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Old 10-19-2017, 11:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alandros View Post
Still watching it now (recorded it), I like how he really was presenting Ted Danson's ancestor as a positive for allowing his slave to earn money and purchase his freedom and his families. Ted had a hard time with that at first, though Henry really drove home how rare that was and showed a good side to him. A lot of people that are uncomfortable with him approaching the topic of race and slavery when ti comes up and hammer Gates for some reason for it... I think this really shows (as does the other scenarios if you step back) how objective Gates really is and that he's a straight shooter. He's talked about how complex these scenarios were on many episodes in the past, including slave owners who seemingly had some sort of positive relationship with their slave, at least on some level.
I agree with you, especially on the bold.

And will note that for me, as someone who attended an HBCU and who was a Literature major, that Henry Louis Gates Jr., really is a huge intellectual figure in black American history and literature but he was not well known across the country really until the whole Obama thing and I think that gets people to focus on him in a way that they should not (FWIW I do feel that his esteem amongst black American intellectuals is the reason why Obama highlighted what happened to him because he knew of Gates' reputation and body of work - Gates is really very much admired by those of us well learned in black history and literature and to think of him being mistreated was upsetting).

He is one of my living intellectual crushes lol. He wrote/edited nearly every textbook I had in college (that I still have) and he is very well respected in academia.

I was very excited and would have been super excited if I was Ted Danson to have been associated with Venture Smith. Venture's narrative was a focus of study of mine in college. So I am familiar with his story.

I also do feel that people get uncomfortable when topics of slavery come up and I know due to hearing lectures of Gates and knowing of his body of work, that he is not hung up on race and slavery and such like many people believe that he is. He actually has been a person who is held in contempt by many other black authors who think he is Uncle Tom-ish, which is funny to me because I know of his work. He has a great appreciation for the history of this country and especially for the contributions of blacks to this nation as it is a focus of his work and experiences of blacks in America that are not routinely spoken about or studied. A focus of his work is also in showing that black experiences in America were/are similar to other groups of people in this country and the universality of the human experience. To speak in colloquialisms, too often people "sleep on" Gates and his work. If they knew more about him and read his articles/books then they would never think he lacks objectivity IMO.

ETA: Can't remember if it was mentioned in the show (don't think it was) but Venture Smith actually did become a slave owner himself once he bought his own freedom.

Last edited by residinghere2007; 10-19-2017 at 11:45 AM..
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Old 10-21-2017, 03:26 PM
 
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I like the way Gates seems to display a lighter attitude this season. As others have mentioned, he is (now) approaching the race/slavery/oppression stories in a balanced manner. But this is in contrast to the previous seasons, when it was more judgmental and a lot of "tsk, tsk, tsk." I wonder if he is responding to public feedback, like the discussions we've had here?
History is history, bad or good or somewhere in the middle. We all have people in our ancestry who were mostly good, mostly bad, or most likely, somewhere in the middle. With few exceptions, we all accept now that slavery and racial/ethnic oppression are wrong. Shaking our heads in disapproval at some person from the past serves no purpose, and doesn't make people see you as some morally superior person.
The interaction between Gates and Larry David, to me, was the perfect response.
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Old 10-23-2017, 02:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by residinghere2007 View Post
I agree with you, especially on the bold.

And will note that for me, as someone who attended an HBCU and who was a Literature major, that Henry Louis Gates Jr., really is a huge intellectual figure in black American history and literature but he was not well known across the country really until the whole Obama thing and I think that gets people to focus on him in a way that they should not (FWIW I do feel that his esteem amongst black American intellectuals is the reason why Obama highlighted what happened to him because he knew of Gates' reputation and body of work - Gates is really very much admired by those of us well learned in black history and literature and to think of him being mistreated was upsetting).

He is one of my living intellectual crushes lol. He wrote/edited nearly every textbook I had in college (that I still have) and he is very well respected in academia.

