On the 150th Anniversary of Emancipation

People can be freed by law, but how do we emancipate ourselves?

We live with the prejudices we absorb. How old was I when I noticed my nurse Marie was different—one? Not her color, a warm caramel I preferred to our whey faces—but the way Mother treated her. She was in our house to work. She could bathe, dress and feed us, but we were not to kiss her and, if we tried, she pulled away.

How do we emancipate ourselves from bigotry? Leonard Pitts says blackness is like pornography: you can’t find it in our DNA, but we know it when we see it. In New York City, the noted columnist watches empty cabs bypass his waving hand.

We judge a person in 7 seconds.

Short of blinding ourselves, the solution I came up with at 18 still works. Miscegenation—that dread of the South. Mix us until we can’t judge.

In this photograph of newly freed slaves, the mixing (however unwillingly) has begun.

newly freed slavesFrom: Envisioning Emancipation, Temple University Press.

2 responses »

  1. The mixing of the races is quite common in this day, not only blacks, but orientals, indians and countries all over the world. I do not know how the south accepts it, but I think it is more acceptable since travel and communication is so common between nations. There will be those who never accept, but the younger generations are more liberal. The worst racial conflict is between Muslim and non-Muslim. The black race has made great progress, but drugs and lack of education among their youth is damaging them from within.

  2. Sondra Alexander

    We are alredy mixed but don’t want to admit it. Even if we all become beige or caramel color we’ll find a way to look down on or demonize others.


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