I get it, having a reality television star as the President of the United States, I guess Americans have seen it all. But the recent rally that Kanye West has had as a presidential hopeful was unlike anything we have seen before. Its not everyday a presidential candidate ends up weeping about almost killing his daughter. This post is going to have a surprising twist so let me give some qualification to my feelings on Harriet Tubman before I speak about what Kanye West said about her and my feelings about it.
First of all, Harriet Tubman is a hero, not just to Black people but to the American people as a whole. Let’s put what she did into context. She was a slave who ran away and escaped to freedom. She could of just lived her live free but she risked her life and freedom on numerous occasions to help other slaves escape even with a bounty on her head for doing so. This was all at a time where there were no opportunities for Black people in the South. Your only hope was to live your life as a slave and your life was in the hands of people who could kill you at any moment and for any reason.The law was against them seeking to be recognized as humans so under the eyes of the law and society, the slaves were not humans but property.
In this world that Ms. Tubman lived in the only way to survive was to work within the social structure that they were given. In that structure a slave woman was more valuable than a man because of her reproductive capabilities, so her escape was that much more shocking. Not because she was treated better but because her “worth” meant she was of some value and less likely to be outright killed like many male slaves were for running away. Many slave women had a desire to stay on plantations and endure horrific abuse rather than run with their children or leave their children behind. It was usually men who ran but Ms. Tubman not only ran, she showed others how to run too. And when the slaves were tired, scared and discouraged, they wanted to go back.
Imagine how psychologically whipped and beat down people must be to want to go back to places where they are beaten, raped, and worked literally to death. She understood this and when they tried to go back she pointed her gun at them and threatened them with death. Because if they went back they were as good as dead as well as they would be forced to tell about the movement she was a part of. Which was the movement to lead more slaves to freedom through the network called the “Underground Railroad”.
Okay now let’s fast forward to now. We have Kanye West stating that Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves she just had them work for other White people. Sigh. I hate to admit it. In way, Kanye West is right. Wait! Hold on a second and please hear me out, keep reading….
When the slaves escaped to the North, who were they suppose to work for? Other freed slaves? Of course it only makes sense that if you needed employment you went to people that could employ you. While there were slaves who had skills, most were used to domestic work, farm work and you know, work that usually were the jobs other people did not want to do. Also there was rampant racism in the North as well, just not the legal institution of slavery. So while they were free many ex slaves still took employment that was filled with drudgery and unacceptable. And if you blame them then you are not putting their lives into context. It was the choice given to them and you took what work you could get or you starved.
So shame on Kanye West for even bringing her up or passing judgment on her or any of the other people who literally ran with their lives and nothing else. Who are you to pass judgment on people when some of them ran with no shoes on their feet while you sell your high priced shoes to their descendants for a hefty profit. There was no reason for yet another Black man to bring up a Black woman in a negative way. What did Harriet Tubman do to you sir? Why not clarify your answer? And who asked you of all people about Harriet Tubman anyway? I don’t understand why he chose to just blurt out this random statement.
So allow me to give a moment for the Goddess, Harriet Tubman. She gave many people hope of a better life. Not a perfect life. Just hearing about what she was doing gave many slaves in bondage the courage to keep living in their “chains” knowing others were breaking free. There was a woman freeing the slaves with her pistol pointed at their heads, saying freedom or death. And maybe, just maybe she was coming to get them too, rifle and all!
I’m sure if she could she would have used her connections to get them acceptable employment working for Black people, Kanye. But its kind of hard to network when you are running for your life and living in a world where you are the lowest in society with the least opportunities of anyone in it but hey, I guess some people feel the ex slaves could do better. Well if what she did was not good enough for you Mr. West, well you do better by Black people.
Black Lives Matter! Justice for Breonna Taylor! Harriet Tubman is my Sheroe!
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