Mon 9 Feb, 2009
Tags: Apologies, Media coverage, Reparations, Traces of the Trade
There’s a thoughtful review of Traces of the Trade up at the critical blog Harlem Writer.
Harlem Writer, a freelance writer and editor living in New York City, takes the time to explore a variety of themes in the film, including the history of the slave trade, the reactions of family members, and the contemporary social and political issues raised by the documentary.
He also trains a keen and critical eye on such cinematographic details as the location for the film’s opening shot (which is actually James DeWolf’s Bristol warehouse) and the lyrics to U2’s “One” (which he finds too optimistic as a note on which to end the film).
Harlem Writer chooses to weigh in on the controversial political issues which Katrina addresses in the film, assuming a decidedly skeptical stance. He suggests that he would see no benefit to an apology or reparations for slavery, because these measures would do nothing for those who suffered in the past, would not bring closure to the descendants of slaves, and would not heal any remaining wound in our society.
In the middle of the review, Harlem Writer asks whether the response today to the powerful economic web established historically by European, American, and African slave traders ought to be outrage or acceptance. However, he poses this rhetorical question specifically about those of “African descent.” I would ask, also rhetorically, whether Americans of all backgrounds shouldn’t feel equally outraged at what was done by our society over those centuries.