Our old suffragist friends turn to whiteness once again! In season one, we learned many of the early white suffragists turned their back on women of color in their efforts to secure the vote for themselves. Unsurprisingly, eugenics was also enthusiastically endorsed by many early feminists. Because it turns out, white supremacy has always been a helluva drug. Come learn about Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Victoria Woodhull and get ready for some *drama*! These women were a hot mess!
It's a mini, but it turned into a maxi - we said we'd discuss slave labor camp weddings (aka plantation weddings) and we're also throwing in some information about balls. Dances, people, not *those* balls. Don't get too comfortable though, it's still a gross discussion. Thanks to the following articles:
Plantation Weddings are Wrong: Why Is It So Hard for White Americans to Admit That?
Pinterest and The Knot Pledge to Stop Promoting Plantation Weddings
It Was Never Ok to Get Married at a Plantation. Here’s Why
Despite Everything, People Still Have Weddings at ‘Plantation’ Sites
Mandy takes back the reigns for this laundry session, and there's gonna be several loads to get through. We're talking about eugenics—which is basically the idea that natural selection of the fittest could be accelerated through deliberate selection of the "fittest" and, even uglier, "deselection" of the "non-fit" or "degenerate" subsets of the human population. In this first episode we remind ourselves of our Darwinian evolutionary theory and Mendelian genetics (think peas and monks, guys), and then we introduce the dad and mom of American eugenics - Charles and Gertrude Davenport. They saw themselves as a model couple and template for good marriage, but, well...let's just say, no one was doing the laundry in that house.
When the South lost the Civil War, all the white women decided to give up on riding the wave of white privilege and jump on board with reconstruction and restitution, forever ending racial discrimin.....oh who the hell am I kidding! Of course they didn't! Along came the Daughter's of the Confederacy! Defenders of the "lost cause", memory keepers for confederate traitors...I mean, "true patriots", and erectors of statues, -- totally meant to honor their ancestors and not in any way intimidate formerly enslaved people or change the memory of a nation. *eye roll* Guess what? The United Daughters of the Confederacy still has close to 20,000 members today! That's a lot of dirty laundry ladies. Many thanks to Karen L. Cox's fantastic book Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture. We also mention Teaching Hard History's fantastic podcast episodes about Indigenous enslavement (with Christina Snyder and Meredith McCoy) and the Confederados in Brazil.
Today's interview is with Hasan Kwame Jeffries, author and professor of history at The Ohio State University. Dr. Jeffries hosts the podcast "Teaching Hard History" and gave a TED talk with nearly 1.8 million views on "Why we must confront the painful parts of US history". We talk about having the curiosity to learn and go beyond the narratives and nostalgia we are typically taught in US history, but also why knowledge is not enough. Follow Dr. Jeffries on Twitter @ProfJeffries... come for the history, stay for the adorable, hilarious stories about his daughters.
Grab a notebook, everyone—you're gonna want to write some stuff down! Mandy took three pages of notes while talking to David Stovall about Critical Race Theory. We talk about what it is, what it isn't and why everyone if freaking the fuck out. If you've heard some of the arguments but don't know exactly how to educate people or respond to detractors, this is the podcast for you. Definitely master class material! Listen to hear how we get from CRT to George Washington's dentures to Dan Quayle's mediocrity to Margaret Thatcher thinking society doesn't exist. Dr. Stovall is faculty at the University of Illinois Chicago's School of Criminology, Law and Justice. He is a national expert in Critical Race Theory, the relationship between housing and education, and the intersection of race, place and school. Shout out to the #TruthBeTold campaign, the recent book Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power by Ijeoma Oluo, and Fugitive Pedagogy by Jarvis R. Givens.
You've probably never heard of the Veiled Prophet Ball. Actress Ellie Kemper definitely wishes she hadn't at this point. The gist - it's a twisted southern debutante/racist rich white person party that started in the late 1800s. Kemper was crowned the ball's Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty in 1999. After photos surfaced recently, Kemper apologized for her involvement. We're not really throwing shade on Kemper so much as we are the ball itself and the white lady involvement from the beginning. What do you get when you put a clown in a KKK outfit? The Veiled Prophet. Stuff of nightmares. Thanks to Scott Beauchamp's article in The Atlantic and Mia Mercado and Claire Lampen's article in The Cut for helping us learn about this bonkers tradition. Of course, we go down rabbit holes into Orientalism and labor strikes, because why not?
TW/CW: Today we are discussing sexual violence, assault and rape during slavery.
Any discussion of slavery would be incomplete without acknowledging the sexual violence that was perpetrated against enslaved people by their owners—men and women alike. As with other aspects of slavery, white women were far from innocent or ignorant regarding sexual intimidation, assault and rape. We shout out the podcast Intersectionality Matters from Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (who coined the term "intersectionality" and helped found Critical Race Theory) and discuss two articles including Intersectionality & the Role of White Women: An Analysis of Divorce Petitions from Slavery by Rachel Feinstein in the Journal of Historical Sociology.
NOTE: We deeply appreciate the author of the other article that we discuss in this episode reaching out to let us know that her scholarship has come a long way since she wrote this piece. She recommends following the work of Thavolia Glymph, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Martha Hodes, and Thomas Foster to learn more about this topic. We thank her, and are inspired to (as best we can!) reach out to the scholars whose work we're learning from to ensure they still vouch for it. As a reminder, we are not professional historians—but we are committed to learning from the highest quality work out there to share with all of you.
Also, if you need a break from this painful, traumatic, bleak history, check out the delightful middle-school-diary-reading show Mortified.
We had the honor of talking to Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, historian and author of They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South. Listeners of the podcast already know how much we revere her work and have learned from reading her research. It is even more enlightening to talk with Stephanie and learn about her background and approach to this topic and get her thoughts and advice for what it means for white women today. Petty detectives unite!
Below is the example of the nonsense history in textbooks we mention in this episode ... the Upside Down white-supremacy-apologist version of Stephanie Jones-Rogers' brilliant analysis of white slave-owning women. Read it for your daily dose of rage.
Ahhh, Joe Manchin. Not a white woman, obviously, but we will get back to Krysten Sinema another episode. Just a quick mini-update and Mandy Rant on Joe, still being Mitch McConnell's best friend and doing Mitch's job of obstructing any progress we had hoped of attaining with the senate elections in Georgia. And while trying to appear principled about it, it's all just a scam, because it turns out Joe is also a hypocrite. Because, of course he is.