There are books that I read sometimes that truly transform the way I look at an issue... especially as a historian, that should happen a lot I think...as new research comes out, new perspectives arise...we should never become stagnant....
I am going to just rave over Edward Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told more. I think slavery is a subject that we, as a nation, should never shy away from and his book not only places the conversation in the face of anyone reading his text, but he brings up some important points about how we as a society have portrayed slavery... to lessen the burn, and that is a tragedy.
Slavery was a thriving and growing business that helped fund the nation off the backs of other people.
The discipline often described in slavery amounted to nothing less than psychological and physical torture and it completely destroyed people
Slavery's legacy is alive and well today.
People do not want to talk about it, people want to forget about it, and rave about the "good" parts of the antebellum past and the "heritage" that musters... and that is simply 100% wrong.
Former slaves would often sincerely state that they would rather be dirt poor and starving than back in servitude, where their lives amounted to nothing but capital and absolutely no humanity.
Even the most benevolent slave owner... still made a living off of people he looked at as property. There is nothing moral or forgiving about that.
Pick this book up...
Buy it HERE
The cultural connections to slavery and the past are everywhere and I believe that the experience of slavery made America what it was then and what it is today. It is funny... but it was not reading this book that made me think about writing this blog post, but my lunch. I wanted something I used to eat as a kid when I visited family in the mountains of North Carolina and I made a mixture of new potatoes and green beans.... it was something we had all the time and it is a comforting and warm food, but it is also a recipe developed during the antebellum period by people who used what they had to survive.
Race is still very relevant... I still truly believe that most of the nasty backlash against Obama as President and against his wife were racially motivated, even if it was not a conscious decision... people automatically distrusted Obama and his family because they were different and still represented the other, and while its wrong...shocking, and disgusting... I think it is more true than ever before. Instead of hiding from this past or forgetting about it because slavery ended over a century ago, we should visit the lessons slavery provided every single day to work and make this a better place for every person living in the US.