Hello Everyone, Laura asked me to be one of her guest bloggers while she has her hands full with Penuel Ridge responsibilities. Being one of her EastWord writer's group friends, I was happy to say "yes".
I'd like to share a writing spawned from a conversation we had two months ago at writer's group. I kept this a secret from everyone for 3 or 4 years until the subject of "living in a bubble" came up on this particular evening. I was inspired to speak up because of Laura who bravely shared one of her childhood bubble secrets. Thanks, Laura, for inspiring me to talk and to write about my embarrassing realization...
Imagine my horror. Imagine the look on my face. Imagine the feeling in the pit of my stomach. Imagine the anger, and imagine my utter embarrassment that night as I sat in front of my big screen TV watching that movie. It was one of Michael Moore's controversial documentaries. Which one I don't remember. (Bowling For Columbine maybe?) But what I DO remember is the 10 minute American history lesson that was similar to a commercial in the middle of the movie. It was an animated account, similar to a South Park snippet, of how white men back in US history set sail toward Africa, kidnapped the local residents, and brought them to the US for the sole purpose of using them as slaves on their plantations.
I kept rewinding and reviewing that portion of the movie over and over. I was absolutely stunned that I had lived to be 47 years old and did not know this. I may have been just as perplexed at the fact that as a person with above average intelligence and a 4 year college degree I had never even been CURIOUS about how slaves got here. Yes, an hour before that movie I could have told you slaves were African, but if you had asked how those Africans came to America I suppose I would have said "the same way the white man did". And I would have been right - to an extent.
Knowing this about my past might make it easier to believe this as well: I was born and raised during the Civil Rights era and that, too, is not a memory of mine. But let's keep our focus for now on the "Where'd the slaves come from?" elephant in the room.
How CAN someone who was born and educated in the early portion of the second half of the 20th Century come out of it not having learned such a critical part of US history? I must have been living in quite the airtight bubble.
Was it imposed or self-imposed? Was every student in my high school in the same big bubble? Or was this one of my own sub-set bubbles? Did my history teacher choose to skim over the topic or was it missing from the text? Was I living in Bubbleville instead of Chapel Hill? Did my parents choose not to bring it to my attention at home for the same reasons they never brought the JFK or MLK assassinations to my attention? Was it protection? Apathy? If they passed up "teachable moments" such as those, then how could I expect them to bring up something from the past?
Could it be that it's as much my fault for not knowing as it is anyone else's? As an adult looking back I recognize that my childhood was a sheltered one. And I am grateful to my parents, for the most part, for that. And I know I wasn't an A student with boundless curiosity for things outside myself, outside my bubble.
But do you think any of this has to do with the fact that I was raised in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, at the time a rural community of approximately 800 people south of the Mason/Dixon line and not far from Pulaski, Tennessee, the hometown of the Ku Klux Klan? And do you think it has anything to do with the fact that I went to Forrest School for 12 years?
Yes, that's Forrest with two Rs, as in Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Thanks, Laura, for letting me fill in and rant a bit in your absence.
Peace To All,