“I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
– Harriet Tubman
I couldn’t help but think of these words as I drove through my hometown. It was the brilliant and bold words of this quote that ran through my mind. From boarded up houses, to grown men hustling and bustling on street corners, to girls with no remorse rocking bonnets, and children running freely without supervision. Unfortunately, with recent shootings and violence in my city it has been upsetting to say the least. None of which I’ve never heard of before, but as a recent college graduate I can’t help but think that my newfound education has given me a new lens to view the world. Parts of my city surrounded by the scent of poverty that Zora Neale Hurtson nailed, “There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; The soul lives in sickly air.”
As I rode through I envisioned all of the dead dreams and dried up potential that I imagined deep-seated in the depths of these people’s hearts, minds and souls. No matter how run down it may look on the outside. Everyone has a dream and purpose locked inside of them. Although I have never lived this life, and I cannot directly say I know this exact struggle, but I know a thing or two. I am not “about that life.” But, I am about freedom. I am about justice. I am about liberation. I am about education.
If only some people knew they were trapped in the slave mindset as Tubman reminds us in the quote one could liberate oneself above the cycles of generational poverty and family curses. If only those slaves changed their mindset they could have been set free! Harriet even knew this way back when. How come so many are missing it today still?
However a conflict often arises inside me because I have to also recognize that oppression, poverty, ghettos, and hoods were not solely created by the people who live in them. Let’s not forget what 2Pac said best, “They got money for the war but can’t feed the poor.” It always leaves me stuck between a rock and a hard place. Who is to blame? Who is to change?
As we see nationally and locally nothing can change as quick as our minds can. True liberation comes when the people affected change their thoughts. Our thoughts become our life. If you master your mind, you master your life. Harriet understood that. She owned that. She took that and she risked her life believing that. She died knowing that. I live knowing that I can be who and whatever I want to be because I create my own life based on what I THINK of myself and my circumstances. It is not a matter of what the government, programs, or society will do for us, it is really a matter of what we are willing to do for ourselves to get the lives we truly deserve. This is a lesson we all could learn from.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?