I spend a lot of my time talking with my daughter. She is still young enough to provide a fresh perspective on life that is free from the framing of a news outlet or a political agenda.
So yesterday when we got into a conversation about slavery --- presumably because her school is celebrating Black History Month, she asked me, "Why did they do that? Why were those people so mean to them just because they didn't have the same skin as they did?"
Her question was so impassioned it sounded more like a plea --- Daddy, please tell me how this could have happened?
Unprepared for this, I was momentarily rendered speechless. But I answered her as best I could with shortened explanations on fear and lack of understanding of others, hatred, economics and free labor. She went on to ask about mansions and all the land around them --- plantations --- how they were built and who built them. And finally, who in our own family had been slaves.
As someone who has traced my genealogy back as far as I could until my leads got cold --- the 1830s, her questions left me pondering just as much as her. I'd like to know what happened prior to this year, who are the ones who came before me, what did have to go through, where did they live and most importantly, from where did they originate.
And regarding my daughter's question about man's inhumanity to man, the older I get, the less the textbook answer makes sense. A few weeks ago I watched the movie Lincoln, almost baffled by the very real depictions above the debates over the abolishment of slavery and left the theatre shaking my head that such a thing could ever and still does exist in many parts of the world.
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