Stamped from the Beginning (2023) Movie Script

Can you please tell me,
what is wrong with Black people?
What is wrong with Black people?
What is wrong with Black people?
Okay, what do you mean by that?
What is wrong with Black people?
In 1860,
Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis,
on the floor of the US Senate,
opposed a bill
funding education for Black people.
To justify this,
he made up this story
he said was from the Bible.
In this made-up fairy tale,
when Cain was exiled
from the Garden of Eden,
he comes across the Land of Nod.
And in this Land of Nod,
according to Senator Davis,
were the animals and beasts
that were created before humans,
before Adam and Eve.
And among these beasts,
was a particular animal-like group,
with darker skin.
Senator Davis
was talking about Black people.
"Black inferiority is the will of God,"
he said, "as confirmed by history."
That's the story that Senator Davis told.
The same Senator Davis who would go on
to become the president
of the Confederate States of America
to justify this idea that the inequality
between the Black and white races
was "stamped from the beginning."
What happens
when we tell these stories, these myths,
about who Black people are,
and what their role
in American society is?
These stories that are all about
what's wrong with Black people
become part
of the background understandings
that help to then spread ideas,
false ideas, about Black people.
We need to look
at our history with a sober perspective.
There's a real battle,
and it's a meaningful battle over ideas.
So the question is,
how are we intentionally questioning
what is being given to us,
and what we are ingesting?
Because somebody is designing it.
Are they designing it
for our benefit or for theirs?
When we look at race,
we have to look at the fact
that race has not always been a given.
We came across that water,
and we were Fula,
we were Igbo, we were Yoruba, Wolof.
We were Mandinka.
But somewhere across the Atlantic,
we became one community.
Often times we assume that race
is only about the color of one's skin,
the grade of one's hair, or whatever.
It is about slavery.
I think it's important for people to know
that the original "slave,"
when people thought about that--
that original slave,
it wasn't people who look like me.
The Western European slave market
had been dominated for hundreds of years
by Eastern European Slavs.
The root for the term slave is Slav.
So why suddenly,
are we primarily enslaving,
you know, African people?
We need to remember that slavery,
it's a piece of human history.
Humans enslave each other.
They have for as long as there have been
empires and states and war,
but something different happens in 1444.
It's the moment in which
the first large cargo of captives,
who are captured
by the Portuguese in Senegambia,
are brought to Portugal to be sold.
That, for me,
is the beginning of what becomes
the transatlantic slave trade.
Prince Henry of Portugal
saw the value of African people
in Western European slave markets.
They were more valuable
than Eastern European Slavs
because it was harder for them
to run away.
It was harder for them
to blend in to the population.
And so he financed
expeditions to the source.
When Prince Henry rode up on Africa,
there was an opportunity
for him to take something.
There was a method that he used
to get what he wanted,
and it worked.
Prince Henry didn't want to admit
that he was violently and brutally
enslaving African people to make money.
And so he dispatched a royal chronicler
by the name of Gomes Zurara,
to write his story.
Gomes Zurara
justified his slave trading
by stating that Prince Henry
was doing it to save souls,
and that these people in Africa
were inferior, were beast-like.
They have lived like beasts
without any custom of reasonable beings.
They have no understanding of good,
but only know
how to live in a bestial sloth.
Gomes Zurara's book
wasn't just the first major text
by a European written in Africa,
it also became a bestseller.
These racist ideas
of African people as beastly
started circulating around Western Europe.
The work
is naturalizing these racial hierarchies.
They're indoctrinating us.
I mean, that's how popular culture works,
and that's how power works, right?
We don't realize it's working
until it's done its job.
In order for you to do that
and to make yourself feel good about it,
you've got to come up with a reason
why it was okay.
what you have is brutality,
you have theft,
you have murder, you have rape.
Nobody wants
to think of themselves that way.
Gomes Zurara wrote
that people with different skin colors,
and different languages,
and different cultures
from different nations,
were one people.
One Black people.
One Black people worthy of enslavement.
The Blackness.
- What's wrong with them?
- The Blackness.
Nobody in the town
has any use for 'em.
Nobody likes 'em. Nobody wants 'em.
Some niggers are clean and some aren't.
I wished I had some chicken.
The Negro in this country today
stands for venereal disease,
the numbers racket,
and crime.
Talk that talk
Back that up
Wetback, sand nigger,
motherfucking cocksucking bitch!
Go back where you came from!
Look at what you're doing!
This is my neighborhood
- Okay. Victims.
- You brought these people who are crazy.
You're-- Look, look. Hey.
- Get that fucking--
- Dude. Seriously?
Get the fuck out of my building.
I'm calling the cops.
This is happening
'cause we're Black.
What are we, as people,
going to do about our Blackness?
Hide it?
Somebody told a lie one day.
They made everything Black ugly and evil!
Look in your dictionary
and see the synonyms of the word "black."
Grab the mirror
Look at you, ooh, ooh
Gomes Zurara invented Blackness.
But he didn't necessarily
create whiteness.
And whiteness as a construct
really didn't start to emerge
until the 1500s,
and certainly the 1600s.
In the early days
of the slave trade here in the US,
Black people
weren't the only enslaved people.
We had indentured servants from Europe,
who were trying to make their way,
and they lived in conditions
that were just one step above slavery.
