How right-wing talking points distort the history of slaveryRoundup
tags: slavery, African American history, politics, reparations
Tyler D. Parry is an associate professor of African American studies at California State University, Fullerton.
Last week, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to explore H.R. 40, which proposes the study of slavery reparations and redressing the injustices committed against African Americans. The witnesses featured high-profile celebrities, public intellectuals, economists and journalists exploring the possibilities of social restitution for black Americans.
Historians, however, were conspicuously absent from the hearing, leaving a void that conservative pundits gleefully filled upon the hearing’s conclusion. The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles led the critique of reparations on his podcast, arguing that the United States was less responsible for slavery than other countries, and that slavery was not based on race. These arguments have become reflexive right-wing talking points that rely on faulty information and historical misrepresentations to dismiss the devastating consequences slavery had on generations of African Americans.
As the debate over reparations moves forward, now is time to dismantle these historical falsehoods.
Myth No. 1: Due to its lower imports, the United States’ involvement in Atlantic slavery was insignificant.
Critics of reparations often assert that the United States imported a small number of enslaved people compared to other countries in the Western Hemisphere, correctly citing Brazil as the largest importer.
But the low percentage of imported slaves does not exonerate the United States. Instead, it shows the country participating in a transatlantic regime that was deadly and violent for all African captives, regardless of where they disembarked. The sugar-producing regions of Brazil, the Caribbean islands and parts of Louisiana produced horrific brutality. Enslavers determined that it was more economical to import slaves than to encourage reproduction, so they extracted maximum output from the enslaved person’s body before they perished.
comments powered by Disqus
- A girl named Greta and the seriously sexist history of Time’s Person of the Year
- Poll: Majority of Democrats think Obama was better president than Washington
- Civil War Soldiers Used Hair Dye to Make Themselves Look Better in Pictures, Archaeologists Discover
- Monumental statue of black man defies Confederate monuments
- From Consensus To Deadlock: Is Impeachment Still A Check On Presidents?
- Black Scholars Respond to Dr. Lorgia García Peña Tenure Denial at Harvard
- Historians Kirsten Weld and Erik Baker Interviewed About Harvard Graduate Worker Strike in Chronicle of Higher Education
- Kate Shaw: Andrew Johnson Was Impeached for Being a Racist Demagogue
- Bullets That Killed John F. Kennedy Immortalized as Digital Replicas by Smithsonian
- 37 books for history lovers: 11 Historians Select Their Favorite Books of 2019