Why does the mention of slavery anger some people? Is it ever appropriate to me

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  1. dianetrotter profile image62
    dianetrotterposted 7 years ago

    Why does the mention of slavery anger some people?  Is it ever appropriate to mention it?

    There were ugly comments when Michelle Obama mentioned the irony that slaves building the white house and then her living there.  Some consider it racist.  Some slaves were descendants of president.  Thomas Jefferson's Black ancestors are well documented and accepted by his white ancestors.

  2. profile image52
    Setank Setunkposted 7 years ago

    Her statement seemed designed to increase racial tension. The idea that she made it there despite racial oppression and bigotry is implied.  In truth there is nothing ironic about it. If she was a slave or former slave living there then it would be ironic. But you are absolutely correct with regards to slavery  being a relevant issue in our time.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Can you explain the design?  Nothing before or after it was about slavery.

    2. profile image52
      Setank Setunkposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Slaves were never properly freed nor were they or any of their ancestors allowed to freely assimilate. She should talk to this point rather than make quick and divisive innuendos. I enjoy your insight.

    3. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you!  I'm really interested in yours.  You are saying what I am thinking.  If slavery had been in history books, it could have been discussed in classroom rather than hidden; however that didn't fit with mistreatment of Blacks after slavery.

  3. profile image0
    RTalloniposted 7 years ago

    It's a curious question, isn't it? A good part of the problem is that many people actually think that slavery was only an American problem in a single point in time when there is a long world history of it that continues to this day in many places. To truly study slavery is to study world history.   

    It should be appropriate to talk about the truths--all of them.  It should be appropriate to have honest discussions with all people listening to each other considerately, drawing improvements from the lessons about racism. It should be appropriate to encourage equitable attitudes among all people, but what we see is race baiting from far too many people.  It's very sad.  Sensationalizations, couched concern for what's right and good, and racially motivated incitements only work to further divide and they deny the progress that has been made, eroding a foundation to build on so we can go forward.

    We have stagnated and regressed because of the voices of those who would use racial division for their own purposes.  So sad.  The issue is a matter of the heart that no amount of legislation can truly solve, but legislation has provided means for opening up opportunity, and opening up thinking.  May our leaders have proper goals in mind as they work, may voters not follow blindly but think through rhetoric, not permitting their emotions to rule their thinking.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      So she shouldn't have said it?

    2. profile image0
      RTalloniposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I did not say she shouldn't have said it but because of your question I'm now seeing that the bigger question is what else could she have added to help heal and promote unity, and why did she not?

    3. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      So what else could she have said?  Why do you think she made the statement?  I'm asking because I want to know - not being sarcastic.  Thank you for your patience.

  4. gregas profile image81
    gregasposted 7 years ago

    It just seems to me that every time there is a racial problem  someone has to bring up slavery and through it in the faces of the whites. Get over it. That was 200 years ago plus. There is a BIG difference between then and now. Just my opinion, Greg.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Greg, isn't that what she was saying  "There is a big difference between then and now."  If she had been born then, she would have been a slave.  Today, she is the first lady of the United States, with an ivy league education.  Smiling/jubilant?

    2. gregas profile image81
      gregasposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      That's not what I was saying. They fall back on the slavery issue every time. Insinuating it is the fault of the white people today.

    3. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Who are "they" and when is "every time."  It was inhumane and egregious and it is in the past.  Why should white people feel guilty?  I guess perception of intent is based on each listener's frame of reference.  I was proud of her accomplishment.

    4. dashingscorpio profile image81
      dashingscorpioposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      "Get over it"??? No one says that about the holocaust!
      No white person living today should be so aligned with the actions of their ancestors they feel guilt/need to defend their actions. Slavery is the foundation of institutional racism in U.S.

    5. lisavollrath profile image93
      lisavollrathposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Sorry if hearing about the history of how the White House was built offends your delicate sensibilities, but in the context of this particular speech, it was quite moving. Get over it.

