Unlike Germany with the Holocaust and South Africa with Apartheid, the United States has not had a proper reckoning with its slave-holding past. Poet, scholar and writer Clint Smith explains what that says about American society in his new book, “How the Word is Passed.”
In it, Smith argues that history is not taught to reflect what actually happened in the US, and this lack of truth helps explain current injustices. To arrive at his point, Smith makes a pilgrimage to several different sites, mostly in the US, that trace the arc of slavery in the country.
He leaves these sites wondering, “How do you tell a story that has been told the wrong way for so long?”
Smith also connects these visits to present-day systemic problems such as police violence and mass incarceration, all the while reminding readers that denial, half-truths and outright lies have shaped the tone of American history – and fueled ongoing white supremacy in the country.
In this episode of The Stream we ask, is it time for America to reckon with its slave-holding past?
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