The Abolitionists or Absolute Bull?: The Myth of the Great White Hope
by TRUTH Minista Paul Scott
“Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamp”
Fight the Power-Public Enemy
The year is 2020, and Goebbels Entertainment Company has just released its Academy Award nominated documentary, Rap, Unchained about how Hip Hop was successful in emancipating millions of Black children from mental slavery during the late 80’s. While it briefly mentions the contributions of a few Black rappers of the time, the majority of the film is dedicated to one great man who risked his life by speaking out on behalf of millions of oppressed African-Americans. This great hero is none other than the rap abolitionist himself, Vanilla Ice….
This week, PBS will air, The Abolitionists, a movie about people who during the 19th century , spoke out against the evils of chattel slavery. While the flick does feature Frederick Douglas, instead of rounding out the cast with Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vessey, it focuses on the lives of good white folks like William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Angelina Grimke and John Brown. Thus, reinforcing the idea that my ancestors were a bunch of punks during slavery, whinin’ in the cotton fields, waiting on the day when some white saviors would free them from bondage.
Like many other topics regarding history, the Abolitionist Movement has been subject to historical revisionism and an attempt for white America to pick our heroes.
Although , the film’s trailer proudly proclaims that ” if it had not been for the abolitionists, the United States would have thoroughly been a slave nation,” historian Herbert Aptheker wrote in his book , American Negro Slave Revolts, that there were more than 200 slave rebellions in this country.
What is also glossed over by historians is the fact that while many of the white abolitionists did not agree with slavery as an institution, they, themselves, were still white supremacists who believed that Black people were innately inferior to Whites. Just because an animal rights activist might protest against cruelty to Fido, the pit bull, doesn’t mean that he wants to take him out for dinner and a movie.
Of, course, I’m not the first to point this out.
In 1837, Rev. Theodore Wright told the New York Slave Ant-slavery Society that their doctrine must include “recognizing all men as brothers.”
Also, according to Lerone Bennett Jr in his work , Before the Mayflower, although Frederick Douglas used to hang out with William Lloyd Garrison, he eventually broke ranks, as white abolitionists like Garrison wanted Black abolitionists to merely serve as lawn jockeys. However Douglas believed that Black people should have been at the head of the Abolitionist Movement. As Bennett quotes Douglas as saying, “the man who suffered the wrong is the man to demand redress.”
Although Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is applauded for the role it played in raising awareness about slavery, in his book , Race: The History of an Idea in America, Dr. Thomas Gossett claimed that the novel still “made it quite clear that, in spite of the Negro’s humility and aptitude for religion, he is innately inferior.”
It must be also, noted that the idea that groups who’s religious convictions should have made them long time allies in the fight against slavery has also been blown way out of proportion. In her book , Criminalizing of a Race, Dr. Charshee McIntyre revealed that “ as representatives of the emerging capitalist order, reformers could extend charity to the lowliest segment of laborers, but not even the Quakers could view Blacks as potential autonomous beings”
Although much has been written about the white Jewish connection to Black suffering, Harold Cruse wrote in, Plural but Equal, that it was not until 1915, after the lynching of Leo Frank by a white Atlanta mob, that Jews began to identify with the suffering of African-Americans. Cruse writes that the idea that the Jewish community cared much about Black folks prior to that time is “an inaccurate generalization because it was never explained how Jews as a group were involved in contrast to certain individual Jews.”
The main issue here, is that the further that we get away from a time period, the more distorted the historical accuracy becomes. If we are not careful even modern phenomena such as Hip Hop will eventually become distorted.
As important as Hip Hop has been as a platform that allowed young African-Americans to advocate for the rights of poor and oppressed community, if this legacy is not properly guarded, the clear facts will too become muddied by historical inaccuracies and false assumptions.
If we are not careful, our grandchildren will believe that just because Vanilla Ice was popular during the same time period of conscious artists such as Brand Nubian, than he was something other than a cheap white washed version of MC Hammer. Or that even though a white rap group was called “Young Black Teenagers” , they may believe that they were a socially conscious group, rather than a gimmick to prove that white kids could rap.
