This white boy, growing up in the 1940s, pictured Southern slavery plantations as run by genteel, white-hatted owners living in big mansions. The evenings were enlivened by happy Negroes sitting around after work, singing spirituals, playing banjos, and dancing.
For some reason, my teachers failed to mention the hideous trans-Atlantic passage, the naked human beings on the auction blocks, the families torn apart, the casual murders, the constant fear of rape, the backbreaking labor, and the early deaths from torture, exhaustion, disease, and malnourishment. Also omitted was the fact that much of the Industrial Revolution was funded by trade and profits wrung from the blood and sweat of people treated as animals.
I have grown to understand that Robert E. Lee and the others, memorialized by statues, who rebelled against the United States and fought to preserve the monstrosity known as slavery, were not heroes but, in every sense of the word, traitors. Those plantations were, in fact, concentration camps, differing only in scale from the Nazi camps that fueled the Holocaust. This was the African Holocaust and should be labeled such. Millions of Africans died in the North American slave trade. Statues honoring traitors must come down.