By that date, 400 years of slavery had just ended 112 or so years ago, reconstruction had been completed, Jim Crow had been defeated, the civil rights movement had accomplished the majority of its goals and by the time I became a teenager, the crack scourge of the 80s had already claimed 80% of its victims and left my generation free. Some say with the presidency of Barack Obama the civil rights movement has been come to a happy end, but I’ll only accept that notion when a Black man can shoot HIMSELF in the foot and not be threatened with federal prison time.
Yesterday, my husband sent me this fancy YouTube link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8) that talks about how social networking has changed our lives. To be sure, it has. People get hired and fired for their presence (and antics) on social media. Court cases take dramatic turns from the stupid pictures random idiots post on MySpace. People find love and find out their lovers have been loving someone else because of it. On and on.
Did you know it took 4 months for the first set of slaves to be freed after Lincoln signed the Proclamation in 1863? In some states, they had to wait 2 years to get their freedom. But what if we had Twitter, MySpace or Facebook 200 years ago? You know, when the oppressed and poor really needed it? Well, I imagine it would look something like this:
Black people toiling in the field.
Suddenly, a blackberry buzzes.
A big black buck (cuz y’know that’s what called field hands back then: Bucks) fishes it out of his gingham trousers, trying to keep his other hand free to pick cotton and keep Da Oberseer (Overseer) from seeing he’s not working.
Sees an interesting message on Twitter
” ‘Ey y’all! We’s free! Linkon done read de Mancipation Prokamation and we aint gots to toil no no’! Lawdy be!”
The big buck…lets call him Roscoe…throws down his gunny sack full o’ cotton, walks over to De Oberseer and says loudly “We’s free y’all!! We ain’t got to pick cotton no mo’! So I just want to take this opportunity to say ‘F*ck you Oberseer!!’ ”
The overseer shoots him in the face.
It’s a reflex action you see, because he’s not used to slaves smarting off to him. The overseer picks up dead Roscoe’s phone and see’s a follow up Twitter note.
“Don’t say nuthin yet to yo’ massa’s. They just gittin’ used to the idea and might shoot a nigga.”
Poor Roscoe. Patience never killed anyone…but a White man with power certainly has.
Suddenly, blackberry’s, nokias and ipods are buzzing every where. The slaves stop singing “Swing low” and begin to mumble amongst themselves. “Is it really true? Is we really free?”
All this time Massa Oberseer, who is a Luddite knows something is afoot, but can’t figure out why his slaves are not a-picking cotton because he can’t work his company issued Treo. He doesn’t know the slaves are free. So he does what he would also do in the face of potential uprising: He starts whipping black people from his horse. The smart ones know they can run off the field and there is nothing he or any other slave owner can do it about…because they’re free. The dumb ones stand behind and ask him why his is whipping them.
“We’s free Oberseer! Cain’t whup us no mo’!”
“I don’t know nothing about that,” he growls back.
(This is kind of like when cops don’t know they’re not supposed to shoot you for coming out of a club unarmed after your bachelor party.)
A bloodied field hand throws him a phone.
“Read it! Please oberseer!”
“Ohhhh!! I’m sorry,” says the Overseer. “Gosh. My badness. Well…I guess you guys can all go home, or wherever you want really. Gosh. This is awkward.”
But before the slaves leave, he cuts himself in the thigh, to prove to the other overseers that he was attacked and it’s imperative that they hang at least ONE of the field jockeys to prove a point.
(This is kind of like when the cops say they heard gunshots coming from the unarmed civilian…who just happens to be black…and were compelled to return fire. About 62 bullets should do.)
Yeah. Social networking would have been nice to have back then. But it wouldn’t have helped much. Black people can’t read in 1863.