If you’ve watched our documentary, Traces of the Trade, then you’ve seen that one of the DeWolf slave-trade descendants in the film is Dain Perry.

Of the ten of us who took the journey shown in the film, Dain and I were usually closely in sync on issues involving race, much more so than either of us was with anyone else. This is particularly surprising because, although Dain is my uncle, as he explains in the film, he grew up surrounded by intense racism in the Jim Crow South, while I was raised in a progressive, racially mixed environment many years later.

Dain and his wife, my aunt Constance, now devote much of their time to showing the documentary, and leading discussions of race, at Episcopal Church and other gatherings across the United States.

I mention this now because there is a candid and thoughtful interview with Dain and Constance online as part of a visit they will be making later this month to the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina. It’s an honest and sensitive look at the work they do, how they view race and problems of race today, and how they engage with people who may find themselves isolated and even suspicious of people of other races.

Dain is a retired insurance agent and Constance is a consultant to community organizations.

5 Responses to “Interview with Dain and Constance Perry”

  1. Michael 'Omowal says:

    Thwew will be no reparations without reparations and the full recognition of the right of Africans in America who are descendants of enslaved Africa to control their own destiny as defined by the U. N. Declaration of Human rights.

  2. James says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Michael. Could you elaborate on what you're proposing? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that no one should be treated any differently than anyone else on the basis of race, but I'm not aware of any provision which speaks of communal rights for minority populations, such as can be found in certain other international instruments. So I'd be interested to know what sort of rights you're proposing.

  3. Michael "Omowal says:

    would encourage those who are sincere in trying to understand where I am coming from to do their own research on how descendants of Africans in America have fought for self-determination and been thwarted at every attempt. How even now true representation of the rights, needs, and political and economic empowerment of African people who are descendants of formerly enslaved Africans (as a group) is not a reality.

    One can easily argue that Africans in America are a distinct group, but also that the U.S. has fought for self-determination for others, such as Israel, in Bosnia, Irag (the Kurds), among other and through treaties has provided for self-determination and a form of sovereignty for native Americans in this country.

    Because of the treaties U.S. has with Native Americans and the recognition politically of Native Americans as a group or groups they are able to negotiate their concerns from a position of strength with the government, while African Americans who continue to suffer as a group from the original sin committed against enslaved Africans and their descendants through its vestiges cannot even get the government (Executive and legislative ) to provide for relief directly to our community.

  4. James says:

    Thanks, Michael, for returning and offering us more of your thoughts on this important subject. I'd be interested in knowing what other readers think of the idea of addressing racial inequality in our country through the lens of self-determination.

    In particular, one could easily distinguish the situation of black Americans, even just those black Americans who are descended from enslaved Africans, from that of indigenous peoples or other distinctive ethnic groups whose claims for self-determination have been recognized in the past. For instance, there is no historic black American nation or a geographic region traditionally dominated by black Americans. This, however, might be missing the point: despite the various differences, might this still be a constructive way to address the historic legacy of slavery and the rights and needs, including political and economic needs, of our black citizens?

    I suspect that the answer to this question depends largely on what, precisely, would be done in the name of self-determination. So, Michael, I would be interested in knowing what rights you would propose for the descendants of black slaves in the U.S.

    In the cases of Israel and Bosnia, for instance, self-determination has taken the form of sovereign nations, and for the Kurds, at least for Iraqi Kurds, a semi-autonomous, largely self-governing geographic area within another nation. Do you propose either solution here, for those black Americans who would choose such a life? I don't know many black friends, family, or colleagues who would want to live in a separate nation or autonomous region, and so I don't know how much that solution, whatever its merits for those who chose that path, would help with the broader problem. Do you propose something more modest, such as a limited set of special rights and privileges for those Americans who are descended from enslaved Africans? If so, what might those be?

  5. Exposing the role of New England in slavery | The Living Consequences says:

    […] of the documentary in Concord, Massachusetts, hosted by the Drinking Gourd Project and featuring Dain and Constance Perry, from the film, and Jayne Gordon, director of education and public programs at the Massachusetts […]

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