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Julia Borger Blog Post 9/28

After reading chapter 9, Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom, I was again overwhelmed with a new perspective on previous history I thought I knew and understood to be the truth. I thought this chapter did a great job on diving deep into the issue of slavery in our nation’s history by giving more context than I had ever before known, especially context from the slaves themselves and their experiences. I felt like in this book they were highlighted for the individual people they were, not grouped together as one single unit- all under the category of “slaves”. For example, when former slave John Little says, “…at night, we would sing and dance, and make others laugh at the rattling of our chains. Happy men we must have been! We did it to keep down trouble, and to keep our hearts from being completely broken”(172). This quote emphasizes their humanity and the idea that they really are just people, a stark contrast from many textbooks who only brush over the concept that they are indeed separate individuals who have feelings and lives too.

Adding to the idea that this chapter really emphasized the compassion of the slaves, the author gives detailed insight on the process of the separation of families at auctions, something I had heard once or twice but was not something my history classes focused on previously. My heart broke reading the letters from the families being torn apart, asking for a piece of their child’s hair, because that was all they would have left of them to cling on to and remember them by.

Finally, I was shocked when I read that “there was no slavery in history, even that of the Israelites of Egypt, worse than the slavery of the black man in America” (180). I think I found this so hard to believe because I had never really thought about the comparison of the slavery in our country to other countries, and how they could possibly be different. I think this is a telling sign that my education was not complete or as thorough as it should have been, because what I was learning was focused only on the United States, with the idea that we are the superior country and everything else not connected to us is irrelevant. I think this is a big flaw of the United States education system, as we need to understand the big picture of history, and not centralize only on us, because there is indeed a whole world out there that we need to learn about.

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4 Comments

  1. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    I like what you bring up about the education system and the strong idea of patriotism and nationalism that is forced onto us from a young age. Books like Zinn’s novel help to teach the truth rather than ignoring US history to preserve the positive view that many have of the US. I think that this is where the problem of history repeating itself is very important in this instance because it’s easy to ignore the truth to preserve the nation’s image, but this prevents progress from ever being made.

  2. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    I was also very moved by the letters and accounts from the slaves showing a very emotional and personal perspective that we often do not see. We often learn about slavery as a whole concept and how it effected blacks as an entire group of people. This chapter created a more humanizing feeling and emphasized that these were all individuals with families and real feelings that were taken away from them for a profit.

  3. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    I think that your quote of page 180 is very important. We tend to want to compare things in life in general, but understanding that nothing can even come close to being compared to the brutality of slavery in the United States is very important. Reading letters and hearing first hand accounts of experiences from slaves brings the experience so much closer to our reality, and for me gives yet another perspective that I otherwise would not have had.

  4. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I agree with your ending point in that our education system needs to be changed, and that we need to teach slavery for what it really is. We still deny many facts about the reality of slavery in America, and we need to be learning about what really happened so we can be really educated on what happened in our past.

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