Slavery's Legacy

Monday, October 08, 2012

Sharon Leslie Morgan, multicultural marketing consultant, genealogist and co-author of  Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade, and Thomas Norman DeWolf, author of Inheriting the Trade and co-author of Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade, discuss the legacy of slavery and their work to chart the course of reconciliation.

EVENT: Book reading and signing at the Quaker Meeting House in New York on October 20th.


Thomas Norman DeWolf and Sharon Leslie Morgan

Comments [42]


Regarding the "tobacco and cotton" comment... I wonder if Tom owns an iPhone or anything else made by Foxconn.

Oct. 09 2012 09:24 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Of course, Edward, smarty, the trauma experienced by soldiers can have ripple effects, on their families, etc. But that kind of war is nevertheless limited in time and space. Not like the omnipresent state of war blacks were subject to, making them an intergenerational caste of lifelong POWs. Orders of magnitude different...

Oct. 08 2012 06:26 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ The Truth from Becky

What the *&%# does my ethnic make up have to do with this subject.

From the beginning, I simply demonstrated that, unlike DeWolf, I have no wealthy legacy based on slavery (in fact, no slavery legacy at all). Why some here want to harp on my great-great-grandfather's being German is unfathomable.

It seems part of the problem is that many here want to continue to divide into groups. I'm an American, you & your ilk can howl as loud as you like, it doesn't change that fact.

YOU insist on continually worrying about my being caucasian. I suppose you would be the sort to stare at me & my children with undisguised hatred. Damn whitey didn't go and stick with "his own."

Please go off & join your fellow thinkers in the training camps in Idaho.

Oct. 08 2012 03:44 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Becky, Melanin is the cause of big rears, not candy bars?

Oct. 08 2012 02:19 PM
Glork from Glen Ridge, NJ

Plenty of African slaves served and were provided with decent livings and eventual freedom upon the deaths of their owners in Portugal, Spain and Holland among other places.

So, how is Europe handling the reparations and healing?

PS. Even some Native American tribes kept African slaves.
It's always one side demading that the other side ante up.
This is such a non-topic, obviously.

Oct. 08 2012 02:14 PM
The Truth from Becky

All of this discord over melanin! and yet I must respond,

EDWARD..u r funny, referencing white girls and white mags..proving my point yet again.

DAVID..ohhh okay, your GREAT grandparents! UH Huh, your heritage is STILL that of German IMMIGRANTS dude!!!

I was born in America and that doesn't makes me exempt from racism...ugh tired of wasting my breath on these types. *heavy sigh*

Oct. 08 2012 01:54 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

fuva from harlemworld

"Edward, you obviously have no idea.
If healing somehow magically happens, without tending to the wounds, should American soldiers suffering from PTSD just wing it?"

Are you saying that the decendents of soldiers from the Union or Confederate armies carry the physical and emotional scars of their ancestors?

The Truth from Becky

"having a fat azz is a good thing these days, ask a real man!"

That's why all fashion magazines, TV shows shows have feature women with big azzes? If Kim Kardashian didn't go for daily depilatory sessions, would she look like Sasquatch with a big butt? If the models at Fashion Week had big "Truths", the cat walk would need reinforced foundations to support the tonnage.

Oct. 08 2012 01:33 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ The Truth from Becky
"David from Frederickburg, as you say you are from GERMANY"

No, I never said any such thing. My great-great-grandfather was from Germany. I'm from America.

Oct. 08 2012 01:14 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Edward, you obviously have no idea.
If healing somehow magically happens, without tending to the wounds, should American soldiers suffering from PTSD just wing it?

Oct. 08 2012 12:58 PM
The Truth from Becky

Truth HURTS doesn't it EDWARD, if that is your real name...and don't worry I am not offended at your comment, having a fat azz is a good thing these days, ask a real man!! LOL and I am well aware that today is the day Columbus discovered the Indians!! but what does that have to do with jews?? He was a Spanish explorer born in Italy doofus!

