Monday, September 5, 2011

Slavery The Game: Not Good, Not Even in Theory

"The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the Black man's misery."
~Frederick Douglass

Go back to the 17th Century when Europe ruled the world and make a tremendous fortune.
Buy Slaves.
Discipline them.
Exploit them.
Become the most powerful Slave Trader.
Slavery. The Game.
Coming Soon.

The above paragraph is not something witty I came up with. It is the narration of a trailer for what appears to be a video game; Slavery the Game. I say appears because there is a bit of discrepancy of whether or not this is real or fake.

Take a look and then join me after the jump...

Godson came across this video and brought it to the attention of the rest of the members of The Urban Politico. Before bringing this to your attention I must say that all six of us have gone back and forth on whether or not this is even worthy of a mention. But beyond that our foremost concern was whether or not this is even real.

Grand_Central spent the better part of her Sunday trying to ascertain the validity and veracity of this trailer before, turning me The Storyteller, loose to go all the way in on Javelin Red Gaming.

So now I put my news producer hat on to give it to you straight:

This afternoon Grand_Central was talking about this trailer to a friend of hers who heard that it was created by an art student. At this time we do not know if that art student created this trailer for school or to actually submit to Sony and Microsoft as a game to be released for XBox and PS3.

Following Grand_Central's conversation with her friend, we here at The Urban Politico decided to do some fact checking of our own so as not to come across like major media outlets who completely botched the story on Shirley Sherrod. We don't dabble in hearsay.

Grand_Central called Sony and this is what she found out from a rather chatty representative whose loquacious tendencies we thoroughly appreciate.

  • Sony never promotes a game in this sort of time frame, only systems are promoted the year prior [to their release]
  • Javelin Red Gaming is not a gaming company that Sony does business with. It's not an authorized distributor
  • The website is blocked by Sony. A representative [of Sony] tried to access it [and it was blocked] and Sony never blocks the sites of their distributors
At this time we have not heard back from a Supervisor from Sony on whether or not what we were told by the representative we initially spoke with is true. We have also sent a letter to Microsoft to find out if this "video game" is indeed one they plan to market -- be it overseas or right here in the United States. At this hour they have yet to respond to our inquiry.

With that said we here at the The Urban Politico are going to treat this "video game" as a hoax created by an art student for attention and possibly a good grade.

With that said I now put my blogging hat back on.

Real or hoax this "game" is in poor taste. I've only been with The Urban Politico for a little while now, but for those of you who have gotten to know me through my posts you know that I go a little easy on the media because it is the industry that I work in. I try to make you see the side of the industry that I see. However this is not one of those times.

Since joining The Urban Politico I have written to you about media images born of slavery, why slavery is never chic, and why current economic policies are returning all of us working poor, working class, and barely making the middle class to chains. It is not because I'm a slavery buff who loves to bring up 400 year old history. It is not because I can't let go of a past I never experienced. It's not because I can trace my ancestors to one of the many countries on the Continent and thus feel some short of kinship to Africa. It is not for any of those reasons. The reason I keep bringing these images, and bits and pieces of media to your attention is because it keeps happening. People are not learning. People seem to believe that being a slave was fun, or that the history is so old it should be exploited for entertainment.

In the last post I wrote about Hurricane Katrina I concluded by asking you, "if someone took all that you went through, your history, your past, your present, and made a mockery of it, dismissed it as if it never happened and didn't exist, how would you feel?

A question CaliforniaGirl500 responded by saying she'd be "...angry, angry, angry, and [she doesn't] know how well [she'd] be able to cope."

The response is honest. And so is this one I'm about to give now:

Watching this trailer for Slavery the Game makes me angry. It makes my blood boil. It makes me want to fight. It makes me want to find cat-o-nine tails, spiked clubs, and whatever other weapons of torture were used against slaves and stock-pile them for the day that I'm addressed with such foolishness face to face to show just how savage the daughter of slaves can be. That's how I feel when my past and my present are made mockery of and dismissed as if it never happened.

Over the last few days I've been keeping tabs on all the things, and goings on in the world that are race related. It was research for a post that may not come into fruition. Over the last few days these are the headlines dealing with race that have made me go "hmm."

  1. Democratic Representative Andre Carson says the Tea Party wants to see Blacks hanging from trees. (source)
  2. The Tea Party wanting Carson to resign for what he said (source)
  3. Allen West threatening to leave the CBC because of Carson's comment (mind you this is the same man who compared himself to Harriet Tubman and called the rest of the Democratic Party plantation overseers) (source)
  4. Black Leaders [West and Herman Cain] defending the Tea Party (source is an email sent to me at work that I can not link... just trust me on this)
  5. A teacher says minority students are future criminals (source)
  6. Glenn Beck opines that the term African-American is stupid (source)
  7. Rush Limbaugh in response to Colin Powell's hesitance to re-endorse Obama for President says "melanin is thicker than water" (source)
  8. The former President of the NAACP chapter in North Carolina now defends the history and legacy of the Confederate flag (source)
  9. Slavery the Game
I don't make this list to be facetious, egregious, or any other 10 dollar word you can come up with to try and describe my reasoning for making this list. I make this list to show and prove the kinds of racist, black/white images Black people, White people, and people around the world are bombarded with on a daily basis. I make this list because at a time where we have all realized post-racism America simply is not here, we should also realize that if we are to ever get there shit like Slavery the Game has got to stop.

