8 episodes

On Who We Are, host Carvell Wallace and ACLU Deputy Director Jeffery Robinson reach back to tipping points in American history, to examine the white supremacist foundation on which the nation’s legal, political and social systems were built. A podcast by Ben & Jerry’s and produced by Vox Creative.

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America Ben & Jerry's and Vox Creative

    • History
    • 4.3 • 429 Ratings

On Who We Are, host Carvell Wallace and ACLU Deputy Director Jeffery Robinson reach back to tipping points in American history, to examine the white supremacist foundation on which the nation’s legal, political and social systems were built. A podcast by Ben & Jerry’s and produced by Vox Creative.

    Revisiting Reparations

    Revisiting Reparations

    In 1865, General William T. Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15— a promise to redistribute 40 acres of once Confederate-owned land in coastal South Carolina and Florida to each formerly enslaved adult to begin mending the seemingly unmendable. It never came to pass. H.R. 40, also known as the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, has been brought to Congress repeatedly since 1989, first by the late Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich), now by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex). Hear Jeffery Robinson, founder of the Who We Are Project and deputy director of the ACLU take on the past, present and future of reparations with veteran political activist Dr. Ron Daniels and legal expert and reparations advocate Nkechi Taifa.


    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time. Vintage, 1992

    Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic. June, 2014.

    Du Bois, W.E.B. Black Reconstruction in America 1860 - 1880. Free Press, 1999

    Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863 - 1877. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2014.

    H.R.40 - Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act

    Lockhart, P.R. The 2020 Democratic Primary Debate Over Reparations, Explained. Vox.com, June 19, 2019

    Marable, Manning. Beyond Boundaries: The Manning Marable Reader. Routledge, 2011.

    National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) 10-Point Reparations Plan

    Taifa, Nkechi. Black Power, Black Lawyer. House of Songhay II, 2020.

    • 33 min
    The Myth of Post-Racial America

    The Myth of Post-Racial America

    From slavery to sharecropping to mass incarceration, American institutions have reproduced cycles of social rupture and exploitation by design. Is it even possible to imagine true equity as long as the current carceral system stands? Carvell Wallace and Jeffery Robinson begin with Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill before turning to the ways in which incarceration ripples through questions of voting, health, wealth, and state violence. With final words from Afro-futurist author Sheree Renee Thomas, we’ll explore how we might dream a new America into being and the possibilities of Black liberation.

    Additional information and resources related to this episode are available on our show page.

    • 42 min
    How We Arrive

    How We Arrive

    What does it mean to be well in America? Who is seen as deserving of healthcare? Racism has plagued the American medical system since its inception and continues to produce disparities in health and life expectancy to this day. In this episode, Carvell Wallace and Jeffery Robinson trace the decades-long epidemic of sharply higher mortality rates among both Black people giving birth and their babies. In conversation with OB/GYN and maternal/infant health advocate Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, as well as SéSé Doula Services founder Nicole JeanBaptiste, we’ll examine the way the healthcare system was designed to fail Black people, with a focus on Black maternal and infant health.

    Additional information and resources related to this episode are available on our show page.

    • 29 min
    Broken Bootstraps

    Broken Bootstraps

    “To pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps” was originally a metaphor for the impossible. It’s now one of the most American of American idioms — encapsulating a belief that one’s fortunes and failures hinge on individual responsibility alone. It simultaneously obscures the systemic economic theft of Black people and other people of color in the US by state and commercial interests, as well as the systemic economic enrichment of white populations by those same forces. In this episode, Carvell Wallace and Jeffery Robinson explore how Black wealth has been routinely destroyed, using the example of a 1919 massacre in Elaine, Arkansas, where Black sharecroppers organizing for better financial conditions were killed by a white mob. We’ll also hear from law professor and scholar of banking history Dr. Mehrsa Baradaran on how discriminatory housing policies, unequal access to credit, and predatory banking continue to hinder attempts at wealth-building, even among the Black middle class.  

    Additional information and resources related to this episode are available on our show page.

    • 37 min
    A Home and a Country

    A Home and a Country

    Black bodies have always been on the line in America, whether on the auction block or in a parking lot in Minneapolis. American law has enshrined the state’s ability to enact violence with almost total impunity. And, going back to as far as the Colonial Marines in 1808, reclaiming one’s body from this system has required fearless acts of rebellion. In this episode, Carvell and Jeffery trace the evolution of slave patrols into modern policing, exploring the consequences of that origin story with activist and lead of Black Visions Collective Miski Noor and Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson, an historian of Black resistance and rebellion in the US. Collectively, they make the case that protest is vital to American progress and racial justice—and that we must keep taking to the streets.

    Third stanza of “The Star Spangled Banner” arranged and sung by Sandra Lawson-Ndu

    Additional information and resources related to this episode are available on our show page.

    • 32 min
    The Failure of the “Great Compromise"

    The Failure of the “Great Compromise"

    The right to vote is the right to help define the future of the country. It’s at the heart of our democracy. But for much of US history, only property-owning white men had access to this right. Suffrage for Black men was hard won and enshrined by the 15th amendment after the Civil War. But, even that limited enfranchisement was quickly stymied by campaigns of terror and voter suppression that were then codified by the creation of the Electoral College — amplifying the power of white Southern voters and essentially bringing an end to Reconstruction in 1877. In this episode, host Carvell Wallace explores the history of, and ongoing battle for, total Black enfranchisement in conversation with formerly incarcerated Florida-based voting rights activists Betty Riddle and Marq Mitchell, as well as historian Dr. Yohuru Williams. 

    For more on what you can do to protect voting rights in the US, visit the ACLU’s Voting Rights page. 

    Additional information and resources related to this episode are available on our show page.

    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
429 Ratings

429 Ratings

Blazian5 ,

Excellent!

This is one of the best podcasts I’ve heard in a long time. Historical accounts, personal accounts, thrown in with data and facts and it’s just an amazing piece of work. Thank you for this. It’s right on time.

Dell0 ,

Great podcast

Insightful, important and a necessary listen for anyone in these times

Fdarr ,

Loved it!

Great show; must listen

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