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.