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  • Writer's pictureTravelTomorrow

Whitewashing History

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Cultural heritage specialist Jeanne Cyriaque discusses how heritage travel combats the whitewashing of history, we share online reviews from some clueless tour guests and learn a word that'll help us call out the elephant in the room.

Show Notes:

First Stop:

Nygel Turner's story about people of color getting revenge on a plantation tour is the perfect antidote to the plantation reviews that we referenced in our opening segment. And, of course, we encourage you to learn more about the Whitney Plantation's efforts to educate the public about the lives of enslaved people.

Additional Sources:

This kind of disconnect from history doesn't happen in a vacuum. Nikita's Stewart's article for the New York Times details the problems with how American schools teach about slavery and its legacy, while Mary Elliot and Jazmine Hughes fill in the gaps in our knowledge with "A Brief History of Slavery You Didn't Learn in School."

Whitewashed narratives that ignore slavery's imbalance of power show up everywhere, from ancestry testing commercials to the myths we repeat about founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson.

Interview: Jeanne Cyriaque

Definition of Whitewashing:

Merriam Webster's definition of whitewashing strongly influenced the one we shared in this episode. Since language evolves and we're still learning how to address this topic, we're interested in hearing your definitions in the comments below or via email.

Heritage Travel Sites:

To learn more about the specific sites Jeanne referred to in our interview, check out Georgia's Footsteps of MLK Jr. Trail.

Joe also referred to several immersive heritage travel experiences in Georgia, including the lunch counter simulation The National Center for Civic and Human Rights in Atlanta and One Day: Dublin's Civil Rights Experience.

For theatre from an African-American point of view, Alicia recommends Penumbra Theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (One day she'll pronounce it properly. Hopefully.)

If you'd like to expand your heritage travel experiences to a broader geographic range, you can travel to sites in 16 U.S. states and territories along the United States Civil Rights Trail. The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must-see. And the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba offers excellent practical advice and real-life examples of people who have stood up to injustice all over the world.

A note: This episode focused on the African-American experience, but the whitewashing of history clearly isn't limited to this group. But because we're a travel podcast, we've chosen to highlight particular heritage travel sites and experiences in this episode. We're also working on episodes about Indigenous history and Jewish history as well. We'd appreciate your suggestions and sources if you have ideas.

Language Love:

Mokita (Kilivila)

The truth that everybody knows, but nobody talks about -- the elephant in the room.

So call out the "mokita" when you come across it, people.

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