Slavery By Another Name Essay

Submitted By Victoria-Ley
Words: 1743
Pages: 7

1. Why are certain histories hidden or difficult to uncover?

To answer this question with regard to current events, students at Jefferson County High Schools in Arvada, CO, have begun protesting the proposed AP History curriculum, which will “do away with history materials condoning "civil disorder" (Barber, 2014). The fact a school district would even consider redesigning a U.S. History curriculum to eliminate key parts of our history, such as the Kent State Massacre, the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Marten Luther King, Jr., is a disgrace to our nation. However, according to this Time article, the school board is attempting to review and revise all texts used throughout the district to ensure they “promote ‘positive aspects of the United States and its heritage’ (Barber, 2014). I would like to challenge the school board to ask if they believe, should events like the Civil Rights Movement had not occurred, if the United States would still be living with outward racial segregation? In this example, it is hard to believe that our nation would have come as far as it has, with still eons to go, toward an egalitarian society for all races, if Dr. Marten Luther King had not marched Washington D.C. and delivered his famed “I had a dream…” speech. I believe there are certain histories have been made challenging to find because there are many who believe if an event, year, century haven’t been documented, then it must not have happened. A perfect example is the documentary “Slavery By Another Name.” After viewing the movie in class and learning about the concept of ‘convict leasing,’ I presented the hidden piece of history to several adults and college graduates, like myself, to ask if they had heard of such a thing. The overwhelmingly unfortunate answer was no; convict leasing would most likely still be in the ‘black hole’ of history, a stone left unturned, because the authors who choose to write our history texts try and keep the content favorable to the masses. Also, if a publishing company is going to release a controversial text, the company is taking a very high risk of the investment doing poorly. My first thought, when posed with this question of why some history remains hidden, was of those who lived through it, lived with this hidden truth of the horrid conditions of the post-abolition ‘slavery.’ The many people, and their future generations, face this disturbing truth about their country, without ever receiving the appropriate ‘voice’ they deserve, to speak about what happened to them. As long as histories remain hidden, the history of many nations will never be complete.

2. In what ways, if any, are we responsible for our ancestor’s actions? Is it fair to hold individuals accountable for things our ancestors did?

In my opinion, generalizations made for a population based on race, ethnicity, or another defining trait, are inherently unfair and unjust. On a parallel spectrum, it would be like saying you, a 40 year old, hate dogs because you were bit once, at age 4. Granted, there are traumatic events occurring to people every day that will hold a lasting impression and consequence for the affected individual. However, over time, the generation will change and new experiences will occur, offering new perspectives and new trains of thought. In this respect, I don’t believe the actions of our ancestors should be held against an individual, especially after several generations have passed.
On the other hand, I do believe there are people who feel the future generations of an aggressor should be made known to the actions of generations previous. There are examples every single day of this belief - whenever you hear aggression towards Whites, on the grounds of potentially being related to a slave owner, or for whites to look down upon blacks because their position within society was decided upon over 50 years ago. Both statements were equally disturbing to type, most likely because of