As we move forward , it must be noted that many of the so-called depictions of “Black History” fictitious or otherwise , have been told from the viewpoint of non-Black people, from Django to The Abolitionists. Thus we find ourselves in the same dilemma as Frederick Douglas, almost a century and a half later.,
The solution is that African Americans, must become experts in the field of their own history, as no other racial group would dare trust the interpretation of their culture to others.
This is why we have started the “Black By Nature/Conscious By Choice Campaign. During the late 80’s rap group Public Enemy had as its mission to raise up 5000 Black leaders. So, our task in 2013 to raise up 5,000 Black scholars who will be experts in Black history, so they can defend our culture against distortions and teach the truth to our future generations.
As Nas said on ,” I Can”
“If truth is told/the youth can grow. Then learn to survive until they gain control.”
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s website is No Warning Shots Fired.com. For more information on Black By Nature/Conscious By Choice contact firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter @truthminista
chuck be on point but he need ta chill a lil to it’s 2013 (007) hi hater
Yo Davey,..respect and my solidarity with neglecting the Hells Angels-stuff on FBI raids the community, but further more, political Hip Hop in postfascist Hamburg/Europe has an ongoin debate about Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno and his fellow colleque Max Horkheimer on jewish determin_ism the language out of such anti_semitism still the hygienics of gas chambers still exist with willing executioners of all European deficits. The ‘other_ing’ of such institutions the FBI has in common is the anti_juda_ism on race, class, gender and age,…but what the hell is goin on in the Northern territories of America? It’s like that:http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/ -where all imprisuned ones determinate thierselfs at first Muslims and then ‘liberationalist men’? Whats about the African-American determin_ism on such idaho Liberia has beAphed as debate? And whats about political Hip Hop and Gypsee Gyptology in common? My man Davey, what a brilliant start to casual the red lights again in such a club world, where everything is commercial….
Firstly, I use the word ‘reference’ for the word ‘nominatum’ because the latter does not look like English. I suggest you use the Wikipedia translation linked by what celebrity has fasc_ion on like the ilks of Afropunks. Further, I think sentences involving the word ‘that’ are indirect. Also, I believe political Hip Hop wrote from numerous perspectives on some issues discussed throughout the careers in commune in – Cops out modes. Lastly, in indirect discourse like the sentence “Jack said that he saw the moon.”, the sense of the sentence and the sense of the phrase ‘he saw the moon’ should be distinguished.
Now that the preliminaries are addressed, I proceed. “Franklin believed he invented bifocals.” is a true sentence. The truth of this sentence is preserved under substitution of ‘he is the first postmaster general of the United States’ for ‘he invented bifocals’ because, presumably, he had both beliefs. I am not sure whether it is the case, but suppose Franklin sent Chinese Tallow seeds to a correspondent in Georgia on account of its usefulness for soap, honey, and oil. The plant is now considered invasive in the south. So, ‘the tallow tree is helpful to people in the south of the US’ is false yet it is substitutable without changing truth value, i.e. “Franklin believed the Tallow tree is helpful to people in the south of the United States.” is a true sentence.
At the time of writing, political Hip Hop,..and here for me in a postfascist environment of British allies, believed the reference of a direct sentence to be a truth value. Antifascist lyrics concluded that, in indirect discourse such as belief reports, the phrase expressing the content of the belief does not refer to a truth value. If the phrases do not refer to a truth value as do sentences, then they refer to propositions, which are the senses sentences. In indirect sentences, the senses of the propositions referred to in the belief content are only a part of the sense of the entire sentence.