One of the greatest
fears of white landowners
was that white indentured servants
and Black enslaved people
would come together
in their common interest
to fight against the white elite.
And it became clear
that this was a real possibility
during an incident called
Bacon's Rebellion,
when Black people
and white people joined together
to revolt against white landowners.
This is a journey
Journey into sound
But it's not a matter of my liberation.
It's also a matter of yours.
If you're working--
we're working together,
it's not because we're gonna do something
for poor Black people.
We're gonna do something for each other.
I got so much trouble on my mind,
Refuse to lose
Here's your ticket,
Hear the drummer get wicked
The crew to you
To push the back
It's really sad to see that
there's people who are hindering
the development and the progress
that this country can find
if we just unite together
and utilize diversity as our--
as our instrumental key.
Whether you're from the south,
north, east or west,
whether you're a Negro,
hillbilly or a Yankee,
we're gonna stand here and fight together.
X on the flex, hit me now
Fight the power! Fight the power!
Is it too much
to ask you to grant us human dignity?
What the hell do you think
we care about dying
if you're going to deny us
the right to live?
Bacon's Rebellion
was able at one point
to topple the capital of Virginia,
It scared
wealthy white enslavers to death.
They saw that unity
between white indentured servants
and enslaved Africans,
you know, as their Armageddon.
That made it very clear
to white landowners
that they needed to invest more
in separating indentured servants
and enslaved people.
They created a whole legal apparatus
to give indentured servants privileges
by the fact that they were white,
that Black people couldn't have.
Ultimately, some of those
white indentured servants
were able to work out their indenture.
And then they were able to receive land
and to make money.
And then the money
they were able to acquire,
allowed them to buy one of the very people
that were involved,
side-by-side with them,
for Bacon's Rebellion.
And then they could turn around
and say to their former comrade,
"You're in your position
and I'm in my position,
not because of racist policies."
"You're in your position
because you're inferior."
They want to throw
white children and colored children
into the melting pot of integration,
out of which will come a conglomerated,
mulatto, mongrel class of people!
Both races will be destroyed
in such a movement.
America was built by and for
the white Christian people of this nation!
This is not just
a matter of values,
it's also a matter of national survival.
We have no choice.
If we teach our children to hate America,
there will be no one left
to defend our flag,
or to protect our great country
or its freedom.
This is the beginning of the idea
that whiteness itself
is a benefit, is a privilege,
is a status that white people
should want to have
to the disadvantage of Black people.
- White people.
- The white people.
Equal rights for whites.
They'd all belong
to the white man.
The white man, who else?
White majority.
We are white
and we are proud of being white.
I'm white!
Whiteness is an idea
of who is entitled
to certain privileges in a society.
Whiteness keeps you
from being at the bottom,
even when you're poor,
even when you're broke,
even when you're dispossessed.
It's something that has been
really a core part
of what I think
white American identity is.
There's something that you always know
you have over other people.
Once upon a time,
if you were Polish and you came here,
you weren't white, you were Polish.
If you were Italian and you came here,
you weren't white, you were Italian.
But somewhere along the line,
folks figured out,
"Hey, if we link arms
under this umbrella of whiteness,
then we can protect
our collective interest
and make sure
nobody has access to our power."
What whiteness does,
is it blinds them
to see who the real robbers are.
The people who actually benefit
are a small group of wealthy, white elite
that continues to accumulate
its wealth and power
on the backs of everybody else.
Hear our voice! Hear our voice!
You have white folks
who are struggling economically,
and they think the source of their pain
is people who don't look like them.
Niggers go to hell!
Niggers go to hell!
We don't need outsiders
helping us with our problems.
We've been doing good
all these years we've been here,
and we'll keep doing good enough.
And we'll stay white, period.
You will not replace us!
You will not replace us!
Race is not a thing.
Race is not scientifically proven.
You cannot trace
somebody's race in their DNA,
but it has so many real
social ramifications
because of the amount of people
who have bought into the myth.
Do you think a Negro family
moving here will affect the community?
Some of them, they're real dirty.
But I wouldn't mind it if, you know,
they kept the neighborhood clean.
Well, it just depends
upon that type of Negro.
If they were like the, uh,
Negro that works for me,
a fine, upstanding woman
who is proud of being a nigger,
proud of her race, clean and industrious,
no, I would not mind.
There is
a temporary prize
that whiteness loves to dangle
in front of the rest of us.
Temporary prize
of acceptance, of upliftment.
If you go to the right schools
and you speak the King's English,
and you never step out of line
and you tell the truth,
but never too much truth
to make whiteness uncomfortable.
If you are just the right kind of Negro.
Let me put it to you this way.
We are proud of being Black
and of our Black Heritage.
But white America
does not accept the concept
that this is a multiracial society.
They've always looked upon America
as being white,
and hence, all of its propaganda
is directed at us, to convince us
that somehow we must become white
before they will accept us.
There's no other way to think.
I can't think African. Can't think Irish.
I can't think Norwegian.
I have to think within the struct--
the society in which I live,
which is a white society.
Does it bother you
to be called African-American?
- It does because I'm a Cablinasian.
- A Cablinasian.
Assimilationist ideas are problematic
because it compels you
to sort of shape-shift
into something
that white people can approve of,
that white people
won't feel threatened by,
that white people can feel,
sort of safe in.
