Home Editorials Not acknowledging slavery has become a slippery slope

Not acknowledging slavery has become a slippery slope

by William T. Robinson, Jr
William T. Robinson, Jr.

We are supposed to be living in a country that claims to be constantly revolving to become better; therefore, it is crucial to build on the truth in going forward. That being said, why are we finding so many White politicians denying the practice and impact of slavery on our society and that racism doesn’t exist in this country?  All one has to do is to study or review the true history of this country and it speaks for itself. 

The mere fact that we find some politicians enacting legislation banning the teaching of how slavery affected our nation is troublesome. Denying, diluting, or whitewashing the practice of slavery in this country serves no legitimate purpose other than to further exacerbate the sting to African Americans, and shield Whites from the shame of past history.

First, let’s agree that the past is something that happened and there’s nothing we can do to erase it or make it go away. However, history, especially slavery, can be used as a teaching movement that we can learn from, making sure these wrongs are not repeated again going forward. In good faith, we can even make amends to compensate for the wrongdoings of our past forefathers. Not acknowledging or teaching slavery only keeps people from talking about the big elephant in the room that explains the inequities existing between Blacks and Whites in this country.

It is easy for some Whites to dismiss themselves from the practices of their ancestors. They rightfully claim they had nothing to do with the practice of slavery. But they are benefiting from the fruits of their ancestors, regardless of how they may feel, especially as it pertains to generational wealth and inherent White privilege.

In learning about slavery and the following practices of Black codes, Jim Crow, segregation, lynching, discrimination and red lining, we will have a more educated public of young people more committed to making sure the American dream is made possible to all its citizens. When you don’t tell the true story about our history, you are insulting the intelligent public who can think for themselves.

We find some White politicians afraid to address that slavery existed, and they deny that racism is a big problem existing in this country today. Some of these politicians are feeding a fan base dripping in the sweat of racism and White supremacy. They fear telling the truth will negate their support or reelection. There are some Whites who don’t want their children questioning the gross inhumane iniquities of their ancestors toward the enslaved. They fear their children will feel ashamed.

One must also acknowledge that slavery is associated with racism, because vestiges of racism permeate our country today. Another concern by some Whites is that by teaching slavery, it will cause a firestorm of Blacks hating Whites, looking for retaliation. So you can see why some politicians are skeptical about the teaching of slavery. They cater to Whites who don’t want to expound on the ramifications of slavery that affect us today.

Those fanning the fires of hate and retaliation from Blacks who learn about the horrors associated with slavery can put those fears to rest. Blacks will not retaliate by seeking revenge manifesting the same inhumanity as their past oppressors. For the most part, Blacks are spiritually forgiving people. Their biggest concern would be in eradicating the practices of racism and discrimination in all institutions. Thus, reparations for the descendants of the enslaved are a monumental part of righting the wrongs of slavery if this country is serious in going forward in good faith.

The ones everyone need to be watching are the politicians seeking to remove or dilute the teaching of slavery for self-gain by promoting division among people. They are feeding the very thing they claim doesn’t exist, ‘racism.’

As an African American, I believe that teaching the truth about slavery will only solicit respect among the descendants of the enslaved and their oppressors when they learn of the resilience and perseverance of a people who have fought vigilantly against the ‘gates of Hell.’ The truth will help erase the racist rhetoric depicting Blacks as inhuman, inferior, and beneath Whites. Devaluing, and dehumanizing the enslaved will be fully understood as tools used to subjugate a people as devised by their oppressors.

Those advocating for not teaching about slavery or diluting Black history are feeding to a White populace who can see the writing on the wall.  Regardless of the social, political and economic restraints to keep Blacks down, Blacks continue to rise like the cream in milk. Given opportunity and a fair chance, Blacks have shown they can compete in any given profession and take it to another level. So the lie about Blacks being inferior to Whites doesn’t carry any weight to anyone who can see.

No one can deny that slavery was an unsavory, indelible stain on American history, so let us learn from it in going forward. We owe it to our young generation and generations to come to learn from our shortcomings as well as celebrating our victories. This will bind us together as a nation. So those so adamant in not acknowledging slavery are doing themselves and their followers a grave disservice. Once again, we should take seriously the adage ‘what’s done in the dark will eventually come to the light.’

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