Content Warning: The following contains unsettling and graphic details concerning the life of Sarah Baartman. Baartman was sold into slavery, and put on exhibit as a “freakshow attraction” due to her naturally curvaceous body. She endured unimaginable cruelty as she was sexually exploited for others’ profit. This piece is intended to educate and bring a broader awareness of racist colonial exploitation, and the dehumanization of Black people. Reader discretion is advised.

WSV Columnist Amy East writes, “In researching my own genealogy, I’ve found a number of ancestors who fought for the idea that all men were created equal in the American Revolution, and some that owned slaves. The movement of my ancestors to Cass County was very near to the time the Potawatomi were forcibly removed. Were they involved? I don’t know. Did they benefit? Without a doubt. But just because this knowledge might make me uncomfortable, or challenge how I’d like to see myself, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. When you ask ‘what did you learn that you didn’t know before?’ you don’t get to choose if that knowledge aligns with your worldview. That’s the cost of curiosity, my friend.”

Rob Schofield writes, “Here in the United States, it has taken many decades – indeed, centuries – for the tragic scope of what was done to Native Americans to slowly penetrate the consciousness of a population raised on cowboy movies and fanciful Thanksgiving stories.

“And so it is, perhaps not surprisingly, that many modern Americans continue to struggle with one of the most horrific of all episodes of oppression in human history: the forced enslavement of millions of people of African descent by white Americans. While no one denies the fact of slavery, millions still avert their eyes from its gruesome reality and, even more importantly, from its legacy.”

From statehouses to Congress, Republicans have launched into a fight against the teaching of “critical race theory,” which just a year ago was a niche academic term. Experts in critical race theory say it’s about acknowledging how racial disparities are embedded in U.S history and society, and the concept is being mischaracterized by conservatives. But GOP lawmakers in the past few months have succeeded in pushing it to the top of state legislative agendas.