Paul Davis, a reporter for the Providence Journal, attended the screening of Traces of the Trade on Tuesday at the Providence Black Repertory Company.

This morning, he has an article in the Journal, headlined “Shaking the Family Tree: Filmmaker Explores Her Family’s Role in the Slave Trade,” and describing the film and its context in detail, as well as responses to it at the screening.

I think that Davis, who wrote the groundbreaking ProJo series on Rhode Island and slavery last year (“The Unrighteous Traffick“), does an excellent and balanced job of covering the screening. He begins, very appropriately, by posing two controversial questions raised by audience members at the screening: should Rhode Island apologize for its role in the slave trade, and should the state consider removing the reference to “plantations” from its official name?

The article provides responses from audience members. H. Philip West Jr., the former executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, is quoted as saying that Traces is “the most moving film I’ve seen in 30 years.”

Unfortunately, one viewer is quoted in the article simply as describing how blacks know the history depicted in the film, while whites have repressed that history. This is an important message of the film, and one which we all agree is generally accurate. This viewer, however, actually gave an impassioned response after the film, in which she made the comment above while arguing that she rejected the notion of a film about race made by white people and exploring exclusively white responses to race. I think this is an important perspective, and one which deserves more attention.

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