We are taught history incorrectly.
Rarely that means we are told incorrect information, though sometimes we are not told enough of what happens before and after an event, but the real way we’re taught history incorrectly is by detaching it from our modern lives.
Think back to your school days, what history do you remember? Rhymes about sailing? Names? Dates? Periods of time that we in the present call them but probably were never used to describe the present day to our ancestors?
Doesn’t look too DARK to me….folks?! These are the jokes!
What about relationships in history?
What about what happened when one group of people met another group of people? How did people get to the United States and when? Why are so many people mad about Columbus Day? Didn’t the first pilgrims share food with Native Americans and that’s why we have Thanksgiving?
A little bit of yes, mostly no, and because Christopher Columbus was a religious lunatic (but, let’s not get into that today).
When we talk about anything, we really have to talk about the history of it, where it came from, from whom, how, and why.
Sea travel was extremely expensive when the first swath of European colonists were coming over to the parts of the North American continent we now call the East Coast.
Before it was expensive, it was costly and risky, but eventually we figured out enough of the process for money to increase the reliability of such transportation. So, how could average people get from where they were in Europe to the United States?
Slavery! Well, technically indentured servitude, and people of all ethnicities, cultures, and nationalities would be sponsored to work for wealthy patrons for a number of years in exchange for passage to The New World!
It wasn’t the most equitable system, but it allowed the wealthy to pay for the labor of a wide variety of skills and expertise of labor that was guaranteed to them for an amount of time at an overall cheaper rate than salaried or hourly work. And in the end, the more people in The New World, the more wealth there was for the wealthy to gain! Win/Win/Win, really.
Oh, right, the genocide. My bad. Oh, we’re still dealing with the consequences of this in a very real way to this day? BUMMER.
And then along came tobacco and cotton.
Ok, it was there the whole time, but it became the main export of wealthy landowners and farmers. So the supply and demand of such crops outstripped the technological means of harvesting such crops both safely AND quickly, so the more workers they could take on, house poorly, treat worse, and pay not at all, the more profit went right into those crop capitalists.
Up until this point, all physical laborers were expected to endure an amount of, well, labor, but with the increased demand of tobacco and cotton being grown in the areas closer to Spanish Florida than British Canada there was a big difference between working in the North versus the South. And that wasn’t fair! Everyone agreed! So, what were the crop capitalists to do? They simply made too much money off of the blood and sweat of their workers to NOT beat them!
Who can be abused and how?
It was then that a distinction between who could be abused and how was formed. People coming from Africa were simply going to be treated worse than those coming from Europe. People from the South could be sold into slavery for their entire lives, their children were slaves, and they were completely owned by whomever bought them. Indentured servitude still existed, but now we had a lot of people that were just considered property.
So, how did people just go along with this new way of thinking? And why? To get into that, look forward to my next article.
By Aaron Levine (he/him) has been analyzing systems of power, production, and customer service for over fifteen years. Using a crystal clear mentality and focus derived from traditional Okinawan martial arts, Aaron has been able to diagnose, illuminate, and strategize to fix systems and systemic problems of all shapes and sizes. Earning his Bachelor’s in Sociology with a minor in Conflict Resolution, then going on to earn his Master’s in Sociology after serving in the United State Peace Corps in Eswatini for three years, Aaron has an extensive knowledge of systemic problems and their required solutions to create a more efficient use of time, energy, and money in all walks of life.