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History + Education

The Erasure of Slavery in American History.

Growing up, I loved to imagine myself in alternate timelines. I was fascinated by the thought of other worlds merging into one—centuries of human beings adapting to new habitats while exploring the range of the human intellect. Our forefathers explored the world, from the deepest oceans to the tiniest cities. But we must hold ourselves accountable for the evil that has wreaked havoc upon American soil. The silence about the American Civil War and the motives behind it have altered the discourse on Slavery. Was the war between the North and South really about slavery? Did the war grant justice to the enslaved?

The Economic Decline of the Civil War

After the civil war, America’s prime focus became fixing the economy due to the abolishment of slavery people. During the abolition of slavery, southerners expected to receive payment for the “labor” they were losing, i.e., Compensated Emancipation. Enslaved people’s labor was what drove and produced America’s thriving economy. The unpaid slave labor would be what enhanced the American economy. Due to the loss of slavery, those in power shuffled to recreate the no longer applicable work. The future without the enslavement of African people affected the US’s political, social, and economic sphere. So, they attempted to establish a hierarchical order and a class system by remaining in control. That included keeping enslaved people in complete poverty without access to the outer world. 

Often we like to grant respect and earnest praise to presidents such as Abraham Lincoln for the emancipation of African Slaves. Yet in his debate in Charleston, Illinois, he states, “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and Black races.” His statements aligned with many who believed Black people to be pawns in their games. The ending of slavery was a ploy to gain political and financial control over the south after the ending of the war. And that included the white enslavers who expected to receive compensation for their “war efforts” and the removal of enslaved people.

White Enslavers awarded Reparations

The irrevocable damage done to the Black community would affect generations to come. Those enslaved “built vast fortunes for white people North and South — at one time, the second-richest man in the nation was a Rhode Island “ slave trader.” Profits from Black people’s stolen labor helped the young nation pay off its war debts and financed some of our most prestigious universities.” http://(https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/black-history-american-democracy.html The generations of families who spoke their last words fighting for freedom from America’s oppressive regime never received any compensation.  The opportunity of white enslavers to irradicate the unethical preservation of slavery lay in their hands. Yet, the history between the colonizers and those in bondage persisted. 

Roughly one hundred and fifty-eight years after the ending of slavery, their descendants are still awaiting justice.  Still waiting for the due diligence our ancestors never received. What can we expect from a government willing to hide its horrific crimes to continue exercising its racist systems? The modern Black American has to compartmentalize the fear and trauma associated with living in their ancestors’ country- the one they pruned, watered, and harvested. We deserve justice, peace, and the freedom to be.

In honor of the twelve million slaves that crossed the Atlantic, this Juneteenth, I sat outside mourning the lives of all my ancestors. Those who made the month’s journey over raging waters. Forced to work in this newly colonized land. The loss of their language, autonomy, and livelihood. Yet forcibly expected to provide for those who kept them in bondage.

Our ancestor’s communities were pillaged and ransacked without cause. Many even served in the Civil war fighting for the equity and economic growth of white enslavers. Yet, they expected to offer their bodies as though they were worth nothing. Black people may never be granted reparations for the years of chattel slavery or the generations of Jim Crow, Policing, etc., but the history that we know to be true will always come to light.

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