"Why can't you just be white?"
You know? "Just assimilate."
If you are Black and living
a contemporary Black experience,
you probably have code switched
at some point in time.
Hey, youngblood, lemme give you a tip.
Use your white voice.
Man, I ain't got no white voice.
Come on, you know what I mean.
You have a white voice in there,
you can use it.
I'm just trying to give you some game.
An assimilationist
still adheres to the idea
that a racialized group needs to change.
"They need to work harder,
they need to value education,
they need to take care
about their health more."
It's a different iteration
of inferiority,
that there's no value
in what you have to offer.
You either have
to assimilate into this way,
or we need to create something different,
a different infrastructure,
to account for your problematic presence.
A high school senior was told
he can't walk the stage for graduation
or even return to normal classes
unless he cuts his dreadlocks.
There's an element
of being a progressive in that,
because you believe people can change.
-Brothers should pull up their pants.
-Just pull up their pants.
You're walking by your mother,
your grandmother.
Have some sense and--
and respect for other people.
Pay attention,
and think about what has been presented
in recent history as acceptable behavior.
That's the refrain we hear,
whether it's in 2021 or in 1821.
"There's something in you,
either in your body or in your culture,
that is producing
the difference we're looking at."
Who taught you to hate
the texture of your hair?
Who taught you to hate
the color of your skin to such extent
that you bleach to get like the white man?
Who taught you to hate
the shape of your nose
and the shape of your lips?
Who taught you to hate yourself
from the top of your head
to the soles of your feet?
In the 18th century,
European and American philosophers
are arguing
that Black people should only be working.
That Black bodies
are only good for brute labor
because the highest form
of human expression is European,
and the lowest form is African.
That the only place where good art
and higher thinking is happening,
is in Europe
or among people of European descent.
They are so accustomed to the stories
they've been telling about Black people,
that they literally cannot imagine
that a Black woman could produce art.
Cocoa-butter kisses
Wipe my tears away
I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate
Was snatch'd from Afric's
fancy'd happy seat
when you've got nothing
To smile about
What pangs excruciating
must molest
What sorrows labor in my parents' breast?
Black woman
Sad woman
Phillis Wheatley
was the first Black woman
to publish a book of poetry
in North America.
Why are you so displaced?
It was a shock to everyone.
It shook up notions about Africans
and their intellectual capabilities.
There was something about poetry,
which was a fine art,
which meant Africans
could experience emotions
beyond the trifling.
Sing your praise without knowing
But, of course,
you had some people that were like,
"Those poems couldn't have been written
by this Black girl."
"That's-- that's crazy.
That is just impossible."
And so as a result,
a group of prominent Boston white men
gathered together to investigate,
and they brought
Phillis Wheatley before them
to really ascertain whether she actually
was the one who wrote those poems.
In that interrogation,
she's being asked to prove
that she is more
than what these white men see her as,
which is as just a Black woman.
Just a slave.
It sets an example,
both of the need for Black women
to constantly prove worth,
but it also sets this kind of presumption
that white men have the right
to ask you to prove your worth.
Every Black woman
has a Phillis Wheatley moment.
The most painful moment
was a colleague of mine who said,
"I'm concerned sometimes
about you, when you speak,
because you sound ignorant."
"And you're African-American,
so I just don't want people
to make assumptions about you."
And I said,
"Let me tell you one"
insert expletive, "thing."
"Any" insert expletive,
"that wants to pull my card,
all I have to do
is throw my resume at their feet."
We whose names are underwritten,
do assure the world that the poems
specified on the following page,
were, as we verily believe,
written by Phillis,
a young Negro girl,
who was but a few years since,
brought an uncultivated barbarian
from Africa.
Rebel was your middle name
When you were a young girl
When we look
at Phillis Wheatley's poetry,
she is pushing back
against this attitude
that she is less than.
Times have really, really changed
She thought there was
nothing wrong with her.
You don't really get to walk away
What Phillis Wheatley is doing,
is very dangerous.
I mean, what's at stake
is the entire colonial economy.
It needs Black labor.
That's what it needs.
It does not need or want Black art.
Is it always gonna stay the same
"If we concede
that Black women can produce art,
what else do we have to concede?"
do you?
Who will be the ones
To walk away with you?
Time should really, really change
Yet they always stay
The same way to you
You don't really get
To walk away, do you?
Who will be the ones
To walk away with you?
You, enigmatic woman exploding
From clouds and intestines, riverbanks,
kneecaps, veins and horizons
Tongues embroidered with eyelashes
You burn in my throat
I walk your footsteps
You are here, you are there
You will never go away
Away, away
I know you butterfly sweet
Your lips taste of the sea
The years dusty with herstory
Anticipate light
Your hands riot with pain
Collapse in new prayer
Touch this Western stained
Glass where ghosts
commit themselves to military blood
If we merge mercy with might
And might with right
Then love becomes our legacy
And change our children's birthright
So let us leave behind a country
Better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest
We will raise this wounded world
into a wondrous one
We will rise
from the gold-limbed hills of the west
We will rise from the windswept northeast
Where our forefathers
first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities
of the Midwestern states
We will rise from the sun-baked south
We will rebuild
Seventy years in these folks' world
The child I works for calls me "girl"
I say "Ha! Ha! Ha! Yes ma'am!"
