01 Jan 2002 Which Uncle Tom Am I? by Mike Green
A while ago, as a response to the reparations debate, I wrote that it was us – black Americans – who owed our slave ancestors a debt of gratitude for their suffering. We must “pay” reparations by living up to their expectations and taking full advantage of the opportunities they provided for us. In response, I was called an “Uncle Tom.”
I received an e-mail that read: “You are the type of Negro who has sold out your people. You are a Tom. You do everything possible to agree with your master. You hate being black.”
I was likened to the fictional character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe based the character on real-life black overseer Josiah Henson (1789-1883). Henson was so trusted by his slavemaster that he was allowed to transport slaves to Kentucky. His position and influence ensured slaves remained under control.
But that’s only half the story. Josiah Henson eventually escaped, taking other slaves with him. He joined the Underground Railroad and worked to free other slaves. He became a businessman, and used his resources to continue to help bring slaves to freedom.
So, am I the Uncle Tom preventing slaves from escaping the control of the slavemaster or am I the Uncle Tom working to free them?
Reparations proponents want the government to pay blacks today for the past enslavement of our ancestors. I want to free today’s blacks from their dependency upon government.
The federal government takes a portion of our pay without our permission. It taxes us as we operate our businesses (for each employee hired, for all materials bought and for sales and profits). If we’re lucky enough to retire at the age they determine, we receive poverty-level monthly payments even though we pay them a king’s ransom in retirement taxes over 45+ years of our working lives. When we die, the government preys upon our relatives by confiscating what remains of our government retirement savings.
Today, modern “slaves” are bred to love the government. “Overseers” influence them through emotion to love and become dependent on the “slavemaster” government. They begrudge those who do not share their love of government.
On the other hand, I preach independence from the government slavemaster. I consider Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Kweise Mfume among the overseers.
I believe even the most downtrodden black man is free to take the rope of opportunity and climb out of the government’s plantation. Many, however, run from the rope because they think someone wants to lynch them. While they live in the land of plenty, they are content eating crumbs from the government slavemaster’s table.
Modern slaves hate being reminded of what they are missing. Their reading, writing and communicating skills become such that everyone can tell they are a slave to government dependency. This is not their destiny, but rather their choice. It makes me feel bad for their children.
Our ancestors died in slavery, dreaming of the day when their descendents would be able to read, write and compete in this country on a level with the best of white children. That day has come, but far too many squander their opportunities.
Don’t get angry with me for speaking the truth. The evidence is all around. Black Americans who escaped the government’s chains have risen the highest levels of nearly every industry in this country. Just a few years ago, a black man turned down impassioned pleas by extremely prominent white folks to run for the presidency! Black folks around the world would risk their lives to trade places with even the poorest of their American counterparts.
Critics of my position, however, choose to ridicule me for helping others see the light.
In response to the man who sent me the e-mail, I say this: Sir, I do not know you, and yet you call me a derogatory name of which you have little knowledge of the historical reference. You attribute to me the negative characteristics that should be attributed to those whom you probably most revere.
I welcome black America out of the darkness to accept the rewards God has seen fit to bestow upon our people after our ancestors paid such a horrific price. We deserve to succeed, but we must work to make it happen.
We must stop supporting those who oversee us, lie to us and oppress us both economically and socially. We must stop hating. We must stop hating America. We must love God for putting us here. And we must contribute positively to our society.
Let’s love our neighbors. And you, sir, may start with me. For I love you enough to send you this message when I could have simply left you behind on the plantation.
(Mike Green is a associate of Project 21 and a columnist for The Village News in Fallbrook, California. He can be reached at [email protected]. Mr. Green’s original column can be found on the Internet at http://www.nationalcenter.org/P21NVGreenReparations501.html.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.