Category: Popular Culture Tags: Black history month, Historical amnesia, James D'Wolf, Multiracial identity, The Simpsons
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.
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.