Slavery in the Minds of Southerners

The question of interpreting sensitive material is hardly one that pertains to the American race based slavery and southern historic memory alone, but rather to all histories in which multiple perspectives on the truth are held. But I luckily only have experience in dealing with white southerners that would prefer to remember slavery as simply another form labor, little different than underpaid factory labor at the beginning of the industrial revolution. In my experience at Vance these white southerners commonly clam up when the subject of slavery comes up during a tour, and where they will ask a variety of questions about the cooking implements or gender norms at the time, they rarely venture questions about the enslaved people that were on the farm. I believe that for many southerners it is because of an unwillingness to learn about the reality of slavery in the U.S. South, as they would prefer to not only live in ignorance, but they would also like to create their own delusional history where slavery was something people agreed to become a part of and never questioned. But it is the purpose of interpreters at historic sites and public historians in general to help break down these dilutions with the power of facts. To help educate people on the reality of the past, instead of some Gone With the Wind fantasy in which slavery is a natural part of capitalist system. Before I finish rambling, I want to simply make not that this is not so for all southerners, in fact the majority want to know what slavery was like in the Appalachia.


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