The effort to reduce American slavery to a benign, romantic institution is a deeply rooted tradition. After the Civil War, Southern whites used power reacquired through violence and discrimination to construct a false narrative about slavery. They dominated public memory by erecting tax-funded monuments that glorify the Confederacy. By this retelling, the Confederate cause was noble, the war was not about slavery, and enslaved people were happy, loyal, and should be remembered for their faithfulness to slaveholders.
American slavery was always dehumanizing and barbaric, and was often bloody, brutal, and violent. Enslaved people were chained, beaten, humiliated, and denigrated in every conceivable way. The effort to deny these truths continues a historical effort to deny humanity.