As a genealogist, DNA has intrigued me ever since its first promotion as a consumer product in 2003. That was the year Dr. Rick Kittles launched African Ancestry, a company that specializes in uncovering the genetic origins of people of African descent. It marked twenty-eight years into my personal research into a family tree that winds from the backwoods of Mississippi and Alabama through a Great Migration terminus in Chicago. All along the way, one thing I longed to know more than anything else was the root of my continental African origins. This was in spite of the tangled morass of genes that include a copious assortment of Europeans that resulted in me looking more white than many white people I know.
2015 has been, to say the least, rather momentous, and continues to be as it draws to a close. We at Beacon Press are so grateful to our brilliant authors who have offered their time and insights to analyze and comment on this year's events. Their posts—with topics ranging from race to cultural or class dynamics and to the environment—have been, if you will, a true beacon for the Broadside. Before we bid farewell to 2015, we would like to share a collection of some our most-read posts. This list is by no means exhaustive. Make sure to peruse our archives. You can expect to see more thought-provoking essays and commentary from our contributors in 2016. Happy New Year!
George Orwell’s 1984 taught us that language—and who uses it—truly does matter. In the case of educating Texan youth about American history, language matters a great deal. McGraw-Hill Education’s current geography textbook, approved for Texas high schools, refers to African slaves as “workers” in a chapter on immigration patterns. Other linguistic sleights of hand include using the passive voice to obscure slave owner’s brutal treatment of slaves. It appears we have a Ministry of Truth at work after all, just like the one where Orwell’s ill-fated hero Winston Smith worked, rewriting history. The fact is especially disconcerting, as Texas is the largest consumer of textbooks.
By Sharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolf This post originally appeared in Yes! Magazine. We embarked upon a journey to test whether two people could come to grips with deep, traumatic, historic wounds and find healing. We had no...
Ben, America won’t change until enough white people change. You have the unique benefit of using your celebrity to make a difference. All people of European descent can use our power and privilege, to whatever degree we have them, to make a positive difference.
Thomas Norman DeWolf, co-author of GATHER AT THE TABLE: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade, reacts to the grand jury's decision in the Eric Garner case.
Sharon Leslie Morgan, co-author of GATHER AT THE TABLE: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade, reacts to the grand jury's decision in the Eric Garner case.
Two people—a black woman and a white man—confront the legacy of slavery and racism head-on.
The words of Frederick Douglass on the meaning of Independence Day continues to hold meaning for many who find it hard to embrace the holiday.
Tom DeWolf casts a sympathetic but critical eye on Katherine Stockett's book and the film adapted from it.
On the anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas DeWolf reflects on how his life changed America.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is available in a new, altered version. The author of Inheriting the Trade writes about why he thinks this is a bad idea.
Stupid, stupid white people…
Some of the recent controversy over Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu is linked to remarks he made about reparations for slavery. Tom DeWolf was there, and he wants to set the record straight.
Thomas N. DeWolf is the author of Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History. Tom speaks regularly at schools, conferences, and other events around the country. For further information go...
Thomas N. DeWolf looks at how the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., provides a teachable moment about race in America.
Thomas N. DeWolf thinks Chris Matthews needs a lesson in the history of slavery in the United States.
Thomas Norman DeWolf looks at Attorney General Eric Holder's recent comments about America's fear of an honest conversation about race.
Thomas N. DeWolf, author of Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History, shares his thoughts about the Obama inauguration.
Oregon—where I live—held its primary election on May 20. For the first time since I moved here for college in 1972, the primary actually meant something to the presidential contest. Always in the past our primary is so late in the game that the presidential candidates for both parties have already been crowned. This exceedingly white state handed a man of color an 18-point margin of victory over a woman. That same day, far across the country in Kentucky, voters there handed that same woman a 35-point victory over the man of color.