The performance begins with drumming and spoken word. "This country was built on slavery, which means slaves built this country. Tilled this land from sea to sea to sea. First it was rice, tobacco, sugarcane.
"Then [Eli] Whitney did his thing and cotton became king," the song continues. "And we were its soldiers, 4 million strong, fighting for America's freedoms even though we remained America's slaves," the 21st-century cartoon teens sing, anger on their faces.
"Slaves built this country, the descendants of slaves continue to build it. Slaves built this country. And we the descendants of slaves in America have earned reparations for their suffering, and continue to earn reparations every moment we spend submerged in a systemic prejudice, racism and white supremacy," they rap in unison.
In the expression of this sentiment, they show a black man holding up his hands with the words "hands up, don't shoot" written across them. This phrase emerged from the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 after Michael Brown was shot and killed by police. It was alleged that Brown had said "hands up, don't shoot" to officers. But this was later revealed to be untrue.
"That America was founded with and still has not atoned for. Slaves built this country. Not only field hands, but carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, musicians. Inventors built cities from Jamestown to New Orleans to Banneker's Washington.
"Forty acres and a mule," they chant. "We'll take the forty acres, keep the mule."
"We made your families rich. From southern plantation heirs to northern bankers to New England ship owners. The founding fathers, former presidents, current senators, the illumnati, the New World Order. Slaves built this country."
They list off abolitionist heroes, such as Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, and Frederick Douglass, then show Mt. Rushmore with the faces of those American legends instead of the presidents that sculptor Gutzon Borglum carved into the mountain.
"Then they say Lincoln freed the slaves," the teens continue, "But slaves were men and women, and only we can free ourselves. Emancipation is not freedom."
Lincoln eliminated legal slavery from the United States. Of his work to do so and reflecting interviews he had with the president, noted black abolitionist Douglass said "In all my interviews with Mr. Lincoln I was impressed with his entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race. He was the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely, who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color, and I thought that all the more remarkable because he came from a State where there were black laws."
"I am naturally anti-slavery," Lincoln said in 1864. "If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling… I did understand however that my oath to preserve the Constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that government 'that nation' of which that Constitution was the organic law."
His Emancipation Proclamation stated without reservation that as of January 1, 1863, "all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
"Jim Crow, segregation, redlining, public schools feeding private prisons," the Proud Family performers continue, "where we become slaves again. As we celebrate Juneteenth for the umpteenth time." Juneteenth, commemorating the day enslaved persons in Texas learned that Lincoln freed the slaves some two years after he had done so, became a national holiday in 2021.
"Our account is still outstanding," they rap, again making the case for reparations. "'Cause this country was built on slavery, which means slaves built this country. And we demand our forty acres and a mule. Bump that!"
"You can keep the mule," they say, "keep the forty. We're taking our freedom." The cartoon school audience rises to their feet with cheers and applause.
Reparations have recently been on the public consciousness as Governor Gavin Newsom's California begins implementing reparations try-out programs in the form of universal basic income specifically for minority residents, and a panel convened in San Francisco has recommended massive $5 million payouts to black Americans in that city. California came into the United States as a free state.
The rewriting of American history to suit a narrative of oppression is a primary component of critical race theory, which teaches that political identity is paramount, and espouses that all history must be looked at solely through the lens of oppression politics. In leaving out the Civil Rights Movements and America's great Civil Rights leaders, the Proud Family obfuscates the major, intensive and successful efforts taken by American citizens, lawmakers, and leaders to eradicate racism and uphold the equality of all Americans under the law.
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