The African Holocaust Society defines slavery of the mind as follows: “Mental slavery is a state of mind where discerning between liberation and enslavement is twisted. Where one becomes trapped by misinformation about self and the world. So someone can claim to be conscious, they can read all the books they can recycle the popular rhetoric but still be unable to balance real-world priorities and self-interest.”
The concept of mental slavery came to my mind after reading about Kanye West’s recent remark. Many people condemned his (abbreviated) words “Slavery is a choice”, while conveniently omitting that the musician actually said that “400 years of slavery is a choice”. Essentially, both Kanye West’s remark, and the condemnations by his opponents, refer to slavery of the mind.
A few days ago, I visited a hospital with a friend. We had a friendly chat with the female black receptionist. She didn’t believe me when I stated that European people only turned white some 5,000 years ago due to a gene mutation (my 2016 blog, VK-2018). This DNA change was extremely successful as most Europeans are white by now.
The disbelief that white people were once also black people, is another example of mental slavery. A gene mutation adapting black skin to weak European sunlight is beyond people’s belief. The receptionist did however acknowledge that her black skin is more pale in Europe.
Skin pigmentation protects the fragile skin against harsh ultraviolet sunlight. The skin of white sailors is often worn and torn by excessive sunlight. Black skin, however, remains youthful: “black don’t crack”. Skin cancer (eg, melanoma) is a serious problem in the West rather than in Africa.
Skin colour is also (much) whiter at birth: “Most African American and biracial infants have sensitive skin that’s prone to dryness and dark spots (hyperpigmentation). At birth, your child’s skin is likely to be a shade or two lighter than her eventual skin color. The skin will darken and reach its natural color in the first two to three weeks.” (babycenter)
Despite the above, skin colour has been defining (cultural) identities more and more (my 2016 blog: Identity and skin colour). Whites have claimed superiority. Blacks have claimed the victim role. In my view, this is what Kanye West was telling people. After 400 years, claiming to still be a “slave” is – indeed – a matter of choice.
Slavery of the mind is a generic issue. Many people claim that they must work. Usually, I reply that you are entitled to work. Work used to be my hobby and passion for which I got paid handsomely. In my view, work is (much) more of a right than a duty. Since 22 May 2013, I haven’t worked. Initially due to my 18 month burnout. Later, it became my preferred choice.
The tragedy of victim roles is that they feel comfortable and offer an effective defence against criticism (eg, ageism, anti-semitism, racism, sexism). Leaving a victim role exposes someone to daily reality and requires new defence mechanisms (eg, success). However, success is earned, not inherited (eg, American “white trash”).
Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise