It’s no secret that conservative political pundit Bill O’Reilly’s abrasive and often racially offensive rhetoric knows no limits, but he stooped to a new low with his recent comments about slavery.
First Lady Michelle Obama brought the 2016 DNC crowd to their feet on Monday night when she delivered a raw, honest and powerful speech that included a pointed reminder about how it was the hands of African-American slaves that built the White House. “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she said firmly. “And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent Black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”
O’Reilly addressed the FLOTUS’ comments on his show The O’Reilly Factor on Tuesday, with a response that implied African-American slaves were somehow better off than has been documented and proven throughout the course of history. “Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802,” he said. “However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well.”
A combination of the FLOTUS comments and O’Reilly’s ridiculed response prompted actress and activist Reagan Gomez-Preston to spark a pointed social media discussion about the skewered historical view America has on the history of slavery in the U.S. Sharing her personal experience with learning about the history of slavery during a tour of the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, Reagan blasted the idea that slavery wasn’t “that bad” by rehashing stories told to her by the tour guide.
When I went on the @WhitPlantation tour, the guide talked about how Domestic Slavery really took off when "breeding" became a common thing.— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
I learned so much from the Plantation tour, but I knew Slavery was Terrorism. There was no "romanticizing" Slavery. But I was amazed…— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
…this white woman couldn't believe it. She had a convo with the guide, saying she was under the impression that "slave" children were….— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
…the result of Slave Marriages. Slaves fell in love, got married & had children like some RomCom. The guide explained that not only….— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
…were women "bred" (while still having to work/still beaten) until they couldn't breed anymore, babies were ripped out of mother's…— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
Her commentary soon sparked an informative Twitter discussion where she referenced an offensive, romanticized slavery animation that went viral in early 2016 and also expressed her surprise to some people being shocked by the comments made by FLOTUS during her DNC Speech.
…people literally have NO IDEA HOW HORRIFIC AMERICAN SLAVERY WAS. That kid's book with the "Happy" slave cooking or whatever from….— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
…earlier this year, like, so many people really think Slavery was like that. Not that bad. Just a bit inconvenient. Most black ppl…— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
…anyway. But people are legit shocked that Michelle Obama said Slaves built the White House. Like, I thought that was common knowledge…— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
If anything? Watching people be both, upset at Flotus for saying Slaves built the WH/ AND ppl being like, wait…Slaves built the WH?!!! 🤔🙄— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
Lord. This is another reason why, you'll never see me say, "I'm sick of films about American Slavery". We don't know shit about slavery.— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
I'm sick of films about Slavery/JimCrow/BlackOppression centering white people. Yes. But not of the stories.— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 27, 2016
We’re just about 150% sure that the enslaved African-Americans, who weren’t even legally considered human beings but instead regarded as property, would have much to say to combat the ridiculous idea that they were well taken care of and had “decent lodgings.” Given that these men were stripped of their freedom for decades and FORCED into the labor services they provided, describing their treatment as anything other than inhumane is just simply inaccurate.
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