    6. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Dashing has a good point.  When I grew up, it was obvious that many white people hated us from snares, pitching, colored fountains/toiletc, and entry to stores through a back store.  If history had reported properly there could have been reconciliati

  5. profile image57
    KingdomComeposted 7 years ago

    Yes, let's talk about slavery. Let's make issue of the entire subject. So if we what to do it right let start at the very begining say, about, 4500 years ago in Egypt when it all started. So, now, who wants to go first? Who wants to point the blaming finger at who first?

    This is an important issue because my ancestors might have been slaves 4000 years ago or maybe 3000 years ago or 800. So come on folks, let's beat on a dead horse.

    I have no problem talking about slavery.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I'm willing to listen.  Give us a nugget!

  6. Wesman Todd Shaw profile image80
    Wesman Todd Shawposted 7 years ago

    I think I can summarize the problem well. I'm a 42 year old 'white guy' so I guess demographically speaking, I am a member of the type of persons who were offended by that.

    First of all - if something is literally true, then it shouldn't ever be offensive. So Mrs. Obama's statement wouldn't be offensive to me personally - assuming the statement was true.

    I do not know who built the White House, but it's very reasonable to assume there were slaves involved in it. So without any knowledge of who literally built the thing, I would assume Mrs. Obama's statement contained some truth.

    The problem is that persons such as myself - poor white guy, we had nothing to do with the wrongs of the past. So why should I have slavery put into my face all the time as though it was something I had something to do with? I'm not guilty for things other people did. Of course I'm not. So when you're a poor white persons it's very irritating to have people acting as though you're some sort of bad person for what previous generations did wrong.

    It would be kinda like if there were a Jewish Fist Lady in Germany chastising today's German citizens.

    The Obama family has mostly handled things very well. It must be incredibly stressful to be the President or his wife. But the Obama fam has been pretty 'in your face' at times. Like the time they had rainbow lights across the White House. That's some 'in your face' sort of behavior that I know was done entirely for the purpose of getting at certain types of persons.

    Michelle's comment, whether true or not (and was likely partially true) - was meant to inflame people. So it was her intentions that mattered there.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I hope you don't mind my asking "How do you know what her intent was?'  It was 1 sentence.  She was smiling and proud.  It required nothing of you.  She doesn't know you or what you think.  I tell my sister "anger about the past won't change it."

    2. profile image0
      RTalloniposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      The comment to your sister is a good one for any bad situation people have faced, but it leaves a void. Those working to fill that void with truth, understanding, high standards in communication, kindness, and positive opportunities are heroes.

  7. dashingscorpio profile image81
    dashingscorpioposted 7 years ago


    People hate being (reminded) of horrible issues from the past.
    However you can't erase history all you can do is learn from it.
    If someone gets angry hearing about slavery or the holocaust along with any other number of atrocities around the world the issue is with him/her. Downplaying or pretending something didn't happen is disingenuous or living in denial. "Ignorance is bliss."

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      If I'm unable to talk about slavery, I can go back to an 1880 Census that shows my gg grandmother and her sons.  Through Ancestry, I met Scott Wilder, a descendant of the slave owner of my ancestors.  He is a wonderful man who helped us w/ history.

    2. dashingscorpio profile image81
      dashingscorpioposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      In the U.S. we have freedom of speech.
      You should be able talk about any subject you desire!
      Personally speaking I know blacks who hate seeing movies like "The Butler", "12 Years A Slave" or "Selma".
      This is especially true of younger blacks.

  8. WordCrafter09 profile image64
    WordCrafter09posted 7 years ago

    I think one of the biggest problems that goes on with all kinds of people is that some people view things just from their own, little,  place in the world (or in the country); while others either just take a bigger-picture view of things (and therefore view things, even if individual things/statements) from the "bigger-picture context".

    It can depend on what someone is talking about/hearing, of course; but within the context of her speech and role (and considering that she happens also to be a human being with her own thoughts), I didn't happen to take that remark as anything more than the kind of thing I do when I take a minute to kind of marvel/be in awe of some of the ways this country/some others have come such a long way from how things once were.

    I'll use what will seem like an unrelated (even kind of "stupid" to some people who are too young to recall life before "everyone" had cell phones and computers:  As recently as around, say, 1990/1980's people couldn't even talk freely to their family members who lived outside what was considered "local calling area".  I remember my mother missing her one, elderly, remaining sister who had no choice but to move to another state.  My own kids couldn't even talk freely to their grandparents who didn't live in our state.  It was always a challenge (and an expense) to just be able to talk.

