The Most Controversial Sentence I Ever Wrote. By Jim Wallis. Sojourners, October 24, 2013. Also at The Huffington Post.
12 Years a Slave: A Conversation on Race. Sojourners.
The Blood and Tears, Not the Magnolias: 12 Years a Slave Holds Nothing Back in Show of Suffering. By Manohla Dargis. New York Times, October 17, 2013.
What Really Became of Solomon Northup After His “12 Years a Slave?” By Mark Robichaux. Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2013.
Twelve Years a Slave. By Solomon Northup. New York: Miller, Orton, and Mulligan, 1855. More editions here. Audio book here and here.
Wallis (Original Sin):
The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another.
To make such a statement today is to be immediately accused of being rhetorical or, worse yet, of being “reminiscent of the ’60s.” The reaction is instructive and revealing. The historical record of how white Europeans conquered North America by destroying the native population and how they then built their new nation’s economy on the backs of kidnapped Africans who had been turned into chattel are facts that can hardly be denied. Yet to speak honestly of such historical facts is to be charged with being polemical or out of date. Why?
And because of that lack of repentance and, indeed, because of the economic, social, and political purposes still served by the oppression of black people, systematic racism continues to be pervasive in American life. While constantly denied by white social commentators and the media, evidence of the persistent and endemic character of American racism abounds.
. . . .
Wallis’s article is another left-wing diatribe against Jacksonian America as irredeemably racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic. A classic example of liberal exploitation of white guilt. While Wallis is right about the central role of white supremacy in much of American history, he indulges in left-wing demagoguery when he accuses all white Americans, simply by being white Americans, of perpetrating racism, exploiting minorities, and benefiting from structures of racial domination. He is obliviously to the desperate situation of the white Jacksonian working and middle classes. Wallis wrote this article in 1987. In 2010 he accused the Tea Party of racism, saying it was driven by “an undercurrent of white resentment.”