For workin's sake
Im too proud to bend and
Too poor to break
I laugh!
Until my stomach ache
When I think about myself
My folks can make me split my side
I laugh so hard
I nearly died
The tales they tell sound just like lying
They grow the fruit but eat the rind
I laugh
Until I start to cry
When I think about myself
It could and did derive
From living on the ledge of death
They kept my race alive
By wearing the mask!
When we think
about white supremacy,
when we think about racism,
when you pull back the curtain,
you see the filth.
There is a myth
about the founding of this country.
People want to erase American history
as it truly was.
White supremacy has been embedded
in this country since its founding.
You really want
to talk about Thomas Jefferson?
Thomas "Contradiction" Jefferson.
There are few people I despise more.
Thomas Je--
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was full of shit.
He was someone who was very well aware
of the atrocities that existed in slavery.
He wasn't willing to let go of that divide
because of what slavery did for
for him.
On the one hand,
he opposed slavery.
But then on the other hand,
he opposed abolition.
And so he would speak out against slavery,
particularly earlier in his career.
He'd also speak out against people
trying to bring the end of slavery!
That's the paradox
that sits right at the core of America.
You say freedom, but you're an enslaver.
You see, I must write
the Declaration of Independence.
As kids, we're taught
to love Thomas Jefferson,
because of all he did for this country,
but he's a villain to somebody.
Mr. Jefferson
When we only talk
about one side of it,
that villainhood is erased
So Thomas Jefferson
is still highly romanticized.
What's the matter?
Master, I'm scared.
Of what?
Interracial mixing
is a degradation to which
no lover of his country,
no lover of excellence
of the human character,
can innocently consent.
To this, I have a great aversion.
Thomas Jefferson
spoke so poorly on Black women,
talking about how unattractive they were.
I think at one point
he likened them to orangutans.
But he couldn't get enough
of Sally Hemings.
How many children
did he have by that woman?
He consistently
Sally Hemings, who was a teenage slave.
That's Thomas Jefferson.
Espousing the language of democracy,
while he is breeding
property for Monticello.
These white men, like Jefferson,
rationalized sexual violence
perpetrated against Black women
by saying that
it wasn't sexual violence at all.
One of the most powerful myths
about Black women
that came out of the slavery era,
was the icon of the Black Jezebel.
This was supposed to be a Black woman
who was completely controlled
by her sexual appetites.
She was innately predisposed
to always be hypersexual,
and want to engage with sex.
If you take that
as fact, who does it let off the hook?
What types of experiences
does it allow us to overlook or to ignore?
This was an excuse
for white men's rape of enslaved women.
Oh, stop it!
By constructing Black women
as promiscuous, they can say,
"Well, they wanted it."
"Well, they came on to me,
they seduced me."
I see sinners in a church
Sometimes I might be introvert
That is a trope
in American popular culture,
that has become so part of the fabric,
that I'm not even sure creators realize
that that's what they are invoking.
We see that even with the way that people
talk about Black girls as being "fast."
If you feel you've been harassed,
you cannot send mixed signals
and I think that's
one of the problems in this area.
It's not just men's behavior,
it's also women's behavior.
when your grandma died
I see the illness eat my aunt
Laying in her bed
I see her soul rising
As her body gets closer to death
We have to understand that sexual violence
was fundamental to violence of slavery.
The culture of slavery was a violent one.
And sexual violence
was a part of that culture.
There is no consent,
there's no ability to say no.
You are considered unrapeable in slavery,
legally considered unrapeable.
There were so many different ways
Black women were violated
that makes their experience
as enslaved people different,
and makes the scholarship
surrounding their struggles different.
White enslavers tried to cover up
their sexual assaults of Black women,
but one woman refused
to let her voice be silenced.
Harriet Jacobs
was the first woman
to ever write her own slave narrative.
And she writes it in a way
in which she describes
what Black enslaved mothers went through.
I draw no imaginary pictures
of Southern homes.
Slavery is terrible for men,
but it is far more terrible for women.
Women have wrongs and sufferings
and mortifications peculiarly their own.
My master met me at every turn,
reminding me that I belong to him
and swearing by Heaven and Earth
that he could compel me to submit to him.
He'd people my young mind
with unclean images,
such as only a vile monster
could think of.
Do as I say.
I saw a man 40 years my senior
daily violating
the most sacred commandments of nature.
He told me I was his property.
That I must be subject to his will
in all things.
My soul revolted against the mean tyranny.
But where could I turn for protection?
They would hide me in Snaky Swamp
till my Uncle Phillip had prepared
a place of concealment for me.
I was about to risk everything
on the throw of a die.
And if I failed,
what would become of me
and my poor children?
A place of concealment had been
provided for me at my grandmother's.
A small shed never occupied by anything
but rats and mice.
I suffered for air
even more than for light.
But I was not comfortless.
I heard the voices of my children.
There was joy,
and there was sadness in the sound.
It made my tears flow.
I lived in that little dismal hole
for nearly seven years.
Reader, my story ends with freedom.
I have not written my experiences
in order to attract attention to myself.
It would have been more pleasant to me
to have been silent about my own history,
but I want to add my testimony.
