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Scene on Radio

Scene on Radio is a documentary show that asks, How’s it going in our society and culture? And leaves the studio to find out. Our current series, Seeing White, explores the history and meaning of Whiteness in American life. Produced and hosted by public radio veteran John Biewen at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
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Mar 30, 2017

“All men are created equal.” Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

 

Key sources for this episode:

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

The Racial Equity Institute

 

2 Comments
  • two and a half weeks ago
    T Gajewski
    I waited to hear the name Tadeusz Kościuszko, a close friend of Jefferson, who so strongly opposed slavery that he willed Jefferson all his money to free the slaves Jefferson held.
  • a month and a half ago
    Jayne Shantharasan
    My question is what makes America? I agree with pretty much everything I’ve heard so far and a lot of it is reminiscent of my time as a sociology student in undergrad. But my question is that while we have idolized men like Jefferson and Emerson for so long, are they what make America, America? Or is it regular American citizens who make America what it is? Or worded differently, since most Americans don’t know those truths about these men, can their beliefs about them (ignorant or not) continue to promote the American belief of “all men are created equal” even if that wasn’t the original intent of that man? I’m not saying we should continue idolizing men like Jefferson, but can we use his idea how we want to instead of how he intended? For after all, while his may be the most famous, he certainly wasn’t the only man to voice that opinion. And even if he and other leaders believed that and even if they were voted in by people who believed the same way, it certainly wasn’t the way all people believed...so which is the true America? The corrupt leaders and what we learn (perhaps sugarcoated) in history class or is it the American people who believe in something greater as was said “despite” what those in power pushed upon us. I think America is great even despite what shit leaders and whites in power put upon us for centuries. We’ve survived and stood for something greater despite their efforts to make it their way.