    Phones aside, it was only a few years ago when I decided to look up some information about my mother's first, young, husband who had been killed in WWII.  I was in awe at seeing, first-hand, information she either didn't have or didn't share.

    My point is some of the things that young people take for granted today probably don't/can't conjure up "marvel" or "awe" from someone who sees as "ancient history" anything before, say, the 90's or 80's unless they had some first-hand (or close-second-hand) exposure to some things. 

    There was a whole lot of inequality that kept going on between the end of slavery and today (particularly in American's South in the 50's and 60's (that's 1950's/1960's).  So, why should she not have expressed her own thoughts/observations or reminded everyone else about how far the country has come since (not particularly even slavery, but..), say, the 1960's?

    I don't know...   Just as beauty can be in the eye of the beholder, I think a good part of the time unspoken motivations/ "designs" are in the mind (and imaginations) of people too young/immature  to see the larger picture/context.

  9. Rich kelley profile image61
    Rich kelleyposted 7 years ago

    The White House wasn't built exclusively by slaves, as other low-level laborers toiled on the project as well. However if Michelle Obama is proud of the federally owned housing that she has lived in for almost 8years good for her. The irony of that is that there are many other federally owned housing projects that blacks live in that were built by low level Hispanics and Whites.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Is that all Blacks?  Before the White House, Michelle's income was 6 figures.  Is this now about welfare?

    2. Rich kelley profile image61
      Rich kelleyposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      The comment is a general statement just like the one Michelle made to make a point. No mater what you say your comment can be used against you. However, the Obama's have an 8 year track record of missed chances to mend instead of fester wounds.

    3. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      What could they have said to mend?

  10. tamarawilhite profile image86
    tamarawilhiteposted 7 years ago

    1% of whites had slaves in the US; what isn't mentioned are blacks who owned slaves, black Africans who had slaves AND sold other blacks into slavery, the Muslim world that took in many times more slaves than were sent to the West and treated them so badly that there are no black populations in nations like Saudi Arabia that imported them. Slavery was not a uniquely American institution, nor just white on black, but the US was unique in human history for 600,000 mostly white men dying to end slavery that wasn't even their "tribe". The attempt to smear all whites with a collective guilt for something that they ended (white Europeans) and sacrificed with blood to end is immoral.
    That it is brought up to justify discrimination against whites today, from get to the back of the protest march to "sit in a different room when I'm uncomfortable" microaggressions to government mandated discrimination in school admissions and federal contracting is difficult.

    If we want to talk about slavery today, I will talk about ISIS having Yazidi and Christian sex slaves, Boko Haram kidnapping Christian girls to force into sexual servitude and forced marriage.
    I will not be guilt tripped into accepting second class status for an act 6 generations ago that has already been paid for in blood.
    If someone wants to bring up Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s passed by Democrats restored rights Republicans gave blacks after the Civil War before Democrats took over after Restoration and implemented Jim Crow in the 1920s. It was the Democrat KKK that lynched one white Republican for every four blacks. It is interesting that the Democrats scream "racist Republicans" despite their history of suppressing blacks, all to keep them afraid and dependent on the Democratic state for votes.

    1. profile image0
      RTalloniposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      More truth about slavery is that there were good people who bought slaves when they could in order to save them from bad conditions. The times were complicated and we need to look at the entire picture according to all facts.

    2. Rich kelley profile image61
      Rich kelleyposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      When an educated person in a political position tosses out a one liner that is a complicated issue it will always raise eyebrows and tempers. The Obamas have had 8 years to help mend yet have often chosen to do the opposite.

    3. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      RTall, I don't know if it is as simple as good people and bad people.  We all make choices.  I made several when I was young that I will never forget but wish I could.  Slavery was not good.  Many were convicted of their wrong doing afterward.

    4. bradmasterOCcal profile image50
      bradmasterOCcalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      The middle class are indentured servants under the federal income tax. Isn't that a form of slavery?

