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Exodus 1 and the Black America parallel, By Ngozi Bell

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It is still black history month and so much still to be said and discovered and learned. Recently, as I listened to Exodus 1, I was struck by some parallels. There is indeed nothing new under the Sun!

The first chapter of Exodus (the second book of The Holy Bible) narrates the bizarre circumstances from which the Jews in Egypt went from citizenship acquired via the immigrant status of their ancestors to slaves. 

This writing is not intended on the analogy to Black experience, draw on early historical slave experience, or even the period of segregation. The analogies will reference post-civil rights actions and outcomes that persist in 2022. This writing will combine a non-linear and viewpoint narrative style. I will not be using any statistics as many exist and easily retrieved by a simple search on the internet. I will also not use any names or specific examples, so as not to call attention to any one person, circumstance or institution.

The Preamble:

Exodus 1 opens up by reminding us of the children of Israel (formally Jacob) and how they came to be in Egypt and how their immigrant history was facilitated by their brother, Joseph. Joseph had been beloved by the then pharaoh and had himself risen to be the most important leader of Egypt, second only to Pharoah. We are then presented with the Israelites of the time, way after the death of Jacob, Joseph and all his brothers and into several generations of their descendants. At this time, the Jews had become plentiful and also very prosperous; the new king did not know the history of Joseph. He was distrustful and simultaneously jealous of the Jews and therefore enslaved them. He exposed them to such hardship that moved Jehovah (Yod Hay Waw Hay – YHWH) to act in light of His covenant to Abraham their forefather.

The Sayings in Exodus 1 and their Parallels to modern day American Blacks:

Exodus 1:9 – Different

“Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.”

Before the king made this observation of verse 9 to his fellow Egyptians, even minutes before, they lived in harmony. Both ethnicities were comfortable with each other and tolerant of whatever differences naturally existed between them.

 The assertion that they were far too numerous was intended to create a threat in the minds of the Egyptians. It was intended to create sudden division in perception.

Racism starts with a conversation that alters the mind towards a thing or a person. A baseless belief that stands on the foundation of deceit comingled in fear of otherness

Black America Parallel:

This is the same tactic that racists in the US use against blacks and extended to undesired immigrant groups. “They are too numerous, they want to take over our country, we must take our country back etc. etc.” The goal being to keep people suspicious of each other, to break bonds and forbid true unity. Same strategy, different era, nothing new. It’s the same scene just a different cast, fade to black….

Exodus 1:10 – Numerous

10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them, or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

The propaganda about what the Jews were and would do was completely baseless, it was completely motivated by the fact that the Jews were distinct in their behaviours and customs. The Egyptians branded them traitors for no reason at all, what is ironic is that for these descendants of Israel, Egypt was the only country that they had known since birth.

Black America parallel

This is exactly the same playbook racists in America use against blacks and immigrants creating the perception that they were less patriotic and enemies of the only country they have only known.

“We must make it hard for them to prosper. They are not committed to our America instead they want to depress our economy instead of helping themselves. They do not want to work but only take”. They want to take over what we have built so we must keep them out of our jobs, use the systems against them, incarcerate them because they are dangerous, violent, drug addicts who need to be in permanent subjugation…etc. etc. etc.” Same heart different bodies, fade to black…..

Exodus 1:11 – Oppress

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 

The Egyptians enslaved their former co-citizens, that had helped increase and improve the commonwealth so to speak. In order to cause their labour to solely benefit the Egyptian elites represented by pharaoh.

Black America Parallel

In the US, the law enforcement and judicial systems are the most compelling parallels meting out to blacks particularly black males cruelty that impacted their entire lives. In many cases police officers would callously murder blacks with no fear of retribution much like the slave masters to the Jews. The judicial systems would entrap them via unfair lengthy incarceration ensuring their productive years would be futile. Other institutions including financial, education, corporate, employment, housing etc. ensured that the system would fail them strongly and often enough to control the outcomes designed for their demise. All of this served to reduce the ability for black people as a collective to make serious consolidated progress. 

Exodus 1:12-14 – Ruthless

12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

All this for no reason, except the cruel figment of a man’s heart wickedly disposed to another. 

Black America Parallel

This one bears no explanation, as racism and discrimination are conceived in the annals of cruelty. White historical disposition to black people was born there and has persisted. Blacks get the brunt of hate against “others” and falsehood of the perceived threat that blacks are. So in the slightest economic provocation, blacks are typically the first to be rendered jobless, the last to be hired and most unfairly paid with the worst employment experiences. The propaganda of the plight of the impending white minority and the retaliations expected deepens the distrust and brings dread to foolish simpletons and those who lead by division, beating the drums of hate louder and louder. Nothing new here, just fade to black….

 Still more on this actually….

