Planking and Slavery: The Connection You’d Never Thought Existed
So, what is planking? The term is coined from an Australian game of playing dead. Basically, the people pose like dead wood plank anywhere they are supposed to ‘plank’ at. The fad blew all over the world and was then done by people everywhere. Literally, everywhere. You might be one of the victim/followers of it!
It was started by two people who were traveling around English doing stupid stunts such as laying as planks around the country. It was originally called “Laying Down Game” and then was loosely called “Planking” as it represents how people would lie down with hands and legs straight flat. It was fun and hilarious and we all thought it’s harmless unless you are planking on the street or under a running blade.
But you might not know that planking has long been believed to be part of slavery. In fact, it’s a game that was believed to have sourced from harsh slavery against African-Americans back in the day of “Middle Passage”. There are sources mentioning that planking was an act that slaves were forced to do as they were forced to fit into the chair.
Slaves used to be sent and stowed away to buyers to America in the 16th century and became one of the most profitable business, but also inhumane.
Captains back then had two ways of ‘packing’ the slaves they got. The first way was a more humane method where slaves were loosely placed to allow room to breathe and move. It was believed that death counts and diseases can be reduced this way, but it also meant fewer people can be transferred. The other way was called ‘tight packing’ that, as the name implied, had as many people as possible crammed into the ship.
The latter method is where slaves were layered with planks in between to save space and easy regulation of the people. Others try to just jam everyone into the ship, leaving very little breathing room and movement. The act of stacking the slaves like a sandwich is where the term planking is believed to have come from. Although, the slaves are rather seen laying on their back rather than the stomach.
Because of this, many of those slaves could not even make it to their destination, dying in the middle of the sea and suffocating room. “Middle Passage” journey was the darkest moment of African-American history and today, many have made rumors of how planking may not be as innocent as you have thought.
The act of laying dead like how the black people used to do seems disrespectful towards what had happened then. It wasn’t necessarily aimed to discriminate the people because people of colors were doing it literally everywhere and it was fun. And frankly, so long as no one in the room showed any disregard, the act isn’t wrong at all.
It’s almost as if sleeping on our stomach will then offend people with a history of slavery, which wouldn’t make sense. And it also has the same name with planking exercise, which is different from the game. So, the next time you think about playing the game, try to see if anyone in the group would be uncomfortable from it.