Politics / The Color Line

Plantation Politics: House Slave versus Field Slave

Well, perhaps I’m in the minority on this one.

I think I need to look at myself on this one.  The Black Snob kind of informed me that Wright was over the top; my friend on Facebook somewhat informed me that Wright was doing some damage to Obama’s campaign; I had a friend tell me on Yahoo Instant Messenger that I sounded like a “Black Panther reject” (although I dismissed that one as credible because prior to that conversation he informed me that he didn’t know who Jeremiah Wright was); another friend told me via text messaging yesterday that Wright was hurting Obama’s chances; some of the callers I heard during intermittent call-in times on Michael Baisden and __________ said that Wright was hurting the chances of Obama; and of course most in the news media, black and white, including Roland Martin, were saying that Wright was single-handedly hurting Obama’s chances.

Well, as a result of my two previous posts and numerous comments on other blogs, most should know where I stand on the issue, but I guess in my ivory tower of uppity Negroness, I had given black America more credit.  So take this blog as an outright offensive against all of the African Americans who have blindsided by the glory of what is called the Big House.

I’m all for Barack Obama’s candidacy and I personally hope that he wins the nomination and ultimately the general election in November, and sucessfully gets sworn into office next January and minimally completes his four year term.  But, again, I must ask, at what cost is black America willing to sacrafice some issues just to see another black man in office?  As I’ve said before Wright was right as far as Obama being a politician–his move to denounce Wright was for the sake of his political career–I’m not mad at the brother for that, I knew that was coming when I woke up Monday morning to my friend going off on me in the phone back in Chicago telling me how wonderful Wright was. 

 

Well it seems to me that there is a parallel that is emerging called plantation politics: the politics of the slaves in the field were often different from the politics of the slave who got to sleep in the Big House–I mean White House.  You see the slaves on larger plantations who worked in the field would often direct their angst toward the big house where their master lived.  So it posed a dichotomy of loyalty when the master would artfully pick a slave to work in the big house.  This slave who once was from the field, was now working in the place where their anger had once been directed, and the ultimate question is where do their loyalties lie.

It’s not a hard stretch of the imagination to believe what a quandry the slaves in the house were facing.  Realize now that often times they received better food, and a better place to sleep, even better clothing, they were no longer toiling in the hot sun doing back-breaking work during the summer months, and they were protected from the elements during the winter months.  The house Negro had to deal with where their loyalties lie.

But the field Negroes–ohhhh, the field Negroes–they knew where their loyalties lay.  They were beholden to God and to themselves and each other.  They knew where to direct their anger, it was usually at the white man who would stand on the veranda and look out over the plantation, over the legalized and systemitized economy that kept them in bondage.  Whether or not their master was a fair one (and fair by what standards) or not, the master was still overseeing and actively participating in what was keeping them in bondage.

It seems to me that Jeremiah Wright was and is speaking about the politics of, shall we say, the field Negroes (and yes, in this case I’m substituting this n-word for another n-word).  So, you mean to tell me that Wright’s stance on AIDS, and on 9/11 and governmental involvement has not been uttered in barbershops and beautyshops nationwide with addresses that include Martin Luther King Street or Drive?  The place where conspiracy theories are birthed and thrive are in these establishments.  Granted many of them have faulty logic and are outright outlandish at times, I’m just shocked at how quickly blacks have been ready to throw Wright and his proclamations overboard just to see a black man in the Big House?

I just thought black Americans would have been more concerned about the issues that Jeremiah Wright was talking about as opposed to how badly he communicated them (yes, throwing up the Que sign in the middle of the press conference was over the top–GROSSLY over the top).  It seems to me that we’re back at square one as far as race relations in this country.  This whole controversy accomplished NOTHING, and I hold black America and Barack Obama responsible for the following reasons.

Granted Wright should have been aware of whom he was speaking to and how whatever he said was going to be twisted even by moderate and liberal media outlets simply because of the nature of how he said it.  That being said, I’m just shocked that a good portion of blacks have fallen for what seems to me to be the okey-doke as far as religion and politics are concerned.  Many blacks who previously had no idea about how religion and politics and intricately and intimately woven together, will now walk away saying “See, that’s why I don’t believe in politics in the pulpit.”  It seems to me that a section of blacks are missing the forest for the trees.

