Tag Archives: slavery

Ivanka Doesn’t Understand “Beloved”

When Ivanka Trump quotes Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” in her recent book, she does everything I tell my students not to: she reduces the work to herself.

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Must I Dwell in Slavery’s Night?

In anticipation of Passover, I share a poem composed by the African American slave George Moses Horton.

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Lift Every Voice and Sing

Both Martin Luther King and James Weldon Johnson, in “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” drew strength and courage from the Book of Exodus.

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Light a Land Whose Children Shall Be Free

Phoebe Cary’s 1849 poem about a bountiful harvest turns sour as she considers slaves who are not harvesting a bounty for themselves. Her Christian imagery anticipates the way Christian beliefs would bolster those fighting against slavery twelve years later.

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Butler & Grappling with White Privilege

The figure of the white husband in Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” captures many of the blind spots of white privilege. Examining him led me to examine how I myself have benefitted from America’s slave past.

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We Must Revisit Slavery To Find Healing

After attending some remarkable reconciliation events dealing with America’s history of slavery, I now have a better understanding of Octavia Butler’s time travel novel about slavery–and about why the protagonist doesn’t escape back to the present unharmed.

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Whitman, Melville & Abolitionism

Walt Whitman and Herman Melville’s revolutionary visions of egalitarian societies shaped how Abolitionists thought about America’s potential.

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Clifton Brings Black History Alive

Lucille Clifton insists on the telling the historical truth, even if it makes whites uncomfortable.

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The Jordan River Continues to Inspire

The River Jordan, an inspiring image for American slaves, has worked it was into contemporary African American poems, including those of Lucille Clifton.

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Christianity in the Slave Owning South

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” shows how the Bible can be misused and how we should interpret it to promote social justice.

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The Myth of Slaves as Faithful Companions

A visiting lecture on “Slaves as Loyal Confederates” reminded me of the complex relationships between black and white as they are explored by Twain and Stowe.

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The Novel that Changed the World

When it comes to literature changing lives, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is the gold standard for what is possible.

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Behn & Friendships across Race Lines

Recalling an interracial friendship from my days in my newly integrated high school, I turn to Aprha Behn’s “Oroonoko” to understand why such friendships are so difficult, even for the best intentioned people.

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Defending Miss Watson

Many readers of Huckleberry Finn enjoy laughing at Miss Watson’s approach to teaching Huck. She tries to use the Bible to scare him into good behavior, insists that he sit still, and prohibits him from smoking and drinking. Romantics that we are, we make fun of her educational philosophy and find her a hypocrite, especially […]

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A Slave Novel about Race Today

Harriet Tubman, inspiration for the heroine   About our “One Maryland One Book” discussion at Leonardtown Library on Thursday, I’m sorry to report that (as expected) we didn’t pull in anyone other than our book group regulars.  The good news is that that group appears as solid as ever and we had a very good conversation […]

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How Racism Sullies Everything

If race has been the subject of these past two weeks of posting it is because, as a Sherrilyn Ifil article notes in the on-line publication Root, we are having a hard time talking about race this summer, what with the furor over the Sonia Sotomayor nomination and the Henry Louis Gates affair.  I haven’t […]

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