*Read-in* America Was Never White: The Costs of Historical Memory and Intentional Forgetting


In recent weeks, thanks in part to Donald Trump’s incoherent ramblings on an imaginary American past, wherein Andrew Jackson might have prevented the Civil War and Frederick Douglass’s greatest achievements are still to come, we have witnessed a resurgence of a uniquely insidious and undying debate: Was slavery the central dilemma of the Civil War? 

In this Olio read-in, we will look closely at the dangerous nature of Trump’s obtuse inquiry: “Why could that one have not been worked out?” While it may be tempting to simply laugh at a president’s profound ignorance of his own nation’s history, it is imperative that we take seriously the political and moral significance of these particular distortions. For while Trump’s blunders may be the most stupefying examples in recent memory, he is by no means alone in his contorted refashioning of the history of American slavery. Beginning in the era of Jim Crow, then waxing and waning throughout the twentieth century, our nation’s historical memory of slavery and the Civil War has routinely minimized the centrality of race-based human bondage, thereby implicitly minimizing the centrality of white supremacy in the our collective present.

Let's take aim at such lies by reading excerpts from classic texts on America’s historical memory (and lack thereof) of slavery from esteemed historians such David Blight and W. Fitzhugh Brundage, with additional primary document evidence produced during the war years. We will join together in this political action of reading and remembering, fittingly, on Memorial Day weekend. Indeed, this holiday of remembering is about much more than honoring dead soldiers. This day actually has significant and little-known ties to the history of American slavery and the ongoing struggle to preserve, remember, and honor the history of black Americans amidst the cultural cancer of white-supremacist historical revisioning.




Location: Chinatown Soup

16B Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Chinatown Soup is a creative community advancing art, justice, historic preservation, and civic engagement in downtown New York.




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Other upcoming Olios


Jan 24

Living Room Salon | Tough Poetry in Dark Times

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

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Jan 31

The Dangerous Pleasure of Art

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

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Feb 1

Feb 2

OlioHouse | Our Stories, Our Bodies: Rape Culture in American History

Taught by Jamie Warren
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Feb 6

Olio Seminar | Space, Time, & Work: Understanding Labor

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

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Feb 9

OlioHouse | The Love Symposium

Taught by Skye Cleary
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Feb 15

A Good Friend is Hard to Find: Philosophy and Friendship

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Feb 21

Living Room Salon | Music and Environmentalism

Taught by Kristy Barbacane
7 p.m. at Living Room

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Feb 22

The Circular Road: Art and the Religious Imagination

Taught by Michael Prettyman
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Feb 25

What Would Buffy Do? Radical Feminism and the Slayer

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Neuehouse Madison Sq.

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Feb 28

Into the Mystic: Music & the Moving Image

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

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May 17

Rethinking Refugee Trauma and Mental Health

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

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