“Hidden Figures” has given us all a glimpse into all the history we’re lacking, and I don’t think every scholar in America put together could make the point better than Leslie Jones does in this short clip.
Leslie Jones on SNL gave me more Black History on Weekend Update than I’ve had heretofore. And I’m pretty damn historically literate. And Weekend Update is pretty short and she only came in at the end.
Everyone should read Lies My Teacher Told Me, which emphasizes a vast amount of the lies, slights, and outright omissions fed to us through our history textbooks.
But one area Lies misses, probably in large part because the subject matter is so shamefully difficult to find in the first place, is the place in our history made possible by minorities. It is criminal that our Congress can’t manage to even bring to a vote a Sense of the Congress – a non-binding declaration with no force of law or any power whatsoever – resolution condemning slavery in the US, let alone apologizing for it.
As Columbia Professor Dr. Eric Foner, considered the foremost Abraham Lincoln scholar by most, so beautifully points out in (one of his three & I cannot remember which) Civil War and Reconstruction class, Americans would find it terribly odd to find an American Slavery Memorial or United States of America Slavery Museum in Germany, especially if they didn’t have a Holocaust Memorial.
That brings it home, does it not?
How do we manage to act so high and mighty, fellow citizens, when we ignore this part of our history? The fact that so many US citizens deny that racism even exists, let alone dare to acknowledge the fact – and it is a fact – that slaves built this country, is staggering to me. And yes, slaves did build this country. They built it with sweat, blood and with tears.
Here’s another fact, a single, simple fact, that unlike the fact above – a complicated fact drawn from a complex equation of many sources – is wholly undeniable and inarguable.
The 1860 Census, the last pre-Civil War census, quantifies in the most horrific way possible just how much this country owes to slavery and in what seems to be America’s favorite metric: DOLLARS.
In 1860 “slave property”* was worth more than every other industry COMBINED.
Banks + Railroads + Factories/Companies ≠ SLAVES
Yup, white people who whine constantly that racism doesn’t exist, or worse, the only racism is “reverse racism!!!”
slaves as “property” > every bank + every railroad + every company
So, now, I’ll leave my rant and deliver the promised funny version, where I learned & laughed. Thank you, Leslie Jones.
*It disgusts me to write “slave property” and I simply could not bring myself to use the census terminology and the term that was once completely commonplace, “property in slaves.” That was once a thing. A term no one really paid attention to, not even the most ardent Abolitionist, because it was just part of the lexicon. It was a true description of something so repulsive that anyone with even a stitch of humanity recoils at it. I apologize for using the term “slave property” as well, but to make the point I had to link the two words one way or another, because they were, in fact, human beings that were quantifiable in the same way a car is now.