The New York Times

The Way We Talk About Sally Hemings

Sally Hemings has been described as “an enigma,” the enslaved woman who first came to public notice at the turn of the 19th century when James Callender, an enemy of the newly elected President Thomas Jefferson, wrote with racist virulence of “SALLY,” who lived at Monticello and had borne children by Jefferson. Hemings came back into the news earlier this year, after the Thomas Jefferson Foundation announced plans to restore a space where Hemings likely resided, for a time, at Monticello. A number of news reports as well as comments on social media discussing the plans drew the ire of many readers because they referred to Hemings as Jefferson’s “mistress” and used the word “relationship” to describe the connection between the pair, as if those words inevitably denote positive things. They do not, of course — especially when the word “mistress” is modified by the crucial word “enslaved.”

When I published

This article originally appeared in .

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Interessi correlati

Altro da The New York Times

The New York Times4 min letti
He Lifted All Readers in His Path
With his prodigious memory and ardor for literature, the uncompromising highbrow Harold Bloom sought to hoist his readers up to the level of what he saw as the greatest books.
The New York Times4 min lettiSelf-Improvement
Stress Can Make You Sick. Take Steps to Reduce It.
In his new book, “The Stress Solution,” Dr. Rangan Chatterjee offers advice on countering the damaging effects of chronic stress.
The New York Times3 min letti
You Will Be Shocked by This Article
The two biggest companies behind an internet subgenre — the “chumbox ad” — have joined forces to form a company that will generate $2 billion a year.