Episode 41: Pentimento

Pentimento is the reappearance of an underlying image, usually a painting, over which a different image has been placed. This happens in art, for example, when the later painting becomes transparent with age, allowing the foundational image to seep through. Like art, history often gets overlaid with flattering images and stories that obscure or erase a more complicated and less flattering composition underneath. Yet it is often that incipient composition that tells a truer story, one that better explains the history of now that confronts us.

Our History

Once again bigotry is in vogue, and red state minions without shame are tripping all over one another to pass shamefaced voter suppression laws. Even Major League Baseball, no slouch itself in the annals of Jim Crow, has taken action in protest of Georgia’s recent effort to disenfranchise Black voters. Un-ironically, all of this plays out as the George Floyd murder trial is held in Minnesota, which has us thinking once again just how poorly suited are the standard version histories for explaining the enduring traditions of racial segregation, voter suppression, and police violence against Black bodies. You just can’t get here via the Mt. Rushmore express. So with Episode 41, Pentimento, we again look at the truer and more honest histories that lie underneath the superimposed and mythic images of the standard version history, to surface narratives that can actually explain how we got here and why we need truer and better histories to get us out of this god awful mess.

Sources Referenced and Items of Interest

C.S. Mangegold, Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North


Penelope Green, “Gianluigi Colalucci, Who Showed Michelangelo’s True Colors, Dies at 91” (April 21, 2021 New York Times)


Dennis Flynn, “‘Born with a Silver Spoon’: The Origin of World Trade in 1571”

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, The Americas: A Hemispheric History


“In creating these genealogies, these foundational stories, the claiming of certain national fathers and using them as historical memes…they fail as actual history..”

Chris Padgett

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