Belle Meade Plantation

by Liz Heather in

I think it's safe to say that this country should be fucking embarrassed by the fact that its plantations are considered "attractions." I recently went to one solely because I've always thought the idea of showcasing them as "museums" was appalling and I had questions as to what purpose they serve today. I was also curious as to how they would tell the history of such a place and if they would include every historically relevant detail (they didn't).

So I went - and of course, it went badly. I knew it would, but I didn't know quite the extent of it. 

First of all, there's a tour of the Belle Meade mansion. They take you on a detailed tour of the main house and go into full detail about the Harding family who lived there (who, by the way, had no significant impact on American history in any way that I could surmise) and the horses that they bred. AND THAT'S IT. THAT'S ALL SHE WROTE. There's literally no mention of any slaves or of anything that would hold the estate in a negative light. Oh, and there's a wine tasting inside the gift shop at the conclusion of the tour. 

...Is it just me or is that the whitest thing they could've put in that gift shop? What the fuck does wine have to do with a plantation? Other than the fact that it makes sense to bask in the delight of a glass of Chardonnay instead of questioning any of the "uncomfortableness" that the entire property is cloaked in.

Terrible things happened here. Human beings were treated barbarically. Why in the fuck does this place deserve any kind of notoriety? Especially when NOTHING IS SAID about what actually went on here. Even when questions about slavery were asked, there were no concise answers given. The woman leading the tour simply said she was only trained to discuss the grounds and the Harding family since there were "very limited records" in regards to slave conditions. I know I shouldn't be surprised/disgusted by that reasoning, but I was.

The whole estate should be condemned. I really don't see what anyone who visits Belle Meade is supposed to take away from the experience. If anything, it lessens what actually happened there in a way that's deplorable beyond measure.

I knew that going here would amount to a horrible day, but I didn't know how awful I would feel afterward. It felt gross to be in a crowd full of people who were talking about how beautiful the grounds were. How the interior of the bedrooms were so well maintained. And how it would be the perfect place to have a wedding (not even joking - someone said that and infact they do rent out the grounds for receptions, as sickening as that is). I hated myself for not knowing in advance that of course it would be like this. 

There's really nothing else to say about this place.