Mr. Chung’s Thoughts: After reading your comments the past few days on slavery, I felt the anger and indignation radiating from your comments. How could people treat each other this way? I am glad you feel this way towards slavery, but what bothers me is that we are clumping different groups of people together-Whites, Europeans, Americans, Black Americans, Black Africans and steoreotyping them. As we read more into history, we will learn there were Whites who were vehemently opposed to slavery and helped Blacks escape to the North; there were Whites who believed slavery was an abomination but still held slaves themselves (an example was America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson). There were Black Africans who actually helped the slavers capture people for slavery. There were European Whites who respected the ways of the Native Americans and actually went to live with them as equals. I mentioned at the beginning of the year, textbooks do not tell the whole truth but this applies to good examples as well. There are many people and events that are shining examples of American idealism. I wonder why these examples are omitted from our textbooks.
I am not making excuses for slavery, but this was the accepted paradigm of those times. Imagine growing up and experiencing racism everyday, and taught and shown that some races are superior and some races are inferior. You would just accept it as the truth. What is remarkable is some people questioned this paradigm, struggled with it, and overcame it. These are the stories we can learn from. We all have the ability to be good or bad. It is our ability to think and reflect that will help us make good choices, individually and as a society.
I hope by the end of the year, all of you will see the importance of history–that history is not just a group of facts to be memorized but it is about the choices people make and the consequences resulting from those actions. Our past is what makes us who we are now; and for us to create a brighter future for all of us, we in the present must make good choices.