Oct. 08 2012 12:58 PM
The Truth from Becky

OPAL - re-read the "reason" comment and you will see I am aware of the reason it stings...I SAID why don't they tell vebalize to the jews more sweetie!

Oct. 08 2012 12:52 PM
The Truth from Becky

David from Frederickburg, as you say you are from GERMANY, your ancestors have a whole different set of guilt to atone for. There we go again with the "white" umbrella, you included yourself in that BEFORE you stated your ancestry.

Oct. 08 2012 12:50 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

The "Truth" from Becky said"
"NY where EVERYTHING is closed on jewish holidays"

Yeah? Like what?

Today is COLUMBUS DAY "Becky".

Becky, you wouldn't know the Truth if it bit you on your fat "Truth".

Oct. 08 2012 12:41 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ Sheldon from Brooklyn

"I assure you that most Jews will make the case that your parents are German, so they are partially responsible for the holocaust, regardless of when they left Germany."

First, my parents are/were American. See, Sheldon, when one is born in the United States, they are American citizens. I'm sorry you have had such a poor education that you don't understand this, or simple logic.

Second, none of the Jewish people I know are so intellectually challenged that they believe I, or my parents, have any guilt for the holocaust.

Oct. 08 2012 12:39 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

If American descendents of slaves are still damaged, crippled physically, emotionally and intellectually 150 years after the end of slavery, then they will NEVER be whole. If healing hasn't happened by now, it will NEVER HAPPEN.

Oct. 08 2012 12:32 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

David - you can't have it both ways. You said that you reject "guilt by association" hence you are off the hook for American slavery, even though your [white] parents came to the US while slavery was still in effect.

I assure you that most Jews will make the case that your parents are German, so they are partially responsible for the holocaust, regardless of when they left Germany.

Oct. 08 2012 12:23 PM
The Truth from Becky

Also, MIKE, you see below where you started your sentence, "I am white" you did NOT say I am a jew, but I know you are because of your immediate retort to my comment.

Oct. 08 2012 12:04 PM
Opal from NYC

Becky--Why the glib comment "Get over it" is so insensitive. As Primo Levi said, IT'S A PSYCHIC WOUND THAT CANNOT BE HEALED, particularly since the discrimination still exists. That's the "reason."

Oct. 08 2012 12:03 PM
The Truth from Becky

Okay let be more specific for MIKE! MIKE I have not heard white america calling for the jews in America, (especially in NY NY where EVERYTHING is closed on jewish holidays, you can bet your rump,this does not happen in the south) for them to get over it?

Oct. 08 2012 12:01 PM
Mike from Inwood

The Truth from Becky asks: "Generations of slave owning whites still enjoy today, the fruits of labor of the slaves. The jews still tell their story, I don't hear anyone telling them to "get over it"...reason?"

If you haven't heard people telling the Jews to 'get over it' you have not been listening. Listen to the Arabs, Persians and Turks as well as a few Europeans and Americans. Once you tune in, you will hear. There is also the matter of some of the actual victims still being alive. For them, it's not the past, it's their life. For their immediate children, it's a memory of hearing about the first person experience and seeing it's impact.

Oct. 08 2012 11:51 AM
The Truth from Becky

Generations of slave owning whites still enjoy today, the fruits of labor of the slaves.

The jews still tell their story, I don't hear anyone telling them to "get over it"...reason?

Oct. 08 2012 11:42 AM
The Truth from Becky

There is no "analogy" Martin, childish or otherwise for the buying and selling of another human being. The guilt should last as long as the stigma, the sting and pain of the victims of this Black Holocaust.

Oct. 08 2012 11:40 AM
Mike from Inwood

@RJ from prospect hts: I not only listened to the segment, I own the book, "Inheriting the Trade". It has Tom's signature in the front because it was purchased from him after I listened to him in a panel discussion after a screening of the film by the same name. Many of his family members were there. All of them graduated from Ivy League institutions, as were their parents and grandparents. Their inherited wealth that afforded all that did originate in slavery. They now seem to be doing quite well selling the story of their guilt, but it is their guilt, not mine. I do not see Tom taking this wealth and donating it to the United Negro College Fund. Instead, he's preaching that it's not just his guilt, it's all of our guilt. OK, Tom, give me part of the wealth, too. Well, he doesn't feel that guilty. I wish Sharon the best of luck in overcoming her inherited trauma.

