It’s a brilliant coincidence that this was the year I began watching the new Crash Course on Black American History that the book Mastering Emotions: Feelings, Power, and Slavery in the United States by Erin Austin Dwyer came onto my radar.
I’m gonna level with y’all, this should be mandatory reading. I’m not going to say it’s easy mandatory reading but it’s mandatory reading. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them. This book is masterful at tearing down the myth that slavery was good for black people and going over the lies, gaslighting, tools and many manipulations white slaveowners and those who sympathized with them and pushed forward their racist agenda used to continue to hold dominion over an entire race of people for the sake of economic gain.
I had a really hard time reading this as a black person but it was so enlightening and so important. Coming from a black family, we always talked about this stuff but lacked a lot of the academic language to put those feelings into my eloquent words and it’s always been difficult to explain to non-black people that slavery was not only bad but an emotional scar that continues to cling to black Americans even today in the form of continued value, generational trauma and perpetuated unhealthy myths about the practice.
These feelings of inadequacy and being lesser have affected every single part of my life, even my fandom experiences from dealing with racist trolls at panels, being talked over during conventions and the increased sexual harassment and assault women of color receive and it’s all rooted to the tactics and terrors used in the early history of owning slaves in the US.
Mastering Emotions is timely, thought-provoking and powerful. I highly recommend it.
Mastering Emotions: Feelings, Power, and Slavery in the United States by Erin Austin Dwyer comes out October 22, 2021