Racial myth and miscegenation on “The Simpsons”

Posted March 18th, 2010 by
Category: Popular Culture Tags: , , , ,

James DeWolf Perry is a regular guest contributor. He appears in the film Traces of the Trade and is the Tracing Center’s director of research. This entry originally appeared on James’ own blog, The Living Consequences, on February 21, and the opinions expressed are his own.

On tonight’s episode of “The Simpsons,” Lisa Simpson explores her family’s historical connection to slavery and presents the results at school for Black History Month.

This was fascinating for me to watch, as my own family’s powerful connection to slavery has taken up much of my time and energy over the last decade. Being a direct descendant of the leading slave trader in U.S. history, I think I can also relate to Lisa’s worry that her family tree sometimes seems dominated by scoundrels.

Disappointingly, however, this episode perpetuates some of the most common stereotypes that dominate public perceptions about the connections of American families to the nation’s history of slavery. For, immediately after learning that the Simpson family had a connection to slavery, we hear that this story involves Simpson ancestors living in the South, and that they were, in fact, anti-slavery and risked everything they had to take part in the Underground Railroad.

Read the rest of this entry »


“New England’s Scarlet ‘S’ for Slavery”

Posted March 16th, 2010 by
Category: History Tags: , ,

James DeWolf Perry is a regular guest contributor. He appears in the film Traces of the Trade and is the Tracing Center’s director of research. This entry originally appeared on James’ own blog, The Living Consequences, and the opinions expressed are his own.

Slavery in New England was brutal and lasted, in its official form, for 150 years. Enslavement greatly enriched the colonists and, later, citizens of New England, and only died out gradually and fitfully.

This is the proposition of an op-ed appearing in tomorrow’s Boston Globe, entitled “New England’s scarlet ‘S’ for slavery,” in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The op-ed suggests that the northern states lag behind the South in acknowledging the difficult truths of race buried in our past, and that we cannot skip this step if we are to make progress on race relations.

The essay is written by C. S. Manegold, who is the author of Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North (2009), published last month by Princeton University Press.

Read the rest of this entry »



Copyright 2010-2017 by the Tracing Center | All Rights Reserved | Website design and coding: James DeW. Perry