The best that Moses’s mother could do for him was to set things up so that he would be raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. Yes, she was able to orchestrate a situation where her son was spared death. He was found and adopted by a good master among the Egyptians. She was even paid to nurse her own son, given an opportunity to provide a little more for her remaining family in a time of tyrannizing oppression.

Yet, the best she could do was raise her son to be submissive to those who oppress the Hebrew people.

And I wonder if this has something to do with Moses fleeing after he killed the Egyptian. Once he realized that his people – the Hebrew people – knew him as “the one who had killed the Egyptian.”

You know the one…Moses…the Hebrew boy living the good life, in Massa’s palace. Pretending to be one of Massa’s sons. Yea, that boy…the one who’s mother worked so hard to keep him safe when other Hebrew boys were being killed with impunity.

Yea…that boy. Moses. Ungrateful.

Here is his mother putting herself through all this trauma in order to spare his life, and he’s going to waste the good life his mother seized for him! He’s going to bite the hand that feeds him. And for what! For one of us worthless Negroes? I mean Hebrews?

His mother had not preserved him and humiliated herself to have him out there killing Egyptians because they were doing what Egyptians did: abusing and tyrannizing Hebrews.

He couldn’t be out there rebelling against his oppressor.

His mother had preserved him and his job was to be submissive. He was to submissively live the “good life” that she had literally slaved to bequeath to him.

He was raised to be a slave. A house slave yes. But a slave nonetheless.

How in the world could he envision freedom? How could he envision anything other than the reality? How could he envision justice for the Hebrew? How could he envision the right to be indignant in the face of inhumane abuse?

“Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” You mean, you so much better than us that you can kill an Egyptian and I can’t fight a worthless Hebrew?

Moses had demonstrated the potential of the enslaved to turn his back on his master – no matter how well that Massa had treated him. No matter how good the “good Massa,” there was always a potential for that nigger to come out and show his ungratefulness.

Of course Pharaoh wanted his own “adopted grandson” dead.

Such an ideation is deadly for the enslaved. The enslaved can’t afford to have that degree of backbone on public display. It might cause other Hebrews to think more highly of themselves…to not see themselves as deserving of the abuses at the hands of the Egyptians. It might cause the Egyptians to become more brutal toward us.

Like the African in America, each day the Hebrew in Egypt were given the option to work or die, obey or die, and with each day the role, the identity of the slave became more real.

To live, for the Hebrew man, was to submit completely. Moses had ceased to submit. He was now a bonafide threat to the social order and status quo. Certainly there had to be renewed oppression of the Hebrew people. Something to make them pay for Pharaoh’s embarrassment at having welcomed Moses into his home and treating that lowly Hebrew as though he were fully human.

Just like we know from White Power, we have to imagine the Egyptians made the Hebrew community pay for Moses’s transgression – especially when “they let him get away.”

His mother was left to take the blame.

If she hadn’t been so skillful in providing a way for her son…if she had only let him die: everything would be better. And, there’s greater contempt in the psyche of the oppressed for the one who has the audacity to dream of freedom.

In their book, Black Rage, Drs. Grier & Cobbs speak of the newly captured African women who would kill their children rather than have them raised to be slaves. “Their decision was a significant one for us, because the infanticide speaks clearly of her knowledge of the options – she must kill her child, for if she lets him live it is she who must raise him to be a slave.” I think of the old adage: “I brought you into this world and I will take you out,” and see a connection with an intention to spare the child a life in defeat and submission to our oppressor.

And to spare the self from the guilt of having raised a child to become a slave…

Grier & Cobbs go on to say that Black mothers “…had to take the role of slave master, treat the child with capricious cruelty, hurt him physically and emotionally and demand that he respond in an obsequious helpless manner – a manner she knew would enhance his chances of survival.”

Just like the best Moses’s mother could hope for was to provide a way for her son to survive his oppressor, Black mothers are still forced to make the same decision. Whether we transcend some of the inherited brokenness in parenting or not, the aim is the same: we must raise little Black boys and Black girls in ways that enhance their chances of survival in a White supremacist society.

And our survival has always meant not being about, not talking about, not dreaming about freedom.

So what does it take to raise a people with a desire for freedom? What is the single greatest question you have about instilling a desire for freedom within your children? What would have to happen over the next school year for you to set your child’s eyes toward freedom?

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

#WalkWorthy #JahGuide


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