Why Blacks Can’t Get Over Slavery!

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

The more things change in America, the more they remain the same. This article is in response to some of our white privileged folk who can’t understand why black folk just can’t get over slavery. Let me share some remarks that I constantly hear from white folk. “Slavery occurred some 400 years ago, why are y’all still living in the past? Didn’t President Abraham Lincoln sign the Emancipation Proclamation 157 years ago freeing the slaves? Black folk aren’t never satisfied. We, meaning the present generation, had nothing to do with it. Y’all just need to get over it.”

Let me set the record straight for those who can’t seem to understand why black folk can’t get over it. Young privileged whites do not have a clue of the atrocities committed by their ancestors and the horrible impact slavery has had upon blacks. For slavery to go away is to acknowledge that it never existed. And, to acknowledge that it existed is for America to right the wrong. And, until America decides to justly compensate black Americans, referring to reparation for slavery, the sore will continue to fester and not heal.

It’s easy for the “privileged” to minimize slavery and the devastation it had, and continues to have, on the present generation if all they have ever known is privilege. For naysayers, let’s look at some examples that should make your skin boil. What if your family was sold–mother, father, sister, brother to different slaveowners, never to be seen again? What if all you did was work from sun up until sun down with Massa’s lynch men standing over you with a whip? What if you had to work in water bogged rice fields and died from Malaria?

What if your wife or sister was raped day in and out in your presence and you couldn’t do a thing about it? and, if you tried, you were whipped mercilessly or killed. Let your mind, if you have one white privilege, take you back to the cotton and tobacco fields. Can you imagine picking cotton and tobacco in snake infested fields under a blazing hot sun for fifty cents or a dollar a day? Let’s go even further back! What if you were taken from your home or homeland, Africa, never to see your family again? Then you are shipped to America in the wet bottom of a boat where you lay chained and unclothed, in the dark, for weeks. And, for those who became ill on the journey, they were tossed overboard, dead or alive, to the waiting jaws of sharks. How cruel was that? How heartless is it to hang another human being and stand around with your children and watch as if you are at a sporting game? That’s what your ancestors did Mr. White Privilege. Oh, there is more, lots more right here in Charleston!

Remnants of slavery are everywhere. On Sullivan’s Island, slaves were stored for months as they waited to be auctioned off. Slaves were also sold at the Old Exchange Building. Charleston is a beautiful city with a dark history. How can we forget slavery’s dark past when it’s forever staring us in the face? I had the occasion of touring Charleston last weekend with some out of town relatives. As we drove around town, over cobblestone streets, I couldn’t help but think about slave labor. The next stop was the infamous Market where slaves sold their goods. The Slave Mart held a rich history as well. And, if I don’t remember anything else about Charleston, we toured the old hanging tree spot on Ashley Avenue. The “Hanging Tree” is thought to be where Denmark Vesey was executed in 1822. The original tree died and was replaced around 1980. Denmark Vesey was a free slave; but, of course, free slaves were never really free.

For those “privilege whites” who do not understand why blacks can’t forget about slavery, it’s because you are living a good life. You were taught that blacks are less than and not equal. Simply put! check out the many inventions by blacks. Intentionally, major aspects of black history and contributions have been omitted from history books. It would simply blow your mind if you really knew how blacks have contributed to the founding and growth of this country.

As we approach Black History Month, learn more about Black contribution to America. Blacks are great people with a great history. It’s hard to get over slavery when its tentacles are so visible and far reaching.


  1. Joe on June 5, 2020 at 4:19 am

    How does this apply to Hispanic or mixed Americans? What about poor white folks who never had slaves, but still had children and grandchildren? What about the people who grew up in poverty but have light skin. Should we be educated in order to be empathetic towards blacks? I’m trying to make sense of who I am in this crazy world. It was hard enough before, but now there’s so much confusion about who to be. The world is painting the picture of how bad whites are because of their privilege. Slavery is evil. Slavery of the mind is the worst kind of evil.

