“Blood and Indigo” — that’s the working title for a novel taking place in the mid-eighteenth century in South Carolina. I wasn’t planning to be so open about the project yet (though I am now more than two years into it), but there is an indigo workshop in September just outside of Charleston and I’m planning to go.
It would be so perfect! I traveled to Charleston this past April, as some of you know, but was only there for a short while — I took tons of pictures and did two plantation tours and visited the Chalmers Street former slave auction site and spent two afternoons in the Charleston Museum, but this would be fabulous — I’d get to see the area in the fall (and take tons more pictures) and the indigo!! Well, check out Sea Island Indigo!!
It all started with a book by India Flint called “Eco Colour”. In it, she devotes a page to the colonial settler, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, and her work with indigo. Next came Eliza’s letters. Once I started asking myself, ‘what were the lives of her slaves like?’ I was off and running.
For more than two years now, I have been writing, writing, writing, and researching, researching, researching (there’s an example of great writing right there). I have learned so much about American history that I feel like a different person than when I started out. Reading history about the enslaved changes you. Details about the slave trade, the slave codes, the brutality, the labor practices, the attempts at rebellion, the words used by the elite to describe “their” African Americans — all change you. The most recent and best thing I have read about racism (I cannot recommend this article enough) was published in a recent issue of The Atlantic Monthly, and it’s called “The Case for Reparations”. Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, it is hard-hitting, full of examples of ongoing harm, and it will make you shake your head in sadness and wonder at what we are — we Americans, this America.