Monday, January 19, 2009
From the Plantation to the Inauguration
I've done a lot of historical research on plantation life in the United States and the Caribbean during the colonial era and, consumerist culture aside, this T-shirt being sold on the Mall today says something true and deep (let's just get over the fact that Barack is not descended from slaves, because it's bigger than that). The trade in cotton, sugar, rice, and indigo -- which made so many white people in England, the Netherlands, and the American colonies rich -- would not have been possible without the gross inequities and horrors of plantation slave labor. After emancipation, the market for all of these commodities was unsustainable with paid labor. Our country was built on the backs of slave laborers. So -- respect.