From time time I like to have some fun with tongue-in-cheek write ups by “Jaded Roberts” with “The Garlic Times.”
Today, I dip my pen in the satire well once again, but this time there are serious intentions involved.
I created this ad as a means to draw attention to an extraordinary book I just finished reading. “The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry” by Ned and Constance Sublette inspired me to read other books on the subject and to look at slave ads in the Alexandria Gazette. It’s one of those things that once you latch on to it, you just can’t let go.
The format of this ad is based on some of the slave wanted ads that were placed in the antebellum period.
During the colonial period, several hundred thousands of slaves were shipped from Africa to this country. That practiced ended (mostly) in 1808 when Thomas Jefferson put ink to the “Act Prohibiting the African Slave Trade.”
On the one hand, our nation gained a moral victory. On the other hand, the act ushered in a more than half a century period of hell and horror for a large number of enslaved African Americans and their families. As the authors point out, confiscating lands in the Deep South became a new basis of wealth. This situation created a bonanza for Upper South slave traders, who sold tens of thousands of enslaved humans to the sugar and cotton planters.
Other authors have written on the topic of domestic slave trading, but it appears to me that these two have taken the canon to an extraordinary new level.
One of things I took away is that we just can’t continue to give passes to some of the founding fathers and others of high stature who helped build and maintain slavery.
The larger picture in all this is reparations. I’ve been skeptical about reparations but the more I read on this topic, the more I can see why they are being called for.
Perhaps you have read "The Case for Reparations" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I think some people are focusing on just the monetary part. But he also addresses other aspects.
Perhaps after a serious discussion and debate—the kind that HR 40 proposes—we may find that the country can never fully repay African Americans. But we stand to discover much about ourselves in such a discussion—and that is perhaps what scares us. The idea of reparations is frightening not simply because we might lack the ability to pay. The idea of reparations threatens something much deeper—America’s heritage, history, and standing in the world.
Even if you don’t want to think about reparations, I would recommend this book. At times, it’s not easy to read about such things as what happened to an enslaved baby on a march southward.
These are things, however, we need to know about. After all, you can’t help someone heal if you don’t know where and how bad they've been hurt.