One of the dangers of being in academe is that one ends up saying the same thing multiple ways. I really really don’t want to do that. So, I’m wondering how to avoid academic narcissism and really get at the issue of historic debt, as well as the way education and the historic narrative conspire to obscure it.
Many people have told me about how they never learned about slavery growing up in the Northeast. One acquaintance who went to school in Salem, MA mentioned never hearing “all that much” about slavery. In his thoughtful reply to my last post, Edgar mentions learning about how the “north was not the south” going to school in Providence, RI (interestingly enough, home of John Brown, who fought tooth and nail to keep the slave trade legal in Rhode Island). I have also noticed a common theme in Edgar’s posts reiterating how whether one talks about New Yorkers or loyalists, “it’s always easier to blame others for slavery.”
I suspect he’s right. In fact, I’m pretty much positive he is. If that’s the case, what exactly am I doing? How am I doing anything new? How am I really helping amplify the voices of those whose voices have been drowned out, if I just keep parroting the same argle bargle over and over again?
I welcome suggestions. You will get a cookie.