The real meaning of plantation tours: American Downton Abbey vs American Horror Story

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/12/unexamined-whiteness.html

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“We went to the Holocaust Museum and most of it was depressing stuff about mass murder. They should make it more positive. Zero stars, would not repeat.”

“We visited the National Air and Space Museum and it was a bunch of boring science stuff. Yawn. They should have more exhibits about sports like the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now there’s a vacation!”

“We visited Madame Tussauds and it was full of eerie wax statues. Why no roller coasters? So disappointed.”

/s

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So wait, I read the original review, what DID they go to a plantation tour for? Seriously?

These people are too fragile for the harsh realities of history :confused:

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That bad review reminded me of something I read about some history tour in the South that covered a slave rebellion. More than one person apparently was upset by the very idea, asking why the slaves didn’t “work within the system” to change their circumstances…

American education about its own history is just incredibly shit, and it especially falls down when it comes to slavery, where the total unwillingness to frankly and accurately address the issue is absolutely appalling.

If there were a century+ of romantic fictions set in concentration camps, and they fixed up and rented out concentration camps for wedding venues and “romantic getaways,” I’d expect to see reviews like that.

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I think people expect & want a Gone with the Wind tour with Southern gentlemen drawling about the good old days and belles fixing up a pitcher of lemonade while the men folk do go on.

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The Wind Done Gone from those. Now its more the Django Unchained (formerly Mandingo) tour of the horrors of slavery (with rape implied as a matter of course!)

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I’m actually really glad that silly woman posted her butthurt-filled review; the Streisand effect she inadvertently created amplifies public awareness of that tour, as well as serving as an indictment her own ignorance and self-absorption.

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To look at pretty dresses and sip mint juleps, I guess? :roll_eyes:

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Yeah, without that review I never would have read Twitty’s piece, and it was very worth reading.

The most important commodity of the mid 19th century in America, was the Black child, and behind the children, the body of the Black woman.

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I thought I’d take a sec to re-post this.

What was slavery REALLY like? I think there is no better voice for that other than the slaves themselves. Fortunately the government had a presence of mind (and a lot of people sitting around with out work due to the Great Depression) and set out to find surviving slaves in the 1930s and have them document their experience. This is not an academic exercise, but first hand accounts from the people who experienced it.

I spent a couple days going down this rabbit hole awhile ago, and I really should continue to poke back in now and again. You read some horrific stories, and some good ones. There was both joy and pain and the experiences differed wildly. It really paints a much fuller and varied picture than what I had learned in school. For example, in one account they built their own church with lumber supplied by their owners and the slaves from several different owners would meet on Sunday at the church.

One thing I also gleaned was they were asked if they had any other comments or wanted to say anything about modern times. I remember more than one saying the youth of today don’t know about hard work. Which is exactly the memes I see from the older people on my FB. Same as it ever was…

OH and when looking it up, it looks like they FINALLY updated the website for this, but they also looks like they used PDFs, vs just HTML text from when ever I last look here. Still - it’s out there. Go read some.

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If I wanted to really blow the minds of these idiots I’d send them to this plantation tour, which I wish all white Americans were somehow required to take. It’s basically the American version of Auschwitz.

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Michael Twitty is a national treasure as far as i’m concerned. I know of him from a couple of videos he was featured in at Townsend & Son about slaves and their cooking. I haven’t rewatched it since it first came out but i recall really loving the video

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I answered this on Twitter: it’s very surprising to me because even under dictatorship we learned about how natives “didn’t adapt” (too lazy) to work in plantations so the Portuguese brought slaves from Africa to work until death on them but the Princess Isabel (so courageous!) signed the golden law that freed the slaves and this is why “we don’t have racism anymore” (of course we do).

What the heck are you guys learning in school that white people get to ignore slavery as “too political”???

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In a nutshell:

  • Not all of us learn the same lessons, or get the same quality of info: that’s the insidious disparity of the US educational system.

  • Much of what we are taught is intentionally sugar-coated and the most unflattering bits are glossed over.

  • Disinformation campaigns and nationalistic propaganda have been in use against our populace by our own “powers that be” since long before the internet came along; at least since the end of the second world war.

  • People tend to only believe what they want to believe, and even acknowledging our county’s ugly, bloody and shameful history triggers ‘White fragility’ in people of privilege who seriously believe in the fallacious myths of “American exceptionalism” and ‘meritocracy.’

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My take on some white people getting upset about slavery is that they are uncomfortable with the ugly truth, and that they parse history as “you and all white people are responsible for this”. That’s not teaching slavery is about, it’s not an accusation, it is about not letting mistakes from the past be forgotten, owning up that those things happened, and that the system we live in right now is a direct consequence of long established institutional racism.

You already know this but i felt like putting my thoughts down :slight_smile:

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This is right in line with I learned in American Economic History in college. The professor had all sorts of data and statistics on slave economics from inception up to the Civil War. In the years leading up to the war, slave labor was becoming unprofitable. Raising children as slaves for sale was still quite profitable. His theory was that slavery would have disappeared on its own without the civil war due to economic trends.

Not all the areas we studies were as troubling. It was a fascinating class. Colonial commodity and tax structures, 19th century currency and banking, canal and railroad infrastructure, early oil and steel industry, etc.

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In a similar vein to Witty’s work I can recommend Robert F Moss’s writing. He’s a culinary historian specializing in Southern food and the development and distribution of American foods.

https://www.seriouseats.com/user/profile/mossrobert@comcast.net

He basically specializes in exploding just so stories about where American foods came from, especially when it comes to purported Southern foods and how everything was purportedly rooted in Idyllic plantation life and invented by white folks or happy slaves.

That’s pretty awesome.

Through much of the south, and its heavily presence in the pop culture nationally and in conservative politics.

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This was easily done in Brazil by separating before Independence and after Independence whites: Portuguese took our gold to Europe and had enslaved people, but after we became a Republic the “true” (white, oligarchic) Brazilians were great.

As a matter of fact, you can trace most politicians in power today to kin that still owns farm or go back 200 years in their family tree and see that their ancestors totally enslaved people. The exception is Italian immigrants that came here to work and got to buy farms from retired slave owners.

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“Two words: Never Again.”

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