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Podcast Episode 3

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 3: Cold Comfort

From the first moment that Europeans settled in what would become the United States, their relationship to people who did not look like them—whether indigenous Americans or imported African slaves—was one of domination and oppression…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

Jones, Nicholas R. “Debt Collecting, Disappearance, Necromancy: A Response to John Beusterien.” In Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology, edited by Cassander L. Smith, Nicholas R. Jones, and Miles P. Grier, 1st ed. 2018 edition., 211–21. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Shook, Lauren. “‘[L]Ooking at Me My Body Across Distances’: Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and Seventeenth-Century European Religious Concepts of Race.” In Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology, edited by Cassander L. Smith, Nicholas R. Jones, and Miles P. Grier, 1st ed. 2018 edition., 137–55. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. Reprint (1980). New York: HarperPerennial, 2015.

Published inPodcasts


  1. Kayla O'Connell Kayla O'Connell

    After listening to Podcast #3, it is evident that particular consequences of historical events remain unmentioned. Throughout this podcast, Dr. Bezio illustrates the harsh truth behind the formation of slavery. Even though we learned about slavery in the past, we often don’t hear about the identity crisis created as a consequence of this. Many African Americans lack the ability to know where their ancestors come from as a result of the slave trade. All of which highlights the tendency of history to ignore black people’s ancestry and the fact that it has been taken away from them. In historical forms of literature, we often don’t hear about the long lasting effects of disgusting events. Is it possible to reclaim and learn of these long lasting consequences when they have been “lost” in history? How do we discover the “real truth”?

  2. William Coben William Coben

    There was a quote that Dr. Bezio made early in the podcast that I found incredibly interesting, saddening, and often true, that I want to talk about today. She mentioned that idea that “There is not a country where Racism has been so important for as long of a time as the United States.” While at first, I jumped to disagreement and defended the country that I dearly love and am so grateful to be a part of; however, after really thinking about her words, I was convinced that I was in fact wrong, and the harsh truth of racism in the United States is very prominent and very true. The first settlers to come to America brought with them slavery, and in 1607, the first African slaves arrived in Port Comfort. Ever since that moment, there has been bias, racism, and disparity between the lives of blacks and whites that has severely impacted the livelihood of black people in modern day America. It seems like every day where this is another act of racism, violence, or hate in this country, and while at first I viewed America as a progressive land that is “better” than everywhere else, being better isn’t enough. While it is true that America does a wonderful job being a progressive country and listening to the calling of the people when social change needs to be made, there is much more to do. My question after pondering on this tangent of Racism is, how can history allow for the future of race relations to evolve without a true and legitimate teaching of the past? People can fix what they didn’t know went on, so how is America and the world going to evolve with the falsely reported history taught to our youth?

  3. Margot Roussel Margot Roussel

    After listening to podcast #3 one thing stood out to me as a plot hole in history. How come the African people that were brought over to the Americas didn’t bring diseases with them and wipe out the Europeans? I am not completely sure how diseases like malaria spread but I was confused how their immunity didn’t affect the colonizers like the colonizers effected the indigenous people.

  4. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    Something that stuck out to me from Podcast #3 was when Dr. Bezio mentioned that the stories we tell aren’t the whole truth. Legends and stories tend to be fantasized and romanticized to make learning about history not so heavy of a topic, when in reality it is. As mentioned in the podcast, the children’s Disney movie, “Pocahontas”, completely butchered the history, and this makes me wonder: are there any other movies or commonly told stories that aren’t accurate that I don’t know about?

  5. Julia Leonardi Julia Leonardi

    Being from Henrico county myself, I found this podcast very interesting because of the names mentioned. I live off of John Rolfe Parkway, a name I have always recognized as heroic. It is interesting to see how those names relate to where I live and what I learned going to Henrico County public schools. I am also very moved by the statement about how many African Americans cannot research their ancestry. My privilege has blinded me from ever having to think about this issue, and how it is such a real thing that was completely robbed from African Americans. Is there any way that historians can somehow figure out some way to reclaim this lost lineage/ family lineage?