    • Alex on June 21, 2020 at 2:28 am

      I am a hispanic, born in America and raised in the Mexican Border. And this is how ive made sense of it. You owe nobody anything. You owe it to yourself and your family to be as succesful as you can and as productive as possible. Everyone can trace atrocities commited to their race. This is America the land of immigrants. The scum of the earth. And we have become the most powerful nation in history. Blacks owe it to themselves and to the rest of americans to GET OVER IT. We love you guys, so lets get back to being the greatest nation in the world, together.

      • Ashley Duncan on June 29, 2020 at 10:41 pm

        I was agreeing with you until you said get over it. Slavery is a large part of American history and to be honest it’s a large portion of black history in America. It built the country and created riches for those who could have it. I think you don’t understand the horrors of slavery so I suggest you read books like Slavery as it is which was published in 1836 and To be a Slave which is a book that has slave narratives of that time. We have to learn and hear about the holocaust every year and that didn’t happen in America it happened in Germany. We have to hear about 9/11 ever year and I don’t hear people say GET OVER IT! When it comes to those historic moments. I don’t see people saying GET OVER pearl harbor, get over the civil war, get over the Vietnam war cause we lost, get over our year of independence. No those are things we have to remember every year because it’s apart of American History just like Slavery is. How is the country suppose to move forward if the past is not discussed?

  2. WTF on June 5, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    When will people stop using terms like privilege whites…..That in itself is racist, and look who is using it, Blacks??

    you want an apology? do blacks apologize to each other, white people were not the only slave owners.. does that justify anything? NO, but there was more than just white slave owners, yet we remain branded?

    All I see are excuses, excuses why some blacks remain hypocrites, you want white people to change our view about blacks, but don’t want to change your view about whites…How many references can some blacks make about slavery, something that hasn’t existed in this country in over 150 years? it IS time to let go of the past and move on..change takes both sides wanting the change, not one just wanting the other to change.

    “For slavery to go away is to acknowledge that it never existed” that’s the biggest excuse of them all.. It takes admission, and acceptance… accept that it happened, accept that we learned from it, and wont repeat it, oh it was terrible, but at the time, it was a way of life, not my fault, I didn’t choose either side of that coin… And compensate? so you put a monetary value on it? …

    Nothing can be said, or given that can undo what transpired over a century ago.. you cant want the world to change, and not want to change yourself…Slavery in our past will always be there, nothing can undo it… bury the hatchet..dont loot and riot and use slavery as a reason…

    • Tara on June 13, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      Most do not mean monetary Reparations .

    • Jim on July 15, 2020 at 11:02 am


  3. Christy Rose Muir on June 9, 2020 at 11:55 am


    Thank you for expressing yourself so clearly.

    Of course…. you are ‘Right’ about many things here.

    I want to know what I can actually do to help my family members (who have beautiful brown skin) to feel Empowered in America. I believe that I chose (yes, chose) to be ‘racially ambiguous’ in this lifetime. My hair is light-weight Afro texture, my skin is caramel, my eyes are green. When I wear a blonde wig or weave (blondes do have lots of fun) people usually see my European features much more than my Nigerian, Cameroon, Bantu and other Subsaharan African features.

    I can ‘pass’ …. if you call it that. People are more curious about my heritage – “What are you?” – than they are prejudiced.

    Did you hear me say that ‘I Chose?’

    Here’s the thing …. maybe this is a function of some ‘Light Skin Privilege’ …. but I feel that on a cellular level I KNOW that WE ALL CHOOSE. We also all choose to forget the choosing. It’s part of the Human Game we have been playing for aeons. There are deeper implications to this knowing, which I believe you can tune into for yourself, if you wish: On a deep Spiritual Level, all Humans, including Black Americans, have chosen to be exactly who and where they are in this lifetime. That includes those who come in and seem to inevitably experience violence, incarceration, poverty …. and ‘untimely’ death.

