|Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-08-23 01:39Z by Steven|
The passing of the great civil-rights leader Julian Bond earlier this week ignited a firestorm of activity on Twitter. Historians of African American women’s history noticed and commented on something suspect in Bond’s obituary, a brief line embedded within: in the obituary, Julian Bond’s great grandmother, Jane Bond, was described as “the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer.”
The conversation that followed this revelation offers a glimpse into some of the most challenging questions within the history of African Americans. The history of sex and slavery remains both difficult to approach and critical to our understanding of the full, complex, and violent lives of enslaved African American women. And around the phrase “slave mistress” converges some of the key issues that make that history difficult to tell.
What is particularly exciting about this confluence of historians of African American women’s history collectively riffing on the problematic of “slave mistress” is the extent to which their public conversation maps the contours of the historiographic debate on sex and slavery. (It is also a mark of the power of this conversation that the New York Times issued a statement of regret about their language yesterday). Rather than rehearse their conversation here, I have reproduced it in Storify form, and will spend the duration of these comments pulling out what I see as key moments that cite the wider debate…
Read the entire article here.