“Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism”

Posted April 1st, 2013 by
Category: Living consequences, Repair and reparations Tags: ,

Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About RacismThis post is about Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism (2013), a new book we haven’t read yet at the Tracing Center, but which we learned about this weekend from author Sharon Morgan and which we’re eager to get our hands on.

(Sharon, for those who don’t know, is co-author, along with Tom DeWolf, of Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade.)

Combined Destinies, edited by Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline Haskell, is an anthology exploring the impact of racism on the lives of white people. The authors, both psychotherapists with experience facilitating dialogue on race, seek to begin a conversation about the impact on white people of the racist ideology created by their ancestors, in order to advance anti-oppression work and to contribute to individual and societal healing.

The book’s chapters focus on issues such as guilt, shame, and silence in the lives of white Americans, and are written for a wide audience, including lay people as well as counselors and mental health professionals. The chapters include the words of white people telling their own stories, often for the very first time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reparations Awareness Day

Posted February 25th, 2013 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , ,

Ray Winbush, Should America Pay? Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations (2003)Today is Reparations Awareness Day, a day that has been designated for more than a decade to promote reparations for slavery in the United States.

What do you think? Should reparations be offered for the nation’s history of slavery and racial discrimination? Why or why not?


February 25 was originally designated as Reparations Awareness Day by N’COBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, following a series of demonstrations organized by the group in the early 1990s. The occasion has since been formally recognized by a variety of organizations, including the New York City Council, churches, and institutions of higher education.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Ten conservatives who have praised slavery”

Posted October 12th, 2012 by
Category: Public History Tags: , ,

Arkansas State Rep. Jon Hubbard  (Credit: AP/Arkansas Secretary of State, Lori McElroy)Salon is running an essay today, entitled “Ten conservatives who have praised slavery.”

This essay, by Mark Howard of AlterNet, presents a list of ten well-known conservatives who have suggested that slavery was better than its reputation suggests, or that slavery should be viewed positively because of its impact on black Americans today.

This list was inspired by Arkansas state legislator Jon Hubbard, whose self-published book, it was revealed this week, called slavery “a blessing in disguise.” Hubbard is a conservative Republican, and Howard’s list includes such famous Republicans as Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Pat Buchanan, and Ann Coulter.

Read the rest of this entry »

A slave trading family on NBC’s “The Office”

Posted October 8th, 2012 by
Category: Popular Culture Tags: , , ,

DeWolf family treeWhen I sat down this weekend to watch last Thursday’s episode of “The Office,” I was quite surprised to discover that the plot largely revolved around the revelation that Andy Bernard, like me, is descended from slave traders.

As you might imagine, as someone who has wrestled with this family legacy, and who cares a great deal about seeing the public to terms with the legacy of slavery, I had mixed feelings watching this subject being addressed in a half-hour comedy show.

What did “The Office” get right?

What do I think the show got right about Andy’s suspicion that he was descended from slave owners, and his eventual discovery that his family were slave traders? Mostly the incredible awkwardness and uncertainty, for Andy, his family, and for everyone else witnessing the process of uncovering the truth about complicity in slavery.

Read the rest of this entry »

Best Practices in Teaching Slavery: a Growing Network of Educators

Posted November 10th, 2010 by
Category: News and Announcements Tags: , , ,

I had the amazing opportunity to be part of a working group conference, Defining New Approaches for Teaching the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery: Teaching African History and African Diaspora History Workshop. The workshop was hosted by the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University in Toronto and sponsored by the U.N.’s UNESCO Slave Route Project. It was attended by educators, psychologists and historians from Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, the U.S., Canada, Africa and Europe. We were applying ourselves to the question: what are the psychological consequences of slavery for descendants of enslaved Africans and descendants of the “white” populations that benefited from slavery? And in the face of those multi-generational consequences, what are the implications for how we teach about slavery and African civilization in schools.

At the Tracing Center, we have heard again and again from African-American adults about intensely negative, even traumatic, experiences of being taught about slavery in middle school and high school. The common refrain is teachers who did not have the sensitivity and knowledge to teach this loaded history in a way that was empowering and provided dignity. We know too that European-American students and students of many other backgrounds get the wrong message when slavery isn’t taught well. This is a key moment when students will either be set up for rifts and divisions based on heritage, or it can be a golden opportunity to set them up for incredible grace and understanding and sense of common cause in the work of building a society that works for everyone. Our teacher workshops this fall in Rhode Island and for Christian educators via Calvin College in Michigan, were a chance to refine and share our pedagogical models for creating positive results.

The workshop in Toronto, with reports of how text books in Central America portray slavery, to how the Taubira law in France is impacting the teaching of slavery, to how U.S., British, and French psychologists are working with clients in black communities to frame their challenges in the context of post-traumatic slavery disorder or syndrome, to how these concepts are faring in the academic field of psychology, etc., etc. – the workshop raised up how daunting the challenges are, but how hopeful it is that kindred colleagues are working in similar veins and are now in a better position to collaborate on moving the work forward in all our countries.

Copyright 2010-2018 by the Tracing Center | All Rights Reserved | Website design and coding: James DeW. Perry