It's not just because it is in bad taste, utterly disrespectful, and in demand of a beatdown on sight. It is because it does nothing to bridge the gap between Blacks and Whites that only seems to get wider and wider.

Slavery was not, is not now, and will never be funny. It was not funny when Rush Limbaugh noted the merits of slavery. America got a country for free; whoop dee damn doo. It was not funny when Souljah Boy in all his blessed ignorance sent a shout out to the slave masters for rescuing us from the motherland so that we can cop this ice and tattoos. It was not prophetic when current Jacksonville, Florida city council woman Kimberly Daniels preached "thank God for slavery otherwise I would have been in Africa somewhere worshipping a tree." Ignorant statements about slavery out of a Black mouth, White mouth, or video game trailer are always ignorant. There is no way to get around that.

Whoever made the trailer put a lot of time and effort into it. If it is a hoax it is quite authentic. If it is real... well let's just hope it's a hoax. But even as a hoax it is hurtful. Even as a hoax it touches a nerve. Even as a hoax it still makes me remember all those Black History months where teachers force fed me Eyes on the Prize. In eighth grade it was Glory. In high school it was Sankofa. In college the lesson was upgraded to Ethnic Notions. I have both read and seen Roots. I have read the autobiography of Frederick Douglass who only remembers his mother's back. I have read the autobiography of Oludah Equiano. I have read the poetry of Phillis Wheatley. The soliloquy of Sojourner Truth. The peculiar non-fiction about The Peculiar Institution. The fiction of Marlon James in The Book of Night Women and Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. I have read the poetic verses of Robert Hayden's Middle Passage.

I know my history. I know how slave traders began their trade as a deal with the King of tribes being shown the way into Africa and forcing people to follow them on their way out. I know of the coffles forced to march to canoes that would take them to a ship bound for the new world. I know of the suicides committed on board when one could no longer take the tight-packing in the bowels of a schooner. I know of the horrors of the auction block. The ripping apart of families. The using of Black men as breeders; a trait some may believe permeates our men today. The raping of women to continue to create slaves that would follow in the condition of the mother.

The whippings, the beatings, the tasting of slaves to make sure they had a high enough salt content for the voyage. And people wonder why we're so prone to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

When we as Blacks say in conversation "Blame slavery" for whatever issue it is we are discussing. We are not saying the phrase to simply be funny. We are saying the phrase because unfortunately the peculiar institution is the very root of the majority of our problems. We were property therefore we could not own property which means we could not become wealthy creating the wealth gap between the races that exists to this day. Our families were ripped apart for money, for sport, so it is natural for women to head our households even if there is a man to take over the job. We could not go to school and learn creating an education gap that exists to this day. We were given scraps of food; eight pounds of pork or fish and a bushel of corn meal so don't blame us that we all seem to like cornbread and pork roast even though it may be killing us slowly.

Slavery should not be glamorized, not even in a video game trailer where there are more cartoon squibs of blood sprayed then there is in a game of Halo. Slavery should not be trivialized. We may no longer live in the ante-bellum south but I'd be a liar if I didn't tell you I got the itch to pick cotton when I saw it in bloom on Plantation Parkway in North Florida one November day. Slavery is an unfortunate stain among many on the American history tapestry. It is as gruesome as the trail of tears, as embarrassing as George W. Bush was for a President, and as heinous as the Holocaust our country took to long to acknowledge.

Slavery, the institution is carried in the pigment of our skin from the green mongolian marks that mark a Black babies back at birth to the kinky curl of our hair. Slavery, the institution is carried in our world view when we learn for the first time what the institution was, and then learn again some wish it would have never ended. Slavery, is carried in our immediate minds after the first time a Black person is called nigger to their face by someone of another race. Slavery, is carried in our hearts anytime we think to venture out to a museum, pick up a book in the name of enlightenment, and look and see, or read and feel the horrors of people we may never know but are related to.

When I think of slavery I think of it in context. The one of choice N'tozake Shange's latest novel; Some Sing, Some Cry. Some may sing the sorrowful song of their history as it is tied to slavery. Some may cry tears of joy to have escaped the wrath of a master with a whip. But never... Never has anyone played a game knowing the pain of this institution and passing it off as pleasure.

To do so now would only prove this quote to be true...

"America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future."
~Frederick Douglass

1. What do you think of Slavery the Game?
2. Do you think America and its citizens have become so desensitized to its past that we forget it still hurts?
3. If this were Holocaust the Game, be it real or hoax, do you think you would have heard more about it; i.e. outrage beyond a blog?

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