ELDER

Anonymous Community Member/ Plantation Descendant

I just have this one question that stays in my head and I'm going to ask it, because of the conversations I've heard. Can we really say that plantations exists, as by definition, what a plantation was back then?  What my thoughts are is that the geographic area, the buildings, the history, the story, the memories—that exists. But truly, a “plantation”, as we might define it to be—where crops are being grown and African Americans are enslaved, or working the crop for little or nothing, or just for a place to stay—do we still have that? I think the answer is no. What we do have are those same geographic areas that we have changed a little bit to create a more historical site to create that memory, or create that knowledge, or that education for us all to learn of those places.


My mother grew up on a plantation. She told me a lots of stories of what she endured. She told me stories of her dad plowing the fields with his mules. I was a little girl listening to those stories. I was raised in a four-room house, where I slept in the same bed as my brother. The other brothers live in the same room as us. We didn't have indoor facilities, we had an outhouse. That was our upbringing. I was born and raised in the house that my dad's grandmother lived in. And he restored the house to make it a family home for us as children and my mom. So I know the stories that my mom told me when she was a little girl growing up. And the stories that I heard going onto the plantations and from the tour guides. Someone mentioned that earlier, that there are different stories for each plantation, but some of them give you a more glorified story. While I was there, I was in a diversified group, a mixed group, and I felt like the tour guide looked in my face and said, Well, I don't really want to talk about the blacks or the slaves while this black lady is here…you know, it might hurt her feelings. But he hurt my  feelings more by not telling. Because when I finished the tour, I'm like, why did he lie about what happened to black people? You know, as an example, my mom used to say, what happened at this very plantation so I was left in awe, you know. You're really not telling the real story here. 

But I go back to the definition of plantation and, really, I think, since the Black Lives Matters, that definition has changed from what I had seen it before. It talks more about that as a place where lots of things are grown. That's the definition of Plantation. It doesn't talk about this as the place where slave workers worked and didn't get paid. And this is where they lived. So what is the authoritative source here? What do we really describe plantations to be?  The million dollar question is do these plantations still exist as we identify them with that word? I'm confused. And so you know, I know some of those places or sites have called them museums, or a tour place or whatever.   I mean, a nickel is a nickel is a nickel. But a plantation is not a plantation, is a planation, but I could be wrong 


I've had many, many conversations with people who don't feel that it's okay to talk about these, unhappy stories, putting it that way. They’re sad, sad stories, but they happen and we need to know of them, our children need to know. I brought my little grand-girl over to Whitney to sit in the church in the same pew in the same place where my son sat when his grandmother was funeralised, in that very church, and took a picture of her and said “your dad sat right here with his little white shoes on asking me why is his grandmother late”.


My dad did not know how to read and he was of a lighter skin tone, so he was accepted in the house. His brother with a darker skin tone was not. I don't think his story is a lie.