Oct. 08 2012 11:35 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ Sheldon from Brooklyn

"David fRom VA - so, are going to atone for the holocaust?"


My great-great grandfather came over in the mid 1800's - you need to work on your logic skills

Oct. 08 2012 11:30 AM
Opal from NYC

I am a native NYer, Jewish, and have grown up and live in a racially and ethnically diverse community. I believe the importance of remembering slavery is of the utmost importance and that as Primo Levi, the Italian-Jewish writer who survived the Holocaust has said regarding his experience, it's a psychic wound that cannot be healed.

My grandmother, an aunt and two little cousins were gassed in Birkenau/Auschwitz, but my mother would not talk about her family, and I don't even know the names of these people and the records of their existence do not exist.

However, I travel in interracial circles and find a great intolerance among some blacks for whites and particularly for Jews, just as the opposite exists. There has been set up a competition among Jews and African-Americans about which was worse and even resentment of the use of word of Holocaust. There is no worse here, they were both horrors committed against human life.

As to the word Holocaust, implicit in the word is sacrifice by fire and is appropiate to the Jewish experience, the burning of children alive and the cremations. I would say that the slaves were treated as cattle and the Jews were treated as vermin to be totally eradicated by the Final Solution.
They are both examples of man's inhumanity to man which sounds a little weak considering the violations against human life that occurred.

I would also like to say when Jews and Blacks are at each other, the KKK and the white Aryans jump for joy. All peoples should come together but I feel a particulat community with the suffering of Blacks to this day because I meet with discrimination to this day.

Oct. 08 2012 11:21 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Commentary here underscores the need for this kind of dialogue.
Delusion prevails.
ALL white people benefit (so to speak) in a society that unfairly advantages white people. Irrespective of when they come.
And, unless the resultant damage is completely undone, the effect is intergenerational, giving their progeny unfair advantage.
Our cowardice in dealing with race leaves us perilously ignorant of it.

Oct. 08 2012 11:21 AM
RJ from prospect hts

I'm astonished by how dismissive some of these comments are. Did people really *listen* to the segment? Did you hear how she described the shame and ignorance that pervaded her growing up? The experience he described of assuming his whiteness is the "default" of America while everyone else is "other"? Can listeners genuinely think there's no inherited impact? That's *not* to say inherited *guilt*? Simply inherited *impact.* Impact--early impressions, understanding, imprinted ideas--affect us all as we grow up and become functioning adults, and how we act--consciously and unconsciously. If, when completely aware of one's day-to-day feelings and thinking, anyone can say there's no "otherness" reaction--on both sides of the race divide--then that person is truly, completely enlightened. And, I'd lay odds, 0.00000000000000001% of the world's population.

Keep a journal--an honest one--for one entire day when you're out and about in your neighborhood or workplace and see what you see.

Oct. 08 2012 11:13 AM
BK from Hoboken

This really is a waste. There are issues that blacks and other minorities face today that need to be addressed. Looking back at slavery to me seems a waste of time.

Oct. 08 2012 11:09 AM
Mike from Inwood

I am White. Many (I'm tempted to say most) White people came here after the Civil War. I know all of my ancestors did. I was raised in poverty. Most Black people are not. This means that most of the desendents of slaves somehow had more than I did growing up. While it's obvious that Black people are still deeply impacted by the lagacy of slavery, I simply do not feel guilty like Tom does. Nor will I. This is not a 'post-racial' society. I usually endure the obvious racism of Black people that is directed towards me because of my skin color with a grain of salt because I know this. I'm not against anti-poverty programs that I never had and that Black people can and will disproportionately take advantage of. I'm not opposed to spending on educating all young people because that is the only way that they will become productive members of society, but I do view it as their (Sharon & Tom's) problem.

