Beacon Author Tom DeWolf (Inheriting the Trade)—who blogged here on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the U.S.—is at the Sundance Film Festival this week with his cousin Katrina Browne, director of Traces of the Trade. The book and the film deal with their shared family history as descendants of the most successful slave-trading family in our country's history, and they present an opportunity for greater discussion slavery's legacy in the U.S.
One of the many salient points DeWolf makes in his book is that slavery was not a "Southern problem," but an integral part of the economic lives of those north of the Mason-Dixon Line as well. This interview from NECN highlights DeWolf's Rhode Island roots and New England's "hidden history" of slavery. When asked by host Chet Curtis why the subject of Northern culpability in the trade isn't explored in the history books, DeWolfe offered this insight:
The North won the Civil War, and the winners get to write the history books. A professor we met with called it "constructed amnesia," that we create this mythical story of the great abolitionists from the North marching south to straighten out those Southerners. When in fact, there were portions of New York that contemplated seceding with the South prior to the Civil War.
(We embed the NECN story here—if it doesn't appear in your reader click here to watch).
While DeWolfe ducks the paparazzi at Sundance, Kai Wright is reading tonight at the Hue-Man Bookstore in New York. Time Out New York interviewed Kai about his new book, Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York. Kai talked about his own feelings of alienation as young, black, gay man living in Dupont Circle, a gay neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
“It started to dawn on me that yes, it was a gay neighborhood, but it was a white gay neighborhood, and I was a young black man. I didn’t belong. And I didn’t feel any better.” He recalls that there was a “layering of race over sexuality, and the feeling that there had to be a choice.” (Link)
On Colorlines, Wright discusses the Obama-Clinton campaigns, in the wake of "their racially loaded fight over the comparative historical import of Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Johnson." He warns both Democrats of avoiding "the diversity debate," citing the 2004 race of an example of a "weak-kneed dodge" that served neither the Democrats nor the country well:
The Democratic establishment cried foul when Republicans loaded state ballots with divisive initiatives on gay rights. Eleven states asked voters to weigh in on same-sex marriage, pumping up the conservative vote and, some argue, costing John Kerry a win—he lost nine of the states, most infamously Ohio.
The problem, however, wasn’t the existence of a debate about gay rights—that’s inevitable as long as gays refuse to cower in the closet—it was national Democrats’ refusal to participate meaningfully in it. At the state level, 94 percent of legislators who voted against the 22 proposed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage won re-election, according to the gay rights group Equality Federation. (Link)
Finally, be sure to Tivo Good Morning America tomorrow and Thursday. Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, will be featured in a two-part segment highlighting the Interfaith Youth Core. We'll post a link to the segments when they hit the ABC website.