Thoughts on slavery
So a few years ago, I had a conversation with my best friend about slave life and interpretation as I was writing my thesis. He shared the following thoughts with me:
On growing up in Mississippi and Georgia, I asked “What was his attitude towards the institution of slavery at childhood, and then again at 25?”
His response? When I was younger I had the natural view coming from a black person in the south. It was all the “white people’s” fault and it angered me. Seeing my grandparents struggle and my parents and how they viewed slavery, discrimination and “white people” I would have expected the same outcome for myself. Yet I realized I can’t hate or be mad at something I know nothing about. After studying on my own (key words “on my own”) what slavery was and how it started I have come to terms with it. There is nothing to hate now about it. In those days everyone had a right to be mad. Now, we experience nothing in comparison. These people were beat with bull whips and we get bent out of shape when someone says “nappy headed hoes”. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned with comments like that but angry? no. Slavery is a part of history.
On talking about slavery, I asked “did you feel like it (slavery) was something that should not be discussed, or did you just see it as something that happened to African Americans and could not be changed?”
His response? I believe it should be discussed but I don’t believe the world is ready to be objective when discussing it. Everyone should be able to get an unbiased account of slavery. I believe once more people open their minds to it objectively everyone will be able to come to terms with it being tragic a historical event. The thing is America is ashamed. We freely talk about the Holocaust and Hitler and if you have a strong feeling one way or another you’re bad. Yet we cant dig into our own past objectively and come to terms with it and it happened further back in history.
I asked what he thought about slave life interpretation.
His response? Who else is gonna play the black people. It would be the worst lawsuit in the history of reparations if a white person or any other race played the slaves. People would get offended and call the place racist. The problem is people are afraid to face it. On top of that we have instilled in our minds as black people for some reason that the white man still owes us. That’s why people can’t come to terms with it. People still feel connected to the event and contrary to popular belief white people can’t let it go until we stop feeling like they owe us something for it.
I asked a few other questions but I’m thinking that I will do a follow up to this since these questions were asked a few years ago. Now that we have a “post-racial” society, I want to know if the answers regarding how people view slave interpretation have changed or if they are the same.
I believe that your perception of slavery in the United States can vary based on where you’re from. He was from the Deep South and has grown up with the racial tensions that persist in that area, where that is not my experience. One of the goals of this site is to engage readers in discussing slavery, SO….tell me, how would you answer some of these questions?