In case it's been a few years since you took a US history class, this is Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin.
But, weirdly enough, a ton of people are suddenly realizing they were incorrectly taught that Eli Whitney was black.
And now everyone's absolutely reeling.
Many vividly recalled learning he was black in school.
Some even knew of posters they'd seen in school with that info.
And some said they did reports on Whitney for Black History Month.
Perhaps most notably, Whitney shows up in the lyrics of "You Must Learn" by KRS-One, among a list of other African-American inventors and leaders.
A few people have said they thought Whitney was one of the first wealthy black Americans due to his invention.
And some have theorized this collective misremembering may be due to an unproven claim that Whitney stole the idea for the cotton gin from one of his slaves.
While no documentation can prove this claim, many people believe it is possible because a slave wouldn't have been legally able to register patents.
As the African American Registry, an education nonprofit, explains:
African slaves, because they were not citizens, could not register any invention with the patent office. Their owners could not register a slave's invention either, since the law required that the patent be issued to the actual inventor. Consequently, any free person wanting to patent something could not acknowledge any contribution from a slave. Thus it was easy to steal a slave's ideas and patent them.
While Browne's tweet caused many to realize everything they knew was a lie, this isn't the first time people were left baffled over Whitney's whiteness.
Others think this is just another case of "the Mandela effect," the phenomenon of a large group of people misremembering the exact same thing.
Yes, and now I'm doubting everything I've ever known.Nah, I knew he was white.I have more complicated thoughts that I will share in the comments.
vote votesYes, and now I'm doubting everything I've ever known.
vote votesNah, I knew he was white.
vote votesI have more complicated thoughts that I will share in the comments.
Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Julia Reinstein at email@example.com.
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