Yesterday, we visited Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, TN. Why? My lovely wife enjoys the historical fiction books set at Belle Meade. Me, I wanted to visit the Johnny Cash museum. My experience with the visit was difficult.
I kept thinking as we were walking the grounds after touring the Greek revival mansion, that the grounds and mansion were soaked in the blood of slaves forced to work there and native Americans forced to leave there, so that some jackasses could enrich themselves.
In the aftermath of this experience I wonder about the extent to which the current US political economy reflects a plantation economy? The brutality, racism, classism, mysogeny, and exploitation of another’s labor for your personal gain while refusing to contribute anything in return other than meager wages sufficient to perpetuate plantationism, lower class lives, and further immiseration. If this is class warfare, I stand proudly guilty.
At least, in the replica slave quarters, I was able to emphasize to my children the perniciousness of that shameful and deplorable practice which made possible, in part, the United States as a country and later world power. My kids were confused and wondered, wanting to know why people could treat others so horribly. We did our best to explain. Yet, continued to wonder.
I wonder what type of America my kids will experience as they grow into adulthood.
I wonder about the extent to which one may frame the 2016 US election outcome…..*gulp*……well, as Van Jones of CNN put it on election night, “A whitelash,” a massive expression of white resentment at having been governed by an African-American, for eight years, promoting a vision of America at odds with white convention.
I wonder how to eradicate the political disease plantationism that seems to persist in American political culture and how to inoculate my kids from that dreaded disease.
I wonder about the extent to which Public Enemy get’s it right: #corplantationopoly.