I was really excited to find this article: “Want To Eat Like A Colonist? Ask This Virginia Chef”. I am a huge foodie, so it was awesome to find out what kinds of things colonists ate. Apparently bread and stew were the primary staples of a colonist’s diet. More interesting than what the colonists ate, though, it the fact that a period style bakery does exist in Virginia. Having been to Williamsburg on a field trip as a child, I’m pretty bummed out that I missed out on that experience. I can now, however, sit back happily at home with a beer and know that the colonists and I shared something in common. I really recommend reading this article to all my classmates, because it was so cool! I know one thing is for sure… if I were a colonist, I’d starve! The equipment they had to work with sounds miserable to operate, and I’m pretty hard-pressed to make that long journey between my freezer and microwave as is.
A recurring theme that I see in media about slavery (and rightfully so), is the separation of family and loved ones. Having read Frederick Douglass’s narrative, it was interesting to compare to the movie Django. Douglass mentions that slave families were separated basically at birth, probably to avoid attachments, but also tells how his mother would walk miles after performing hard labor just to lay down with him for a short while before he would fall asleep. The common theme that I keep seeing is love, and the bonds that tie people together. In Django, the main character (for whom the movie is named) is also looking for his loved one: his wife.
Django and his wife, both slaves, are heart-wrenchingly separated, something that seemed to happen far too often during this time. Frederick Douglass also mentioned that slaves who got into trouble were sent ‘South’. By the end of the movie, Django has reunited with his wife, though he was unable to run away with her discreetly like he’d hoped, and is instead thwarted by the perceptive plantation owner. To me, it was interesting to see a mainstream film mirror something like Frederick Douglass’s narrative in certain aspects, and it really solidified the atrocity of slavery, especially in separating families and loved ones.
Until recently, I didn’t realize there was a motion to remove confederate statues at all. According to an article on usnews.com, protesters and local governments have been tearing them down. I feel that this is an over-reaction, or over-sensitivity, as I don’t believe in tearing down historical monuments of any kind without some kind of preservation efforts made first. I feel that these statues are not necessarily condoning what these ‘white men’ did so much as serving as reminders of the past. It’s not possible or ethical to try to remove figures from our past just because we don’t like what they did.
One thing I didn’t appreciate very much about this article was the blatant bias of the author, though it is an opinion piece, so I guess it’s not right to throw stones. Regrettably, I find myself on the side of Condoleezza Rice and Donald Trump: the statues should not be torn down. I do believe that monuments should be preserved, and I believe there should be consequences for protesters who vandalize public property. I believe that monuments and parks serve as reminders of our violent history, and are the cornerstone of our nation’s atonement. That being said, I wouldn’t mind more statues built to honor ‘non-white men’.
One of the most fascinating things I’ve ever studied in any history class throughout my time in a classroom has been the Jamestown colony. My interest is most likely attributable to the time I spent in the Virginia school system, and the depth of material covered there. I believe that the Jamestown colony and colonization of North America were both extremely daring, but also a great tragedy. It is almost unfathomable to me that North America was an entirely different place only a few hundred years ago. 1493: Uncovering the New World was so beautifully written that I could imagine the vastly different landscape without worms, or sheep, or cattle. Despite my more thorough than is typical background on the Jamestown colony, I learned a lot by reading it, and the importance of the colony was reinforced in my mind.
One of the most interesting things that I learned was about John Smith. Like many children, I grew up watching Disney movies, and my image of John Smith was shaped around his image in the film Pocahontas. It was a shock, though amusing, to learn that there is a fair chance that John Smith may have exaggerated his exploits, which were both daring and numerous, all before the age of 26, according to the article. I was pleased to see that the Disney movie and historical texts both agree that John Smith was able to bridge the gap between colonists and the Native Americans.
I was also very interested to read about the tensions between the colonists and the Indians. I don’t remember learning about the specific details growing up, like the massacre the article describes toward the end. Indians who frequently spent time with colonists came over, ate a meal with them, and grabbed whatever they could find to murder the colonists. This is a darker side of history that I wish we did read about in text books growing up, because I feel it’s important to share the truth, and not the simplified or watered down version that is so often shared. Why is it that history texts are so often censored? Is the public afraid that children will repeat the same acts of violence once they’ve read about the horrendous acts committed in the world’s youth? I believe that neither history nor literature should be censored. While there are things that certainly should not make the reading lists of third-graders, the truth is not something that should be sheltered either.
I am an avid gamer – both video games and board games – and I love food. I couldn’t live without my pets, or hot coffee. I admit that history had never been my forte, but I still recognize its importance in the things that I love. Some of the best and most creative stories are those passed down through historians, and as a gamer I draw from history all the time when creating my own campaigns! I find easy inspiration in early history and myths and fables. Beyond practical uses, I am a firm believer that those who do not know history, are doomed to repeat it. To me history is nothing more than the sum of our experiences, and the more you know, the wiser you are.