Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

The Early Show interview on CBS now scheduled for Monday, July 14

Posted July 9th, 2008 by

The folks at The Early Show on CBS remain committed to running an interview about Inheriting the Trade and Traces of the Trade. Katrina Browne, Juanita Brown, and I are scheduled to be in New York City for a live interview with Harry Smith this coming Monday, July 14 during the “book segment” that typically runs during the last half hour of the show (between 8:30 and 9:00am; but it could be earlier–the show runs from 7:00–9:00am). Read what Harry said about our family journey in his commentary, “The Past is not Dead.”

Of course there is always the possibility of the interview being “bumped” as happened in April and June. But third time’s a charm, right? CBS is bringing Katrina, Juanita and me to New York again. This is a great sign.

7 responses to “The Early Show interview on CBS now scheduled for Monday, July 14”

  1. RSwan says:

    I just saw you on the Early Show…and I am curious to know… where are the profits going from this book?

    The family earned its fortune on the backs of slaves…are you continuing the legacy?

    Are funds being directed to help community projects amongst African Americans?

    Slavery has more than just a legacy of shame and embarrassment. Families were destroyed and the souls of people are still entrapped in a form of mental slavery… their legacy of be descendants of former slaves…..

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks for asking. When you pick up a copy of Inheriting the Trade you'll find this paragraph in the Acknowledgments on page 252:

    "Katrina and I committed ourselves from the beginning to dedicate profits generated from the film and this book to overcoming racism and other forms of systemic inequity that exist in the United States and elsewhere."

    At the web page where you can order the film beginning today (right here), you'll see a similar statement: "After covering costs for the film and community engagement efforts all Ebb Pod Productions proceeds will be donated to relevant causes. Your purchase will make a difference!"

    It is our hope that many people will be encouraged to enter into a deeper conversation about the issues you raise and that we can begin to leave a better legacy–one of equity, reconciliation, and grace–for our descendants.

  3. RSwan says:

    Thank you for your prompt response.

    It would be great if you could use proceeds to actually help those descendants of slaves that your family owned.

    To research who descendants were and help those you are able to find…such as scholarships (of what ever amount) to school, etc.

    You have no idea what sort of mental/emotional atrocities that comes with not just racism but systematic racism set up within slavery and how that pain is transmitted to future generations even if slavery no longer exists.

    A Jewish friend to me made an interesting statement.

    The difference between Hebrew slaves and modern day Jews….and African slaves and there modern day descendants (the ones who still in some way suffer) is because the ancient Hebrews had a period of 40 years in the desert where their self esteem was built up.

    For a great many of African Americans… those who exist in lower economic and lower social status their families have not had it within them to teach their children how to overcome because their self esteem was so defeated.

    Of course their are many exceptions to the rules. But many more not and many who are victims of a racist institution.

    So tell help more grassroots such as youth centers and training of children would be a far better use of monies than fighting to overcome racism.

    Racism will more than likely always exist. But giving people (namely children) a chance to succeed is by far much more valuable.

    Sure adults are responsible for their own lives but if as children they are never shown a better way (living in the projects on welfare does not afford a person much chance in life) they will more than likely not know there is a better way and will repeat the patterns they inherited.

    You are lucky. You come from those who have more privilege and exposure to more in life.

    Just something to think about.

  4. RSwan says:

    Excuse my typos. I hope my point was understood nonetheless.

    The children are our future…so many African American children grow up to be lost adults because they were not given a good opportunity and exposure to good choices.

    They are the ones who need help.

  5. Tom says:

    In addition to our intentions regarding profits from the film and book, and given what you've written here, which is appealing and heartfelt and much appreciated, I'd like to challenge you–and others–on some of our thinking.

    It is easy for people to become distracted from our mutual responsibility by concluding that "your ancestors were responsible" when the fact of the matter is that we've all inherited this burden. I'm not sure we'll make much progress as a society if we continue to blame "the other" rather than recognize the legacy we've all inherited, collectively and individually, from slavery. If people believe the DeWolfs–as well as other slave-trading and slave-owning families–possess the lion's share of benefits, and thus the lion's share of responsibilities for repairing the damage, it allows them to avoid thinking about their own privilege and about the complicity of society as a whole.

    I believe that my responsibilities in this area derive from being a citizen of the United States and a member of society. I am no more responsible for the actions of my ancestors than you are of yours or anyone else is of theirs. If I did believe I was responsible then I could get out of it because I have the excuse that I'm the one member of the "Traces family" that is not descended from slave traders. I'm descended from the older brother of the first slave trader. He lived in another state and was a carpenter. His descendants became farmers in Illinois and Iowa. As far as I know there are no slave traders in my personal ancestry. Does that let me off the hook? I believe that we are all obligated to address our nation's past actions and present injustices.

    My goal in participating in Traces of the Trade. and in writing Inheriting The Trade, is to invite people into a deeper conversation about race, to encourage self-reflection about our mutual obligations to undo racism, to confront the legacy of slavery, to repair the damage. I hope our work stands as an example, but more important is that it encourages others to take on this work as their own as well.

  6. RSwan says:

    It is not about being let off the hook.

    It is about societal responsibility and doing our part.

    Whites in America as a whole have more resources and available opportunities.

    I believe that the children are our future, no matter their colour.

    And I would hope that if people are writing a book regarding their ancestors who were involved in the slave trade (whether directly or indirectly related) that they would not want to benefit from their profits but invest where it is needed.

    It is not about blame. It is about what do we do today. And if we are at an advantage why not use resources to help where it is needed.

    Children who are descended from those affected by the atrocities of slavery is a great place to start.

    Children of those who are adversely affected by racism is a great place to start.

    Being white in America comes with it a great advantage over being black in this country.

    Starting with our school systems for example. I've been in schools in black lower income areas and I've been in schools where children are white and over a higher bracket. The white children have a greater advantage. I am sure white children in white lower class areas probably the same. But this is more of a problem in inner cities where there is a higher population of lower income black children.

    Dialog is great. But I see the greatest benefit is to expose children to more because only then can they aspire to having a "better life" economically speaking.

    When people have educational and economic equalities… then racial dialog can have an ***even fighting*** chance to eliminate racism.

    Grassroots…not the conference rooms.

    The children are our future and a beautiful resource to invest in….no matter their colour.

    Good luck on your book and movie.

  7. Tom says:

    I couldn't agree with you more. Sounds like we're singing the same tune. I particularly appreciate your line: "grassroots… not the conference rooms." When "we the people" make our schools and education the priority they ought to be, we will indeed be focusing on our children and grandchildren, as we should.

    Good luck to you as well.

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Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry