Better, Less Offensive History | Olivia Waite
Historical accuracy does of course matter. Misrepresenting the past does a disservice to truth. But often, a too-perfect representation of the past risks recreating the same violence and harm. Consider how romances set in the American antebellum south so often dehumanize black charactersas a matter of course. (Shout-out to Beverly Jenkins’Indigo for doing pretty much the opposite of that.) Consider the ways that aristocratic systems are ennobled (ha! see what I did there), romanticized, and democratized in historical romance. Every duke deserves his rank by merit of character/leadership as well as by birth. Every duke is also kind to his servants.
What matters, I think, are not so much the mistakes, but the mistakes we insist upon repeating. Repetition creates a space for its subject, like water drops wearing away a stone; accumulation becomes important.
Another great read that points out that it matters what stories keep getting told again and again.
(PS those murals she posted pics of do look like something out of Pawnee)
As if I needed an excuse to detest Al Jolson: according to the Stanwyck bio I’m reading*, he attacked the actress when she was a young dancing girl.
*A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel True, 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson
Fourty-nine years ago today, the Voting Rights Act was passed. Right now, we’re happy to be working on a new StoryCorps short about one woman’s struggle to get the right to vote.
Look for it next year. Meanwhile, storyboard by Tim and Rafael Rosado above.
Sept. 28, 1967. Accompanied by Texas Governor John Connally, LBJ heads to the US-Mexico border, recently stricken by severe flooding from Hurricane Beulah (map of region here). The slow-moving storm has cut a broad swath of destruction. A 14-foot surge swept across South Padre Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, and the overflowing Rio Grande flooded houses to the rooftops in Harlingen, TX.
Both sides of the border have been devastated, and volunteers, especially medical personnel, have responded with an outpouring of assistance. The US Army has even dispatched aid helicopters to remote areas of Mexico like Comales (map).
LBJ is on his way to visit a high school-turned-emergency hospital in Rio Grande City that (according to the President’s Daily Diary) houses 1,500 to 2,000 people, 99% of them Mexican nationals.
LBJ photo via LBJ Library, #A4871-24, public domain. Other photos via The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Lots more in their digital archives here. More on Beulah via NOAA.