About my racist comparison
I apologize for expressing myself so poorly on Twitter on Wednesday night and for making a racist, offensive comparison.
I care about history, and about historical accuracy.
History was to have been my profession at one time. It was my major when I went back to school in 1978.
IMO the new series “Underground” did a very bad job of caring about the way white women talked to their husbands in 1857. (And the way everyone else talked, too, but white married women are the group portrayed that I know the most about.)
It would be inaccurate, absurd, and offensive to suggest that white women in 1857 were treated as badly as slaves. I didn’t think I had suggested that, and by the next day I saw that I had, and apologized.
I’ve been asked how I even noticed the white people portrayed in “Underground” when the show was about the slaves.
Two reasons: the white lawyer and his wife got what seemed to me a lot of screen time, and their dialogue would never, ever have happened in 1857 and was painful for me to watch.
I’ve seen the horror of slavery much more forcefully portrayed in other films, so that by comparison “Underground” seemed sadly and inexcusably lightweight. Maybe WGN America has a family audience including kids. I’ve never seen a series done by them before. In my opinion making slavery into an action-adventure show, complete with stuff blowing up in the background like any Lethal Weapon movie, is ridiculous and does a disservice to anyone trying to learn the history, which in my opinion is not just important but crucial.
From what I know of marital relationships in 1857, a white wife who started knocking through a wall with a sledgehammer risked getting committed to an asylum.
In 1857, from what I’ve read, a white woman didn’t talk back to her husband without risking punishment. When I tweeted, I was seeing a woman risking that as being almost like a slave risking punishment talking back to his/her master.
I don’t like that suggestion any more myself, it is indeed offensive, The level of risk is very, very different.
When I sent that tweet, I’d had a tiring day and a fight with my husband, which figured into my reluctance to take the time and effort to say carefully what I was trying to say in a post on Medium.
This experience of being called out for racism on Twitter has been painful but useful. My first husband, who was raised in the South, beat me badly for “talking back” in the year 1973. A boyfriend in the year 2007 considered it appropriate to lecture me against “talking back” in the year 2007. Watching this white lawyer’s wife talk back to her husband in that way, supposedly in 1857, triggered the trauma in my past. I’ve done a lot of trauma therapy about the beating, and there’s obviously more to do.
Thanks for reading.