  6. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    This podcast was very interesting. Dr. Bezio discussed the roots of slavery and how it came to be in America, as well as the tales and fiction of our history. One example she mentions, was the story of pocahontas and how what most people have been told as the story, is not the truth. Because we have been discussing the falseness of history that’s been told throughout generations, this part stuck out to me. What also stuck out was when Dr. Bezio says at the end that is is possible to recreate and retell history. If this is true, which I believe it is, how do we do this on a greater level rather than just making it our own personal responsibility?

  7. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    As I listened to Dr. Bezio’s podcast, I found it interesting that the Europeans used their religion to justify their discriminatory actions against the Native and African people. As I have learned more about European colinzation I have found this to be a common theme. If the Puritans believe there is a higher power, why do they find it necessary to give themselves the power to make rules that are clearly unjust?

  8. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    Dr. Bezio’s podcast left me with many questions. One of her earlier points was how prominent and important racism has been in the United States. I do not argue this point, but what I wonder is how much of that is due to the United States being the most ethnically diverse nation ever to form? We are made up of a melting pot of different ethnicities from all across the world, and even in the early years of our country one of its defining characteristics was how many different groups of people called it home. I am not arguing that racism did not shape our country and play an enormous role in its foundation, but the US is truly an unprecedented nation of different ethnicities. Before the US, there had been empires composed of different ethnicities that were being forced to live in the empire because they had been conquered or defeated in battle. Never before has a country been so diverse even today, but the racist shadow of its past still looms in the darkness that our country tries to hide. But, we cannot truly advance our society without acknowledging it and working hard to solve this issue.

  9. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I found Dr. Bezio’s podcast to be very interesting and highly informative. Like a few of the other comments, I too had no idea that the tale of Pocahontas was so false. I had no clue that her real name was actually Matoaka. Additionally, after being forced to marry John Rolfe, not John Smith, and move to England, she changed her name to Rebecca. Another portion of the podcast that I never recognized was the enslavement of other people by other nations and how it was different from the methods that Europeans used. The podcast stated that Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Medieval Russia, and other nations all had enslaved people; however, these people were not enslaved due to their ethnic background and color of their skin. Instead, they were enslaved becasue they needed to pay off a debt, because they were prisoners of war, or because they committed a crime. My question after listening to this podcast is, why didn’t the European nations follow the methods that had previously been used by nations and empires of old? I am not saying that the enslavement of people is okay… I am simply wondering why the Europeans chose to dehumanize Africans, Native Americans, and others who were different from them. I ask this question because European nations like Spain, Portugal, and England all had prisoners of war, people with debt, and criminals, so why didn’t they use these people? Instead they probably wasted more time and money collecting people from Africa and then shipping them to their colonies. Again, I am not saying that the enslavement of people is humane.

  10. Morgan Crocker Morgan Crocker

    After listening to podcast #3, it made me think about my past history classes and the lessons that involved slavery or just Africans in general. I realized that Dr. Bezio was right about history ignoring/erasing the existence and humanity of black and indigenous peoples in America. Even though black people were equal when it comes to intellect and other things to white people, history still chose to leave that part out of the lessons on slaves and Africans. When will history lessons not only teach kids about how Africans were forced into slavery but also about how wrong it was for Europeans to think Africans were below them? As well as when will black youth be able to know where their ancestors came from, and also learn about those places in their history classes?

  11. Julia Borger Julia Borger

    After listening to Podcast #3, I was struck by many things. Like many of my classmates, I was again confronted with the idea that the history I have learned for the past 18 years may not be entirely accurate, or entirely complete, which makes me very uneasy and upset. In addition, I could not help pondering the idea that since the beginning of the discovery of the Americas we have exhibited cruel and brutal racism, and today in 2020 we are still dealing with people who believe they are superior based on the color of their skin. Obviously I know that many people are trying as best they can to help organizations and donate for racial justice, however it is not enough. My question is, how long will it take for the entire human race to become antiracist and accept everyone for who they are as people, and not what they look like or where they come from?

