Roots, Roots 2016, and Memorial Day
Slavery is the story of America that will never die—at least until more is known about it than victimhood. It’s the story no one wants to talk about. Only talking about it causes Black people to feel shame and it causes White people to feel guilt. Only talking about it as something the nation did to the slave leaves everyone in a bad place. Who needs that?
But what if we added more to the conversation? What if the more we add was so big that it freed everyone to talk about slavery without shame and guilt? What if the more we added gave slavery a new name? What if the more we added focused on what the slave did for the nation? Call it Contribution. Call the slave and slavery Unpaid Labor. Give everyone his due.
This is where history can help us. Take Memorial Day for instance. Memorial Day is coming up on Monday May 30, 2016. It is the day set aside to honor soldiers that died for their country. What if Black people and White people knew that Unpaid Laborers were responsible for winning the 2 most significant wars in the nation’s history? What if Black people and White people knew that there would be no United States of America if Unpaid Laborers had not fought and died in the Revolutionary War? What if Black people and White people knew that there would be no United States of America if Unpaid Laborers had not fought and died in the Civil War?
No Unpaid Laborers no country. Now that’s something more! No Unpaid Laborers no country, and that’s according to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln! That gives Black people something to be proud of and all people something to honor. That gives Black people ownership and all people a true perspective. That takes us far beyond “we built this country” perspective with nothing to back it up.
And that brings me to Roots. Tune into the History channel on Monday. Read the book. Look for the original TV series too. This is a very important story that traces what the nation did to the slave. It’s history we must know but it’s not complete. For every Memorial Day there are a thousands of stories of the indispensable contribution of Unpaid Labor.