I know I wouldn’t have died a slave.
Not only did I go away for college, but I’ve started too many businesses (all of them failed) for me to think that if I’d been born, say, 150 years ago, I’d have accepted my condition “as is” and just lived my life without expecting improvement.
Now, simply, I’m not one of them fools that says shit like, “I couldn’t have been no slave” because, of course, if I’d have been born a slave, being a slave would have been all I’d have known up until I reached a point of intellectual reckoning where – and here’s where I flatter myself – I’m pretty sure I would have questioned as “natural” an order that left a man who, by that point I’m sure I wouldn’t have seen as so “superior”, as my master.
Then I’d have made a run for it.
So there’s my answer right there.
If Harriet Tubman, chief operator of the Underground Railroad and Nat Turner, famed leader of a slave rebellion that killed at least 60 whites, had been doing their respective things at the exact same time (Nat died when Harriet was 9 years old) and were, for lack of a better descriptive, “recruiting”, I’d have signed up with Harriet.
I simply don’t nor have I ever had the kind of anger in me that would make me turn murderer while there were still other options on the table.
Now, of course, if joining Nat had been what the group decided, leaving me from my natural inclination as a “joiner” to either come with or sit things out, then, begrudgingly, I’d have been right down there among the faithful, slitting YT’s neck and probably – though hopefully not – finding that I had a taste for rendered blood and being sure to call “dibs” on any women and children.
This, of course – and I’ve made this point before – is how the average white American thinks. It’s one of the reasons they don’t respect us, willing to bet on their mamas that if they’d have been slaves, they’d have, like DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie in Django Unchained argued that he would do, slit throats if the racial situations had been reversed.
But we as a people did do that, and almost overwhelmingly so.
You have to work pretty hard at hiding history for it to be as difficult to know as it is that there were over 10,000 slave rebellions involving 10 slaves or more during the antebellum period so you know that ain’t telling you shit about the times that 9 niggas or less just said, “You know what…?”
Still, individually, and unless I had some personal debt or grievance to pay back like, say, if my wife, mother or daughter was imposed upon, if young and single when I came into actualization, I’m making a break for it.
If married or with child, that would muddy the waters a bit, but I’d work on it.
Now, which would you have done?
On the eve of the release of Birth of a Nation, I’m asking who would you have followed: Harriet Tubman or Nat Turner?
And don’t flatter yourself; if you’ve didn’t leave home for college or even go to college, if you’ve never quit a job or even had one, if you never owned a plan let alone a business and if your used to taking your dictates from another be they mother, father, wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, friend or squad, in short: if you’ve never taken any chances, then you’d have died a slave.
But don’t worry; you wouldn’t have been the only one.