Access: Netflix (trailer here)
Summary: This full-length documentary follows a family's journey—headed by family member/filmmaker Katrina Browne—through the Triangle Trade between Rhode Island, West Africa, and Cuba. In doing so, family members begin to recognize how their White privilege is directly tied to enslavement of Africans by their ancestors. The film is useful for the classroom in four ways: 1) it provides a history lesson of the Triangle Trade, demonstrating how the American North was/is as culpable in the enslavement of Africans as the South, 2) it demonstrates the direct tie between New World/American capitalism and its survival to the slave trade, 3) it slowly reveals the consciousness-raising of privileged White folks as they understand how their privilege is directly tied to slavery and racism, and 4) it demonstrates the awkward yet necessary dialogues and discussions White people need to have about U.S. history and racism. I like to use this film as a companion to Tim Wise's talk "The Pathology of White Privilege." After my students watch Traces of the Trade and Wise's talk, we discuss how contemporary White privilege is directly tied to the conception of our nation, the contradictions and paradoxes of capitalism and democracy, and their own embodied and/or witnessed experiences of White privilege. The film's website includes purchasing information and teaching materials. Another great companion piece to Browne's documentary is the book Inheriting the Trade. Written by Browne's relative Thomas DeWolf, the book more deeply documents the family's physical and social psychological journey.
Submitted By: Beverly M. Pratt