The Revolution That Never Happened Essay

1284 words - 5 pages

1789 marked a historic year in the struggles against slavery in the French colony of Saint-Domingue. The French Revolution played an important part in influencing the Haitian Revolution of 1791; it gave way to the Haitian Revolution which consisted of many other separate revolutions that occurred at the same time. Saint-Domingue, now known as Haiti, had the most wealth in terms of crops that could be excavated by black slaves. Toussaint l’Overture was a former black slave who was forced to pick up these crops; little did he know he was the person who sparked the Haitian Revolution. Toussaint, the leader of the Revolution, was the first person to strike. He took on a white planter who was controlling slaves, on August 21, 1791. Many people during this time period wondered how and why this revolution took place, Michel-Rolph Trouillot even stated that it was unthinkable. In his book, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, Trouillot argues that the Haitian Revolution was and remains unimaginable today; the ideas of race and slavery are challenged, along with the ostracism of Haiti.
Trouillot argues that the Haitian Revolution was unlikely because it defied the idea of race in respect with slavery. His opinions are valid in that the black man was implied to be inferior to the dominant race in that time period, which was the white man; this is implicitly defined as racism. Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts, written by Bill Ashcroft, defines the term racism as: “a way of thinking that considers a group’s unchangeable physical characteristics to be linked in a direct, casual way . . . distinguishes between ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ racial groups” (181). Trouillot and I would both agree that this statement is correct because racism would not be possible without race; the two main races he talks about in the novel are whites and blacks. I believe that the white man should not be in fault for the start of racism because they did not know any better at that time. Trouillot explains this in his novel: “Blacks were inferior and therefore enslaved; black slaves behaved badly and were therefore inferior. In short, the practice of slavery in the Americas secured the blacks’ position at the bottom of the human world” (77). The blacks did not ask for this position to be given to them; they were forced to take it. The white man secured themselves as the ‘superior’ and brought about the act of enslaving blacks and forcing labor on them. Since slavery has taken place it was highly unlikely that the blacks could run Haiti economically. They did not have the viable education in order to run a country.
Throughout the course of Trouillot’s novel, there are hints that if race was not a problem, there would not have been any issues with slavery. Blacks were captured and enslaved by whites. They were thought of being weak and without mind by the whites, so why would they begin the Haitian Revolution? Better yet, why wouldn’t they? The blacks...

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