Similar to this question: How do today's Germans percieve the Nazis:

“Race relations are better since I graduated. That's the truth,” Obama told. He added “Racism persists, inequality persists...” Here.

1- What do today's Americans think about slavery?
2- Are there any bad feelings among some whites against blacks?
3- How students taught in school about slavery history? Is it considered as a shame? or ...?

  • 5
    This question seems answerable to me. American schoolchildren are taught that slavery was wrong. There is no significant movement asserting the reverse. Segregation and economic changes in farming have buried that as an issue. Even segregation has been replaced by affirmative action as a serious issue.
    – Brythan
    Apr 7, 2016 at 21:20
  • 3
    The way I see it, even though the question is asking about opinions, It is not asking for your personal opinion. I consider that to not be the kind of "opinion based" that we close for, so I'm reopening it. Apr 15, 2016 at 19:22
  • 2
    I am also very surprised about the objections raised in the comments. The question is a bit broad but otherwise a lot more objective and answerable (e.g. based on the sociological literature, surveys, etc.) than most questions asked on this site. +1 from me.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 16, 2016 at 8:43

3 Answers 3


As others have mentioned, most Americans think slavery is terrible. If you were to suggest to a typical American that we repeal the 13th Amendment and allow people to own other people as chattel, the most likely reaction would be some kind of stunned disbelief. Most people would probably assume that you were making some sort of joke (and one in poor taste, at that).

However, to understand American race relations you need to recognize that they have little to do with slavery per se and everything to do with the decades of institutionalized discrimination that followed the end of the American Civil War. Throughout the American south African Americans were denied access to jobs and education. Their political rights were suppressed; often they were denied the right to vote. Lynching and other forms of mob justice were common. All of this was not just permitted but mandated in a body of law collectively known as "Jim Crow laws". Even outside the south discrimination, though not mandated like in Jim Crow, was still permitted and widely practiced.

This situation persisted officially until the laws began to change as a result of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Even after the passage of civil rights legislation, treating African Americans as second-class citizens had become ingrained in many white Americans and has been slow to change. Moreover, decades of discrimination left a mark on black communities that persists to this day, leaving many African Americans understandably aggrieved at their situation and in some cases demanding restitution. Equally understandably, these demands and accusations have in some cases provoked backlash from white Americans who feel they are being held responsible for injustices committed in some cases before they were born.

In light of all this, the subject of slavery doesn't really feature centrally in American race relations today. It comes up occasionally, but there are a lot of injustices that are both more recent and more directly responsible for the hardships that black people face in the 21st century United States. These, along with contemporary issues like unequal treatment under the law, are the things that inform race relations today.

Finally, you asked about the teaching of historical slavery, and, well, it's complicated. The institution of slavery is a national embarrassment, particularly its connection with the founding of the United States. Many of the founders, including Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington, Revolutionary War general and first President of the United States, were slave owners. As a result, there is a tendency to whitewash the role of slavery in the early history of our country. Often it gets only a brief mention and is treated like a footnote. In some cases slavery has been expunged from history curricula altogether, as in the famous Texas textbook controversy; however, revisionism that sweeping is usually treated as a scandal when it occurs. I would say that in most places the trend is toward a more open recognition of slavery's role in American history, albeit with occasional backsliding.

  • I feel like my school curriculum did spend a decent length of time on slavery, all with a strong focus on it being wrong. Then again I was raised in a heavily democratic leaning state so perhaps there is a noticeable difference in how it's taught between states?
    – dsollen
    Jul 2, 2020 at 19:48
  • @dsollen School curricula are set by the states, so they vary a lot across different times and places. For example, the difference between what my mother (grew up in SC) and my father (PA) learned about the civil war is striking. Then, I had a friend who grew up in Missouri and said his civil war education was all about bleeding Kansas. I would say that the trend over time has been toward greater recognition of the baleful legacy of slavery in our country, with occasional backlash like the Texas case I mentioned, but I can't say I've made a careful study of the matter.
    – Nobody
    Jul 2, 2020 at 20:28

As a life-long citizen of the United States, I can tell you that the American public in general considers slavery to be a very bad thing.

  1. Slavery is Illegal according to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

  2. The chattel slavery of the 1700s to 1800s is considered to be a great national shame. There might be some people who secretly believe slavery isn't that bad, but to say that slavery is not bad is such a taboo to the general public of the United States that almost nobody who believes that would dare say it out loud.


What do today's Americans think about slavery?

In most day-to-day interactions, I think you'd find it unlikely for someone to say that they are a proponent of slavery. Most people you speak with will say it's morally wrong. In recent politics, it has an especially negative connotation with the emergence of the "Black Lives Matter" movement (this movement came from the recent claims of police brutality against blacks. People who identify with this movement often talk about historical mistreatment of blacks, slavery, etc.)

Are there any bad feelings among some whites against blacks?

Sometimes there are, and most of those who have bad feelings are branded as racist, which may be a fair or unfair description based on the context.

Let me explain: I'm sure you'll find people who are racist towards all black people as a general principle (this racism is detestable in my opinion), but you'll also find people who are against specific political groups (which happen to be composed primarily of black people) who have certain political ideologies (and the political ideology is what they may disagree with, rather than necessarily having negative feelings towards all black people). You can find a lot of talks by Milo Yiannopoulos (a popular conservative speaker) on Youtube, such as this one where he is interrupted by protestors who identify with the Black Lives Matter movement. This video just acts as an example of a person (Milo) who is against a specific political ideology rather than being an outright racist (I don't know Milo personally though, so I couldn't confirm one way or another his actual feelings towards people of different races).

In other words, it's important to distinguish between people who are racist versus people who are against specific political ideologies.

How students taught in school about slavery history? Is it considered as a shame? or ...?

I was taught about slavery all the way from gradeschool through college. I haven't encountered anyone who has thought it was a shame to teach about it (it's an important of American history), but the material itself is presented in a way that characterizes slavery as shameful.

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