It is fine to listen to the recorded stories of slaves. In fact, it is the first step in trying to identify and connect with the victims of a harsh,
governmental system that was state-sponsored. However, I must still note that even this does not attempt to deal with the residual effects that
slavery has on society today.
A lot of others don't even get to that first step. They would rather vent their anger and frustration instead of trying to understand why discussing
slavery is timely.
I know that some of us in American society cannot "see" it, but slavery still affects us in the manner of how we act towards one another, how
policies are conducted as well as the stereotypes of persons of color. Slavery may be over, but unfortunately the descendants of slaves and slave
masters are the tie we have left to discuss this emotional and painful issue.
I think what needs to be understood is the fact that slavery is an issue still in the spotlight today. If we don't deal with our collective past,
then the same practices will occur in the future by those who "blame the victim", participate in "anti-victimist" language and continue to
misunderstand the repercussions that such events had on our lives.
This aspect of history can't be buried under obfuscation and deflection.
And the main problem here is that people have problems with the nature of "collectivity". Individuality is still stressed. And, some Americans
have no concept of community--especially when it spans for generations.
The pain and hardship of suffering that the slaves went through in America must be discussed. And since these stories have had a very specific effect
on African-Americans, there needs to be a consistent effort to stop with the linguistic gymnastics and get to the point.
No one is happy when they are crushed under the heel of human trafficking
(yes, slavery is human trafficking). Yet, the stereotype exists
because the South predicated its wealth and its obliviousness of suffering on the backs of "happy slaves". As long as slaves were perceived as
"happy", no one needs to identify with their suffering. And that same belief is repeated today in order to distance one's self from the horrific
nature of slavery and its effects now.
And that is precisely the problem here.
1)There needs to be an admittance that slavery occurred
2)People cannot shy away from the pain that it has caused to generations of Americans, not even to entertain slaves might be "happy" under such a
terrible, legalized, state-sponsored system.
3)And the experiences of slaves must not be disrespected because (as a Black American), it is an achievement that our ancestors survived harsh
treatment in order to endure. And for their descendants, their strength collectively allowed them survive the legacy of Jim Crow in order to fight
for a better life in America.
It is sad when people try to minimize this by saying it should not be talked about.
And it is even worse when others try to "play dumb" to shield themselves from the obvious that occurred in the past, let alone make light of it.
This is especially detrimental when trying to make sense of these events in the present.
[edit on 29-3-2007 by ceci2006]