The current prevailing meme among black Americans is that slavery in America was far worse than its African equivalent---the black slaves of sub-Saharan Africa were often captives from other tribes but were often presented with the opportunity of freedom and full integration with the host society.
This in contradistinction to American "chattel" slavery, where the slave and his (more importantly her) descendants were property from cradle to grave, from generation to generation in perpetuity.
There's not much on the internet to dispute this view, but this month's Smithsonian Magazine reports, chapter and verse, on chattel slavery in Africa, today, in 2005. Perhaps Africa has been watching reruns of Roots, but it stands more to reason that chattel slavery was not exactly a New World invention.
I don't think there are many in this country who are interested in the truth about America's and humanity's history of slavery---it is repugnant, and to universalize it rings of excuse-making.
Still, if you google "chattel" and "America," you'll get a sense of how deep this perception runs, that the Black Experience in America was heinously unique.
Will go just a bit further with me? Google "Willie Lynch."
It's no small secret among black Americans that in 1712, a white slaveowner gave a speech to other slaveowners on how to control their slaves, the Black Man, and Lynch's principles are used even today to (and this is a key idiomatic term here) "divide and conquer."
The tragedy is that "Willie Lynch" is a hoax, and so is his "speech." But a majority, I think, of Black America really has no way of knowing that. His "words" ring true enough today that it really makes no difference.
I write this as an FYI for white Americans who are puzzled by the recent breakdown of American society in New Orleans. In that heart of the deepest South, unknown to most of us Weekly Standard, Fox News and NR readers, and even NYT and Daily Kos contributors, American society as we understand it has never existed.
I will add briefly that although I think all's fair in love, war and politics, the Democratic Party's demagoguery of the race issue has done far more damage to our republic than a bit of partisan fun and games. It is not good that our black citizens believe that half their nation, the Republican half and in today's case their president, wants them dead or at least wouldn't mind seeing their corpses floating out into the Gulf of Mexico.
And to my Republican friends, keep foremost in your minds that when the GOP accepted the Dixiecrats, Nixon's Southern Strategy, and all the white votes that came with them, we also took on Willie Lynch's karma, even if that sonofabitch never even existed.
As Mr. Homnick notes in verse below, a society needs its history. Black History is American History, but many of us who aren't black are unaware of how egregiously it's been hijacked. This is just a sampler.