By Samantha Bartholomew
Four hundred years after the start of slavery in America, the so-called most powerful nation has still not addressed one of our country’s greatest atrocities.
The fact that our country was built on the backs of brutally exploited slaves.
It is a topic that The New York Times Magazine strived to take on in their recent release of “The 1619 Project,” an endeavor that sought to tell the truth about slavery through the efforts of Black journalists, poets and museum curators.
The project was created to hold a mirror to the sins we have committed as a nation with the hope that we may confront them.
Critics have accused the magazine of pushing propaganda and accusing the magazine of not being objective because the project was carried out by a team made up entirely of Black writers.
To me, this points to a forced culture of innocence that we as a country have created, a brand of patriotism that centers around denying that the U.S. has any flaws. How many times have you spoken to someone adamantly stating that America is the “greatest country in the world” despite being given multiple examples that it’s far from it?
Our country has regarded slavery as a past tense event, one that we have a tradition of claiming no ownership of. Our history books hardly discuss slavary outside of chapters on the Civil War and our high schools treat African American history courses as optional.
This project serves to prove that slavary has a defining role in every aspect of the United States’ institutions, from politics to healthcare.
More importantly, this is a time for our country, specifically white people, to realize that now is the time to listen and not attempt to take the reigns of this discussion. The discomfort these conversations bring are well worth the long term outcome.
During this vital point in our history, it is crucial that we accept the brutal truths of our country, look within ourselves and stop justifying them.
The way we learn and talk about slavary has to come with the understanding that it was not a marginal role in the story of our nation, but the ground on which it was developed on.
We have to look back if we are ever going to pave a path forward. That starts with understanding that Black people must lead the narrative on our country’s reeducation about slavary and it is up to the public as much as it is up to our country’s leaders to intently listen.