"One of the signal achievements of Frederick Douglass’ classic 1845 'slave; narrative, was the poignant manner in which he articulated the natal alienation that American slavery produced in its victims.
"Not knowing one’s birthdate, being alienated from one’s mother, and not knowing one’s father all colluded to produce in enslaved Black Americans a diminished sense of their own humanity.
"When we factor in additional practices of the 'Peculiar Institution:' forced separation of families, rape, rampant brutality, and uncompensated, forced labor, the legacy of the institution and its potential to impact the present become readily apparent.
from James B. Peterson,
"In the epigraph above I am wrestling with the unchecked irony and impact of certain public comments made by politicians.
"In this case, then presidential primary candidate Michelle Bachman, fresh off the talking points memo of the moment, suggested that Black families (especially Black children) were somehow better off during slavery because back then... (wait for it!), Black families were more intact than they are in the Obama era.*Sigh*
"Although I can imagine that at this point many people can simply tune out these kinds of ignorant comments, for me they reflect just about everything that is wrong with the body politic.
"Political figures – and I use this term very loosely– exploit history in order to bend the present back on itself. And this comment obscures an even deeper hypocrisy. It is rooted in the Right’s self-professed exclusive claim to traditional family values. In this scenario, right-wing politicians espouse traditional, western, nuclear ideas about family and pass these off as the sine non qua for all human interactions.
"Never mind their own families; never mind their own behavior, biases, infidelities, and most of all – never mind history."
Read the rest of this excellent piece here.