By now, most readers will no doubt have heard that the “n-word” has been removed from a new edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by NewSouth Books, replaced throughout the book with the word “slave.”

I’ve been asked repeatedly, over the last several days, what I think of this idea. The answer, which may surprise some, is that I entirely support the idea of censoring Huckleberry Finn to remove the “n-word”—as long as the word is actually censored (blacked out, blanked out, replaced with square brackets, etc.) rather than replaced with a very different word like “slave.”

Why the distinction, and why am I willing to see Twain’s work altered at all?

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My cousin Tom DeWolf has an essay up on his blog about race and health care. Tom is discussing health care reform this week, and this essay examines racial disparities in health care and health outcomes.

Tom reports that on average, white Americans are healthier and live longer than black Americans. They also receive considerably more health care, even when factors like income or health insurance are taken into account. Tom acknowledges that the causes are complicated, but he makes a powerful argument that when it comes to health and health care, race still matters in our society.

Check it out.

Inheriting the TradeRegular readers of this blog know that my distant cousin, Tom DeWolf, has written a book about our slave-trading ancestors, the D’Wolf family of Bristol, Rhode Island, and our journey to explore the legacy of their slave trading today.

Tom has now embarked on a “virtual book tour,” an innovative way to interact with readers and to expose others to the book, by traveling across the Internet. Denizens of the ‘net will have the chance to win a copy of Inheriting the Trade in paperback or .mp3 audio, as well as to chat with Tom and to read new author essays and interviews.

The first stop on the book tour runs through Monday, other stops begin on other web sites this week, and the full schedule of stops on the tour run for the next month. Check it out here.

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Paul Butler has an interview with Tom DeWolf today on Moody Radio’s Prime Time America with Greg Wheatley. The subject is Tom’s memoir, Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History, about our experiences retracing the route of our slave-trading ancestors.

You can listen to the interview on a local radio station or on Paul Butler’s blog.

This morning’s interview on The Early Show on CBS is now available to watch online.

The interview was conducted by anchor Harry Smith with Tom DeWolf, Katrina Browne and Juanita Brown, on the occasion of the release of Traces of the Trade on DVD.

Harry Smith had previously blogged about the book and the film, and he ends the interview by saying, “I cannot recommend [the book and the film] highly enough.”

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Philadelphia City Paper
Traces of the Trade is featured this evening in a thoughtful article, “Slavers in the Family,” which serves as a cover story for tomorrow’s edition of the Philadelphia City Paper.

The article, by Sam Adams, carries the subhead, “How Philly native Katrina Browne confronted her ties to America’s original sin, and why the nation should follow her lead,” and features interviews with Katrina Browne and Tom DeWolf. This coverage is motivated by screenings of the documentary at the National Constitution Center on April 24; as the article explains, the screenings were originally to be held as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival, until a conflict arose with the Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

As I indicated, this is a particularly thoughtful article. Adams does review the film itself, describing it as “gripping” and “a fascinating and largely unknown story,” but he focuses on the family’s introspection about the legacy of the slave trade and delves into Katrina’s and Tom’s backgrounds and motivations as coverage of the film and book rarely do.

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Inheriting the TradeWednesday marked the publication of my cousin Tom’s book, Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History

The launch event was at the Olsson’s Books and Records in Penn Quarter in Washington, D.C. The event, which included an author reading and book signing, drew an overflow crowd of 75 people.

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As I’ve noted previously, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the U.S. slave trade. Thomas Jefferson’s ban on the slave trade on U.S. ships, and to U.S. ports, took effect on January 1, 1808. And Britain’s own ban, which was enacted mere weeks after Jefferson signed the U.S. prohibition into law, took effect a few months earlier.

Despite the significance of the abolition of the trade—encouraging the movement to abolish slavery itself, restricting the growth of slavery in old and new territories in the U.S., affecting the balance of the U.S. Civil War, and promoting the development of international human rights norms—this historical milestone has been widely celebrated in the U.K., while receiving far less attention here in the U.S.

I’ll be attending one event next week which commemorates the bicentennial: a symposium on “Abolition and the Road to Freedom: the 200th Anniversary of the Slave Trade Act of 1808.” This conference will be held on January 10 at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. (The publication of Tom DeWolf’s book, Inheriting the Trade, has been timed to coincide with the bicentennial and the launch event will take place the evening before.)

There are other events, including workshops for teachers, planned this month. And there will occasionally be other conferences and assorted events throughout the year.

Today, January 1, 2008, marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the U.S. slave trade.

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My distant cousin, Tom, has written a book, Inheriting the Trade, about the journey we undertook in Traces of the Trade and due out in January.

Tom has now started a blog on his web site. (My blogroll has linked there for some time now, but he’s actually started posting.) Based on his initial posts, Tom is going to be every bit as insightful a blogger as he is a book author.

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