DN!: Filmmaker Uncovers Her Family’s Shocking Slave-Trading History, Urges Americans to Explore Own Roots
- KATRINA BROWNE: Yeah, so, you know, it wouldn’t shock you or listeners to hear that there was obviously a great deal of anxiety and discomfort and nervousness about the idea of publicizing our family history. And I think one of the things I’ve come to appreciate is the depth of the emotions that get in the way for white Americans more broadly, not just our family. We’re an extreme case, but I think it’s a—it’s a sort of an example of a larger pattern, which is that defensiveness, fear, guilt, shame, those emotions get in our way both from really confronting the history and coming to appreciate the vast extent of sort of the tentacles of the institution of slavery and how fundamental it was to the birth and success of our nation and to paving the way for the waves of immigrants that came subsequently.
- So, you know, discomfort looking at that history, but then also, obviously, discomfort around grappling with the implications for today and really coming to grips with that. And I hear so many black Americans say, you know, "We’re not trying to guilt-trip you. Quit taking it so personally. We just want you white folks to show up for the work, together with us, of repairing those harms that, you know, continue to plague this country." So, I’ve noticed how I’ve gone from, like, you know, extreme kind of major guilt reaction upon learning this about my family and my region to a more grounded and, I would say, mature and calmer ability to take stock of the inheritance that I think—you know, we’re an extreme case, again, but it provides a view into what I think all white Americans need to look at in terms of those legacies of white privilege and whatnot.