A Bloody (and Belated) Black History Lesson
Mar 1 2012
I just realized it, but February has already passed. Which means I let another Black History Month go by without writing one article promoting how awesome my race is.
The self-inflicted guilt I feel over not having written anything is exactly why I secretly dread Black History Month. You see, I love my people and think all Americans should take time to celebrate the oft-ignored contributions of blacks in the US, I just don’t like all the personal pressure I feel to lead the celebration when I'm hanging out with white people. Most of the time I just want to write about eating pussy or Nazis and not have to worry about making some grandiose statement to my co-workers about why they have a brother to thank for those goddamn peanuts they are chomping on all the time, driving me fucking crazy.
I blame a lot of things on white people, but not my Black History Month guilt. Nobody at VICE was like, “Will, you’re black. Make a post about Frederick Douglas and the Jackson 5.” I do, however, think I can blame my parents, which is always a great and uplifting feeling for young people of all races. My parents are old people who can still remember when black folks were hanging from trees in the South, so they’ve impressed this nagging kernel of responsibility in me that occasionally compels me to attempt to share some real shit to Caucasians about blackness.
So, in an effort to make it up to my ancestors who fought and died so I could have the opportunity to be an indentured servant for a college education just like all my white friends and work for a magazine where I can write posts like this but am not expected to write posts like this, I'd like to share with you my favorite Black History story. It's probably one you've heard before, but considering most people talk about inventors and pacifists this time of year, this tale of rebellion and bloodshed should be a breath of fresh air.
Here is the better late than never story of my old pal, Nat Turner.
Once upon a time, back in 1831, a bad master killing motherfucker named Nat Turner slaughtered like 50 slave-owning white people in Southhampton County, Virginia. That’s a lot. It's hard to kill one white person today without getting the lethal injection—this brother killed 50!
Before you get all emotional for the suffering of your ancestors, let’s remember that these weren’t “regular” white people, they were largely slave-owning white people—or at least slave-friendly white people—so they deserve minimal compassion from you. Think of the bloody episode as the Blaxploitation version of Inglorious Basterds in that final and cathartic scene in the theater, except this time the fascists getting slaughtered were Americans and the boys doing the slaughtering were a gang of pissed off Africans.
According to Nat, he received a series of visions from God telling him it was time to lead a slave insurrection. The final sign came to him on August 13, 1831 when an atmospheric disturbance made the sun look bluish-green. The next day Nat and six of his closest homies rolled up on his master’s plantation and snuffed the entire family while they were sleeping. That's fucking gangster. Then Nat and his boys went from plantation to plantation, killing white people and freeing slaves. This dude was like Tony Montana (honorary black person), 50 Cent, and Blade all rolled into one cotton-picking killing machine.
Before he was stopped, he had at least 40 angry slaves with him on a mission for retribution. But it didn’t last long. The day after it began, the insurrection was broken up when Nat and his gang tried to attack a slave-owning plantation in the Virginia town of Jerusalem. They captured Nat alive, which isn’t so gangster (real Gs go out in a blaze of glory).
Naturally, they tried him in a court of law like a civilized society… and then they skinned and hung his ass like an animal. Even after he was captured, white people were still freaked the fuck out. So, in the wake of Nat’s rebellion, white mobs murdered at least 200 blacks. Slaves as far as North Carolina were accused of conspiring with insurrection and were punished with their lives.
So there you have it. Feel better about yourself? I do. We all learned that humans are eternally stupid and doomed to torture and kill each other mercilessly, forever. But when it comes to killing, black guys do it better (among other things, ladies). Please remind me a few days earlier next year and I’ll tell you about the time Sammy Davis laid the dick down on Jackie O—just kidding. That would’ve been tight, though.
Follow Wilbert on Twitter: @WilbertLCooper
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