The Florence Tour

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“A continual retreat from the discomfort of authentic racial engagement results in a perpetual cycle that works to hold racism in place” (DiAngelo, 66). During the course of the semester our class has dealt with tough but necessary histories and concepts involving race and racism in the U.S. We have continually attempted to engage with, rather than retreat from, the difficult topic of race and national identity. The guest speakers featured in the later half of the class were a beneficial addition to our critical examination of racism because they each presented us with viewpoints that had not been carefully committed to paper. These were genuine on the spot opinions on race and ethnicity that we were able to watch unfold. Since a conversation …show more content…
The tour featured histories of the town and highlighted the many prominent black and white anti-slavery advocates in the area. When speaking about the town, Strimer repeatedly referred to the area in Florence from 1840-1860 as a ‘utopian society’ or a ‘utopia’ and even the brochure uses the term ‘utopia’ to describe the community (David Ruggles Center). Strangely, during the same tour he claimed that the people in the town did not believe that it was one or should be referred to as such. The use of this word suggests that the tour was meant to focus only on the positive aspects of this area rather than on the racism that occurred. When slavery was mentioned by members of the class, Strimer was quick to point out that the slavery that occurred before this community existed and his response was comparable to the ‘white fragility’ that DiAngelo noted in her article (54). White fragility “is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress become intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves” and Strimer’s response was consistent with this term because he expressly did not want to engage with the topic of slavery (54-55). Much of the tour and the pamphlet was used to highlight the fight against slavery and essentially glossed over the racism that still persisted in this Massachusetts town. Under the heading The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 in the pamphlet it is stated that local clergy defended the rights of slave-owners, yet the tour did not dwell too much on this pro-slavery sentiment (David Ruggles Center). Although abolitionist activism is a great topic to address, the slavery that occurred on the northern east coast is one that is rarely spoken about and addressing it would greatly add to the understanding of the role of slavery and race in the

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