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Thread: Ben Affleck Suppressed Family's Slave-Owning Past

  1. #46
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    I'm sure there were some owners who realised that slave labour was an important asset to running a farm or plantation and therefore tried to provide at least some basic things like food, shelter, clothing, even some simple schooling and healthcare. Slaves were a valuable asset so they needed to be looked after. If slaves were "lucky" enough to have an enlightened owner I can see why they might prefer the status quo when the alternative was fending for themselves and trying to support a family in grinding poverty.
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    It was safety in numbers in that climate back then. If my family members 'bought me, yeah I'd stay 'slave'. Their families more than likely didn't treat them like white slave masters, anyway. Society was against blacks where would you go out there all alone? Get caught and get enslaved again?

    In the 1850's there was actually a law where if they caught a black person out they could enslave them again, with or without 'freedom' papers. The 'black' law/Fugitive Slave Act. There were actually laws similar to that in earlier years as far back as 1793. So...would I take my chances alone in the world that really doesn't want me to be free and looks at me like property with just my word and little freedom papers or would I stay with my black family who 'bought' me?

    I'd stay with my family. I mean...what would you do if you were public enemy no. 1 and your family bought your freedom? Stay a slave on paper or risk being separated from your family and becoming a slave and enduring all of it's atrocities all over again?

  3. #48
    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    All great points. Thanks.
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  4. #49
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Ben Affleck on Slavery Censorship: "This Isn't a News Program"






    This weekend, leaked emails revealed that Ben Affleck successfully pressured the makers of PBS documentary series Finding Your Roots to suppress his family’s slave-owning past, an apparent violation of the broadcaster’s rules. Today, Affleck posted on Facebook to explain (but not apologize for) his actions, writing, “I was embarrassed "


    “I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves,” wrote Affleck on Tuesday. “The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”

    Ultimately, Affleck expressed regret over his desire to conceal the information while defending the censorship request itself. Comparing it to an actor lobbying a director over what takes to use in a film, the Gone Girl star characterized his demand as part of “the collaborative creative process.”


    “It’s important to remember that this isn’t a news program,” wrote Affleck.


    The actor concluded his post by saying he was glad his story could contribute to the discussion of slavery’s terrible legacy, writing, “While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.”

    Read Affleck’s full statement below:

    After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for “Finding Your Roots,” it was discovered that one of my distant relatives was an owner of slaves.

    I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.

    [Henry “Skip” Louis Gates, Jr.] decided what went into the show. I lobbied him the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use. This is the collaborative creative process. Skip agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with. In the end, it’s his show and I knew that going in. I’m proud to be his friend and proud to have participated.

    It’s important to remember that this isn’t a news program. Finding Your Roots is a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family.

    I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.

    Ben Affleck

    UPDATE: On Tuesday, a PBS spokesperson announced the broadcaster is conducting an internal review examining “the circumstances” surrounding Affleck’s episodeFinding Your Roots:

    This matter came to PBS’ attention on Friday morning, April 17th. Professor Gates and his producers immediately responded to our initial questions.

    In order to gather the facts to determine whether or not all of PBS’ editorial standards were observed, on Saturday, April 18th, we began an internal review. We have been moving forward deliberately yet swiftly to conduct this review.


    http://gawker.com/ben-affleck-on-slavery-censorship-this-isnt-a-news-pr-1699350857



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    Why can't people just accept the ambiguity that is part of our heritage and acknowledge it. Even if they chose to concentrate on a relative with some heroic background and no obvious slavery connections, why couldn't they just say, oh, by the way, it's part of our heritage as Americans that many of us have slavery in our history, here is Ben's ancestor blah blah.

    I mean I know they have to pick a story to focus on, but part of our story in the US is that it's never that simple and many of us are here and have prospered through genocide and exploitation of others.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Not to defend him, but this is a guy who is pretty progressive/liberal politically. Just having this out in the open is probably embarrassing and kind of results in cognitive dissonance for the message he is trying to put out. And it will be fodder for a-holes like Limbaugh who will proceed every statement about Affleck with "Descendant of slaveowners, Ben Affleck...."

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    But now people who would have held this against him have both the slave owning ancestor and the trying to cover up as fodder. One had nothing to do with him and could have been brushed off, the other........ So it sort of backfired.
    sluce, joebob, Lalasnake and 2 others like this.



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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    I agree. This would have been a great opportunity for him to say he was sadden to learn of this family history, but is glad to know his family has moved on to become people who defend the rights of others.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Not only that, I'm sure the slaveowner ancestor would be ashamed to know that he had a descendant who had a stripper shave his back.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    They tried hard to bury that story but it got out
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    "12 Years a Shave"
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    FFS. This guy obviously is not racist. I have no idea why he tried to bury it. We all have ancestors with crazy pasts. My mom is a genealogy nut, and my family is full of Pirates and criminals. I'm pretty sure I am none of those.

    Actually I find my genetic history a bit funny.
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    I'm disappointed that Ben wanted it edited out and I'm extremely disappointed that PBS did it for him. I think it would have been a great discussion point (sort of like Sluce mentioned). It's not as though he or his parents or even grandparents (unless I read it wrong) were slave owners. He has nothing to be ashamed of, IMHO. He can't control what generations past did.

    Personally, I have NO idea about that stuff. I know my biological father (unaffectionately known as the sperm donor) is almost all (if not entirely) German, and I *think* he's only a first or second generation American. For all I know, some of my ancestors on that side could have been Nazis. I would be extremely disappointed and pretty devastated but again, I wasn't born yet (neither was the sperm donor), so how could the blame be laid at my feet. On the other side, they are mostly Irish (about 90+%) with a tiny bit of other European blood (French, English, Swedish) and a teeeeeeny tiny bit (like a drop) of American Indian on my maternal grandmother's side (can't remember which Indian though). I remember telling a guy that my grandfather came from a HUGE very Baptist and very Irish family and he said, oh, so you're a Black Baptist. I still have no idea what that means and I don't care. I yam what I yam. You're responsible for your own outcome, not the generations before, IMHO. In Ben's case, he's the opposite of what his slave owning ancestors were. I don't understand the need for the big coverup.

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    People wouldn't be trying to hide it if there weren't vocal idiots out there keen to blame people for the sins of their ancestors.
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    Sput that's exactly what I thought when I read this. Yes it was the wrong move to make but you can understand why he did it.
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