So, truth be told, I’m a geek.
I have not one, but two Dr. Who Tardis banks and three Game of Thrones bobble-head characters on my work desk. I’ve read Lord of the Rings, Outlander, all of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books and I truly believe that Stephen King is my soulmate in another life. Aliens, alternate universes and time-travel: all possibilities in my sci-fi book.
So the other day, while talking to one of my many friends on Facebook, the idea of time travel came up and I was so ready to jump in with my, “let’s go back to the 1700s so I can become the wife of Jamie Fraser and have lots of Scottish babies,” when I realized I needed to rethink this: Am I going back in this body? Would I really want to go back ANYWHERE in the 1700s as a Black person?
I keep hearing this refrain and keep asking the same question: If you’re African American, and your family traces back to the first group of slaves brought to the Carolinian and Virginian shores (in the 1600s), what era in American history are you looking back to as “great?” Livable, surely. But “full of hope, opportunity, and personal freedom” great?
Let’s review, shall we?
1629 – The first enslaved Africans arrive in what is now Connecticut. [Nope, don’t want to be one of the firsts, thank you very much.]
1629 – 1863 – Hmmm…over 200 years of lawful (Constitution-approved and sanctioned) slavery. [Nah…I’m gonna pass.]
1866 – 1875 – For a short period, we’re allowed a little bit of representation in government, but…”Birth of Nation” Klu Klux Klan is born. [Nah, will pass on the lynching and government sanctioned raping and pillaging, no access to jobs or due process, thanks!]
1876 – 1965 – Jim Crow lives and breathes. “Separate but equal” in education, politics, employment, healthcare…you name it, if you’re Black you’re not doing it. Oh, but you might have fought in WW2 (you’ll be denied the pleasures of the GI Bill when you get home) or the Korean War, like my father (where you’ll come home to Jim Crow). Maybe the last decade I’d consider, so I could be a part of the Civil Rights Movement…but to face water cannons, dogs, Bull Connor, loss jobs, not able to marry my husband (damn those miscegenation laws)..Pass on this one too…
1965 – 1968 – Possible, until April 4, 1968 (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated). The world burns…[Not my cup of tea — #Pass]
1968 – 1990 – “Affordable Housing Units” means the rise of slums, crack cocaine, and gang violence. Not to mention we watch Rodney King brutalized on LA’s streets, followed by riots, and OJ Simpson…well, at least the music was good. #Pass
1990- Present: No need to time travel…we’re already HERE. We get Beyonce, a Black storm trooper in Star Wars, #Richonne, and all the Shonda Rhimes we can get, plus Oprah. #Staying_Put.
I ask the question again, “which era was America great…for ALL of us?” Seems like if it’s not about ALL of us, then it’s just for some. Which is not too American, and certainly not “great.”