Episode 27: Schizophrenic History

Portrait of John Potter and family with servant. c. 1740. Potter was a Rhode Island enslaver and planter, shown here with wife, daughters, and enslaved Black servant. Detailed in the portrait are the fineries of a “self-made” wealthy white colonial male, the very quintessence of the meritocratic ideal, including fine China, expensive fabrics, and buttons, and the commissioning of the portrait itself. The enslaved Black servant was also meant to convey wealth and status, but he is also unintentionally a symbol of how the white American meritocracy and self-made man utterly depended on the uncompensated labor of those he enslaved.. The portrait was removed from the family home after John Potter was ensnared in a counterfeiting scandal. Schizophrenic history, you might say.

Our History

Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded slave? Ouch! No, say the saucy boys, you wanna get hitched? Go to Reno and the Silver Bells Wedding Chappel, but under no circumstances should anyone get married on an Old South plantation. As a wedding destination, a former slave labor camp just has no merit! And speaking of merit, Josh explains that when it comes to so-called meritocracies, the deck is too often stacked in favor of the privileged and the vile. Our interview guest this week is an old friend, Jordan McGowan, who is a Sacramento educator and activist working to unstack the deck of racial privilege. From the classroom to encampments of the unhoused, Jordan carries the spirit of the Black Panther originals to build agency and respect among those who have been dealt a bad hand in the racist pseudo-meritocracy of the U.S.

Jordan McGowan

To hear Episode 27 Schizophrenic History click on the link below:


Sources Referenced and Items of Interest

Sacramento Neighbor – A community organization committed to helping the people of Sacramento


Sac Voices – This newspaper features articles, essays, and poetry from community members, youth, and community-based organizations.


Michael T. Luongo, “Despite Everything, People Still Have Weddings at ‘Plantation’ Sites (October 17, 2020 New York Times)


Leland Nally, “I Called Everyone in Jeffrey Epstein’s Little Black Book,” (October 29, 2020 Mother Jones)


“The pain and all of that comes back when you talk about a plantation. It’s kind of like opening a wound.”

Gail Johnson, wedding planner

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