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Re: Respectable Trade

Posted by Misha Kavka on October 14, 2000 at 18:44:07:

In Reply to: Re: Respectable Trade posted by Antonia Massa-MacLeod on October 9, 2000 at 21:55:32:

We cannot disconnect ourselves from the past because we are all a product of the past. The wealth created by slavery was passed on to future generations, just as the poverty created by slavery was similarly passed on. People are a product of the culture that shaped their parents, as well as the cultural change that occurs after their parents.

What must we do? If we don't confront our past history and how it has shaped the people who live in our society today, then we will continue to suffer the after effects of the brutality. Is it any different from what happens to a person who has been abused as a child? If that person denies it ever happened, then the abuse shapes them in more powerful ways than if they confront the past and come to terms with it.

The country also needs to apologize, through the government, because the country is one continuous entity. The government that allowed people to be enslaved and abused is the same government that exists today, even if populated by a new generation of leaders. An apology is but one more step forward. Education is an even bigger need. We don't really learn about slavery in school or the effect it might have had on people. If we understood it better, we could be in a better position to make life better. We could deal with the trauma directly, rather than hiding from it or pretending it never happened. Jewish culture is an excellent example of a people who have learned to deal directly with the traumatic events that shaped who they are, even if it wasn't directly experienced. The most important aspect of dealing with the pain and transcending it has been to confront it, to ritualize the healing process, and to make sure others share in the knowledge of the suffering. There isn't anything comparable for those who suffered three hundred years of slavery in the Western Hemisphere.

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