I’ve never known quite what to say when I catch someone in a lie.
Slavery wasn’t that bad. They had a place to live, clothes, food to eat. Life was pretty good on the plantation.
There’s a lot of miseducation behind these deceptions, a lot of missing education, too. There’s a propaganda campaign put on by organizations whose good names rested on secession and then on the legacy of the war it brought. A campaign perpetuated by people fearful, cowardly, ignorant – I don’t know what – that has invested itself in looking away and justification instead of in seeing and coming to some uneasy, real terms with the ownership of other human beings.
But here’s the truth as I see it – shelter, clothing, food, clean water – they are human rights. No one has it “good” when they have only those things. They are simply have what is due them because they live on this earth.
A good life comes when a young boy can choose who he will be in the years to come, when he can share a preference for art rather than farming and not fear the whip. A good life comes when a young woman can go alone to the privy and not fear her master’s hard body against her back . . . or at the very least she can scream if she does. A good life comes when a family can decide to take a picnic up the mountain aways on a Sunday and they don’t need a slip of paper from someone who by only the most happenstance of genetic markers has lighter skin.
There is no “good” in the system of slavery. If we believe that, if we cannot try to understand with fervent intent what it is to have no choice of your own, to not be able to choose who you will marry and how you will love, to not be able to pick your own clothing or assign yourself the day’s labor, to not be able to travel beyond the boundaries of land owned as you are, to not be able to even see the possibility that any of these things will change . . . then we have chosen to be ignorant as individuals and as a culture . . . and we have chosen to put our own comfort and our own ease of conscience above the care and concern for other human beings. We have chosen to lie.
And our lies mean that we cannot see the extraordinary fortitude, strength, and accomplishments of the people who lived under a system that said they were not capable of more. Perhaps that is the worst thing.
Why do you think some people want to act as if slavery “wasn’t that bad?”
If you’d like a signed copy of The Slaves Have Names, I’d love to send you one. Just visit this page – http://www.andilit.com/the-slaves-have-names – to order.