    5. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Closing Q&A.  To continue discussion, go to Why can't people discuss race in a productive manner?

  11. word55 profile image71
    word55posted 7 years ago

    The White House is a beautiful monument and landmark.  I've been inside and through it. The builders did a wonderful job. The slaves had much pride in their work. I had no idea that slaves had built The White House. No one should be angered at her mentioning of that truth. We, as a people need to respond positively about any of our involvements in the making of America.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I should have made this a forum rather than a question so people could elaborate.  I will make that transition later today.  I hope I don't lose anyone.

  12. Ericdierker profile image46
    Ericdierkerposted 7 years ago

    I think this question deserves mention of the captured people by groups like ISIS who truly live in slavery. And we just have to recognize that horrible reality of women being captured and sold into sex slavery.
    I include the time period before 1965 as a time of slavery of Blacks here in the US. And I now include the slavery imposed by our welfare misuse as a bondage much like slavery continuing to this day.
    But we can all see clearly the slavery up and through the late 1800's.

    A direct answer to your question though is an emphatic yes. We must talk about slavery. We must embrace discussions, both historical and current. To cut out the dialogue is to admit we are too immature to talk about it. Freedom of speech is sacrosanct in our culture. Any PC that stifles the open dialogue is harmful and damaging. I really think that we ought to speak of that which makes people uncomfortable, that is growth with we need on an individual basis so we can have it on a national basis.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you Eric. I feel we should care when others hurt.  It hurts many white people, even though it comes out as resentment or anger, to talk about.  There are Black children that can't relate to it.  Many just want to be heard.  no space sad

  13. bradmasterOCcal profile image50
    bradmasterOCcalposted 7 years ago

    In this now very divisive United States, why are we going to dwell on slavery from over 200 years ago. What purpose does it serve, especially from democrats that caused a Civil War over their demand to be slave owners. So it is ironic that today, the democrats want to blame the republicans on slavery.

    The US was not even the big slave country. Africa was the big slave country, and Africans captured other Africans to be sold as slaves.
    Africans have been in the US for 400 years, and they are still focused on slavery.

    The Chinese were enslaved in the 1800s to work on the US railroads. The Japanese American Citizens were forced into camps during WWII while no such act occurred for German Americans.
    At the end of our failure in Vietnam, we took in millions of Vietnamese.
    For most of the US history Jews and Irish were treated as non people.

    What do all of these examples show is that all of them except the African American didn't make it in our society. So, if others made it in the US, why didn't African Americans?

    It has to be internal to them, because the others prevailed in America.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Brad, do you consider Michelle Obama having not made it?  I'm researching Japanese/US rail system.  "internal"  Do you see AA's at work, in the community, commentators of television?  No AA's have made it?  That sounds racist.  Where do you live?

    2. bradmasterOCcal profile image50
      bradmasterOCcalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Racist is being overused and even misapplied. I don't understand what sounds racist, and I don't know "Japanese/US rail system. "internal"" The bulk of AA have not made it compared to groups I mentioned. Lack of achievement isnt Racist,

    3. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Slave owners considered slaves less than human.  They were listed as property in wills, tax documents, and shipping documents.  After they were freed, they were held back by institutional racism/Jim Crow.  You say there is an "internal" problem w/ Bl

  14. spartucusjones profile image90
    spartucusjonesposted 7 years ago

    As a Canadian maybe I'm not qualified to comment on this, but watching the speech there didn't seem to be any ill intent with the comment. She seemed to be simply be making an observation about the progress that has been made. Those black slaves that helped built the White House, I'm sure they would never of dreamt of a time when they or their decedents could become President of the United States. It appeared to be more of a statement of positive advancement than a negative indictment. At least that is my two cents.

    1. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Absolutely, TJ!  I'm sure 99.9% of African Americans felt that way.  As a teacher, I encouraged students to have vision and take their educations seriously  I let them know there was a time when Black people were not permitted to learn to read.

  15. Jimmy Daniel profile image61
    Jimmy Danielposted 7 years ago

    Slavery is to blacks as is the haulocaust to Jews. It is a highly sensitive subject that should be discussed with upmost compassion, especially by a descendent of oppressors.

