Plantation Giggles

woman wearing white top standing under a tree
Photo by matildah mariwa on

Karen? Gladys? Cheryl? Paula?

I can’t quite remember her name – or even be certain I heard it – during Sunday’s rushed tour of colorful Scottish sea captain (and legally sanctioned pirate) John Macpherson’s Mount Pleasant, the Philadelphia plantation whose name surely seemed like a tasteless inside joke to the folks who worked it.

But I appreciated her immaculate plaid twin set and the care she took, more often than not, to call the former plantation’s brown hued workers ‘enslaved persons’ rather than the once de rigueur ‘slaves.’

I’m not sure she appreciated my barely suppressed church giggles every time she stared directly into my eyes, like a nervous tic, and intoned the word ‘enslaved’ at me, the only black person of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s tour of the newly reopened “productive farm,” a new-to-me euphemism for “plantation” that made me chortle so loudly I had to step outside to collect my genteel brown self on the steps of Macpherson’s pride and joy.


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