I do earnestly desire
to arouse the women of the North
to the condition
of two million women at the South,
still in bondage,
suffering what I suffered.
And most of them far worse.
I want to convince
the people of the free states
what slavery really is.
The dominant
slave narratives in the United States
was one that did not include women.
Harriet Jacobs is the first,
and I don't think that you have
a wave of Black women
telling their stories as enslaved women
without Harriet Jacobs
opening up that door
and allowing
for some of those conversations,
particularly those hard,
difficult conversations, to take place.
Jacobs telling her story
is really important,
because if she didn't tell her story,
we wouldn't understand the way
sexual predation was built in
to this system
that was allegedly about work.
And ironically, historians, they assumed
it was written by a white woman,
by an abolitionist,
because they felt like it was too
dramatic, the story of her life,
that it couldn't have been real.
Women like Harriet Jacobs,
they know that the archive
is trying to eliminate them.
They know that their stories
are not supposed to be told.
So when they tell their story,
it is crucial that we pay attention to it.
The creation
of a hostile environment,
with or without physical contact,
is sexual harassment.
I can't even explain
how I felt, even now.
There's no way of telling
whether I would have even been able
to be sitting here now,
telling you what happened.
At any given time,
and in any given space,
I, as a Black woman,
can suffer from racism, sexism,
homophobia, classism!
I can be raped, beat, be burned alive,
and no one, not a single soul,
will look up to acknowledge
my absence from this universe
because I am insignificant,
because I am a Black woman!
Try being a lady?
You mean you want me
To act catty and shady
Play with me like a doll
Degrade me, trade me
Use me as your trophy
So that you can parade me
Use my vagina to only birth babies
What started as a simple
exchange of empathy between survivors,
has now become a rallying cry.
They were simply trying to be heard
and trying to be seen and believed.
We deserve better systems,
we deserve better attention,
we deserve leadership that will call out
and acknowledge this problem.
I stand here
as a survivor of sexual
and domestic violence.
Harriet Jacobs, ultimately,
her freedom was purchased for her.
And Harriet Jacobs is really angered
that she has to be given her freedom
through the intervention
of white abolitionists.
Most of the time, when I talk
about abolitionists in my classroom,
they think of kind, white people
that made this great sacrifice
and they're not completely wrong.
But when I think of the abolitionists,
I think of Black men and Black women
that were courageous
and did incredible things.
I think of them
as the center of the movement,
and really white allyship
and white abolitionists as the periphery.
Unfortunately, people aren't going
to listen to minorities
until they have a majority figure
speak for them or alongside them.
So we needed white abolitionists.
However, it didn't stop them
from being problematic.
There were white abolitionists
who were in this school of thought where,
"Yes, slavery is morally wrong,
but I also don't feel
like Black people are equal to me."
Even when you cease
to be slaves,
you're yet far removed from being placed
on an equality with the white race.
Whether this is right or wrong,
I need not discuss.
We have this idea of Lincoln
as the great emancipator.
Abraham Lincoln!
Because he abolished
the institution of slavery,
people hold him in very high regard.
Two African-American
quarterbacks starting against each other
in the Superbowl for the first time.
Fittingly, February 12th
is Abe Lincoln's birthday.
But if you were to have
a conversation with Lincoln
in the 19th century,
you would probably be like,
"This dude is low-key racist."
I, as much as any other man,
am in favor of having
the superior position
assigned to the white race.
He is painted often as a figure
who saw the moral wrongs of slavery,
but let's be clear.
He was just anti-slavery
because of how he felt
the economy could benefit
from moving away from slavery.
We need to look
at all of what he said,
not just what he said
in the Emancipation Proclamation.
If we do that, then we realize that
Abraham Lincoln is a perplexing character,
and especially in the history
of Black people in America.
Look, I'm half Abraham Lincoln, so
So, I should get on my knees
and kiss your ass?
Well, no, but, eh
Most of history has centered white men,
very much so,
and has made them sort of like
the great white hope.
They are the deliverer or the emancipator.
It's problematic because
it robs Black people of their agency,
it robs them of all the contributions
that they gave to the movement.
My legs longer than a bitch
Got too much self-respect
I wash my hands 'fore I piss
For the last 18 years,
I visited areas where the day-to-day
living conditions are unthinkable,
and it's the children
who always suffer the most.
I've done more
for Black Americans than anybody,
with the possible exception
of Abraham Lincoln.
Nobody has even been close.
Tonight I saved your ass,
so show a little appreciation, maybe.
The notion
of the white savior is really
a counterpart
to white supremacy.
If whiteness reigns supreme
if all the power rests with white people,
then the power to save
rests with white people.
Look, you are
a white teacher in a Black school.
I am not Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers.
You are Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers.
We see so many
different manifestations of it.
You'll see people
put up images of them
going to some majority Black country,
holding a Black kid, that's their moment
to kind of put forth this idea that,
"Oh, see, I'm nice to the Negros."
If you are really doing something
in a truly altruistic manner,
you don't have to use me up as a receipt.
And it's so reductive uh,
what they're willing to do,
not actually listen to you and figure out
what really needs to be done.
"It's not good"
From your lunch break
Oh, will the real Negro
Please stand up?
Black abolitionists
are the first abolitionists.
No one needed to tell enslaved people,
"You know what, slavery is wrong."
