Again, and again, again, again…I have to listen to how terrible the South was, is, and in these days of unrest being from the South I am labeled. I do not know how to get people to understand that my southern ancestors were not a part of the atrocity of those long ago days. I do have a southern accent (now in the Midwest) in some circles makes me guilty of what transpired centuries ago. Slavery was wrong, however, my Native American ancestors were in some cases slaves too.
My father was forced to go to an Indian School; the white people looked down on him as a lesser human being. He spent his entire life under the cloud of discrimination because his skin was not white. I am not defending the North or the South; I am saying many judge me without the knowledge of who I am. It appears that there are some who would have the South removed from everyone’s brains, a history “Lobotomy”.
What I know to be the truth…
Yes, slavery was a part of the Civil War, but not the total reason. In addition, slaves were in Eastern and Northern United States over 400 years ago. I am from Alabama and Joseph Wheeler Plantation is one of the oldest in Alabama, dating back to year only 1818. Joe Wheeler Plantation was only a few miles from where I was born; in almost a different world. Slavery was abolished in the northern states when doing so by “northern politicians” became popular and the abolitionists began attacking slavery, and of course, the southern “politicians” tried to justify the institution.
After the War, the North ceased to think of slaves and freedmen as being serious. Many northern politicians felt that it was not necessary to start the War because the South was economicically doomed and would die a natural death within time. The South did eventually die, without industrial means of surviving, all would eventually be lost.
They were right, the romantic realm of the old south was soon to be gone. Southern plantation owners had been living a dream, and eventually they were living like most southerners, poor farm hands, these people were never rich, again. The South was finally broken.
It was a devastating time for slaves who worked sixteen-to-eighteen-hour days, seven days a week. Sunstroke and all types of hard work killed many. The working conditions, little food and poor clothing, terrible housing, lack of freedom to move about, and susceptibility to being sold and family separated led many slaves, to become “wearisome property.” Some tried to fight back, they were intelligent and had “leaders”. They sabotage production, challenge overseers, fought back when provoked, ran away with hopes of being free; there was rebellion. Plantation owners were aware that the younger generation of slaves were not “natural-born” and behaved differently that the older generation.
Slaves were required to submit to masters and respect all whites, could travel only if they had passes, they could be killed from knowing how to read or write, limited their travel activities, and they could not own or be in possession of firearms or liquor. My question was always, if they were not human, then why were the plantation owners afraid for them to learn how to read and write? Slave patrols were a necessity for plantation owners.
The reality was that slavery often involved beating, killing, and raping, even murder, if ever, resulted in no legal prosecution of white overseers or the owners, let alone conviction or meaningful punishment. Glorification of Southern women often took the form of harsh penalties for slaves who raped, tried to rape, or even ogled white women. This continued in the South well into the 1950’s. In the early 1900’s they were hanged, later years if they made it to trail they were sent to the “electric chair”. Are Blacks upset and mad, hell yes they are, would we in all of our “whiteness” be mad, hell yes. There were in the South only two levels of “white”, the rich and the poor.
This brings us to this day in America. Not all Southerners are bad, not all Law Enforcement are bad, and not all Protesters are bad. True Southerners are not proud of their ancestors, and have paid for the actions of their southern ancestors for many generations; and I am afraid that they will continue to pay. Honest Law Enforcement is not proud of the actions of a few, yet they are now paying for something they were not a part. There are good, peaceful Protesters; it is our right to protest in a peaceful manner, just as we have the right to Freedom of Speech; not all Protesters loot and burn. As Americans, we must learn the difference.