How America Remembers— and Distorts — Its Slavery Past

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By Julian Lucas

HOW THE WORD IS PASSED
A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America
By Clint Smith

Where are we, exactly, in the great American slavery reckoning? Like a poorly written series watched only on random weeknights, it’s beginning to lose coherence, even — or maybe even especially — when you pay attention. In one episode, protesters are tearing down Confederate statues and the nation is on the cusp of reparations; by the next, the federal government has condemned basic education about slavery as a form of totalitarian brainwashing. The Harriet Tubman 20 flutters from season to season like an unresolved subplot. Are we in the backlash, the whitelash, or the backlash to the whitelash, and when will white liberals lose interest? It’s enough to give anybody whiplash, especially those of us who, as descendants of the enslaved, can’t safely stop watching the interminable show.

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