Often I don’t speak about serious topics on here that are unrelated to mental health, but this topic, this topic is a disgusting exception.
As every good story starts, I was browsing Facebook this morning and came across an NPR article on the current Pope visiting Auschwitz concentration camp memorial museum. The article is here if you would also like to read it: click.
I have always been aware that the former concentration camps like Dachau and Auschwitz were open to tours. I went on Google Earth to creepily ride past in my virtual google car to see buses upon buses upon buses of school children and regular people walking into the Auschwitz entrance. It looked as if the whole of the Polish education system was there.
Across the street were some Restaurants and a Hotel. Cool bro.
After reading about the way both former concentration camps choose to educate those who come to mourn, to remember, and to learn, I came to the understanding that “tour” wasn’t really an appropriate word. It’s a memorial experience. It’s a “path of remembrance” (that’s the name of a specific route you can walk through at Dachau).
I respect these people for that. They take what has happened in their past and to make sure it will never happen again, they teach people about it. They have survivors share their story, and it’s part of their children’s education–extensively. A lot of Germany and Poland has healed as a result, they have been for the last 50 years. Say what you will about Germans, they’re not so ashamed of their own history that they hide it under the rug or play it down.
Reading all of this got me thinking about the United States. I wondered how many of the old slavery plantations are still resurrected today, and if we have any similar programs. There was a portion of my heart that hoped, with naivete, that America would have the scant amount of decency needed to partake in something as healing as the aforementioned. The other portion of my heart knew better.
The other portion of my heart knew with the amount of race-related turmoil going on in the United States today, there was no way in hell any amount of healing from the trauma of the south has happened.
The first plantation that popped up in my search was Pebble Hill. I’ve heard of it, but don’t know much about the history of the slaves. According to research, the land for Pebble hill was bought from the Creek Indians. Fraud and scandal was used later to steal the rest of the land and leave many Creek homeless.
I read this information on a Southern University website, particularly this one: click here. I admire them for adding the Indians into their history, many people do not. However, I critique their title of “African-American’s at pebble hill”. I critique their explanation that “African American’s helped build pebble hill”.
Those were slaves. Not “African-Americans”. Say what it is. Not what you wish it was.
That website also contains a list of families who lived there and took over the plantation, if you’re interested.
Continuing my search, I came across a website with an article where you could “Tour the South’s Best Historic Homes”. Pebble Hill was listed.
In fact, under the “Inspiring Ideas” category, it described the house as: “This classic plantation [with] breezy, colorful interiors with chic chinoiserie elements that feel au courant.”
Let’s think about this for a moment.
Plantations did not kill as many as Hitler’s and Stalin’s concentration camps. Unless you include the generations to come after that. Particularly if you include the Native Americans . . . in which case, we’re at about the same level of indecency and murder as both Hitler and Stalin. So I suppose the only difference is ours was systematic and generational, and their was all at once.
To describe an area where people’s lives were shattered, where people served and got whipped and hanged and had to pick cotton and run your fucking house for you because you were too lazy of a piece of shit to do your own house work and take care of your own kids or pick your own cotton, as “breezy, [with] colorful interiors . . . that feel au courant” is a disgrace. Whoever has done this needs to feel the shame they deserve.
My anger fueled me to go onto their website. That’s where I learned weddings are held there.
“I’d love to get married in a concentration camp one day” said no one ever. Why? Because that would be fucking DISRESPECTFUL, that’s why.
“I’d love to get married on your mother’s grave” said no one ever.
Would you do this shit at a concentration camp?
Than don’t do it at a plantation.
Their “history” section on their plantation webpage talks only about the owners, and never the slaves.
Google reviews reiterated that the house was beautiful. A few commented on how they never mention any history of the slaves or give any types of remembrance for them. One individual who wished to at least see the grave sites had to ASK DIRECTIONS to find them, because it’s not included in the tour.
Texan textbooks described the slave trade as people bringing “millions of workers”.
The publishing company offered to send stickers to cover up the word “workers” in the printed books while they worked on more accurately depicting the slave trade.
The author of the article I read said it perfectly: “It will take more than that to fix the way slavery is taught in Texas textbooks”. You can read more about that here: click. It’s worth the read, I promise.
It’s not about political correctness. I’m not being PC principal here. It’s not even about bashing the South. I just want the truth. Don’t cover up the truth with a slightly, less severe way of telling it because then it becomes a lie. And if you want your country to be built on lies, than don’t act surprised or disgusted when citizens start rising up against you.
We need to give these people remembrance so their spirits can rest and ours can be healed. Stop beating around the bush, stopping putting stickers over the things you don’t want to read: we all know what happened, we might as well talk about it.
The goal isn’t to forget. It’s to remember.