I was very excited and would have been super excited if I was Ted Danson to have been associated with Venture Smith. Venture's narrative was a focus of study of mine in college. So I am familiar with his story.

I also do feel that people get uncomfortable when topics of slavery come up and I know due to hearing lectures of Gates and knowing of his body of work, that he is not hung up on race and slavery and such like many people believe that he is. He actually has been a person who is held in contempt by many other black authors who think he is Uncle Tom-ish, which is funny to me because I know of his work. He has a great appreciation for the history of this country and especially for the contributions of blacks to this nation as it is a focus of his work and experiences of blacks in America that are not routinely spoken about or studied. A focus of his work is also in showing that black experiences in America were/are similar to other groups of people in this country and the universality of the human experience. To speak in colloquialisms, too often people "sleep on" Gates and his work. If they knew more about him and read his articles/books then they would never think he lacks objectivity IMO.

ETA: Can't remember if it was mentioned in the show (don't think it was) but Venture Smith actually did become a slave owner himself once he bought his own freedom.
Excellent post. Gates is one of my heros, he constantly faces such a hard period of our history that people are highly uncomfortable with facing on either end and manages to stay quite balanced despite getting hammered from both ends.

I would love to hear one of his lectures.

I was fortunate to have him respond to a genealogy related question I submitted to theroot.com. In many articles there he commonly faces the complexities of the many different scenarios between master and slave.

Your statement here summarizes it perfectly

"If they knew more about him and read his articles/books then they would never think he lacks objectivity IMO"
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Old 10-23-2017, 02:52 PM
 
779 posts, read 600,868 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracysherm View Post
I like the way Gates seems to display a lighter attitude this season. As others have mentioned, he is (now) approaching the race/slavery/oppression stories in a balanced manner. But this is in contrast to the previous seasons, when it was more judgmental and a lot of "tsk, tsk, tsk." I wonder if he is responding to public feedback, like the discussions we've had here?
History is history, bad or good or somewhere in the middle. We all have people in our ancestry who were mostly good, mostly bad, or most likely, somewhere in the middle. With few exceptions, we all accept now that slavery and racial/ethnic oppression are wrong. Shaking our heads in disapproval at some person from the past serves no purpose, and doesn't make people see you as some morally superior person.
The interaction between Gates and Larry David, to me, was the perfect response.
I'm sorry but I just disagree. I don't think Gates is acting any different than he always has on the topic. He responds to the specific ancestry and circumstance of it and to the guests responses and focuses themselves. The truth is many, if not most, of the master slave scenarios just aren't a very positive thing to reflect on, though many times in his varied bodies of work (including genealogy shows, including the predecessor to Finding Your Roots which was "African American Lives") he digs into the complex scenarios that were more rare. In fact in the genealogy shows he's gone down his own ancestry where an ancestor freed during emancipation relatively shortly bought an expensive town lot, both the cost and the location seemed unlikely for a slave so recent freed. He has still yet to figure out exactly how that happened though one of his theories is she was able to do it due to some level of generosity between her and her former owners (seemingly the most likely scenario).

In the shows he's often said the relationships were often "complex" which is probably the best word and he's never hesitated to point out the scenarios where a slave master did something above the average treatment for their slave (like with Danson's ancestor).

Each scenario elicits a different respond based on the person and the specific and they *should*... there shouldn't be a single response to such things, real situations are far more complicated than that.

I think if you made yourself aware of Gates greater work (and re-watch some over the older seasons and genealogy shows) you will find him extremely consistent with how he responded in these episodes based on the specifics.

It's ironic since Gates has often been very vocal about these complicated situations and has often gotten attacked by fellow African Americans for doing so (like residinghere2007 said he's been accused of being Uncle Tom-ish). He's very vocal in his studies of the African's selling the slaves to the slaver and their part in it, in the variety of scenarios where masters showed some sort of seeming kindness towards their slave, he's also defended White African American historians saying that for it to be taken seriously in academia it needs to not just be Black African American historians. He also was attacked for allow Ben Affleck to avoid his slave owning ancestors in the show, something I never understood why people were so upset, I mean these are guests on the show, they don't have to be their and there's certainly too much to fit into the actual episode, so they should have some say in what is dug into (not that I liked Ben Affleck doing that, or that I like Affleck at all anyways lol).

