Today’s WTF moment came when I was listening to a podcast of “To the Best of Our Knowledge” segment on “Re-Considering Crafts.” A writer and graphic designer, Leonard Todd, was discussing the slave Potter Dave, a remarkable man and a gifted potter who signed his works (unheard of at the time for a slave to do, to say nothing of the fact that he was literate) and even wrote poems on some of them. Leonard Todd’s family for a number of generations “owned” Dave, who was treated with varying degrees of compassion, but particularly so by Todd’s great-grandfather, which was around the time Potter Dave wrote poems on the pots he created.
My moment of mental disconnect came when Todd said he was proud of his great-grandfather.
I can perhaps see taking some comfort in the fact that your great-grandfather was not a brutal and oppressive slave owner, but he was still a slave owner. Is there anything in it that even leaves room for pride? I can’t see it. If I had any connection with slavery (and as Americans we all have a connection), I can’t see feeling anything but tremendous shame.