In the US, the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex (see 13th on Netflix), the irregularities in implementing the Social Security Act, the welfare reform act which cut many social welfare expenditures and on and on were all instruments of ruthlessness used to hamstring poor Black lives. What was ironic is that number wise, significantly more whites are on welfare, more whites use drugs and there are more poor whites. Yet there is a disproportionately higher percentage of impacted blacks to the overall black population. Additionally, blacks are the faces of poverty branded with shame as lazy while simultaneously denied respectable support and opportunity of which their white counterparts receive as benefits of the dignity in citizenship. Same but different…Fade to black.

Exodus 1:15-16 – Corrupt

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 

Why would the King be so confident that Hebrew midwives could do his horrific bidding? In every system there are collaborators to evil among the oppressed those that can be turned against their own people to say and do detestable things. 

Black America Parallel

Americans use the term Uncle Tom to symbolise archetypes of those that turn away from their own and embody the desired characteristics that wins the oppressors approval. We see hordes of black people who are notorious for speaking against other black people with ferocity, utter hate sometimes disparaging to their own detriment without any self-awareness. They are fully identified with every infrastructure and activity set up to oppress or harm blacks like them, this is because they have accepted a warped sense of progress and prosperity completely compelled by the acceptance they desperately lust for and to preserve within the “white walls” they inhabit. Often these people are rewarded within the enclaves that betrayal provides them access, often paraded and recycled in arenas where black negativity originated from a black person is sorely desired.

Exodus 1:17-20 – Good

17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” 20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

These midwives were wise, they did not carry out the King’s evil request. They were witty and clever in their response to the King, affirming the superior agility of the Hebrew women in childbearing, they chose to fear God, were rewarded by God Himself and disappointed the evil King and his death wish institution. 

Black America Parallel

Those that refuse to sell out. Those that have affluence and use it to benefit their people. Those that are unashamedly black in action and representation using their skills and resources to build black communities and black commonwealth. Those who understand that justice denied to one is justice denied to all. They are represented by movements, by organisations, people, young, old, intellects, lay people, entertainers, sports figures, regular folks. They are women and men; they are rich and poor, they are famous and obscure. There are many people, completely committed to the course. Knowing right from wrong and devoid of evil and devoutly good! They will defy the system and the “king’s” evil edicts to do what is right always

Exodus 1:22 Girls only

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

So, what was this all about? Killing the boys and saving the girls. We thought the king’s issues was that the Jews were numerous and could go against them in war and their expansion and prosperity irked him. It turns out it was always about power! The desire to destroy their autonomy and laud power and control over the Jews and bankrupt them of possessions that gave meaning to the belongingness. 

Killing the boys and keeping the girls implies the following

  1. There would be few warriors: Warriors typically came out of the ranks of Jewish men. Now, whatever capacity they had in boys and men in the current society would eventually age out. Leaving the society vulnerable in threats of a civil war, a national war or an invasion.
  2. More of their women could be married into Egypt and assimilated into the culture weakening their own heritage, customs and culture. This would also cause their allegiance to shift towards Egypt as a people relegating Jews to a weakened minority
  3. They could also keep them as a permanent lower class imagining a hierarchy where Egyptian thoroughbreds were at the highest rung, followed by the mixed-race descendants and then at the lowest rung would be the minority ethnic Jews. Many of these minority Jews would be pushed farther inward, into neighbourhoods segregated from the benefits of the prosperity of the land, because they could not afford it.
  4. Their wealth and creativity would be diminished as it transfers to Egypt as large swathes of women dependent on the Egyptian state move more into welfare status to have or hold on to any resources.
  5. Destroying the family unit which was the entire foundation of the Jewish culture and prosperity. The King knew that to dismantle this was to destroy the very existence of Jewish stability and prosperity for generations to come. With few Jewish men, women would likely have children with multiple men and vice versa to preserve a Jewish lineage of any kind bringing about generational family issues that include poverty and social challenges.

Black America Parallel

Do you now see the parallels? The US policy on welfarism required that a man not be in the home in order to collect a welfare check. It also incentivised the woman to have children outside the unit of a nuclear family because the more children she had before they aged out, the more she got paid. To reach a critical mass for a decent welfare benefit she simply had babies sometimes by different men. The system also penalised her for working by deducting way too much to make it financially feasible to end her welfare status. 

Then at an inopportune time it dropped her unceremoniously and the cycle repeats as her children embark on the same process to survive. By the time you know a whole generation of women have done exactly the same thing, from grandmother to granddaughter. 

The men heavily discriminated and prohibited from meaningful success by systems bent on frustrating them to drop out of perseverance on anything; are left with little to no formal skills or education. They turn to drugs and petty crimes for which many were carted off to jails and prisons to serve out lengthy unfair sentences designed to feed the for-profit prisons providing wealth and the American Dream to many white Americans. Some of these black men, accepting this fate, escalated their crimes to “make the most” of what the rigged and evil systems dealt them. 