There are countless other things he's been vocal about the complexities and been criticized in the opposite of yours ironically.

So after my big rant I recommend reading up on the things hes done, the shows he's hosted (including the excellent award winning documentary African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross), and articles he's posted and you'll fully see that he has always been quite balanced on the issue.


On the separate point

"Shaking our heads in disapproval at some person from the past serves no purpose"

I disagree, if you are willing to be proud of your ancestors actions you should be ashamed of others. They go hand in hand, we are hypocrites if we choose only one. Neither being proud or ashamed of their actions suggests we are proud or ashamed of ourselves since we had no part in the good or bad, though they are part of the story that made us, of what came before.
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Old 10-23-2017, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Alandros View Post
Excellent post. Gates is one of my heros, he constantly faces such a hard period of our history that people are highly uncomfortable with facing on either end and manages to stay quite balanced despite getting hammered from both ends.

I would love to hear one of his lectures.

I was fortunate to have him respond to a genealogy related question I submitted to theroot.com. In many articles there he commonly faces the complexities of the many different scenarios between master and slave.

Your statement here summarizes it perfectly

"If they knew more about him and read his articles/books then they would never think he lacks objectivity IMO"
That's great, that Gates covered one of your questions! There are Gates' lectures on Youtube last I had looked and they're worth watching. If you notice sometimes, a guest who may know Gates as a friend might call him by his nickname "Skip." On an unrelated note to this thread, I've caught some of the Africa's Great Civilization program on PBS that Gates narrates. It's quite informative and well done.

I have enjoyed the input in this new thread. Overall this new season is off to a great start and I look forward to watching the rest.
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Old 10-23-2017, 03:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by maus View Post
That's great, that Gates covered one of your questions! There are Gates' lectures on Youtube last I had looked and they're worth watching. If you notice sometimes, a guest who may know Gates as a friend might call him by his nickname "Skip." On an unrelated note to this thread, I've caught some of the Africa's Great Civilization program on PBS that Gates narrates. It's quite informative and well done.

I have enjoyed the input in this new thread. Overall this new season is off to a great start and I look forward to watching the rest.
Great reference... African's Great Civilizations is simply excellent. Not only covered the Great African civilizations we often don't learn about in a Euro centric history lesson (despite us all coming from Africa in the long run) but the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. I highly recommend it too

I'll have to look up his lectures on youtube, thanks for mentioning. I think I've watched one or two, not sure why I haven't dug up more.

Here's his response to my question.
http://www.theroot.com/i-m-white-but...how-1790858547

I submitted this after I first realized my DNA came up a small amount Sub-Saharan African. I first thought it was noise but tested my mom and she also showed the same, looking at our largest segment she had the same segment but twice as large. I was fortunate to get an analysis by the author of the Eurogenes blog (and gedmatch Eurogenes calculator) when he was offered paid analysis and he confirmed I absolutely have legitimate African DNA, at first some of it looked East African. A year or so later he analyzed it again and confirmed it's mostly West African with a couple small segments looking a bit East African, possibly via the West African ancestry, and that it strongly matches African Americans so I do indeed have African American ancestry.


Following back on great things to consume by Gates

He gained a lot of heat from the Black community for this article 7 years ago, where he bluntly faces the full scale of African's selling slaves to the European slavers.
How to End the Slavery Blame-Game - The New York Times
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Old 10-24-2017, 08:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alandros View Post
Great reference... African's Great Civilizations is simply excellent. Not only covered the Great African civilizations we often don't learn about in a Euro centric history lesson (despite us all coming from Africa in the long run) but the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. I highly recommend it too

I'll have to look up his lectures on youtube, thanks for mentioning. I think I've watched one or two, not sure why I haven't dug up more.

