An Overall Charm
On our second day in Charleston, after stopping that morning at Caviar & Bananas for breakfast (a popular gourmet grocery and food spot), we went plantation hopping.
The first stop was Middleton Place, known more for its extensive French-style gardens and acreage than for the house itself, which is actually little more than ruins and a side house that was rebuilt after the Civil War. We wound up taking a tour of the house, which I will be the first to say you should avoid at all costs. While the old home is interesting, the docent leading the tour was slow and dry, telling us the history of things like the breakfast table in one of the rooms. I love history, don't get me wrong, and Ashley, the historian, clearly loves history, but this tour did little to hold anyone's interest. It is also quite telling to notice the types of people who wind up on plantation tours -- there is no diversity at all, it's only white folks. And the tour itself, moreso than just being boring, told little to none of the slave history of the plantation which is entirely problematic on a number of levels. Ashley sent me this video after we got back last week and I think it really hits home the gap in recognition that many places have towards slavery. “The history of this country is rooted in slavery," Mr. Seck says solemnly, "If you don’t understand the source of the problem, how can you solve it?” It's the age old adage: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Our nation has not come nearly as far as we should have at this point to solve the culture that slavery put into place. The Black Lives Matter movement and the unfortunate necessity of the Black Lives Matter movement is clear proof of that. The best way to understand another person is to understand where he or she is coming from and his or her perspective on any given situation, that's just basic empathy. How much more difficult will it be to bridge those prejudices that still remain in the minds of too many if the ones who are prejudiced are ignorant of any side of the argument but their own? I know, this is a heavy subject to be spurred by a fun trip to some South Carolina plantations, but it's certainly something to think about. As the writer Samuel Hoffenstein said, "Prejudice is the child of ignorance." And a more modern version of that quote -- "I like to take naps but I stay woke."
Our second stop was at McLeod Plantation on James Island (more on McLeod later). We had planned to also make it to Boone Hall Plantation, but unfortunately we ran out of time. Boone Hall is where they filmed part of The Notebook -- it was Allie's parent's summer home -- and from photos it looks like it would be really pretty! Some other plantations and historic houses I read about in planning the trip were Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall Plantation, and the Aiken-Rhett House, which all sounded like lovely options as well!
Thanks Ashley for the photos!