I worked at a store that sells home décor; this store prides itself on providing customers items that will tie in to their Southern-themed homes. During my time there, I noticed the particular items that caught the attention of many of the customers.
Raw cotton orbs, raw cotton stalks and a wreath covered in raw cotton; these items were at the front of the store and every day that I walked into work, and I cringed at the sight of them.
One day a customer believed that “surely, she wouldn’t be able to find them anywhere else,” if she had not purchased them that day.
But she was wrong. The store that I worked in is one of many large chain retailers that sold these cotton products.
They reminded me that my ancestors who worked under the hands of masters for decades who thought only of the cotton being picked and the irrelevance of the hands that picked it. They reminded me of the work that my ancestors put in to build the South’s economy but they didn’t receive anything in return.
For me, it’s hard to understand why this would be considered decoration. For decades and generations, children were born into slavery to work in fields to harvest cotton, a product that built the Southern economy.
Raw cotton products have a history of being a chain and an oppressor that African Americans never saw any profits from.
For the people who believe there’s nothing to be concerned about because “everything isn’t always about race,” I want those people to remember the symbol of raw cotton is one that should remind us of slavery, another piece of history that the United States tries to ignore.