  12. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    In the first chapter of PHUS, Zinn emphasizes that no country in world history has dealt with racism and related cultural tension to quite the same level of prominence as the United States. As made clear by Podcast 3, this is pretty clearly attributable to America’s history of violent colonization and the development of the “Color Line” as established by racial chattel slavery. With this in mind, is there any way to develop American culture and systems of government in such a way that completely rids them of the racial disparities inherently entwined with our history of colonialism?

  13. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    In the podcast, you reference slavery as “the beginning of a long history of racialized oppression that formed the bedrock of the southern economy.” Initially, the slaves were imported in order to fill a labor shortage that white servants and indigenous peoples could not meet. Given that the initial need for African slaves in the colonies was economically motivated, was the cultural oppression of slaves a result of the institution of slavery? Or was this oppression understood prior to slavery in the colonies, therefore justifying the institution of slavery.

  14. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    As an African American in the United States, I constantly feel frustrated at not knowing my ancestry because of the Atlantic Slave Trade. And my feelings of frustration aren’t just something that I feel; it’s what most of my family, friends, neighbors, mentors, and the like feel every time someone asks us, “Which country does your family come from?” To give the response of, “Um, I don’t know,” while watching your counterpart describe in-depth which countries their ancestry traces back to make one feel lost in this world where knowing your history has power. Or, at least, your history has power until you have to explain to someone that you don’t even know which African country your ancestors came from or rather how you came to be in the world. From our class discussion on Monday about the ways in which we can improve the way we learn and tell history, I should have recommended that society need to give more attention to how African Americans’ identities are still being affected by the Atlantic Slave Trade instead of always overlooking that fact when talking about the effects of slavery. Moreover, I have a burning question in response to how the Atlantic Slave Trade deliberately separated families, shattered cultures, and ultimately, stripped the identities of every slave the New World touched without slaves’ consent: How can America ever compensate the African American people for centuries of systematic oppression and dominance that continue even in the 21st century? Additionally, is compensation, or any other form of reparation, the right question to even ask? Lastly, how does the release of reparations to African Americans affect our society? What happens if those in power decide to never release reparations to African Americans?

  15. Christina Glynn Christina Glynn

    After listening to podcast #3, I was struck by many different things. First, I was in shock that I was never taught about the lack of knowledge African Americans have about their ancestry. Why hasn’t this idea been taught in my textbooks? Secondly, I am confused with the idea that, if African slaves were known as being “tougher” and more capable, why were they so dehumanized? Were African slaves more or less respected than Native Americans? Did Native Americans eventually become immune to European diseases?

  16. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    I find the trend of historical justification to be so disturbingly interesting. When mentioned in this podcast that slaves’ rebellions, uprisings, and escapes were used as a means to justify further dehumanization and harsh tactics, I cannot help but immediately think of what is happening currently in the news. Although the protests for black lives happening today is under extremely different circumstances, the same pattern for the justification of force is present. The same type of justification happened when Columbus arrived, when Pizarro landed in the Americans, and I am assuming will continue to happen as long as American historians define America as “in the right”/correct. At what point will continual justification for our involvement and facilitation of slavery in the United States cease to exist in our history books (as some people will always attempt to justify past actions whether racist or not) as it perpetuates such an oppressive past? Could the United States ever reach a similar point as Germans when it comes to WWII in terms of constructing a more educated future, or is our history too deeply associated with overt racism that making alterations would change the structure of the US?

  17. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    Dr. Bezio’s Podcast Episode 3 further illustrated two main themes of our class discussions up to this point. First off, this podcast reiterated Dr. Bezio’s point that we can no longer take interpretations of historical events at face value as history is often very biased and inaccurate. The narrative of John Smith and his treatment of Native Americans serves as a prime example of this idea because I originally learned that John Smith was a very kind to the Native’s in Jamestown. Meanwhile, in reality, Smith could have been arrested and sent back to England for his actions towards Native Americans, which included his men kidnapping Pocohantas. Secondly, this podcast demonstrated how historical events are understood and taught very differently in different parts of the United States and the world. For instance, because I went to school in the Northeast, I learned that John Smith was a considerate leader who was instrumental in the establishment of Jamestown when in reality his actions catalyzed a ton violence between Native Americans and the colonists. While listening to this podcast, I was very surprised when I learned the fact race only became a defining factor of slavery during the triangular trade that took place in the 16th century. My question is vague and is not meant to relate to the concept of slavery that was discussed in this podcast. I was wondering which events that take place within our lifetime will prove to be very significant and fundamentally change our world, for better or worse, for centuries to come?

