For this final reflection blog post I decide to revise blog post #4. This was during week 4 where we examined different digital historical websites that covered multiple components of slavery. What made this blog post so fascinating compared to other weeks, is that it forced us as students to engage with transformative historical moments that changed United States history forever. The multiple comparative links serve as a documentation that show the class how history continues to powerfully affect the present.
I believe it’s important to analyze and expand on previous work, to see where your thinking was at that time, also to see if improvements have been made in a creative/logical way. By going back to the revision stage, specifically blog post #4, it challenges me as a writer to reorganize my thoughts on the topic at hand. Especially since the topic the class has covered extensively is the enslavement of African-Americans. It is important to revisit a historical episode that is so deeply rooted in the American past. So we can get a better understanding, just like the purpose of this blog will be; to take a deep look at a historical episode(s) in the United States saga. By doing this we as a society can a better look on how we view our national relationships on; politics, culture, social issues, and economic level.
I feel it is necessary to look at those same comparative websites to gain a better understanding of United States history during that time. Also to challenge myself to draft new ideas and new supporting paragraphs that would be more descriptive, concrete, and vivid. One of the strength of both the ‘Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery (NYPL)’ website and the ‘Slavery in New York (New York Historical Society)’ website, is that it informs the reader about American heroes during and after enslavement who are usually left out of the history books. It’s important to realize how historical writing can be biased, but both these websites give many examples of less recognized American heroes who helped African Americans during that time.
An example of this comes from the Least We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery website that tells the reader about community leaders. Though no specific names were mentioned we get to understand about the importance of a community and a tribe fighting for freedom. “Some found refuge in urban areas where they could hide in free black communities. Others took up refuge in Native American communities and free black towns. Still others ran away and created new “maroon” communities where they set up their own systems of government and social organizations and ran their own lives.” (nypl 2020)
Another important takeaway we can learn from is how everyone who was a part of the slave economy was adversely affected by it. The Slavery in New York (New York Historical Society) website, specifically the virtual tour in gallery 2 expounds upon the capitalistic gains that came out enslavement in New York. Traders and slaveholders made significant gains from this institution and realized that they needed to keep it going. Even though African American had “half-freedom” by the time they arrived in New York. Enslavers chose to violate their most basic human rights, that is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In gallery two they state how; “It’s enslaved Africans built whatever New Amsterdam needed. A wall and a fort to protect against native peoples and rival English colonies. A dock to receive cargos for the Hudson Valley and from overseas. Roads into the interior of bountiful Manhattan Island.” (slaveryinnewyork)
Digital history and specifically both these websites allows us to understand slavery’s scar on the world and its impact and relevance. How once we understand history it can help us change our perspective of how the dominant group and the marginal group were affected both culturally, psychologically, socially, and how it has manifested into the times we are in now. These digital websites provide insight to ramifications the past had.
It also shows how history textbooks reflect America’s refusal to reckon with slavery. The history of slavery isn’t that simple. Most people are taught that in the year 1619 the first Africans reached the US soil. 400 years later textbooks are still glossing over the the transitional period, from the arrival of Africans to slavery. Textbooks fail to capture the reality of what the enslaved went through from their outlook. Textbooks say that slaves or indentured servants were sold for goods. Textbooks vaguely explain about how labor contracts and the terms affected these people. To wrap this point up I feel as this class pulls from intellectual descendants and databases. Also the curriculum of this class teaches the students about key stories to our democracy.
As I reflect back on the portfolio of digital history work I have completed. I really enjoyed experiencing, reading, and following arguments about major historical problems during slavery. This class shows the importance of taking advantage of new digital communication technologies that draw on essential features of the digital realm. Using the databases and networks provided by the professor allows unconveyed stories of trauma, that were once silenced to be used as a teaching mechanism that can perhaps bring us together. When two or more groups in a community have different views on history, it can become conflicting. Digital history allows that barrier to be shattered or broken. It also creates a conversation to ask new research questions about the literature of humanity!
I would say that this course prepared me to better engage in the dialogue and discussion about race. The topic of race in this country can be quite difficult and challenging, but this course has provided a framework to be better equipped in understanding the trauma that African Americans have faced, and continue to face.