As Khalilah emphasized in today’s earlier post, we have a responsibility to love, guide, and educate our students, our children through the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead or else they resort to feeling hopeless, helpless and act out of desperation. So as educators we must be unrelenting in telling them the whole story, revealing both sides of every coin and pulling back the curtain on what is the difficult story of America specifically and white supremacy globally.
Last night, January 8 marked the 206th anniversary of the German Coast Uprising in Louisiana. That’s right Louisiana. Dr. Henry Louis Gates points out, “One of the most pernicious allegations made against the African-American people was that our slave ancestors were either exceptionally “docile” or “content and loyal,” thus explaining their purported failure to rebel extensively.” He goes on to explain that this myth of the docility of enslaved Africans served the pro-slavery agenda well and persisted well into the 20th century with historians upholding this bogus claim to assert “the lack of courage or manhood of the African-American slaves.” These myths essentially remain alive when our curricula and teaching objectives center whiteness and the narrative of white domination. These myths attempt to erase the multitude of black freedom fighters in our history, like Charles Deslondes.
A Haitian-born slave driver, Deslondes was brought to the Louisiana by his master just seven years after the Haitian Revolution (1804). There is no doubt he was inspired by L’ouverture and Dessalines’ victory over the French army. He worked as an overseer on the Andry sugar plantation where there were approximately 86 enslaved Africans. On the night of January 8, Deslondes gathered with 25 other slaves and attacked and eventually killed the plantation owner’s family. The master himself however managed to escape; a fateful mistake. It would take the US army two days to overtake the rebels whose numbers had risen to about 125, although some accounts say 200 or more. At just twenty miles from New Orleans, Deslondes and the other insurgents were eventually captured and executed. Their heads placed on poles and used to mark the road to New Orleans, to serve as a warning to blacks with ideas of insurrection.
Historians estimate that there are as many as 300 or more stories of slave resistance in the United States alone. Dr. Gates provides an overview of the five greatest slave rebellions here in the U.S. as part of his PBS series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. As we continue with you on this journey of education for liberation, we ask that you be diligent and determined in revealing the truth of who we are as a people to our children. When we build them up on the principles and values of self-love, collective responsibility and racial and cultural pride they can stand on much firmer ground and choose ways to empower themselves and resist in more constructive ways.
We are so very glad to be back with you all in 2017. We deeply appreciate all of you in our CREAD community who read, share and discuss with us from week to week. Let us continue to build and maintain community together. Peace and love good people!
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