Massa, You Sho’ Been Good to Me!

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Believe it or not, here we go again! In a recent article coming out of the great Sunshine State of Flor-ree-da, the state education board that oversees the curriculum of history courses, including African American history, has inserted in the curriculum that one of the good things about slavery was that the slaves learned valuable “personal skills” while toiling under Massa’s whip.

Yeah, read the article yourself. That board had the audacity and profound historical ignorance to even intimate that slavery was an important teaching tool, imparting valuable life lessons to people in bondage.

Imagine for a moment, so-called educated people concocting lies trying to convince you that the institution of slavery was not particularly bad since valuable skills were gleaned from those hundreds of years of oppression.

That being the case, since they are trying to convince a state of people who are ostensibly history challenged, let us see what valuable skills our ancestors learned via the whip and the lash of America’s peculiar institution:


(a) basic arithmetic and numbers so they could stop being fleeced at the local plantation commissary.

(b) reading skills so that they could not be swindled out of their money or land by hucksters.

(c) a reading of the state and the U.S. Constitution so that they could be informed and Intelligent voters?

(d) the use of firearms so they could protect themselves when the Klan rode up on them.

(e) all the above.

(f) none of the above.

If your answer is not “f,” you need to be quickly referred to a deprogramming camp to be reacquainted with the basics of Black History (which is American History).

It is obvious that Gov. Ron DeSantis and others of his pernicious ilk want to rewrite history (George Orwell 1984…anyone?) so that White students are not led to be ashamed or embarrassed about what their ancestors did to their enslaved populations.

Also, remember, it is always good and politically sound to harangue and denigrate people of color when the opportunity arises and thus curry the favor, money and votes of the White voting population who have not yet resolved themselves to the glaring fact that in about another 20 years, they will be a minority ethnic grouping in America.

The GOP is in the majority in Florida and despite blowback from the NAACP and teacher unions and other groups, Ron DeSantis is barreling ahead with a cockeyed revised American history to assuage the prickly sensitivity of his White voting bloc.

To him, it matters not that those historians, both Black and White, have shouted from the roof tops that such revisionism is anti-intellectual and does a grave dis-service to the contextual discussion of slavery in America.

Despite being repeatedly informed that a full and accurate portrayal of American history, with its warts and all, is beneficial, Ron DeSantis and company want no part of an American History that truthfully depicts the barbarous acts of Whites engaging in racial pogroms and denying Black Americans the same freedoms that they enjoy.

Save for the “skills” of planting and picking cotton, running the kitchens of Massa, having his babies out of wedlock and doing the sundry jobs of working on a plantation, there was nothing skillful taught to the overwhelming number of Black men and women who did not learn a valuable trade nor were entitled to full participation in the American Dream.

Slavery was not an incubator of fulfilling the aspirations of people of color, no matter how gifted or talented they were. Slavery was a perpetual headlock and vise grip on any desire to be free and to form enduring Black families.

Slavery was diametrically opposed to such ideas and those who fostered such thinking were not accorded any public voice by which to call the affected slave and his or her family into the whole of American society.

But yet, Florida wants you to believe that slavery was not a grim picture as it has been portrayed, what with all its lynchings and theft and the killing of innocents. A revised history of America would have slavery as a salubrious institution full of kindly White men and women who were warm and friendly to their “darkies” and only wanted the best for them.

If the Whites were to ask the very oppressed members of their slave communities what skills would they like to learn it would be: (1) how to escape their hellhole (2) how to make money so the slave could buy his freedom and that of his family members (3) how to learn a valuable trade so that when they reached Canada or UpSouth (aka: The North), they could thrive and prosper.

When Ron DeSantis and other historical revisionists start tearing out pages of history books to insert their own version of what they want it to portray, that society is on a downward slope to illusions and lies becoming their perverted truths.


Contact Lafe Tolliver at