American Descendants of Slavery Deserve to Have a Voice
--By Sharaya Smith, User Services Assistant, Sacred Heart University Library
Where it concerns addressing the newly racialized populace, I would strongly advise everyone to begin fortifying themselves with the data, immediately, because history shows repeatedly that this country can’t learn enough, can’t do enough, fast enough to right this wrong.
Current U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, asylum and deportation policies are just one example of how this country has already taken action to protect most any person’s or group’s general right to choice and their freedom to live in safety.
Yet, when it comes to the American Descendants of Slavery, or ADOS, many members of the majority community perpetuate a severe lack of empathy, on our behalf.
The continued denial of ADOS suffering by the State of Connecticut and by the United States government has thus far been vehement and has resulted in violence. Look at our incarceration numbers. ADOS people have been blocked from receiving the same rights and freedoms as other human beings, in this country.
Our people deserve serious attention and consideration for our needs. We deserve to have a voice and an active role in making race right in the United States of America. Most importantly, we deserve prompt action toward an ADOS agenda.
Like many other ADOS families did at the time, my father’s parents migrated from Birmingham, Ala., to Norwalk, Connecticut, in the early 1960s.
Protesters back then were facing nearly identical acts of retaliatory, domestic terrorism from armed police, in response to Jim Crow, as protesters are facing today.
These families wanted to provide their children and grandchildren with the opportunity to access part of America’s success story.
However, instead of receiving protection from persecution, free job-training and the ability to protect other family members who were left behind, ADOS families were primarily farmed into ghettos and all but forgotten about.
In 2014, I interviewed for the position of program manager, at a local community service group that I’d worked with for two consecutive years prior.
The organization prided itself on important life values: diversity and inclusion, focusing on assets, and continuous learning, to name a few. My previous experience in both the ADOS church and the US Air Force - up to that point - honestly had me feeling as if I’d been preparing for that exact job for most of my life.
There were only three serious candidates for the position and I was confident that I was the best fit.
Unfortunately, however, I did not end up getting the job.
When I inquired about the panel’s decision to go with another person, I was given the impression that I still just wasn’t good enough. Keep in mind that the program manager at the time was a white guy with the same experience level as me. We actually did our first year of the program together, as team members.
The following year he got hired as the program manager, but that only lasted a year before he moved on to bigger and better. I, in the meantime, had to find two part-time jobs to make ends meet.
The ADOS agenda is online at ADOS101.com.
--Sharaya M. Smith is a Bridgeport resident and a member of the ADOS movement.