Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cotton, Flax, Molasses and Slaves by Mimi Benson

In grade school, we learned about trade. This was History class where we memorized dates and places. We learned about wars, as well, not much, just when they were and who fought and where.

The teacher placed arrows on a large map in the back of the classroom. Arrows on the coast of the Carolinas faced east toward England and on these arrows we wrote cotton and flax.

There were arrows that directed ships from Africa, and these arrows were placed on a western coast across the blue ocean on the other side of the world. Spices, we wrote, and slaves.

This was all a matter of getting the right things going the right way, spices coming in, cotton going out. Cotton, flax, tea, molasses and slaves.

How do you teach children that there was so much more to it than that?

We learned the words and thought of the ships with their cargoes and some of us, I suppose, got it right and some wrong.

Then one day, so much later, we learned about the slave trade and the sadness was there as well.

And slaves were no longer words like spices, molasses and tea.

... written in July 2014

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