Kudos to my cousins Dain and Constance Perry. They stay very busy traveling around the country, screening the Emmy-nominated documentary film of our family journey Traces of the Trade, and inviting people into a deep conversation about racism and the legacy of slavery. They estimate that they’ve screened the film some 200 times over the past couple of years. Their work is making a difference. It’s getting noticed.
Dain Perry and his wife, Constance, are traveling the country, having candid conversations about racism. And they start that talk by showing a documentary about Dain’s family history.
Traces of the Trade: a Story from the Deep North retraces the journey the DeWolf’s ancestors took to bring Africans back to America to become slaves.
In the documentary, relatives talk about how the DeWolf’s were the largest slave trading family in the U.S. and brought more than 10,000 Africans to America. The DeWolf family is from Bristol, Rhode Island.
“I didn’t do it. But that fact gives me the opportunity to help get the national conservation on race a little deeper. I see it more as an opportunity than anything,” says Dain Perry, a DeWolf descendant.
That is why Dain is taking about his painful past and sharing it with others, to help open up the dialogue about race in American. The Perry’s spent more than a week in Northeast Ohio showing the documentary to many groups. They say the conversations have been more difficult in the North than in the South.
“The conversation in the south is much more open, much more honest, much less denial. In the north there is still deep denial. Great discomfort of making excuses. You can see people squirming,” says Dain’s wife, Constance Perry.
At the Forest City discussion, many thought the film was painful to watch, but an eye opener.
Bill Sanderson says “to be in a room full of people that don’t look like me. And I think people of a color to be in a room with white people so they will know there is frustration on our part. We don’t always know what everyone expects of each other and it goes both ways.”
“Open to conversation and willing to hear their perspective. And understand where they came from and how their life experiences have shaped their realities and their perceptions,” says Cariss Turner.