I fault Obama because by fully denouncing Wright it somewhat steals the punch of his previous speech on race.  What I thought was a wonderful mastery of both sides of the race issue in America, both black and white, has now, to me, been placed back into the hands of a few blacks who will forever lecture and yell at white America for past ills and issues (that yes, need to be brought up) and white Americans will stand and ultimately pat us on our heads and say “Be a good little darkie.”

Well, perhaps that analogy was VERY general and over the top, because not every white person thinks that way, I know that, but still, this is how I’m feeling at the moment.  (I really think my analogy of the child and the parent and the crib from my last blog makes the most sense.)  Obama had the chance on Tuesday to bring up the issues that Wright failed to communicate to wider America as far as the Black Church, race relations in this country, and certain questionable governmental policies–and HE DID NOT. 

Let the record show that in 1800 Gabriel Prosser’s rebellion was thwarted by slaves that perhaps didn’t know where their loyalties lie.  Also in 1822 with Denmark Vesey, again slaves ratted out on the insurrection.  And of course in 1831 with my friend Nat Turner, a preacher nonetheless, who had visions and said that he was carrying out God’s will essentially–beholden to God and himself.

I’m just not that hyped about Obama getting into the Big House–I’m sorry, I keep doing that, I mean the White House, for the same reason Wright said in fact.  The moment Obama is sworn into office, he will now be the face of the policies that help subjugate millions of Americans and millions of humans across this globe.

I’m not advocating a separatist movement because of my particular political stance on this one and I’m certainly not advocating that blacks take up arms and start killing random white folk as did Nat Turner, but rather acknowledging that perhaps we, as a country, black and white, have even a farther way to go than what both sides are willing to acknowledge.

Keep it uppity and keep it radically true, JLL

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10 thoughts on “Plantation Politics: House Slave versus Field Slave

  1. hi,
    I just wanted to let you know that someone is profitably reading you–

    I’m a white woman, twice your age probably. Your last several entries are helping me think.

    I was trolling the web, looking for what Cornel West might have said about Wright. . . but found you instead.

    Keep writing,
    T.

    • hey, I’m a 20 year old white male and I just wanted to say thank you for being genuine and actually thinking this through, not many people (white or black) bother to do that. It seems like everything that has been done to black people has been a compromise between semi-decent people who believe in an equitable society, and the ignorant assholes who still think black people are racially inferior, and now descendants of slaves are trapped in a sort of limbo. Bottom line, seeing something like this gives me hope.

  2. Thanks for reading!!! If you happen to find a website with Dr. West’s opinion, could you forward it to me.

    JLL

  3. Great write up… Good analogy using House slave versus Field slave mentality because this mindset still exist within the black community. You will have some people within the black community argue that Dr. Wright shouldn’t have said the things in which he did because it will hurt Obama’s changes of becoming the first Black President. To those I will say this, your are missing the big picture here. While I agree that their statements on the surface might be true but what everyone is failing to see from my perspective is the fact that Man alone can not evoke change. God has to work within us all to accomplish change for the world to see. I would love to see the first Black President in my lifetime, but how Obama handled this situation is a bit unnerving to me. While I know that he is being political by disowning him in public I feel that with a little more tact this could have been a non issue now. I have heard several within the white communtity label Dr. Wright a “hatemonger” but as of yet, I have not seem anyone present hard evidence that would dis-credit what he has said. I haven’t even seen anyone attempt to do so because most opinions are still based off sound bites.

  4. I find this very rash, the concluding lines
    “certainly not advocating that blacks take up arms and start killing random white folk as did Nat Turner, but…” questions competence and credibility. Nat Turner did not go round shooting dead people but a targeted set of people.

  5. Since mention was made of the topic of the ‘house’
    and the ‘field’ slave — I just wanted to note that
    this false concept that so many people have
    — that the lighter-complexioned chattel slaves
    “had it easier” or “thought they were better”
    than the darker-complexioned slaves -– and
    / or largely “relaxed in the big house” while
    the darker-complexioned slaves “suffered
    in the fields” — is very much (just like the
    infamous ‘Willie Lynch Letter’ Hoax) all VERY
    MUCH AN URBAN MYTH (and, is one which,
    in nearly every way that’s possible, completely
    defies the true historical recorded account).