Oct. 08 2012 11:08 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

David fRom VA - so, are going to atone for the holocaust?

Oct. 08 2012 11:07 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Actually, illfg, you exemplify intergenerational trauma. You so ignant, you don't even know you ignant. And there probably IS some connection between this and the poverty of your grandparents -- who (along with the ancestors of Martin, Edward and David) most definitely DID economically benefit from the stolen labor and brutality of enslaved human beings...

Oct. 08 2012 11:03 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

For most of the period we call the period of "civilization," people were divided into two major groups: free or slave. In the Roman empire, the majority were slaves. They were just robots whose only existence was to serve their master(s). You made war, and if you won, you took slaves. If you lost, you became a slave. It became racialized only a few centuries ago. What Africans experienced was a long term genocide, because they were turned into subhumans in order to get around the Biblical injunctions that slaves had to be freed after 7 years, unless they chose to remain as such. But the South got around that by saying that blacks were not fully human, and hence they could be kept in bondage forever. But slavery was a mainstay of civilization for most the last 4,000 years or so. It was really technology and cheap energy that freed the world of slavery. It was no longer necessary.

Oct. 08 2012 11:02 AM
RJ` from prospect hts.

Funny how familiar Tom's comment about participation is. He said that those who wore cotton, smoked tobacco, etc., were complicit in slavery. Well--we wear clothes sewn by child labor, use electronics built in sweatshops, turn a blind eye to US labor trafficking and sex slave trafficking .... How do we respond to these? Individual action makes us feel good (and does not hurt), but it'd seem that only organized action would make a real difference, a la the antiapartheid movement.

Oct. 08 2012 11:02 AM

most of the world's genealogy is lost to most people, this is really a silly discussion.

Oct. 08 2012 10:58 AM
fuva from harlemworld

THANKS for highlighting intergenerational trauma. It really is the operative issue in the current racial divide, on so many levels. This segment only touches the surface, but acknowledging and dealing with it most definitely IS the next step toward healing.

Oct. 08 2012 10:57 AM
Anne from New Jersey

I do not know anything about my Irish Great Great Relatives. My Great Grandmother was brought here to be a house servant at the age of 10. Not to diminish the Slavery of Afro Americans, really - but how scared should one be from the life events of Great Great Grandparents.

Oct. 08 2012 10:57 AM

boring subject. my family is from italy and sicily, so i have zero connection to US slavery. i dont know who my great grandparents are on either side and have very little history on my family genealogy. both of my parents family's were dirt poor hence why they immigrated to the US. Black americans need to grow up. Slavery still exists in the world and it was never race centric. Hey, you could always move back to africa?

Oct. 08 2012 10:54 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

I utterly reject my guilt by association. My great-great-grandfather emigrated from Germany & was a low paid worker. He had no power & certainly no slaves. Stop telling me that I personally need to atone for slavery.

Oct. 08 2012 10:53 AM
JT from NJ

Anyone who buys into Steele's overly simplistic argument needs more than a few lessons in critical thinking. Plenty of white authors and "political" commentators have promoted the same facile premise as Steele, as well.

I am perplexed by the thinly masked hatred for President Obama in your daily WNYC commentary, @Martin. It treads well beyond difference in opinion. If Romney has better answers, then argue those solutions instead of calling names.

Oct. 08 2012 10:50 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

As the black author Shelby Steele has courageously and eloquently described .... slavery gave us permanent white guilt => perpetual black victimhood and infantilization as an underclass => affirmative action as ransom => the empty Barack Obama presidency without accountability by those who should know better.
(“White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed The Promise of the Civil Rights Era”)

Oct. 08 2012 07:20 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

What about current day slavery in Sudan, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia?

Oct. 08 2012 04:31 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Slavery ended in the US 150 years ago.

Slavery in the buying and selling of human beings. No childish analogies please.

Oct. 08 2012 04:29 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.