In response to the opening post, the sense of a direct sentence is illustrated by the difference between it and another sentence that is verified by the same conditions. Such pairs of sentences should have the same truth value in all circumstances. In the case of indirect discourse, too, there exist conditions under which phrases with different senses are interchangeable. In indirect discourse though, there arises the additional feature that even phrases with different truth values are interchangeable. In my opinion, with respect to indirect discourse, verification depends on a relationship between a something or someone and a proposition: e.g., it is true that Franklin believed a false proposition about Tallow trees.
Idealists or skeptics will perhaps long since have objected: “You talk, without further ado, of the Moon as an object; but how do you know that the name ‘the Moon’ has any reference? How do you know that anything whatsoever has a reference?” I reply that when we say ‘the Moon,’ we do not intend to speak of our idea of the Moon, nor are we satisfied with the sense alone, but we presuppose a reference. To assume that in the sentence ‘The Moon is smaller than the Earth’ the idea of the Moon is in question, would be flatly to misunderstand the sense. If this is what the speaker wanted, s/he would use the phrase ‘my idea of the Moon’. Now we can of course be mistaken in the presupposition, and such mistakes have indeed occurred. But the question whether the presupposition is perhaps always mistaken need not be answered here; in order to justify mention of reference of a sign it is enough, at first, to point out our intention in speaking or thinking. (We must then add the reservation: provided such reference exists.)…thanks Davey for ya blog!
Dude, if you want to complain about a “white” rapper, leave the 90’s rappers alone. Vanilla Ice hardly threatened to destroy hip hop and was exposed for being a fraud probably the day he dropped Ice Ice Baby which at the time was the most unliked rap song by hip hop listeners at the time. Check Pop Goes The Weasel by 3rd Bass. As for YBT, you musta pulled that name outta nowhere because like 3rd Bass they were respected in rap circles at the time and in no way will be remembered by this blinged out tattoed up brainless so called HIP HOP Facebook generation. Compared to what is around in hip hop nowadays YBT was absolutely realer than the buffoonery that plagues us in 2013. Is that a problem because they are not Africans? If any of these fools around today tried to get over in 1990 they would be shown the door, slammed shut with hedz sayin ”Don’t ever f–k wit HIP HOP and the streetz again”, much like what was the case with Vanilla Ice who now self respecting rap fan ever took seriously. The one ”white” rapper who single handedly destroyed the image of HIP HOP the most was Eminem IMO even if he did come from the undaground, he aint there today so if you want to target a caucasian rapper who dumbed down hip hop with his antics maybe you should write a piece on how he made a tool for struggling African Americans a comedy show. I think instead of going after artists that nobody holds relevant today, you should target the scourge of wackness that has got an artform and the youth of today bamboozled. And the worst perpertrators who have damaged HIP HOP happen to be of African descent not European. You have artists like Vanilla Ice and YBT who are a generation gone and yet acts like Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Kanye, Gucci Mane, Lady Gaga (why not throw her in there as well, most youth can’t distinguish the difference as to what is HIP HOP and what is not), Rhianna, Chris Brown etc etc who are truly corrupting the minds of the young today on the loose and nothing is said about them. How are the artists you mentioned more of a threat to brainwashing the youth then the images portrayed by the idiots I mentioned? A reply would be appreciated. Thanks.
Great read 🙂 -talkn
@Chris I think you missed the point. I don’t believe this is an accusation that Vanilla Ice for destroyed hip-hop. It’s an analogy to show how ridiculous it is to consider that slavery was ended BY white people FOR black people—as ridiculous as thanking Vanilla Ice for the revolutionary nature of hip-hop in the 90s.
That said, I appreciate this article and the emphasis placed on teaching our youth real history and eliminating the illusions created by present-day history books (and TV)’s constant use of “heroification” to whitewash resistance and struggle. I can’t help but think of the critique around last year’s “The Help.” A ColorLines writer put it well (I can’t remember which one or I’d cred her!) in her criticism of a story that made white people leaders in taking action. The reality is that, in the Civil Rights Movement, white people were “the help.” It’s not enough to remember that—we have to TEACH it to our future generations, or history gets re-written for us by someone else.