    The historical record shows that
    those enslaved people who were of a
    lighter-complexion (i.e. mulatto-lineage)
    and that were found on the continental
    United States during the antebellum
    (chattel-slavery) era were actually treated
    MUCH WORSE than were those enslaved
    people who were of a darker-complexion.

    In fact, the record shows that most of the White
    people (especially the White women) tended
    to look upon the lighter-complexioned slaves
    as being mere ‘mongrels of miscegenation’
    (resulting largely from the rapes caused by the
    plantation ‘Overseers’); in their disgust at the
    sight of these slaves — insisted that they
    be “banished to the fields”; and also then
    purposefully reserved most of the ‘big house’
    positions (ex. mammy, cook, driver, etc.) for
    the darker-complexioned slaves — who most of
    the White people had perceived as being “more loyal,
    more docile, less competitive, etc.”, and, even more
    important, they were also of a skin tone which
    could never cause them to be seen as being
    any part-‘white’ (and even worse, perceived as
    “possibly” also being “a member of the family”
    –as it were– of a given plantation ‘Owner’).

    And this maltreatment was generally even much
    more so the case if the lighter-complexioned
    enslaved person was even remotely ’suspected’
    (by, say, a wife, sister or daughter — who ran “the big
    house”, while a ‘male’ family member ran “the plantation”)
    of possibly being the offspring of a given plantation
    ‘Owner’ (or his son, or father, or brother, or any other
    male found in the plantation ‘Owners’ White family).

    In addition, the few lighter-complexioned enslaved
    people that were actually permitted to do any work
    in the “big house” were (as a punishment for having
    the lowly status of “mongrel” and in order to make sure
    that they did not become “too uppity”) kept under a
    much more severe work supervision (by both the
    White women who ran the plantation household and
    also by the darker-complexioned enslaved people
    who had been placed over the lighter-complexioned
    enslaved people and given various “rewards” in an
    exchange for the promise to ‘keep an eye on’ them)
    than were most of the (more trusted and seemingly
    endeared) darker-complexioned enslaved people.

    Books by Deborah Gray White; Paula Giddings; bell
    hooks; J. California Cooper; William Wells Brown;
    etc. expose the truth about the urban-myth and
    show that the lighter-complexioned enslaved
    people received NO special treatment and were,
    instead (due to being seen as mere “mongrels of
    miscegenation”) usually treated much worse than
    were most darker-complexioned enslaved people.

    The hatred, fear and mistrust that many of the antebellum
    and post-antebellum era White southerners felt toward the
    people who were both of a light-complexion (mulatto-lineage)
    and were also chattel-slaves, is very strongly presented
    in the ‘D.W. Griffith’ racist film ‘Birth of a Nation’– where
    pretty much all the trouble, tragedy and dangers found
    experienced by White southern families in the film is
    falsely presented as being caused by “uppity” Mulattoes
    who ‘needed to be taught “their place” among White people’.
    (i.e. they “needed” to be beaten, raped, lynched, etc. by the
    “proud” White people who had been reared to make it clear
    that they felt “no connection” to any non-White person).

    Anyone who would like any additional information
    on this topic can feel free to contact me directly.

    Hope this information is helpful
    & that everyone has a great day.

    – AP (soaptalk@hotmail.com)

    Related Links:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1602

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/3331

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1399

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1570

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1573

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1402

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1400

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1747

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1691

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ag4UceOKYaro21HdnN8w.mgjzKIX;_ylv=3?qid=20071103085813AAolWV5

    (see ‘best answer’)

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AtORF66bLNbNEjhIPDWC_6MjzKIX;_ylv=3?qid=20071031122504AArGj8B

    (see ‘best answer’)

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SWIRLinc/message/17634

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SWIRLinc/message/17622

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MGM-Mixed

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FGM-Mixed

  6. Pingback: UNN.com Throwback Week — Revisiting the Field Negro and the House Negro « Uppity Negro Network

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