I am reading an interesting, thought-provoking book that at times made me feel like someone punched me in the gut and at others took my breath away with tenderness. This book tells of the complicated relationships that occur in a society where it is OK to own another human being.
The book is Wash which brilliantly delves deep into the minds of slaves and their owners in the newly minted United States of America. It blows my mind how she captures their individual voices. I have spent time in African American history and literature studies and I will say that this book should be included in the curriculum for both.
The economics of slavery here and around the world has always been complicated. This book delves picks at the festering sore on the body of a nation that allowed human beings to be a commodity. Richardson, a slave owner who returns after spending years in the Revolutionary War is released from a prison camp to come home to find his farm near ruin. He decides to use his slave Washington as a breeder-for-hire. Imagine that. Wash and the women of other plantations are forced to breed mostly under the watchful sometimes lustful eyes of their captors. Wash is shunned by the women and hated by the male slaves.
There are so many layers to this amazing work that I don’t want to go into here. I would love for you to pick up this book. As I tell my children when we discuss the sad times in our history when we forgot we are human that the only thing that stands between us and another era of hate is our knowledge of the past.
It is important to remember and educate our generations. I read about an incident recently that puts that in perspective for me. Rapper, Little Wayne, included some lyrics in a recent song that mentioned a young man named Emmett Till. If you don’t know who Emmett Till is please take a few minutes and educate yourself on what the hate of racism looks like on a 14 year old boy. The lyrics were very offensive especially to the family of Emmett Till. Stevie Wonder has also spoken out on this incident. In my opinion, if Little Wayne truly understood the history of African-Americans and what his forefathers suffered so that he can have the right to create the lifestyle that he has created for himself, he would NEVER had included Emmett in his song.
I used the story of Emmett Till’s to teach my children what damage racism can do. I believed that by them being shown what happened to someone their own age that was hated solely for the color of their skin that they would understand racism in a more personal way and they do. They are now grown and when I mentioned the Little Wayne controversy they were appalled and saddened.
Read “Wash”, share it with your children, other family and your friends. Thank You Margaret Wrinkle for an amazing journey.
If you do read this book I would love to hear your thoughts.