Here's his response to my question.
storybreak stars<\/title><path d="M5.146 9.01l-.19-3.623 3.057 1.985.693-1.197-3.213-1.67 3.213-1.638-.693-1.197-3.056 1.953L5.147 0H3.76l.158 3.623L.893 1.67.2 2.867l3.214 1.638L.2 6.175l.693 1.197 3.025-1.985L3.76 9.01m21.386 0l-.19-3.623 3.057 1.9

I submitted this after I first realized my DNA came up a small amount Sub-Saharan African. I first thought it was noise but tested my mom and she also showed the same, looking at our largest segment she had the same segment but twice as large. I was fortunate to get an analysis by the author of the Eurogenes blog (and gedmatch Eurogenes calculator) when he was offered paid analysis and he confirmed I absolutely have legitimate African DNA, at first some of it looked East African. A year or so later he analyzed it again and confirmed it's mostly West African with a couple small segments looking a bit East African, possibly via the West African ancestry, and that it strongly matches African Americans so I do indeed have African American ancestry.


Following back on great things to consume by Gates

He gained a lot of heat from the Black community for this article 7 years ago, where he bluntly faces the full scale of African's selling slaves to the European slavers.
How to End the Slavery Blame-Game - The New York Times

I actually remember reading your question to Gates!! That was before the Root went downhill IMO. He and his column are really the only portions of the site that I now enjoy.

I also do remember the NYT article and had to speak to a lot of, what I consider "lay" folks about it. Gates has written about this topic before and he a series that included information about both the Atlantic and Pacific slave trades back in the 1990s, which really got me interested in his body of work outside of our textbooks in college (I cannot remember what it was called but after that I made sure to watch everything he was invovled in and I made sure to go see him when he was in town doing lecture series or just as a guest when I was in college). I attended a couple of his in person lectures that were based on topics of genealogy, abolitionist movement and its literature,which made me fall in love more and more with Frederick Douglass, who is mentioned in the NYT article and who I agree with in regards to the idea that blacks should have gone back to Africa and settled in Liberia, not many people are aware that the actions and activities of African tribes was one of his (Douglass's) reasons for not wanting to encourage free blacks to immigrate to Liberia or agree with the idea of emancipating slaves with the condition that they go to Liberia. My own genealogical journey has shown me that I've had relatives both biologically and related by marriage who were swept up in this topic in particular and it is one of the most interesting, to me, topics of American history. I am related by marriage to the Glasco/Glascow family of Chester County, PA and some members of that family did immigrate to Liberia. The Enos's who are my biological family, moved, instead to Canada and came back to the US after the Civil War.

Will note that today with the advent of internet social media IMO many blacks (and all people in general in regards to intellectualism) dilute the old intellectual tradition of black America started primarily by WEB DuBois and Carter G. Woodson, which focused on discovering and documenting the history of blacks of the diaspora around the world along with in the US. There was no "centric" movement or placing any black or African-ness above the work and IMO Gates is a throwback intellectual. Which is why I adore him. He does not cater to any sort of centric movement and is a serious, highly objective historian. All of his columns even in The Root that focused on topics that he has now published in a book called "100 Amazing Facts About the Negro" are very surprising to people who don't really know the depths of the history of blacks in America or around the world. It is sad that today people shun academia and intellectualism and try to put some sort of political spin on those whose work is not political, like Gates.

