BitterSweet: Linked through Slavery authors are researchers, writers, teachers and filmmakers and others who have come together in this blog through Coming to the Table (CTTT) to share personal stories about the nature of our fraught connections to slavery and racism in this country. Our intent is to look honestly at the hard stuff in order to blaze a pathway toward reconciliation. The original bloggers were Prinny Anderson, Felicia Furman, Dave Hardesty, Dionne Ford Kurtti, Carol Maurer, Grant Hayter-Menzies, Ann Neel and Pam Smith. (See individual biographies beneath the Storytellers tab.) A next generation of writers is adding fresh insights and powerful stories. We welcome guest contributors. (See Write for BitterSweet.)
As enslaved or enslaver, our ancestors were bonded together through their participation in an economic system in which one side was subject to the complete control over the labor and family lives of the other, whether on small farms or on large plantations or in cities or towns. And sometimes this relationship included kinship. In our journeys of discovery, it is not surprising that we come across deeply disturbing evidence of experiences in slavery that trigger painful feelings on both sides. When hard truths are faced with honesty and compassion, healing becomes possible. Sometimes acknowledging the damages done in the past can lead to a mutual new understanding and, for some, a new friendship or “cousin” relationship. These remarkable interactions become more prevalent as more and more people find these linked connections with each other.
Some will ask, “why dig all this old stuff up?” We hope to answer that question by illustrating and emotionally touching our blog followers with the stories of our personal interactions and our journeys toward healing and reconciliation. We hope to set an example for others who struggle with their connections to slavery and racism. We believe it is in knowing, not denying, the truth of the “historical harms” of white supremacy, slavery and Jim Crow segregation, that we can begin the process of healing, reconciliation, and needed social action.
Our posts will cover many topics from history, economics and power to stories about our personal journeys. How did we find each other? What was our first reaction to finding a linked relationship? What was the process of coming together? How did the feelings of discovery change us? What were the hardest realities of the past to be confronted on a personal level? On a social level? How do we see our relationships evolving? The stories and remembrances and the action of coming to the table have sometimes been heroic, against the wishes of members of our black or white families. It is not easy work. But in this personal way, we give expression to the hope that we can meet at the table and join in the hard work of creating a truly just and equal social world.