We’re getting to be about as close to Star Trek as we area away from antebellum slavery. Still, of the latter TIME magazine can’t LET IT GO.
Americans are likely to think of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as a time to celebrate the fresh start that a new year represents, but there is also a troubling side to the holiday’s history. In the years before the Civil War, the first day of the new year was often a heartbreaking one for enslaved people in the United States.
In the African-American community, New Year’s Day used to be widely known as “Hiring Day” — or “Heartbreak Day,” as the African-American abolitionist journalist William Cooper Nell described it — because enslaved people spent New Year’s Eve waiting, wondering if their owners were going to rent them out to someone else, thus potentially splitting up their families. The renting out of slave labor was a relatively common practice in the antebellum South, and a profitable practice for white slave owners and hirers.
They’re also upset that blacks continue to go to church. About the level of Debbie Downering one would expect from a publication who chose Greta the human shield as last year’s prominent person. They lament the splitting of families temporarily in ancient history that everyone else had forgotten, but they would have no problem doing the same thing today, splitting up families, communities, and nations by sending half of all workers God-knows-where around the globe in pursuit of free trade.
On a positive note, I may have to re-read but I think they avoided blaming Donald Trump for breaking up slave families or for that attack on the church in New York. Hope?