"You know, this is bad for you."
They knew that.
They knew that, and they're the first
to speak out about their grievances
and about, you know,
the evils of this institution.
And I think it's important to show
that, like, Black people freed themselves.
But the white savior trope
allows white people
to imagine Black people as children,
and to say, "We're uplifting you."
"We're developing you
as any parent would a child."
But Black people are like,
"We ain't children."
"We don't need you to lead us."
"We need you to support us,
we need you to ally with us."
If your goal to help under-serviced,
impoverished, Black communities
come from your own personal research,
and there's not
a Black voice anywhere around you,
you need to check your inventory.
That's why
it's so important for Lincoln
to have people like
Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Keckley,
and other Black people around him,
that give him an alternative vision
of what Black people are capable of
and what freedom
needs to look like for them.
Oh, will the real Negro
please stand up?
And all the fake sit down?
Lincoln initially
stated very clearly,
"This is not a war of abolition,
this is a war to restore the union."
And because he issued
the Emancipation Proclamation,
about 200,000 Black men
joined the Union Army
during the last two years of the war
to fight what now became a war of freedom.
Just can't tell it all
Just can't tell it all
Just can't tell it all
Just can't
As soon as we got free,
we were like, "Go!"
I'm 'bout to step in the ring
For the fight of my
We were in Congress,
we had senators.
We built Black colleges.
already covered in blood
Walking in love
We owned property.
We voted!
God came and threw me the rope
The myth of Black inferiority
is destroyed.
And you see
all that Black people desire to do,
and what they're capable of,
when they are empowered to have
autonomy and agency over their lives.
We the new Israel,
God when He lives here
Washes the sin here way more
It is this amazing ferment
of Black excellence.
And we were so excellent,
at such a large scale,
in such a short amount of time,
that it shook the nation on its axis
and it simply could not handle it.
Black progress is so terrifying
to white Americans,
that they will do anything
to harness power they thought was lost.
White men saw Black men's
exercise of citizenship rights
as a threat.
And so they immediately begin to construct
a very powerful mythology
around the Black man,
who at all times had the ravishing
and rape of white women on their minds.
Racist ideas take root
if they can connect
with something personal.
With something emotional.
By connecting that idea
of protecting the women in your community,
to this alleged threat of Blackness,
you transform racist violence into virtue.
And when you do that,
it justifies all kinds
of horrific actions.
In the early 1890s,
lynchings were at their height,
and the justifications for why
so many Black people were being lynched,
was because
of what those Black people did wrong.
It was not just about
the person who was hanging on the tree
who was being punished
for whatever crime, usually invented,
that they often did not do.
The act of lynching
was also there to inflict terror,
lest any of us
want to be hanging from a tree too.
That we were to all be able
to look at that image and understand
that we should never cross the line
and that we should stay in our place.
Get on the ground!
Get on the ground!
What's wrong with you?
White supremacist powers
created those stereotypes
as a way to put fear in people.
If you make us the threat,
then you remove our humanity.
These are intentional choices
to hold us back.
Your life, would you risk that?
These kids never been bad
Sixteen, run around with a big strap
Gone, how many died?
The criminalization
of Black people
has been an essential part
of white supremacy in America.
It is a very powerful way
for white people to explain
why it's important for a white power elite
to control and contain Black communities.
These guys have been in and
out of trouble so much you'd fill a book,
but unfortunately we have to handle
these characters like daffodils,
instead of the bums that they are,
where we could throw them in a jail
where they belong.
Black lives matter!
Why aren't they classified
as a terrorist group?
Just because they're Black
and nobody can say it?
Stop the nonsense. These are killers,
people who hate white people.
Those ideas about "crime"
and "Black" and "race,"
become ingrained
in the American imagination.
Everybody that lives
with the colored has to move.
Because you're not safe
walking the streets at night.
You cannot leave the house.
When we think about how criminals
are represented in the media,
they tend to be people of color
and specifically Black men.
Horton broke into our home.
For 12 hours,
I was beaten, slashed and terrorized.
He was serving a life term
without the possibility of a parole
when Governor Dukakis
gave him a few days off.
Black people
are killing white people every day.
They rape white women--
100 white women a day.
He say it's a long story
Just know these youths
Want a gunman
So tell me now
You're familiar enough
with the statistics.
Crime is an American epidemic.
From these statistics, a portrait emerges.
The portrait is that
of a stark, staring face.
A face that belongs
to a frightening reality of our time.
The face of a human predator.
The face of the habitual criminal.
Nothing in nature
is more cruel and more dangerous.
There are ways to criminalize people
without it being in their face.
They are not
just gangs of kids anymore.
They are often the kinds of kids
that are called super predators.
No conscience, no empathy.
First we have to join together
to ensure the drug dealers
are punished swiftly, surely and severely.
Crime becomes a code word
for Black, for race.
The invention of Black criminality
is by such intentional design,
that it pervades all of culture.
Teenage killers
the homicide rate for juveniles
now has surpassed
the rate for adults in this country
Kids that once stole hubcaps
now rape and murder.
Racist ideas
get reinforced over and over again
by what we see on TV,
what we see on the news.
Commercials, film,
social media, you name it.
And a lot of those ideas are silent.
They're sort of subtle
because they're cloaked in, you know,
fancy dressing and disguise.
