As an African American woman, it never ceases to amaze me when scores of White people react with shock regarding unearthed documents about slavery tied to major schools, universities, businesses and banks. I use the word scores specifically because not all White people are clueless when it comes to slavery, but the shock of those who are run in the millions.
Just this week, another news article revealed that an elite prep school in Washington once owned and sold slaves. When African American students were asked how they felt about the “unearthed” discovery, they gave the same statement like all other African Americans, they weren’t surprised. However, they were surprised by the number of White staff and students who were. To put it clearly as one young African American student mentioned a few years ago, “The United States was built on the backs of slaves so we shouldn’t be surprised.”
Think about that for a moment. Why are millions of White people still shocked by “discoveries” like this? Could it be that they really aren’t shocked, but pretend to be out of fear, shame or embarrassment? Could it be that they completely ignored the history of slavery here in the United States? Or could it be that some genuinely were not taught about slavery at the school they attended or at home? I say it’s a combination of all plus some.
Slavery existed okay and there are a lot of famous and not so famous wealthy White families, schools, banks and businesses who reaped and are still reaping the monetary benefits of slavery and its back breaking labor. Is it shameful and hard to admit? Maybe to some. But is it the truth? Yes.
What if I told you there are a number of big banks, schools, universities and businesses who used the intelligence of their slaves and took the credit as their own? If that shocks you, my goodness, it shouldn’t. Contrary to popular belief, slaves were not dumb.
We can’t continue to pretend or be shocked about these things. It’s bad enough that millions of slaves built the wealth of many White families, schools, banks and businesses with nothing in return. To not acknowledge it is an even greater insult to them. They can’t speak for themselves because they are long gone now, but I and others can. We can’t run away from painful and uncomfortable truths, but we can learn from them. Adding to that, we need to acknowledge it rather than hiding it or running from it.
Otherwise, more White people will continue to be “shocked” when more and more “discoveries” like these are made.
The link to the article I referenced can be found here.
Until next time…