Hiding From our Past?

Slavery, that once took place in America over 200 years ago, is something often disregarded in classrooms today. Most textbooks, professors, and teachers touch on the subject and then move on, leaving the profound impact it had on our country and people go unnoticed. Something that was so life changing to thousands of Americans should not be overlooked and Professor Edward Baptist understood this. In his article, “Teaching Slavery to Reluctant Listeners”, he explains the struggle he constantly had to go through with his students, when talking about slavery. He goes on to say, “as I walk into the first class of the semester, I know that I will find challenge, discomfort and even anxiety” (Baptist). But why does it have to be so uncomfortable for students like us to talk about this? Why are we hiding from the truth? Baptist then writes that most of his white students, at first, were defensive about this subject, “over the weeks to come, not only did they work harder, but their comments became less defensive, more insightful” (Baptist). When first talking about slavery, it seems as if his white students were defending themselves and refusing to look deeper into the subject. However, after a student encounter, the white students started to become more insightful and thought harder about the important impact slavery has had on our nation and what it truly means. But why, in the first place, did those white students feel the need to defend themselves? Clearly, white people are going to be uncomfortable talking about this horrible part of the past, but that shouldn’t mean it can’t be talked about. Not matter what race you are, or the history that follows you, everyone will be uncomfortable with this type of subject. But, we should still be able to have a truthful and deep conversation about it. So how can we make this an easier conversation to have? Why do you think it is still, to this day, so difficult to talk about? If you were in Professor Baptists class, how would you act when talking about slavery?

Big Words:

profound – penetrating or entering deeply into subjects ofthought or knowledge; having deep insight or understanding. 

insightful – characterized by or displaying insight; perceptive.