By the time
that we start to get to like the 1930s,
it is sort of socially unacceptable
to just, you know,
like be lynching
Black folks on camera, right?
But what we get is still the invocation
of aspects of Blackness
even when you don't have
Black characters present.
In cinema,
you're not bound in reality.
You can make the villain as big and black,
and powerful and horrible
as you want them to be.
Shut up, you freak!
Julius, you--
I said shut up!
The reason that it works,
the reason that
it's legible to us as audiences,
is because we've already been trained
in stereotypes about Blackness
that we may not even realize that
we are bringing in our viewing practices.
You need
to disperse immediately!
Two things
happened here last night.
One was the protest
for that slain teenager,
the second was lawlessness on fire
and out of control.
North of St. Louis,
thieves ruled the night.
Hands up, don't shoot!
Hands up, don't shoot!
Black people
are no more violent or dangerous
than any other group of people.
But we are taught
the face of violence is Black,
causing us to overlook
the white individuals
who engage in violence,
because apparently,
they don't have the face of violence.
He doesn't look
like the type to kill somebody.
Widespread poverty
and access to guns
better explain violence than race.
But we are taught
that white violence is self-defense.
Deadly chokehold in the subway.
Neely, a former
Michael Jackson impersonator
had been acting erratically
and shouting at passengers
but didn't physically harm anyone onboard.
Lawyers for Penny
say he acted in self-defense.
A Florida woman accused of shooting
and killing her neighbor.
Police say she fired a gun
through the front door of her home,
killing Ajike Owens, a mother of four.
Lorincz claims
that she was acting in self-defense.
There is an African-American man.
I am in Central Park.
He is recording me,
and threatened myself and my dog.
I'm being threatened
by a man in the Ramble!
Please send the cops immediately.
Sanford police department.
Line's being recorded, this is Sean.
We've had
some break-ins in my neighborhood
and there's a real suspicious guy.
Okay, and this guy,
is he white, Black or Hispanic?
He looks Black.
The potential violence that comes
from propagating these ideas,
the potential violence is extraordinary.
They talked about George Floyd
as under the influence,
and thus at any moment
could potentially become a beast.
Ahmaud Arbery is running.
And merely running,
he becomes bestial
in the minds of these white men.
These so-called innocuous ideas,
they have this power
to infect the minds of people,
who then use them and twist them
to justify the massacre of Black people.
If we want to be fancy,
we could call it "cultural narratives."
I call it just straight-up lies
that people tell themselves
in order to justify the maintenance
of these policies and these inequalities.
Lynching was a reaction,
a racist reaction,
to Black folks doing well.
Ida B. Wells looked at the stories,
and the data that was being produced
to justify lynching and said,
"No, I'm gonna collect my own data."
If the Southern people,
in defense of their lawlessness,
would tell the truth about lynching,
there would not be now
the necessity for this defense.
But when they intentionally, maliciously,
and constantly belie the record,
then the Negro must give to the world
his side of the awful story.
Everybody in town
knew my friend Tommy.
He owned a little home
and having saved his money,
he went into the grocery business.
One day, some colored and white boys
quarreled over a game of marbles.
Of course, the colored grocery keepers
have been drawn into the dispute.
Sunday morning's paper came out
with lurid headlines
about the grocery store.
The newspaper
fanned the flames of racial prejudice,
calling the grocery store
a resort of thieves and thugs.
Get him!
A finer, cleaner man than he,
never walked the streets of Memphis,
yet he was murdered
with no more consideration
than if he had been a dog.
This is what opened my eyes
to what lynching really was,
an excuse to get rid of Negroes
who were acquiring wealth and property
and thus, keep the race terrorized.
The more I studied the situation,
the more I was convinced
that the Southerner
had never gotten over his resentment
that the Negro was no longer
his plaything, his servant,
and his source of income.
During these years,
more than 10 thousand Negroes
have been killed in cold blood,
without the formality
of judicial trial and legal execution.
The same record shows
that during all these years,
and for all these murders,
only three white men
have been tried, convicted and executed.
The very frequent inquiry
made after my lectures
by interested friends is,
"What can I do to help the cause?"
The answer always is,
"Tell the world the facts."
When it comes to telling our stories,
and forcing this country
to take an unflinching look at itself,
she is the originator.
We can see those postcards of lynch mobs,
and their wives and children
standing underneath
a Black body swinging from a tree,
and know that it's horrifying.
But we can only do that,
because Ida B. Wells took it upon herself,
in the day and time when it was happening,
to make sure that we knew,
to make sure that we could not look away.
You just opened my car door,
so you're threatening
to drag me out of my own car.
Get out of the car!
- You gonna stun me?
- I'll light you up. Get out!
Get down, stay! On your face!
-One, two
-I am no threat to this officer.
I've been threatened.
-Watch the show, folks.
-My life is in danger! My life
For what? Every time you see me,
you wanna mess with me.
I'm tired of it! This stops today.
He's not responsive right now, bro.
Does he have a pulse?
No, bro! Look at him,
he's not responsive right now, bro.
-Check for a pulse.
-Bro, are you serious?
You gonna let him sit here
with that on his neck?
Police violence
is modern day lynching.
State violence against Black bodies,
inside and outside of prison cells,
is lynching.
