Won’t Be Enslaved To Their Ignorance

, , , , , | Learning | April 25, 2018

(We have been learning about the slave trade for Black History Month. Our teacher tells us to bring in essays on other examples of slavery throughout history to use as comparison. Most of the others choose the Greek or Roman slave trades, but I decide to use the Barbary pirates. I write my essay and bring it to read in front of the class. I talk about how the Barbary pirates, mostly from North Africa, used to travel as far north as Britain and Iceland to take white slaves. At the end of it, my teacher faces me.)

Teacher: “[My Name], that was a very interesting essay, but we’re not talking about fiction here.”

Me: *surprised* “But Miss, it really happened, mostly between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.”

Teacher: *ignoring me* “We’d like to think that the Africans had a slave trade, but the truth is that the white men were ruthless and enslaved them, not the other way around. However, I will give you a B for imagination. Don’t do this again, though.”

Me: *annoyed* “But it did happen, Miss! Read any history book! Practically every dominant country or empire had slaves. It makes no sense for the Ottomans to not have slaves.”

Teacher: *picking up a book from the shelf* “Let’s see… Barbary… Barbary… Oh, I see no mention of these pirates, and yet this book is a history of the world.”

(I tried to point out that it was a young children’s book, predominantly on European and American history, and shouldn’t even be in a classroom for tenth-graders, but she told me to sit down. Next history lesson, I brought in my sources from a museum, as well as a very large and heavy book on the history of slavery. She was forced to change my grade to an A.)

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