Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thoughts on a Southern Plantation

I posted this on a message board of TN Coates' blog, one of his essays on the recent denial of the prominence of slavery in southern proclamations honoring the confederacy. His post The Ghost of Bobby Lee is an example of his insights on the subject. See all the links to his earlier posts, which are in response to the recent proclamations honoring the confederacy but failing to mention anything about slavery. He ends his essay, "What might I have been in another skin, in another country, in another time?" A commenter wondered what he would have been like had he been born in the confederate south, would he have fought for Robert Lee? In response i wrote:

You know, I had a really unsettling experience touring a plantation in Louisiana. My wife and I got to the upstairs porch of this mansion and I looked out over this huge expanse of green grass and white picket fences, shaded by massive oak trees, and across the street the top of a ship peeked over the levee holding back the Mississippi River, gliding silently downriver. It was afternoon and so peaceful, and I imagined my future children playing on the shady grassy lawn that could hold two football fields, safely within sight and earshot yet surrounded by the glorious beauty of nature, how--dare I say it--ideal it would be. And in that moment I imagined how differently I would have seen the world had I been born into it here, back then. The slave quarters were out of sight for a reason. I always like to think that I would have known better, but that moment of beauty on an afternoon porch made me drop my guard and reveal a truth more uncomfortable than I would like to admit.

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