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Well wasn’t it true that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation? Isn’t that an example of ”whites” ending slavery for ”blacks”? Hip hop has already been whitewashed by hip pop. And most hip pop artists are of African descent. Face it, African American’s own people sold out hip hop and continue to. The African medallion was traded for multi-millions. Nobody in their right mind would thank Vanilla Ice for the Afrocentricity of the 1990’s or YBT. If any body should ever believe that, they are living in fairyland. However, I wanted to sound off on this topic of the corrosion of HIP HOP and I used the writer’s (all due respect) mention of those two artists mentioned to do so. I read all the posts on this site once and if I see anything that interests me I will give feedback.
What can I do because I am a scholar.
Actually Chris, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end slavery, the 13th Amendment did that. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war tactic, enacted only in states in open rebellion, in response to the incredible numbers of enslaved persons fleeing plantations and taking up the Union cause. Until the Proclamation, Blacks were legally considered contraband and were returned to Confederacy in prisoner exchanges. Also, many of these black men and women were serving the Union as spies, cooks, fort builders, and yes, soldiers. In one swoop, Lincoln ended contraband exchanges and paved the way for Black soldiers to legally join the Army. And none too soon. The Union was losing badly until Blacks joined the effort. This fresh influx of Black soldiers won the Civil War. So the ancestors won their own freedom.
Also, keep in mind that according to the 13th Amendment, if you’re in prison, you can still be enslaved. What effect does this have on us today? Think about the prison industrial complex and it’s overwhelming entrapment of Black women and men. So no, “whites” didn’t end slavery for “blacks.” They just figured out how to do it in a different context. As long as we continue to see others as our great saviors, they will keep changing the context on us.
When the USA depth with his trillion Dollars deficit ends, the discussion on homo_national enslavement ends too.
once again, we have to make plain and clear our contribution to our struggles to be frree. but this discourse raises the problem that i have with movies portraying the civil rights movement, the anti-apartheid movement, where the white activists get raised up and we get rendered invisible. it’s a dilemma. because while we have to give ourselves the kudos deserved, we also have to be wary of insisting that white people act as our allies, and then lambaste them when they do. we expect certain things of honest allies and we can’t get those things when those allies get slapped in the face everytime they portray themselves.
Who is the next Jewish anti_Judaistic messian for the nominal punsihment of such lyrics?
I think you guys just can’t admit that ”whitey” gave you a helping hand for once in hundreds of years of oppressing Africans. Bearing in mind it was likely to their advantage. The EP was the precursor to the 13th amendment. If it wasn’t for the action taken by President Lincoln’s executive decision on that the 13th amendment may not have come to pass or for ”blacks” to join the Army. Ok, so you think ”whites” didn’t end slavery for ”blacks”? So who did? Quote ”No, whites did not end slavery for blacks they just figured out how to do it in a different context” End Quote. I take your point about Africans rising up and taking their freedom through means of conflict in all fairness. Let’s be honest, African Americans achieving their ”freedom” from slavery was IMO a product of these three mentioned influences however I still believe that it was Lincoln was the major factor that got the ball rolling first. Thanks for your reply.
History is all about interpretation. You see things one way. I see things differently.
I see the writer has completely ignored the inconvenient historical founding of the majority of African American colleges which are still open & going strong. Ever heard of Spelman or Moorehouse? I find it offensive that you would simply throw legitimate WHITE abolitionist under the bus in order to find another reason to criticisize whites & ” their true intentions.”
I’m Hispanic therefore I have experienced racism from both whites & blacks, however, I think it’s best for Americans to honor the progress & battles won through the union of races. I have yet to meet someone who thinks African Americans just sat idly by until whites freed slaves and sat idly by until civil rights were won. Every group NEEDS ALLIES! The gay community depends on the outspokenness of straight Americans to further their goals, Hispanics without papers rely on Hispanic American citizens, black & white citizens to help their cause as well. Sick of a-holes with a chip on their shoulders fighting centuries old battles.