You Exist Today Because…

The Transformational Agenda Magazine 26th Edition

…you exist today because…

Listen to how Raha describes their sacrifice, as expressed in the short story ‘Listen to the Ancestors: They Deserve to be Heard’.

“Those of us who lived through the Middle Passage did so only by sheer determination and an act of will. Upon arrival, we found ourselves in a new land. One by one, we were sold to white people, our families were separated, and we were taken to plantations. 

“Once there we learned the rules quickly. We were never to speak our own languages; if we did, we were beaten or worse. It was permissible for the master to rape women in the sight of their husbands and to beat children near to death in front of their mothers. We were expected—nay forced—to work sunup to sundown, and we were given nothing for our labors, except the worst of anything left over. We got scraps of food, scraps of cloth for clothing, scraps of lumber for building. We were always cold or hot, always sick and tired, always burdened and scared. And if we failed to please the master in any way, we were beaten; or our fingers or toes were removed. Often, I thought it would be better to die than to endure another day of terror, abuse, neglect, rape, or worse.

“But somewhere along the line, I and many others made up our minds that we would not die! I would live. Lots of us made a covenant, signed in blood. We promised to choose life every day for the sake of our unborn seed. We remembered the motherland. The ancestors strengthened us day by day. And we knew that we could not die. We would not die. We had to live! So, we did some things we were not proud of. We began to acquiesce, to conform to our captivity. We began to beg our men and boys to obey, to do as they were told so they wouldn’t be harmed and so the community wouldn’t suffer. We began to do our best to keep peace ‘round the plantation; we just didn’t want to make white folk mad. We learned to look down, to shuffle our feet, and in essence . . . to survive. Now none of this came without a price, for while we changed our actions, we didn’t change our minds and hearts. We hated the white man . . . my, how we hated him. And that hate ate us up every day.

“But we’d made a covenant. And Chile, you exist today because of that covenant. You exist today because every mornin’ I woke up thinking ‘bout you. I woke up believing that a day would come when you’d be free. I woke up with the hope that one day all my sacrifices in body, mind, and spirit would be worth it. I imagined that one day you would be successful and prosperous in this land. We held on during the times when hope unborn had died because we dreamed that one day you would know today.”

The Transformational Agenda Magazine 26th Edition

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