Spring at Harding means that the season of engagements and weddings are upon. As you know, we are in the heart of the South, which is full of plantations. Before you plan your “romantic plantation wedding,” I encourage you to keep these things in mind:
Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, I had always dreamed of having a large, glamorous wedding at, you guessed it, a plantation. But the more I think about it, the more I find this wedding trend disturbing. Plantations and their history should not be romanticized. People were raped, killed and beaten there.
I read an article from Affinity Magazine that summed up the issue perfectly.
“Unsurprisingly, the racist history of slave plantations has been unfairly normalized and white washed,” said Kaliane Faye. “Because unlike other countries who are ashamed of their bigotry and have turned places of suffering into sacred monuments and grieving sites, the United States chooses to erase the history of ours and use them as places of merriment and celebration. We choose to dance on graves instead of respecting and mourning them.”
As white people, and as people in general, we need to do better and be more sensitive towards these topics. When people suggested plantations for my wedding venue, I constantly had to say, “Well, my fiancé is African-American, and I feel like that is not appropriate.” Then they would say something along the lines of, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t even think about that.” That is exactly the problem. People simply do not think about it. We all need to practice becoming more aware and intentional about these types of things.
Last week, I heard D’Andre Jones, chairman of the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission, speak at Harding’s Black Student Association meeting, and he said something that really stuck with me.
“We cannot change the world, but we can change part of it,” Jones said.
This relates to becoming socially conscious, because we cannot change the world without being aware of people’s culture and history.
Some ways to raise social awareness is to first put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathy can help you understand someone else’s perspective. When you are conscious of what’s going on around you, it will make you realize that not everyone thinks like you. Another thing you can do is educate yourself. Do not rely solely on what you learn in history class. Reach out and surround yourself with people who do not look like you, and listen to their stories and feelings.
Now, I know that most college-aged-women have had their weddings planned since they were little girls. But if yours incorporates an old slave plantation, I ask that you reconsider.