    News Flash: All Death is Right On Time. In fact, since ‘death’ has been the mechanism by which all ‘karma’ (which is grossly misunderstood, and I will not correct right now) moved forward on the planet …. in the big picture …. Death is Good. And since unjust Death stirs Compassion within the Human Heart….. unjust Death does A LOT to move ‘karma’ forward on the Planet.

    What’s more: Souls are not black or White. Souls are Light. Your Soul does not discriminate for or against any particular ‘race’ when it selects its next experimental journey on Earth. Just because you are Black right now, doesn’t mean that you wore black skin when you were here on Earth during those times you reference in your piece above.

    It is just as likely that you were one of those terrible slave masters that you describe, inflicting inhumane suffering upon innocent people …. and that you have CHOSEN to come back In a Black body (your Soul is not black or white) and see things from a different perspective, so that you can continue to play this massive and epic game of Humanity on Earth.

    So …. how do we reconcile all of this?

    Slavery is a detestable institution. It has existed in once form or another since the dawn of time. There was slavery in ancient Egypt. From what I understand, there was also slavery in the (multiple) Atlantis areas. I also understand that Human Trafficking and all kinds of slavery still exist today, perpetrated by people of al colors.

    And, yes, you are absolutely RIGHT!! – the legacy of Slavery is still shaping the Black American experience. You are RIGHT! – that legacy doesn’t just … disappear as though it didn’t happen!! You are RIGHT! – this means that Black Americans are born into an uneven playing field, disproportionately exposed to injustice and challenges that even the most empowered Soul would have to use all of its resources of Light and Intent to transform.

    But if that isn’t a Manifesto of the Purpose of the Black American …. I don’t know what is.

    Black Americans are Creating Diamonds of Self-Hood. Diamonds require enormous pressure over time. The pressure cooker experiences by Black Americans is a very specific petite dish, a curated environment, designed to cultivate certain qualities that are/will be indispensable to the evolution of Humanity as a whole.

    Black Americans are Creating Diamonds of Self-Hood.

    The mistake is to equate your blackness with your Spiritual, Soul, Identity.

    Your Soul is not Black. The weight of injustice you feel comes from identifying solely with the Black American Experience of History. The reason it feels awful …. is because it is not true. Your Soul has not been oppressed for generations. Human bodies have been oppressed for generations, and from time to time YOU have experienced lifetimes as WHITE PEOPLE and have played the ‘game’ from another side.

    Is this blasphemy? …. that is another indicator that you have been focused on something untrue.

    Truth feels GOOD. Truth feels, first, like RELIEF!

    Untruth feels like bondage.

    The feeling that you and your people have been in bondage for generations …. well …. if feels awful because it is simply not true. You have played the game on earth from many different angles, and have been just as complicit in the horrors and atrocities as you have in the victim hood and tradegy. That is just the way it is spiritually. Your Soul is not Black.

    But your Soul DID choose to come here and have an experience as a Black American at this specific point in history because you saw that your participation as a Black American right now would contribute something potent to the storyline, which is ultimately about the transmutation of energy over time – transforming darkness into Light.

    You are here right now at this time in history to be a part of Creating Diamonds of Self-Hood, which requires tremendous pressure, and is adding to the incredibly diverse tapestry of Humanity.

    Try it on and see how it feels! …. if you can let go of the attachment to seeing yourself as being oppressed throughout history. That story is not only untrue … it is unhelpful.

    More on the Creative Power of Emotions – and the fact that there are productive and unproductive ways to direct them – at another time.

    Christy Rose Muir

  4. Lance on June 20, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Good words being said here . This should be mainstream because it’s educational for me personally .

  5. Kaze on July 9, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    “Young privileged whites do not have a clue of the atrocities committed by their ancestors and the horrible impact slavery has had upon blacks.” I couldn’t even get beyond this one sentence.

