The name's Luna.
24/Los Angeles/wannabe blogger & researcher
Just another freak in the Freak Kingdom.
A place for me to ramble about books I love... also probably the only blog I'll ever have that will keep its theme. I don't want my page to be a mess so I'm only going to shelve books starting with what I've read in the past year.
I'm not always eloquent, and I'm certainly not pretentious. I am just a huge nerd who lurks in used bookstores and likes to read and do research for fun.
Freedom on my Mind (Part 1) is the first textbook I've ever read almost entirely cover to cover. African American History is something that's been skimmed over in many of our history classes, and for the first time in a long time I felt a new world of history open up to me. Freedom touches on every aspect of the early African American experience, much of which was too horrifying to even imagine. Though it's written in textbook format, it doesn't read quite so dry- the authors are really good at summing up the information you need while not letting the language get boring. They also don't attempt to skirt around the more difficult subjects, like the treatment endured on the Middle Passage, the rape of countless African American women, and the ugly racial stereotypes which continued to be perpetuated throughout the early 20th century.
The best thing about this textbook are the documents that are included with each chapter. By connecting the historical figures and events they're writing about to physical evidence of the laws and customs of the time, the glossy film we as a nation have put over slavery and the institution of racism is peeled back. Although no one in America denies that slavery existed or is unaware of how terrible it was, by and large we sort of pretend that the horrors of slavery were isolated. Films like Gone With the Wind are evidence of Americans' denial of the true face of the Antebellum era.
The textbook ends just after the Civil War, when black men were struggling to exercise their new right to vote and a half-assed effort toward reconstructing the South had begun. As someone who's always had an interest in The Underground Railroad (it was the first non-fiction thing I read about as a kid) and the early history of the United States, a lot of what we went over in class and in the textbook I already knew, or at least had a base understanding. However, I learned a lot of new things as well and got into a lot more detail about things I was already aware of.
Something that was completely new to me was that not all abolitionists were fighting for true equality between the races. There was "radical" abolitionism and "conservative" abolitionism- radicals believed in true equality, and they were few and far between, even in the North. Many more Northern whites were conservative abolitionists, who were appalled by slavery but still saw blacks as inferior people who should be sent "back" (by the mid-late 1800s most of the slaves were born in America, so they were more American than African) to Africa or who needed guidance from whites. They believed in a slow movement away from slavery and compensation for the slave owners. Radicals were people who believed blacks, whites, women, and men should all be treated with equal respect, that slaves should be freed immediately and that they should be compensated for their suffering, and the former slave owners should get nothing or be punished. While it was disheartening to learn that even some of the abolitionists were racists, learning about how free-thinking the radicals were was very inspiring.
Honestly, I'd recommend this to anyone who is interested in American history, or history in general. It's kind of crazy that I'm recommending a school textbook right now- that should speak to its' awesomeness! It's not even too pricey because it's not from one of those corrupt big textbook companies. I think I got it new for about $40, and it was totally worth it.
Never stop learning!