when i hear people speak of slavery and refer to the enslaved as slaves, my jaws tighten and my blood boils. the AFRICANS who were stolen from their native land were FREE PEOPLE. they were never slaves, they were ENSLAVED. there is a difference, it is subtle but significant.
about a year ago i watched “free state of jones” and recently i finished the latest season of “underground” and found both to be studies in human behavior. if mahershala ali’s character, moses, with the collar around his neck, believed himself to be a slave, he wouldn’t have been wearing that collar as punishment for an attempted escape. he knew he was an enslaved free man, not a slave to any man. similarly in underground, the difference between rosalee and her baby brother james, besides likely 10 years, is that rosalee knew she was enslaved and young james believed he was free; he was living in the big house, riding a pony, and bespoke in the finest livery. because his needs were met by “the missus” he was content to remain her slave and rat out his own sister thus resulting in her capture and return to servitude.
i believe once one is free, one can never be enslaved again. once we realize who we are (children of the most high God) and why we are here (we are created to do good works – ephesians 2:10) no matter what our managers (not bosses) do or say, we cannot be enslaved, controlled, or manipulated by empty promises and 2 weeks of paid time off.
i was chatting with some colleagues the other day, sistas, and one of them referred to another colleague as a slave. “if you two were talking and her manager walked up, she would quickly end the discussion and redirect her eyes to her computer screen, and all but shoo you away.” what in the hell is this crazy ass institutionalized behavior? why is she fearful? and of whom? of what? this is what i call the corporate slavery mentality. when we live believing the job, manager, company is permanent, and we must tow the line to remain employed, we are slaves to the system. that company is not the last one hiring and your skills are transferable. (get your pen out sisters, this is an SBF playbook moment.) if your blood pressure is elevated, your drawer is filled with chocolate candy wrappers, and sleep is restless, you have given in to the corporate slave mentality.
if you are employed, learn to take what you need (not pens and paperclips but training and learning software applications) and apply it to gain what you want (an exit strategy, more money, marketable skills), recognize the system for what it is: a machine with parts that wear out and must be replaced unless those parts demonstrate a usefulness beyond just that machine. a screw can be used in a dryer, a washing machine and a dishwasher. and your skills can be applied in corporate america at your current company, a non-profit, or your own enterprise.
many of us are living as if chained to the company that “pays our bills,” not realizing that if we monetized our worth, what my favorite bishop (tudor bismark) calls “value for our minute” we would be less inclined to arrive early, leave late, and earn the same pay. we would instead arrive early, gain access to training materials and classes (company paid) leave on-time and apply what we have learned to our next venture: earning more for our minute. set aside focused time to assess your “why” and list the value you bring to your employer. then ask: how do i translate my value to them into value for me? you might find that you need a certification, a license, or a degree, so get started! your company will likely finance part of it (or all, just ask!) and you will be one step closer to freedom.