Recently, a new version of the Mark Twain classic Huckleberry Finn has been released with all of the instances of the word “nigger” changed to the word “slave”. (see Daily Show clip below). The argument here is that young children should not have to read or say the “n” word out loud as it makes everyone uncomfortable.

The editors are right about one thing. It is an awful word. A word filled with hatred and viciousness. It is a word that evokes anger and pain. But it is a glaring example of the dark side of our history and diluting it out of our historical narrative is nothing less than perpetuating historical denial.

For too long we have written and edited our history to insure the blind respect of the next generation. We whitewash over words and ideas and leave out whole parts of it because we are ashamed of what our ancestors have done to our own brothers and sisters with whom we share this great country. But healing the wounds of our history can’t happen if we continue to deny that these actions ever happened. We need to stand up and own our history.

Instead of removing the word “nigger” from Huckleberry Finn, why not create a curriculum around why this word exists, how it was used – such as in the book, why we abhor it now and why we must fight going forward to learn to treat all our earthly citizens with civility and kindness.

Finally authors and historians are bringing to light the glossed-over or completely eliminated historical narratives that tell the hard stories, the ugly truth, the dark things we have kept in our national closet. The book American Uprising: The untold story of America’s Slave Revolt by Daniel Rasmussen; Harper (276 pages, $26.99) is a good example of this unveiling. It tells the story of 500 slaves in New Orleans who attempted to revolt and establish a black republic in 1811. It’s a story long buried in our history from our own shame and denial but has now come to see the light of day. How validated the descendants of the 100 executed slaves will feel upon seeing their ancestors’ stories brought to light.

Can we finally have the courage to face up to our transgressions of the past, no matter how painful and horrible they are, and bring them to light so that all can be healed in the light of validation and truth? Can we finally be honest with one another, ourselves and the world and say “yes, we did these things, they are shameful and we are sorry” in order to bring peace to the victims of our crimes? Let’s move forward in historical truth and honesty, no longer in historical denial.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mark Twain Controversy
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:370709
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