Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

I forgot that this blog first started out as a "what I'm reading" blog. Well, since I hadn't been reading for while, I decided to post the "what I'm doing" posts. But, I've started reading again, and it just goes to show, I'll take non-fiction over fiction any day. Currently, I'm reading "Slaves in the Family" by George Ball. It's about the author, George Ball, looking into his ancestors' pasts as slave holders and trying to find the decedent of their slaves, the Ball slaves. It's quite a huge book to lug around because the only copy the have at the library is large print. I'm only into chapter 4 I believe, but it's quite interesting so far. His style of writing is not quite my favorite, but he keeps me coming back for more, to find out what more he's been able to uncover about his past.
This part of US history has always been the most interesting to me, this, the Native occupation and removal, and the civil rights. At the same time, I know that even though I was born in this country and technically, this is also my history, it really isn't. You see, my parents didn't immigrate to this country until 1960, so my US history starts then. It makes me a bit sad to know I have no part in the history of the United States, but PLEASE do not misinterpret what I'm trying to say. No, I am not sad that I don't have slaves or slave holders in my family. That, I am very content to know I was not a part of, but I am sad that I had no relatives in 1770 whatever living in say Maine or Wisconsin. My family in 1770 something was most likely in Mexico, during "their" history. My grandmother had some part in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 (oh so they say). So history is a very interesting and important things to me. It makes me feel like I'm a part of somebody, something larger than me. I am part of a collective people moving forward, but as is, I'm kind of not. I was not born in Mexico, but Mexicans look familiar to me. I was born in the United States in a very white area and even though this is home, this is the place I love, I still think I feel a bit as an "other" in the history books. That's why I was an Ethnic Studies major. Ethnic Studies made me feel like I belonged to the United States, like my people were a part of their history. There were things like the Chicano Movement, as well as the Asian Movement and the Native American movement, not to mention the Black movement. When I was considering going back to school to get my master in History, the head dude a particular school that will remain unnamed kind of laughed in my face and said ethnic studies was NOT history. That really offended me. How can ethnic studies not be history? Does ethnic studies not explore the life of slaves during Jefferson? Does ethnic studies not go in depth about the lives of the Hopi natives before and during the Spain settlements? Does ethnic studies not demonstrate the stupid anti intermarriage law that was finally put to rest with Loving vs. Virginia in 1967? Isn't that history? History of people of color IN the United States? The history of Americans of ALL freakin' colors?! (Ok sorry, that still pisses me off!) That's why I think it's important to teach history of ALL people, not just old white dudes. Old white dudes wouldn't be where they are if it weren't on the backs of brown people! Wow, whew. This gets me riled up! So yes, as a child, I believe it is important to see yourself reflected in a history book, to make a child feel like they belong. I know that would have been important to me and that's why I wanted to be a high school US history teacher, but high schoolers scare me, so I've moved on.
So yes, it's a little sad for me to know that technically, I'm not part of that piece of history, but I was born here, so I accept the good and the bad that his country has and continues to do. I am part of this history and my children will know that.


Kristin said...

I agree that we need to study EVERYONE's history, which is why I read "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee", and why I advocated for a black history class in High school that was taught a year later.

McJumpguez said...

Agreed. Oregon is *finally* going to start teaching african-american Oregon history in schools. Not many people knew how segregated Oregon just 40 years ago.

McJumpguez said...

*Oregon was.