Last month, the CCC Book Club began discussing Scene on Radio’s “Seeing White” podcast with parts 1 and 2. This month we’ll continue that discussion with parts 3 and 4.
According to the Scene on Radio website, Part 3 on Made in America, focuses on how “chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive – and strikingly cruel – laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we know it today.” Part 4, entitled On Crazy We Built a Nation, examines, “‘All men are created equal.’ Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them?”
As you listen to the podcast, consider the following:
- As American-style chattel slavery evolved into the 1700s, how was it different from the slavery practiced by the early British colonists?
- When laws were changed in colonial America to give lower-class white people advantages over Africans, how did that make life easier for large landowners and other powerful white people?
- What are some of the ways that American culture minimizes the legacy and impact of 250 years of chattel slavery, or reinforces the impression that it all happened in the ancient past?
- How could our schools, media, and popular culture tell a truer story about slavery and its effects on people alive today?
- American leaders assert almost universally that the words of the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal,” have been a consistent guiding principal in American life and law. Do you agree?
- Do you think that historic figures should be forgiven for beliefs and actions that you consider repugnant on the grounds that those people were “of their time?”
- How does that apply to us? Are we doing things, individually or as a society, that we should be forgiven for by future generations because we are people “of our time?”
We look forward to hearing your thoughts as we continue our exploration of what it means to be white and how whiteness in the U.S. has transformed the experience of all races.