Today, March 25, is the UN's International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. While forced labor still exists in many forms and is still horrible, this day is focused on slavery in the sense that we in the United States often think of it. I recommend you all read the UN Secretary-General's 2016 message on this topic, it's short, to the point, and inspiring.
I went back and forth about whether I wanted to do a list-building post in honor of this day of remembrance. I want to make sure that this blog has a lot of variety, and I was worried about overloading it with one topic. After thinking about it, I decided that yes, I will add ten more things to my to-do list that are related to the history of slavery and the slave trade. Talking about the history of slavery is important, and our society doesn't do nearly enough of it, so I would rather the blog be imbalanced and meaningful than balanced but shying away from the important stuff. This year's theme is "Remember Slavery: Celebrating the Heritage and Culture of the African Diaspora and its Roots," which I think is an excellent theme, but just like I sort of riffed on Sunshine Week when I did that post, I'm using slavery remembrance as a loose inspiration for these list items.
- Watch "Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North." This documentary follows a family of white Americans researching and confronting the history of their ancestors who were the largest slave-trading family in United States history. Some of the people from that project went on to work in slavery education, and I have taken a workshop with them I quite liked.
- Read the text of Sojourner Truth's speeches. I recently learned that she did not say "Ain't I A Woman?" and did not use African American vernacular in her speeches; she wrote and delivered them in academic English. Apparently, a white abolitionist popularized a version of the speech with that title. There are a lot of problems with the way that "proper" or academic English is racialized, but Truth's words should be read as she wrote them, and clearly I have a lot to learn about her work and her story.
- Tom L. recommended the book The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition, a recent release by Manisha Sinha. This critically-acclaimed book looks at abolition in a broad context.
- For a different view into abolitionism, I'll visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, CT. They made waves in the museum world several years ago when they decided to shift their mission from that of a traditional historic house museum to one focused on initiating social justice conversations using history as a starting point.
- Read Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank. This is another book I learned about through the Royall House and Slave Quarters. In case you're wondering, my work with them is why I am focusing largely on sources about northern slavery -- not because I don't think it's important to study southern and western slavery in the US!
- Linda N. suggested, "Try mapping your emotional responses to a museum or exhibit." I will take this challenge and do it in a museum or exhibit related to slavery. I have so many intellectual responses to museums (whether or not they are intelligent responses!) that it may take some work for me to focus specifically on my emotions.
- Take Project Implicit's Implicit Bias tests, a tool developed by a group of psychologists at a variety of universities that is recommended for educators and others working with diverse groups. I recommend Teaching Tolerance's article on what the implicit bias tests are and why they matter.
- Read Slavery in the Age of Reason: Archaeology at a New England Farm by Alexandra Chan. This is the report, written for a general audience, on the extensive archeological work done at the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford. I started to read it a while ago and got distracted by another book, but I was really interested in what I read so far.
- Explore a variety of the webinars available on teachingtolerance.org. Teaching tolerance is largely but not exclusively aimed at classroom teachers; it's an excellent resource that is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Do something to further explore and support the work of The Slave Dwelling Project. I have attended one of their events in which historian Joseph McGill and others slept overnight at an extant slave dwelling, but I would like to do more.