Friday, March 7, 2014

"Slavery’s story is America’s story."

"Slavery’s story is America’s story.":

That is the final line of Eugene Robinson's powerful Washington Post column, THe American Story of Slavery.
I will offer blockquotes without hotlinks because you should read the entire column.
Robinson begins by noting
Hollywood has finally taken an unflinching look at slavery. It’s past time for the rest of the country to do the same.
   He goes on to write
We tell ourselves that we know all about slavery, that it’s ancient history. But we’ve never fully investigated its horrors, which means we’ve never come to terms with them, which means we’ve never been able to get beyond them. Where slavery is concerned, we are imprisoned by William Faulkner’s famous epigram: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
It is not just that slavery feeds into America's continuing problems with racism.
It is that one can argue that slavery itself is not dead in the United States.  After all, the 13th Amendment banning slavery does contain the exception "except for punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted" which too many Americans forget, about which I will offer a few more thoughts.
But it is also important that our understanding of our history is incomplete, if you will, whitewashed.
There are three paragraphs that are for me key to understanding how incomplete that