American History · intimacy

interracial intimacies podcast now up

Jan 26 talk

The podcast for the January 26, 2016 talk on interracial intimacies with New York Times bestselling author Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Wayne State University Associate Professor of English Lisa Ze-Winters and University of Alabama Professor of English Trudier Harris is now available.

It’s been more than a month since this difficult conversation. There will doubtless be others in the weeks and months ahead as race continues to be an issue sparking many debates especially during a critical election year.

When I teach my  “American Civilization to 1865” course, I jokingly tell my students who don’t want to hear mention of race in the context of life in America, “Don’t blame me. Blame Bacon.”

I am referring to the 1676 Bacon rebellion, which found poor whites and people of African descent fighting indigenous people in Virginia. Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy frontiersman (and one of the students’ key terms), was the instigator. His cronies responded with alarm. How did he manage to get an unlikely group to form such a bond? The response: growing restrictions on the basis of race.

The point I always emphasize to my students is that the earliest white settlers and people of African descent, even enslaved ones, were not necessarily opposed to one another. Such a dynamic was calculated with other activities across the color line – among them interracial intimacies, coerced or not –  both hidden and in view.

Listen as three incredible women join me in taking up this subject and others related to it.

Wealthy frontiersman Nathaniel Bacon encouraged mostly white indentured servants and people of African descent to attack  Native Americans in colonial Virginia.

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