This update was motivated by a random occurrence that affected me. It took place at Disneyland when I was on vacation in December of last year. I was with my family enjoying the day when a young Indian boy passed me and uttered the word: “slave”.
After passing me he turned back to check the reaction that this had on me. I was stunned to hear that word. I was stunned that it was uttered at me. I was stunned that someone would utter that word at Disneyland of all places. I was stunned because I did not understand what the hell he meant to suggest by this. I tried to understand his intention. Did he say this to upset me? Of course. Did he want me to feel bad about myself? Probably. Was he just freely associating the history of Africans in America with my black skin? Black skin. Slave. Not likely.
I didn’t want to unleash a can a whoop ass on this fifteen (maybe sixteen) year old kid. After all, I was at Disneyland — the happiest place on Earth. So, I didn’t react. That’s not my character. I pondered what the hell he meant. I told my cousin. He didn’t understand it either.
Four months later, I’m back in South Korea. My long time friend and former classmate, Jumane, mailed a copy of Hidden Colors to me. It’s a documentary that explains the importance of knowing one’s history. In particular, this documentary focuses on Blacks throughout history. It was enlightening to watch. I was given a peak into the history of Black people when I was very young but never to the depth that this documentary delves.
I learned about the Moors, Mansa Musa, Alexander Pushkin, and numerous other blacks who were leaders, kings, and scholars, all of which were of African descent and not slaves. Then, tonight, while listening to a lecture by Stanford Professor Emeritus, David Abernethy, he said that after African slaves, Indians were Indentured servants. Upon hearing this is when I though to myself: “how inane!” Calling me a slave is foolish because I am not a slave. It would be equally foolish for me to call him an “untouchable”, which is the lowest caste in India. It would be foolish of me because I know nothing about who he is or from where he comes.
I know that slavery is a horrible truth about our history. Yet our past doesn’t define us, but rather it shapes who we are today.