“It’s a boy!” The woman said happily on the recording, unaware of how many times her voice would ring through the speakers of personal computers, how many times the link to the video where she talks about legs, hearts, what researchers want brains for, would be shared on social media. Probably she would have wished to be famous for something else, but this is what we know her voice for.
Last Friday a friend and I went to the Heinz Pittsburgh History Museum. The have a new exhibit up called From Slavery to Freedom, detailing the horrors of the slave trade and human ownership.
To be sold, the sign read. Choice cargo of about 250 fine healthy negroes, just arrived from Windward & Rice Coast.
Museum goers walked by, stopping, rolling their eyes, gasping, saying aloud, how could this have been okay?
Because it seems ridiculous today, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it seem crazy to own another human, to think that because a person’s skin is different they must not have a soul? How could they have inspected another person’s teeth, like looking at a horse, and decide they would be good for labor? How could we have put someone on a stand while bidders stood around, prodding the legs, observing the build, and paying a price to control every day they would ever live?
It’s a man’s right was the argument of the slave owner at the time. It was a popular view. It’s a man’s right to own a slave to work on his field, to help him provide for his family, to work the ground the Good Lord gave him. According to popular the law, it was every bit in his right to own another human because one was born chocolate and the other born ivory.