  18. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    When listening to Podcast 3, a point that really stood out to me was the fact that slavery was never racially motivated prior to the development of the Atlantic slave trade, bringing people from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean. I never really considered the motivations for slavery in other parts of the world and during other time periods before hearing this point because growing up in America, the way slavery is taught makes it seem like this was something people all over the world had been doing for centuries. Not only was this in and of itself an unsettling but important point, it also raises more questions about the specific histories we are taught as Americans in schools. Does our education system perhaps try to normalize this type of racially motivated thinking so that America itself is not directly implicated, and appears less at fault than it actually is?

  19. Alexandra Oloughlin Alexandra Oloughlin

    The main thing that stuck out to me was the portion of the podcast that talked about the color line. How previous to the 1600’s slavery was not based on race. When people were enslaved, it was because of something that happened, such as a war rather than a difference in physical appearance and ethnicity. It wasn’t one group of people thinking they were superior to others. It’s crazy to think that the racism that still plagues this country originated because the people of Jamestown didn’t want to learn how to take care of themselves and wanted to rely on others to grow food and such. How did slavery descend into this new stage and why did it stay like this? The Europeans were not superior in any way shape or form so how did that twisted mindset form?
    I also was surprised by learning on how the slave trade affects the cultural history of African Americans, as this is not an effect that is normally discussed. How can the United States help African Americans reclaim their lineage? Is there anything that can be done to make this better?

  20. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    I was struck by the small story we learn of Pocahontas, and how false it really is. Why, in the American education system, do we learn so many microhistories that are so inaccurate? If students need small stories to grasp the humanity, why can’t we pick more accurate ones to tell?

    As for later parts in the podcast, I’d like to know more about the concept of “hereditary heathenism” and the ways that slave-owners perpetuated religion for profit. Was religious divisiveness a tool for social division as well as a tool of early capitalism?

  21. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    One thing that stuck with me was how race was a big factor in the imperialism of the Americas whereas in other countries it wasn’t. Slaves of the same race as their master was a normal thing to see. Why was it different in the Americas? Why is it that we only talk about black slaves and never the existence of European slaves?

  22. Carly Cohen Carly Cohen

    Podcast 3 again proved to me that we are taught only parts of the truth. History is a very complex thing, and depends greatly on what historians want us to perceive as true. What stood out most to me is the fact that people who live in the north vs south are taught differently about slavery and racism. It is scary to me that we all do not have the same views. Why do people think it is okay to degrade someone solely based on the color of their skin?

  23. Jack Kirkpatrick Jack Kirkpatrick

    Podcast Episode 3 was another unique podcast which continued with the story of the “first” European setters in the Americas. The biggest takeaway that made me ponder was the fact that most of what we know about our past, and about all of history, is just from stories. Whether it’s engraved in stone or written down from a historical figure, the sources of our knowledge of the past come from stories of regular people like you and me. It is our job in learning about the past to decipher which stories are true, and which are fiction. The hard part is that even if a story is mostly true it can be leaving out tiny details or overreacting and the only way we can fact-check these writers is to cross correspond their stories with other stories. In the north we learn about Plymouth and the Pilgrims and in the south they learn about John Smith(and Pocahontas, although it seems my childhood is ruined know that I know the truth). We all hear different stories about history and it is tough to organize through them all and figure out the facts. But one fact is clear after podcast 3: there is no racial divide, setters saw the African people as physically superior and mentally equal, but for the purpose of the slave trade made up false facts that the African people were not capable of intellect or organization as an excuse to enslave their people. 🙁

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