What is ironic is that the very people who wear the cloaks of justice will for monetary gain, surround black males, many just mere boys, willing to destroy their future and even take their lives. These people in authority pretend to care about justice, and morality, doing countless misdeeds in spite of their oaths. In turn, the black men understand, they are surrounded by “legal offenders”. These are people in power whose careers and white status exonerate them from any consequence when they break moral or legal laws in healthcare, education, as law enforcement (particularly the police), the judicial system, corporations and more, as long as their victims are blacks. For this reason, many blacks have given up, fully believing there is no hope for them.

The US system of discrimination and institutionalised racism in the welfare process ensured the following:

  1. Fewer males empowered to defend the rights of black people. A diminished capacity to support and defend their communities;
  2. Create vast differentials between the black people, with a very small class of black elites and fewer allyship. Creating artificial barriers that divide and conquer where no group liberally flourishes. Studies show that many seemingly prosperous blacks have their fair share of discriminatory and racist inspired limitations that force them to recoil from exercising their full potential;
  3. Bring about institutionalised self-loathing among blacks by institutionalising black archetypes that are acceptable and those not acceptable, a process so insidious it is practised even between blacks;
  4. Using deception to ensure that white culture is held up as the aspiration while simultaneously weakening black heritage, customs and culture by denigration and relegation to a minority status, while simultaneously trying to usurp and extract the creativity of back people;
  5. Perpetrate and exalt an imagined hierarchy in hiring and economic opportunities that places whites at the highest rung, followed by the mixed-race descendants and ethnic blacks at the lowest rung. As part of this power displacement, blacks are pushed farther inwards into neighbourhoods bereft of amenities and access to thrive. In America these places are called the “hood or projects”.
  6. In spite of this, the poorest hoods and projects have delivered in sports and entertainment, outlets of excellence through sheer perseverance in the face of abject adversity. Yet, their wealth have been siphoned away through white mismanagement with little impact to their origins, many themselves bankrupt. This particular phenomenon is rapidly changing! Blacks are now more and more taking control of the earned income from their creativity, still not enough.  
  7. The goal – Black women constantly dragged as poster for emblematic of poverty, black male incarceration, the currency to fund private prisons, this being the source of revenue for many lazy white businesses which amounts to illegal racketeering (from illegal police arrests to unfair lengthy judicial sentencing) literally trading on the lives black people.
  8. The black family foundation, facilitated their successful emergence from slavery (even after the massive effort to destroy and separate millions of families), endure and defeat segregation, create and develop prosperity which included the black wall street only to have all that purposely destroyed again. The spirit of racism understands that to dismantle the black family was always a sure way to destroy the very existence of black stability and prosperity for generations to come. With few black men able to fend for their families, or separated from their children they expected that this would bring about generational family issues that include poverty and social challenges.

What the Exodus 1 to Black America experience teaches us:

Now is that not a wonder that the tactics were so similar and the desired intentions and outcomes identical? The purpose of evil is the same whether in antiquity or in our present day. Evil seeks to wreak devastation to a people. What it fails to recognise time and again is that people are made by promise, they always rise to their destiny and God (YHWH) who created them ensures that. 

Racism is one of the worst of Evil’s off springs.

Nota Bebe (N.B.)

Now let us come full circle, the use of white and white America is a metaphor for the racist institution installed and run by white people. That said, it does not mean in any way that white persons as individuals all subscribe to such. The entirety of black America movements that have done good and great things for black people have included many white people including some who lost their lives. Many diverse people are instrumental to black successes, completely committed to the cause, knowing right from wrong, devoid of evil and devoutly good! They constantly defy the system and the “king’s” evil edicts to do what is right always. They are Black and White!

Fade to Black….wait the curtain opens….hopefully it is a whole new act!

About Ngozi Bell

Inspiration, Hard Work, Innovation. These three foundational elements anchor Ngozi’s core belief that manifesting the extraordinary is always within reach. Inspired by her mother A.C.Obikwere, a scientist and author, she learned the privilege of living at the edge of important encounters and dedicating herself to robust and perpetual learning. Ngozi’s background is a combination of Physics, Engineering, Venture Capital/Private Equity, regulations, and business where she has managed over $1B in cumulative revenue. Ngozi is a speaker, storyteller, and writer on a diverse set of topics including AI, iDLT, ML, Signal Processing, iOT, women, entrepreneurship and more. She contributes regularly to VOA, has been a TEDx speaker and is published on tech and non-tech platforms. She is a champion of STEM, women, youth, art and the Africa we must engage. Ngozi is an adjunct professor of Physics and management with work

experience in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America. She is a founder of a number of a number of enterprises and host of the podcast Stem, Stocks and Stews (https://anchor.fm/stemstocksstews-podcast).

Https://www.LinkedIn.com/in/ngozibell/
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