It is a form of racial terror,
meant not only
to punish the Black individual,
but to send a message
to all Black people, to stay in our place.
Even as policing
and their techniques have evolved,
there is a single common thread.
Every time there's a huge,
fan out, push forward, go
there's a tidal wave back.
A wall of white supremacy
that shows up and says, like,
"This far and no farther."
Back up!
The response to Black progress
is punishment.
It's not articulated like that.
It's articulated as problems of crime,
problems of drugs.
But the reality is,
it's an effort to reassert
racial domination through "order."
This nation must make
an all-out effort to combat crime.
Our country's laws must be respected.
Order must be maintained.
My friends,
let this message come through clear
from what I say tonight.
The wave of crime
is not going to be the wave of the future
in the United States of America.
The first responsibility of government
is law and order.
I am the law and order candidate.
When you read stories
about difficulties,
riots in Omaha, or Cleveland,
or Brooklyn, or Chicago, or wherever
I call them rebellions.
- They're rebellions?
- Right.
And you--
you see nothing wrong with them?
I think that it is people
who are rebelling against a system
that has locked them
inside, tight, of ghettos,
that exploits and oppresses them,
and they have no means of redress
to break that system down.
You have moved to destroy and disrupt,
you have taken people away,
you have broken down their systems,
and you have called all that,
And we who have suffered at this,
are now saying to you,
"You are the killers of the dreams."
"You are the savages."
"Yes, it is you
who have always been uncivilized."
Civilize yourself.
This nation
is drawn to the spectacular.
Drawn to the flames.
But we don't pay attention
to the kindling,
and the kindling are those policies
that are predicated on anti-Blackness.
The denial of education, kindling.
Unequal housing
and employment opportunities, kindling.
The hyper-policing
of Black communities, kindling.
Police, freeze!
The war on drugs.
Mass incarceration.
When you have policies,
structures, and institutions
that intentionally subjugate Black people,
you intentionally create communities
that can be continuously criminalized.
And there's that thread again.
When we think
of the history of racism in this country,
we're really thinking
of the history of power.
Everything in our society
that has been used
to oppress Black people in this country,
it's so they can continue to keep power.
The white elite.
That's how they benefit.
They get to maintain their power.
We are taught that power
is some kind of finite resource,
that it is a pie.
The more I have, the less you have.
The more you have, the less I have.
If your guiding principle is that,
whatever you have, keep it at all costs,
then you will do whatever you have to do.
You will lie, you will cheat,
you will steal, you will kill,
to make sure you hold on to it.
The work
that ought to have been done
in the immediate aftermath of slavery,
the work of reorganizing, retooling,
reconceptualizing the entire society,
so that it might be possible
for previously enslaved individuals
to be free and equal,
that work was never done.
Watch out, watch out, watch out!
I think that white people
are afraid of what will happen
if they put a mirror up to themselves.
They'll be able to see
that for generations, for centuries,
they have tormented and repressed
Black, brown and tan people.
They might not know
what to do with that history.
There will be a "Then what?" question.
"Now that you know, then what?"
They'll have to think about
whether they want to continue
to live in that legacy.
The heartbeat
of being racist is denial,
is constantly looking for ways
to deny the persistence of racism.
In order to address the way
in which racism is-- is baked in,
actually requires an active disposition.
And that is anti-racism.
People are constantly thinking about,
if we create an anti-racist society,
what are they going to lose,
as opposed to what they're going to gain.
If you want an effective
social network of human beings,
an effective society,
keeping your heel on the back
of a portion of the community,
is probably not the best move.
I don't know what
it'll look like, but I know it's possible
because someone, some series of people,
put the system together
in the first place.
And if they can put the system together
in the first place,
then we can undo the system.
It isn't about a better idea
that allows you to love your neighbor.
That's not what we're talking about.
If all "anti-racist" means,
is that you personally
don't dislike people of color,
how does that make my life any better
because you personally don't dislike me?
But if, after you have reckoned with that,
you then go out and say,
"But how has our structural dislike
of these people,
our structural disregard of these people,
made it harder for them to actually live?"
Then, now we're talking.
Now we're cooking with grease.
Black people know what they want.
They have ideas about what freedom
and liberation will look like.
And it doesn't look
like this radical utopia.
It looks a lot
like the world that white people live in.
The world that
white people living in never question.
I love being Black.
I thank God every day
that He made me Black.
I love my Black husband.
I love the Black baby we're gonna have.
I love my Black family.
I love my Black neighbor, Miss Janet.
I love my Black church.
I love my Black music.
I love all of the things
that Blackness has given America,
whether or not America acknowledges it.
If the sun decide to rise
I'm still alive
So tell me,
what is wrong with Black people?
Nothing is wrong with Black people.
There is nothing wrong with Black people.
You see how absolutely absurd it is.
The only thing wrong with Black people
is that we think
something is wrong with Black people.
I'll rise
I'll rise
One breath at a time
Go down but still alive
The master of my mind
Still I rise
I'll rise
I'll rise
The sun decide to rise
I'm still alive
If the sun decide to rise
I'm still alive
If the sun decide to rise
If the sun decide to rise
If the sun decide to rise
I'm still alive
Blind man, send him my way
Blind man, send him my way
Blind man, send him my way
Blind man, send him my way