The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60936   Message #976946
Posted By: Rapparee
04-Jul-03 - 06:18 PM
Thread Name: Why is 'Dixie' considered racist?
Subject: RE: Why is 'Dixie' considered racist?
If it would shame you to know that your ancestors suffered terrible wrongs, and yet endured and still fight against those wrongs, then yes, a re-enactment of a slave auction would be offensive.

But if such a thing brought home to people that slavery was not something quaintly mentioned in a history textbook, but a bloody, real, in-your-face, demeaning, ugly institution -- as re-enactment would do -- is that wrong?

To know that slavery once existed in the United States -- AND in Britain and Ireland and continental Europe and Scandinavia and Africa and India and Japan and China and Russia and Mexico and South America -- and to KNOW it, to realize it in your gut and to see how wrong it was and is, are two completely different things.

A re-enactment cannot, by its nature, be completely true to history. The "slaves" cannot be paraded naked, the "slaves" examined as if they were some form of animal -- the audience wouldn't stand for it. But that's how it really was.

Me, my ancestors were no one special, just working stiffs who were probably bound to some lord or other. They were, I'm sure, trampled by passing armies and very possibly taken as spoils of war. They survived. They endured. And I'm proud of that.

If you want to re-enact the selling of slaves in medieval Germany, or the ugliness of Hitler's time, feel free. Use my ancestors if you want to. Just as long as you don't confuse the play with reality, or the puppet with the puppeteer.

History is too alien to most people, a fairy tale into which they read whatever they want. I don't think that I've ever met anyone who admitted that in a "past life" they were born into a peasant family, lived at below starvation-level most of the times, and died at 12 years old by being run down by the passing carriage of a noble; everyone I've met has been of noble or notable birthright, which is odd on the face of it. And yet there have always been more forgotten peasants than remembered nobles.

But the nobles have toppled, and my sort of people still thrive. I'm proud of that.