    It was highly offensive to imply within the same breath that: "Whilst slavery was admittedly an abomination; the slaves were well fed." As did Bill O'Reilly of late, on his program.

    I do not expect an apology from anyone. However, I expect tenfold all the respect that is owed to my people who suffered unspeakable terrors at the whim of their oppressors.

    Indeed, a thousand years reparation would not make up for my ancestors who were robed of their basic human dignity century after century.

    It is like the police officer killing my son in recless incompetence but now I'm now six times a millionaire. If I return the six million to the cop, would I get my son back alive?

    You understand now that money is a tool that we use to survive and not the other way around. It does not make you more "human" simply because you have more of it. You can buy a horse with it; a plantation with it; a slave with it; an election with it. Sadly, comon human decency is still out of the realm of its reach.

    1. bradmasterOCcal profile image50
      bradmasterOCcalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      It was Africans that captured and sold slaves, how about that for irony. Today we have human trafficking which makes US slavery look good in comparison. Why aren't people talking about that today?

    2. dianetrotter profile image62
      dianetrotterposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      U.S. Department of Agriculture data from 2013, which administers welfare, 40.2 percent of SNAP recipients are white, 25.7 percent are Black, 10.3 percent are Hispanic, 2.1 percent are Asian and 1.2 percent are Native American.

  16. wrenchBiscuit profile image68
    wrenchBiscuitposted 7 years ago


    People get angry because they want to keep the dream alive. And of course, in this case the "dream" has always been nothing but a lie. It is right to speak of the past, the present, and the future, as they are all one and simultaneous. In order to preserve what we perceive as the future, we must also balance and reconcile the past. And just like the future, the past is affected through the present. Many do not understand this, and for now, there is no need to digress.

    Just like Michelle Obama, many have accused me of being divisive, a race baiter etc., for telling my story. I have been vilified for reminding of the evil of America, and the genocide of over 100 million of my people; a genocide that dwarfs the Jewish Holocaust of 6 million. But what other words can I use? I cannot say it was the Japanese, or the Muslims, or the North Koreans, or the Viet Cong who committed this crime against humanity. Nor can I say it was pink elephants who attempted to force my parents to abandoned their 200 acre farm in an all white community. It was the Americans, the white Americans, the white racists who sought to steal the dreams of my father and mother; the two people I will always love the most.

    The Americans love to tell their stories of how they defeated the British, or the Japanese, or the Nazis. But they do not want us to tell of our struggle, and of our victories and losses. Because when we do, it challenges the great lie that they have been telling for almost 250 years. People get mad at Michelle Obama for telling the truth, and for paying tribute to her ancestors. But from where I am standing, she hasn't said enough. It is remarkable that many of those who vilify Michelle Obama will proudly speak of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But these men were rapists, murderers, thieves, and slave-owners. On top of all of that, Thomas Jefferson was a known pedophile. Yet, they will glorify these men in public, and then turn around and vilify Michele Obama for honoring the image of God.

    My advice to anyone of color is to tell your stories, and tell them everyday. Surely, if a people can survive an institution of slavery that lasted 24/7, 365 days a year, for nearly 400 years, I am confident that the progeny of the European Invaders can stand to hear the tale for at least 5 minutes.

    1. bradmasterOCcal profile image50
      bradmasterOCcalposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      We admire what these perverts as you refer to them as did, and not who they were personally. Having this black president didn't help the country or the people. the country more divisive, as we have seen this summer. It is not his color but his action

    2. wrenchBiscuit profile image68
      wrenchBiscuitposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      The ends justifies the means? John Wayne Gacy  made a lot of little kids happy when he performed as a clown. The German people were literally starving to death before Hitler took control. Perhaps we should celebrate them both.

  17. Jimmy Daniel profile image61
    Jimmy Danielposted 7 years ago

    This question was asked by another author: Why does the mention of slavery anger some people? Is it ever appropriate to mention it? The following is my answer read more

  18. grand old lady profile image82
    grand old ladyposted 7 years ago

    Slavery is a part of American history. Nothing wrong with quoting history because the whole point of it is to understand one's country for all it is, warts and all, and to learn from past mistakes.

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