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Victor Salgado AP English Literature March 19, 2019

How Slavery is Taught in Today’s Society

There’s a major difference on how Slavery is portrayed in today’s textbooks

compared to its severity back then. Imagine being a student learning about Slavery. The

initial lesson that begins in the classroom is that it involved African Americans and a

couple of plantations. However, Slavery is deeper than that. It is rooted in the hearts of

every African American, whether the directly, or indirectly origins to Slavery. You know

what? Scratch that. It is rooted in the hearts of every American. It is intertwined with the

way we speak. It is in the soil that we traverse. It is in the air we breathe. See, Slavery is

only 150 years back, but the echo it created will not be buried under some textbook

mistake, nor will it be brushed away like lint off of a shoulder. It will linger in our tones, it

will flourish into propelling us into a new beginning, it will reach the ends of the earth. The

echo of Slavery, “IT”, will last centuries.

Going back to what I initially said, the question of, what do I mean by some

textbook mistake? A young Cody Burren was doing some light reading in class when he

came across a troubling description on his Texas textbook. The caption read as follows,

“Atlantic slave trade brought ‘millions of workers’ from Africa to the southern United

States to work on agricultural plantations”. What Cody read confused him, not only

because it had questioned everything he was beginning to learn about Slavery, but because

Slavery is Slavery. There is no workaround, or some profound sophisticated explanation of

what Slavery is. Notice I said “is”, the present tense of being. Slavery is nowhere near over,

it was abolished, but to what extent? If it isn’t the shackled chains around the neck of

African Americans in the past, it’s the shackled chains around the hearts of those who

came after.

Toni Morrison's Belovedbeautifully represents the horrendous practitioners of Slavery, and shows what David Levin, CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, fails to see.

This next portion is going to gruesome, and trust me, it makes me as upset as you are about to feel. Morrison’s Belovedhighlights the tragedies of Slavery, the story of Margaret Garner, and how she killed her daughter and attempted to kill her other children rather than leave them to a life of bondage. Take that into consideration. Let it mold in your brain, let it consume your vision of the lies white folks created in order for the system to forget about what happened. The idea of being bonded with shackles for one’s entire life is horrific. It did not just start in the US, however. It started even on the boats Slaves traveled on to get to the US. Slaves would rather jump over the edge of a boat and drown than to live a life of enslavement. Did I get my point across yet? Matter of fact, let us bring up Frederick Douglass, the slave who learned how to read through patience, and finesse of trading bread for knowledge. On top of that, let’s bring up the fact his mother, which he had only seen about 4 times in his entire life, traveled miles upon miles in the darkness in order to see him. Furthermore? He doesn’t know his father, the idea of that lingered in a conversation he overheard that his slavemaster could have possibly been so. To end it? He doesn’t even know his age. He PREDICTED that he was about 17 years old. Morrison’s “60 million and more” runs into the hundred millions, if not billions. Slavery will forever affect everyone. My hope is that, like Germany with the Holocaust, we acknowledge Slavery, and make it illegal to deny It.

However, They won’t tell you the truth to Slavery, they’ll sugarcoat it. They’ll find some institutional way to corrupt your mind with Slaves coming to the US as “workers”.

WE HAVE TO END THE CYCLE OF MISINFORMING GENERATIONS OF STUDENTS ABOUT SLAVERY

WE can start. But not without acknowledging why the N word drives deeper than

its origins. Not without destroying the “walls” of redlining, modern day segregation. And

most certainly not without acknowledging that African Americans can’t just “GET OVER

IT”.

Works Cited:

Morrison, Toni. Beloved: A Novel. New York: Knopf, 1987. Print.

“We've Never Had a Black History Month like This Before.” CNN, Cable News Network,

Isensee, Laura. “Why Calling Slaves 'Workers' Is More Than An Editing Error.” NPR, NPR, 23 Oct. 2015,

Nichols, Casey. “Margaret Garner Incident (1856) • BlackPast.” BlackPast, 29 Jan. 2019, www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/margaret-garner-incident-1856/.