On the show, he mostly plays off the emotions of the guests and honestly I felt he was super excited to tell Ted Danson about his ancestor's freeing Venture Smith - someone who had one of the earliest published narratives of an ex-slave in America. IMO his ancestor was actually being a true "patriot" of sorts and attempting to support the idea of individuality and freedom that the colonist wanted themselves. Too often people think of slavery only in one way but especially in the 17th and 18th century it wasn't always the way people think it was. I agree with yourself and Gates that it was often "complex" and that people shouldn't overlook that reference when they view the program.
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Old 10-24-2017, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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DH and Dr. Gates are third to sixth cousins, according to 23AndMe.
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Old 10-24-2017, 07:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gvillager View Post
Didn't you ever watch Driving Miss Daisy?

Half the movie is about Hoke (Morgan Freeman) driving Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy) who is an old Jewish lady to Uncle Walter's party in Mobile.

I been in Mobile since 1974, didnt think we had that many jewish people around. No, not being mean spirited but just never saw a big jewish community. There a lot of catholic , catholic college. baptist college, just not much jewish architect
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Old 10-25-2017, 05:25 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracysherm View Post
I like the way Gates seems to display a lighter attitude this season. As others have mentioned, he is (now) approaching the race/slavery/oppression stories in a balanced manner. But this is in contrast to the previous seasons, when it was more judgmental and a lot of "tsk, tsk, tsk." I wonder if he is responding to public feedback, like the discussions we've had here?
History is history, bad or good or somewhere in the middle. We all have people in our ancestry who were mostly good, mostly bad, or most likely, somewhere in the middle. With few exceptions, we all accept now that slavery and racial/ethnic oppression are wrong. Shaking our heads in disapproval at some person from the past serves no purpose, and doesn't make people see you as some morally superior person.
The interaction between Gates and Larry David, to me, was the perfect response.
That's what I like about Gates. He doesn't ignore the ways people lived and who they might have used, but he also doesn't lose sight of the reality that they lived in a very different life, and we can only seek to understand and sometimes, be inspired by their strength.

I'm sure in future generations they will have some highly questionable thoughts about us as well. And maybe some respect for those times when out choices made a difference beyond us.

The thing I feel is that many of them, I'm sure, would not act as we would wish. Maybe we wouldn't 'like' them so much, but each time has its norm, and we can't even know how those who follow us will see us.

But those who came before can help inspire us to live a better life by keeping us strong.

I know quite a bit about mom's family. What I've learned has inspired me to be as strong as them. They started out in Tennessee. They were more mountain people. I don't know their politics, and doubt I'd agree, but the women of the family have always been inspirational to me.

They lived in Missouri when it turned into civil war territory. My great great grandmother was alone with the babies when warned the war was heading their way. She loaded up a wagon with food, blankets and a few clothes, and left a letter for her husband who was away. They traveled south through contested territory to Texas where her family lived, and never went back. He joined them after the war.

I don't know what politics she favored, but it doesn't matter. I can take inspiration from her strenght, and have at times I needed it for my life.

My great grandmother's husband took them to Kansas when it was being settled and the Indian wars were active. He was gone and she was alone. The children all grew very ill and then one by one died. She left a letter and took the wagon back to family and Texas. He came and went later, but enough my grandmother was born. When the family came to California, most stayed in the south. She had a home in San Francisco and LA, and traveled.

I've had a few times when I was really sick, and didn't know how it was going to work out. But I take inspiration from these women, who are in some way all part of me. They could have decided to give up, and fade away. But they didn't. They kept fighting and did not allow themselves to be conquered. They believed in what could.

I think of them and they inspired me not to give up and not to surrender, and never to give into the easy pity you can be buried in. Back in their days, I don't know what 'side' they were on with their troubles, except for their kids and having a tomorrow. And that there would be one.

I don't know their politics, but then I didn't live in their time. But they were faithful to family and the tomorrows they gave to their future generations. And when I'd be laying in bed, wondering if I'd ever feel better, and could do the things I dreamed of, I *knew* if I kept believing I had a chance. And it was their examples which taught me how to drive the wagon through the darkness to light.

That's what's really important about your ancestors isn't their politics, but when life got hard and maybe terrible they did not give up or surrender. And that should this come to you, you don't have to either.
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