An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly From One of the Slaves Who Built the White House

Television host Bill O’Reilly
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Television host Bill O’Reilly
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Dear Bill O’Reilly:

Yesterday I was just sitting here playing a game of Monopoly with Thomas Jefferson, Tupac and Harriet Tubman when someone turned on your show. (Yes, we do watch Fox News in heaven. Most comedies are rated R and are filled with cusswords, and we need something to laugh at.)


First, I want to say that I have been a fan of yours for a long time. I’ve always wondered how you keep a straight face as you’re delivering those hilarious monologues filled with half-truths and incendiary statements. When I became a fan, people tried to tell me that you were serious and your show was not a comedy program, but after I made them sit down and watch a few episodes, they agreed that it might be the most sidesplitting, fictional spoof of an angry, racist troll they had ever seen. You’re really talented.

What I really wanted to speak to you about, however, is a little more serious. During your show yesterday, you felt the need to comment on the part of Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention when she spoke about slaves having built the White House.

I knew as soon as she said that, there would be backlash on Twitter. (Yes, we do have internet services up here, although we don’t get to use social media because every time I sign up for an account, it rejects my “.heaven” domain name. Also, because it’s stupid.) After watching your comments, I think you missed the entire point of what she was saying, so allow me to clarify a few points for you.

Yes, the White House was built by slaves.

I like the way you tried to lessen the impact of her statement by basically arguing that it wasn’t built by slaves only. C’mon, Bill. You’re smarter than that. Do you know any builder, contractor or businessman in the history of currency, civilization and human beings who—when given the choice between free labor and paid workers—chose the latter?

What really upset me was when you stated, “Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802.” Let’s get the obvious stupidity out of the way first. Do you know why the government stopped hiring slave labor?


That’s the entire point of having slaves. They don’t receive pay. So, like Thomas Jefferson pointed out as he was trying to steal $500 out of the Monopoly bank (he always does that..and we're still confused as to how he made it up here), technically you’re right, because the government never hired slaves. No one has. If they received pay, then they weren’t slaves.


But “well fed” and “decent lodgings”?

When Harriet heard this, she started searching for her shotgun. Tupac and I tried to calm her down, but she was red hot.


Have you ever seen slave quarters? Have you ever visited any plantation and peeked into the part where they housed their human chattel? I’m guessing you haven’t, because if you had, you’d know how horrific it was. To imply that any location where you keep the human beings you own and force to work for free every day is “decent” is indicative of your narcissistic supremacy. Decent for whom? I’m sure your puppies sleep on very comfortable bedding inside doghouses most animals would kill for, but the question is, would you sleep there? Why not? I heard it’s pretty “decent.”

And how did you know they were “well-fed"?

Why would you believe that any human being would have the decency to make sure that the food fed to slaves was plentiful and of good quality, but was also inhumane enough to keep slaves? Even Tupac knew this was a case of assigning well-meaning to all white intentions, because … privilege.


Here is the thing: If we tore down the White House right now, every human being who laid a hand to help replace it would live in a home that was probably better than “decent." The people who built the greatest landmark in America’s diet should be better than the description of a good milking cow. “Well fed” and “decent lodgings” are complimentary if you are referring to the upkeep of a moderately priced riding horse, not human beings.

I remember those backbreaking days from sunup to sundown in the quarry cutting stones for the White House. I remember the heat scorching my neck. I can remember squinting to keep the sweat from dripping into my eyes. I remember wiping extra lard into my palms so they wouldn’t burst open from the dry, callus-inducing rocks I carried all day. I remember arriving in the morning twilight and shuffling back to “the barn” in the evening dust. I remember eating pork and bread every day. Let me tell you, Mr. O’Reilly—it was never enough.


My greater problem is that you missed the entire point of Mrs. Obama’s statement. She was pointing out that there is no country greater than one where 200 years ago her people were human chattel and now she is first lady of the free world. She was illustrating that the hope and promise of America is that no matter where you come from, you have the opportunity to achieve what may seem impossible. She was highlighting the fact that she believed this country could move past a stained legacy if we offered freedom and opportunity to everyone …

But all you heard was “Slaves built the White House.”

At least give us that.


Jeremiah L. Jackson

P.S.: If you’re wondering how I got this letter out, Steve Jobs let me use his account.


Sent from my iPhone 17