dragons carrying truth, accountability, and progression. Our over-identification with the Past is serving to keep so many of us firmly cemented there. I’m almost certain (No. I’m absolutely certain.) that no slave would countenance the nonsense that many Delayers espouse. It goes like this:

“My (Our) people were brought over here in chains . . . “


Yeah, we get it. But, what the Hell is your point? We all know of that history. And, we all are aware of the horrors of that era. Who exactly appointed you the town crier? Assisting all of us to not forget what none of us has forgotten? 

I contend that the reason you choose to hold on so closely (dare I say frantically and desperately) to these themes is because they are thunderous; conversation enders employed by frightened individuals who feel otherwise powerless. So irrefutable and emotionally-charged are their message that their mere utterance immediately ends all interaction. But, more importantly, these themes serve to silence any suggestion that you get off your ass. It’s like an Ultimate Shield.

But, be aware that the silence these utterances incur does not denote acceptance and acquiescence of your lack of motivation. No matter how much you yell, cry, or intimidate, the truth of the matter is your perceived oppression is no excuse for your mediocrity. YOU choose not to try. YOU choose not to compete. And, tragically, YOU choose to establish that role model for your children.

Poor kids. Born black in a nation traditionally unsupportive of their dreams and, by your account, already behind. Then, if astute enough, to come to the realization that they are also burdened by you.

I, for one, resent the invoking of dead and abused generations of our ancestors to fund your bankruptcy of spirit.

And I also resent your smug recalcitrance while doing so.

How dare you!


History is History. As such, it is unchangeable. One half millennium from now, in the year 2520, your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandsons and granddaughters will be able to announce, as weakly as you do today:

“My (Our) people were brought over here in chains!”

What a wonderful legacy you leave!


Well, that’s all the time we have for today. We’ll pick up again next week.

Until then:



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Dr. James Davison, Jr. is a licensed psychologist and university professor. He conducts a private practice in Seattle, Washington, and has appeared on several nationally-aired programs including The Phil Donahue Show, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and C-SPAN. Dr. Davison hails from Philadelphia, and is the author of several books – Prisoners Of Our Past and Sweet Release, and the upcoming Paid In Full – related to individuality and personal freedom for African-Americans.

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