    1.) Everyone born in America and alive today has learned about slavery… and genocide of First Nation peoples…and more. But even IF everyone cared when they learned about these things, do you actually expect all of us to carry around every horrible bit of information that we’ve learned, to re-reflect on it daily, and then stop what we are doing in our daily lives to do something about it?

    People are generally consumed by thoughts of their own lives — that goes for all of the races in America. People care about how the hell they are going to pay the rent. They don’t have time to continually re-reflect on history — especially when it comes to thinking about the assholes in our country’s past who bought, sold, and sometimes murdered other humans. People involved with slavery were fuckheads, and now they are dead. Good riddance.

    2.) You presume that every white, privileged American had ancestors in America during slavery, and that betrays a racist point of view. There are many 1st and 2nd generation white Americans. I’m personally 3rd gen American. My entire family arrived in America well after slavery was over.

    You also assume that every privileged white person is “lily white”. TONS of white folks in America who are mixed. It is entirely possible to have had ancestors who were slaves on one side and slave owners on the other.

    3.) Pointing a blaming finger at the descendants of slave owners is flat out ignorant. If your father beat your mother, does that make you an abuser of women? No. If your mother was an alcoholic. Does that make you one? No. If your great-grandfather was a murderer… You see where I’m going with this? We should learn from the mistakes of our elders and try to do better. But not everybody does, and we shouldn’t expect them to.

    I understand that you are passionate about the subject of slavery, but if you let your passions blind you, you won’t think clearly when you write. On the other hand, you probably won’t even read this, because I’m white and therefore the “enemy” right?

  6. Harry Newton on July 12, 2020 at 1:13 am

    The pain of race is difficult to discuss and easy to dismiss. The competing shame of profiting from a system that oppresses others, and a pride in being part of the institutions that provide a sense of security make it so. If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. Why should Black people “get over it” where slavery is concerned? Black people were stolen from their African history and you begrudge them this too? Introspection may reveal why “it” disturbs you. The resiliency of institutional racism and the incredible number of strategies individuals deploy to absolve themselves of responsibility at the sites where race/racism functions is just one of the legacies of the scars of slavery.

  7. Bob jones on July 12, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    I agree that African Americans have it harder than the average white folk but my point is that African Americans have not been the only repressed culture in history. How many Jewish people are rioting in the streets because their ancestors were put in prison camps and slaughtered by hitler ? None! How many Asian Americans are holding up protesting signs because they were ripped from there homes and businesses taken from them because there eyes were slanted ? None! May I note that both of these examples were cultures discriminated against 30, 40, or 50 years ago. Not 400 years.

    Free hand outs for African Americans was the worst thing that could ever be done….now they all want, expect, and feel entitled to it.

    I have African American friends that our ‘very’ successful and they hate the fact society may look at them thinking they got to were they did because of government hand outs!

    Again…I agree that African Americans have it worse but as a culture do something about it to change that perception! Spend 5 minutes talking about how you can change things not 5 minutes telling us why the world owes you something.

    And ‘black privilege’ exists too ! Why can you score lower on the SAT test and get into the same school?. One example!

    Don’t hate…just an honest opinion.

    I love everyone just love conversations

  8. Nick on July 16, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    So who is going to compensate all the white people who fought and gave their lives in the bloodiest war of US history? And why aren’t you asking black confederate s to foot your bill? I figure the lost lives would far out cost your reparations. 99% of us never had ancestors anywhere near a slave so when are you going to figure that out? Go send your bill to your African relatives that sold you into slavery.

  9. Me on July 18, 2020 at 3:10 am

    Ya know I’m not going to talk bad about anyone.. I just don’t see how our world has any future because the simple fact that no one is wrong and no one is right and no one wants to take the blame for anything…but just keep this thought in your head……we all have someone we love and care about and shouldn’t we do everything we can to make the world a better place …not for us but for them and just let the hate go.

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