Free Land Curriculum Guide

“How do we talk about white people’s genocide of Native Americans? How has it shaped the world in which we live? For those of us who are not Native, what is our relationship to the land we live on and to the Native American community?” (Ariel Luckey, Free Land Curriculum Guide, 2010, p. vii) Several […]

In Memory of Samuel Bush

Samuel Bush had something in common with Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Akai Gurley, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Victor White, Emmet Till — and many more. Bush was a young Black man who was killed by white leaders without a trial. In Bush’s case, a white mob that included leaders of the village of […]

Critical Family History and Sundown Towns

Christine: I am having a conversation with James W. Loewen, author of many well-known books including Lies my Teacher Told Me and Teaching What Really Happened. We are talking about critical family history and sundown towns. Jim, I didn’t know I had grown up in a sundown town until I read your book Sundown Towns. I […]

Lost Histories of Bilingualism

A week ago, while watching the Superbowl with friends, I saw Coca Cola’s now-famed ad E Pluribus Unum. At first, I was puzzled why I wasn’t following the lyrics to America the Beautiful, then realized they were being sung in multiple languages — English, Spanish, Keres (an indigenous American language), Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French and […]

Legacy of Slavery in the Family

What would you do if you were white and discovered a legacy of slavery, which many of us did whether we know it or not? That is exactly the question Katrina Browne, Thomas DeWolf, and several of their relatives confronted. In the preface to the book Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts its Legacy […]

Racism, Inheritance and Family Financial Aid

“I didn’t own slaves, why should I feel guilty?” is a common response of White people to hearing about racism today. This response regards slavery and theft of Indigenous peoples’ land as so ancient that paying attention to them today only invites anger and guilt. But I will show how racial privilege is a living […]

Becoming White: Putting Race Back into a Family Story

I grew up hearing stories about a great-great-grandmother who immigrated from Switzerland to the U.S. by way of New Orleans. According to stories, she was a linguist who spoke four or five languages fluently, an accomplished seamstress, and a medium. (My siblings and I loved the idea of a New Orleans fortune-teller in the family […]

“Black People Don’t Float and Swim:” Another Jim Crow Lie

Unfortunately, the phrase “Black people don’t float and swim” has been interwoven as a deterministic Jim Crow lie deep within the fabric of this nation. There were skewed social science studies of our buoyancy and muscle density in relation to our White peers to suggest that we can’t float. From this conclusion, it was determined […]

Using New Interracial Family Evidence to Trouble Jim Crow

“Did You Know Yo’ Mama was White?” In this installment, I discuss using new interracial family evidence to trouble Jim Crow. I will use a pseudonym to protect the anonymity of the subject of my critical family history. I am related to the “Kayfred” family of North Carolina by marriage. “Grandpa Kayfred” was a widower and […]

Preparing to Share and Receive Sensitive Family History

“I Don’t Think That’s My Daddy!” Preparing to share and receive sensitive family history is crucial. We talk a lot today in the U.S. about the symptoms of poverty, but little about how families became poor in the first place. Edmund Hughes, my grandfather was not always a poor Black man in Camden, NC, but Old […]